I had the fortunate opportunity to attend DrupalCon 2013 in Portland, OR a few weeks ago and was able to add some extra vacation time to maximize the trip. Dick managed to take some PTO to travel with me and enjoy the area as well. My DrupalCon notes are hefty and separate from this post. This is just a list of all the places we went to in the area so that I could get it all down before forgetting anything. This is by no means a comprehensive description of our entire vacation, but it’ll suffice as a record to jog my memory for more details when I need them, as well as a place to refer friends who may be looking for recs in the area. We received a ton of great recommendations from folks who are familiar with Portland, and I added them all to a Google map as they came along. Unfortunately we weren’t able to make it to every place on the list, so we’ll just have to check em out next time. ;)
I’ve peppered the post with a few pics, but I have the rest in an album on Facebook.
Saturday, May 18
Dick had been here before with a band so he wanted to stop in for a quick drink and a snack after we checked into our first hotel. It’s got a nifty atmosphere and is attached to the Jupiter Hotel.
Got some super tasty IPA and cheese curds. Met up with our friend Megan who moved to Portland a few months ago.
Megan suggested we go to Wildwood for dinner. We had delicious aviation gin drinks at the bar, and the food and service were all great. I remember they brought over a few shots of chilled beet soup on the house for us to try. It was super salty, and Dick made a goofy face after tasting it because we all know that beets are his favorite food, but cool that we got to try it. :-P
After dinner we walked our buzz off around the neighborhood for a while and took a few interesting photos. :)
Sunday, May 19
Another suggestion from Megan. Damon came with us as well. We knew the brunch wait would be a while, so we put our names in for a table and then went to the Bipartisan Cafe down the street for some much needed coffee. We relaxed there for a little over an hour and it worked out perfectly. The Country Cat was fantastic when we finally got a table… who can beat a spicy Bloody Mary garnished with jerky?! Megan’s chicken fried steak (which I think was the main reason we went there) was pretty damn tasty, and everything else was awesome too.
The roses, of course, were absolutely gorgeous. I can’t say enough about how amazingly beautiful the Japanese garden was. Despite so many tourists being there, and the cost of admission, it felt serene and relaxing and I could have spent the entire day there.
Definitely nothing as awesome as the Japanese garden, but it was a nice respite in the middle of the city. The tea house inside seemed like a neat little place to have tea and/or snacks, but we just walked around for a bit and then took off to hit the market.
The glass blown jewelry guy recommended this place to us when we asked where nearby would be good to stop in for beer and snacks. The bartender here was awesome, so was the beer selection and the snacks. I had Korean tacos – yum! They had pinball and pool tables, but we didn’t play at all. The guy working the kitchen was also super friendly and gave me some recs for getting a good massage in the area. Unfortunately I never managed to book one during this trip, but he said his school, The East West School, was a good place to get a good, decently priced massage, and he also recommended the Naga Center for Thai massage.
Henry’s 12th St Tavern
We stopped into Whole Foods real quick on our way to Henry’s and picked up some Russian River Consecration – yum! At Henry’s we sat at the bar and just had 1 beer. They have one of those annoying strips of shaved/packed ice running along the bar that’s supposed to keep your beer cold. The bar tenders all seemed pretty cool though.
Another great suggestion from Megan. Had an wesome sake flight! We ordered a whole bunch of delicious dishes to share amongst the four of us.
Damon walked back to his hotel, and the three of us walked over to the Doug Fir for a nightcap by the fire. Yay gin!
Monday, May 20
After an all day Drupal project training session, Megan picked us up and brought us to a restaurant that her boss recommended. Toro Bravo is a Spanish tapas place with amazing gin drinks, a great wine selection, and to die for food. The three of us got the chef’s menu — $30 per person, everyone at the table had to order it, and they came out with course after course of whatever the chef wanted to make for us.
I even got dessert, which I almost never do, and I’m glad I did. The lemon curd crepes and espresso were a perfect end to the evening. We all called it an early night after we got a friendly local to jump start Megan’s car (she left her lights on by accident so the battery was dead).
Tuesday, May 21
Rogue Distillery and Public House
Throughout the day at DrupalCon I ran into several higher ed folks who I know from other conferences and open source projects. Some of us made plans to meet up Rogue for dinner before the Lullabot party. The food was decent — I had the Kurobuta Kurizo tacos, the service was great, and I got to try some of their spirits since I’d already had most of their beers before.
Wonder Ballroom – Lullabot party
From Rogue we walked over to the Wonder Ballroom, which is actually next door to Toro Bravo and I realized that as we were walking through the neighborhood where Megan’s car was dead the previous evening. It seemed like a neat venue, but by the time we walked all the way over there I was tired and no longer in the mood for loud music and tons of socializing, so we ended up walking back to the hotel for a nightcap and early bed time.
Wednesday, May 22
Burnside Brewing – Higher Ed Drinks
There was a higher ed meetup planned for drinks at Burnside after another day of Drupal, so of course I wanted to hit that. Unfortunately the event was way overbooked and they were turning away folks at the door. We got there when it was super packed, but managed to find one open seat at the bar and snagged it. Damon joined us a bit later and the three of us just ended up having dinner at the bar without mingling with many other higher ed or Drupal folks. It was pretty awesome, just not necessarily what we originally had in mind.
The Beer Mongers
We took Damon over to The Beer Mongers with us where we spent the rest of the evening drinking delicious beer and hanging out with our friend Jim while he was working. We got to meet his boss as well, who was very cool and hooked us up with some tasty beer. We ended up waiting a super long time for a cab to pick us up and bring us back to the hotel later on though. It was pouring rain (and apparently record cold temp for that area) so we weren’t up for walking (even to get the bus we would have had to walk a ways and get soaked) but damn that cab took almost an hour to get there. With the rain and cold the cab companies were three times as busy as usual.
Thursday, May 23
Food Cart Lunch
I skipped out on lunch provided at the conference and joined Dick for a quick train ride downtown to hit up the food cart blocks. We decided to go with La Jarochita for burritos. Yum!
OpenSourcery -> Ground Kontrol
The DrupalCon related event for this evening was a pinball pubcrawl put on by the folks at OpenSourcery. We started off at their office location, which is a pretty open space with a bunch of pinball machines and they provided some beer and pizza. We stayed there a bit and then walked down to Ground Kontrol where they had the entire place set up for us to have free play for hours! Very cool indeed. We only stayed for a drink and a few games to check the place out and then ended up leaving to allow some other folks a chance to play — lots of Drupalistas were waiting in line in the rain outside to get in because they were at capacity. From there we walked over to Saucebox for a late dinner with Damon and a couple guys from UMass.
Saucebox was awesome! It was artsy/club-ish inside — very trendy and the music was super loud, but I didn’t mind that so much considering the food and drink was so delish.
The UMass guys were adamant that we stop at Voodoo Doughnuts on the way back since we were so close. The timing actually ended up being perfect because we only had to wait for a few people, but as we were there the line built up outside. Although the night time line was nothing compared to the hours long line we saw there on Sunday when we walked past and it was beautiful outside. I’m not really a doughnut fan, but since we were there I figured it just wouldn’t be right if I didn’t at least try one… so I ordered the Mexican chocolate doughnut — delicious, spicy, chocolate cakey doughnut that was totally worth it.
Friday, May 24
Dick scheduled an appointment at Float On for a sensory deprivation experience. Sounds neat, but I wasn’t particularly interested in trying it at that point. I managed to sleep late and sneak in a tabata workout in the hotel room instead. :-P
I have so much love for this place! Amazing coffee.. they roast their own and they do the chemex thing. The people working there were super friendly. They share space with Bamboo Revolution so there were all kinds of awesome bamboo items on display, in addition to the furniture all being a mashup of industrial tools and bamboo. Everything in there was just so damn beautiful. We ended up going back a day or two later and purchased some beans to take home. <3
We hit up Green Dragon with Damon for lunch (technically brunch since we hadn’t eaten breakfast at all). Tried some tasty beer and had some OK food.
Then we walked over to Apex where we knew they had Pliny on tap. Very cool beer bar and bottle shop with a great selection (although some stuff was way too expensive) and IIRC they were cash only. All kinds of beer paraphernalia on the walls, and they had the best bathroom graffiti ever. Also – pinball machines.
Damon took off after Apex to meet up with friends and we headed over to Cascade for happy hour to meet up with a couple folks who I know from the HighEdWeb community who live in Portland. Had some great sour beers at Cascade, got to hear about the WebVisions conference from our friend who was attending (same time and venue as DrupalCon), and got to snack a bit while getting to know folks.
Beaker and Flask
After Cascade it was still pretty early and since we hadn’t eaten a full dinner we decided to stop at Beaker & Flask as it was nearby and we’d heard great things. The best part about going there was the atmosphere, and we had perfect seats to watch the fireworks that started as soon as we got there. Admittedly the food wasn’t quite as awesome as we had expected, but it wasn’t bad. The crispy pigs ears kinda turned into cement in our mouths after a bite or two. The tuna we shared was decent, although the menu description sounded a lot better than it actually tasted. I’d definitely go back to give it another try though.
Saturday, May 25
Definitely one of my fave stops of the trip! We walked over after checking into our new hotel (Hotel Lucia) and had an incredible meal. It was pretty late (1.30ish I think) so there was no wait for brunch by that time, and we were able to sit at the bar and dig the atmosphere. I absolutely loved the food and cocktails here.
Jim invited us to join him for some beer at Upright Brewing. Very cool space, good beer, chill atmosphere, got to check out the brewing equipment, and got to meet a couple of Jim’s friends. Can’t beat that for a relaxing Saturday afternoon.
At Upright the conversation at one point led to steamed buns, so Jim mentioned Boke Bowl as a place to get steamed buns in the area. We took that as a sign to hit them up for a snack next and then check out Hair of Dog across the street. Admittedly, the steamed buns were nothing even near as good as Momofuku buns, in fact, the buns we make at home are far better, but this place still seemed like a pretty cool joint.
Hair of the Dog
Stopped in for a drink at the bar (I had the tasting of 4 actually). Cool space, decent beer (I’ve managed to try a few in the past even), but nothing as impressive as lots of folks like to hype about.
Jim said this was his fave pizza joint in the area, and that’s saying a lot for a pizza geek/blogger. He said we should get there at 4.45 (they open at 5) in order to get a seat, or if we’re lucky, we might be able to show up around 5.30 to get a seat in the second wave, but it was unlikely we’d get in any later than that. Well, we gave it a shot anyway… we showed up at 8.40 expecting to be turned away (they even had a sign at the front saying they weren’t seating anyone else that evening) but we lucked out and they had some folks not show up. We managed to get two seats at the bar within five minutes! The people who walked in behind us got turned away. I’m glad we made it in! Great pizza (we got the NY red) and decent wine/beer selection. It was fun watching those guys work together coming in and out of a teeny, busy kitchen. We got to chat with another couple at the bar briefly and gather more local recs too.
Sunday, May 26
Brunch at Mother’s Bistro
Our friends Michelle and Brian, who we met up with at Cascade previously, treated us to brunch. As expected, we had to wait over an hour for a table, but that’s how brunch is in Portland. ;) It was super tasty, although admittedly I liked both Country Cat and Veritable Quandary better, but the food and company were both damn good.
We decided to walk over to Powell’s book store ater brunch to check it out, considering it’s legendary and all. It was huge, and filled with people, and neat to walk around in for bit, but after a while I was ready to go. The third floor was my fave — lots of cool artwork and geeky books.
Bailey’s was super close by so we stopped in for a quick half beer to check the place out. I had an IPA aged in gin barrels that had such an interesting flavor; I really liked it!
After Bailey’s we walked over to the Commons Brewery, which came highly recommended from Jim and other beer-loving folks. On the way, as we started getting closer to the brewery we were walking through a low-traffic neighborhood filled with warehouse-type buildings, we heard loud music and people yelling. As we looked down the street we slowly saw the Pedalounge come into view, filled with drunk people being obnoxious, singing, waving, and beckoning us to join them. I’m sure they were having lots of fun. Their ruckus could be heard all throughout the neighborhood. Needless to say, we were happy to get to the Commons and enjoy the comfortable atmosphere of sampling delicious brews surrounded by brewing equipment and chatting with fellow beer geeks. We got to know one of the brewers a bit and he was kind enough to pop and share a bottle of Flemish Kiss with us.
After a wonderful visit at Commons we walked over to Pambiche, a fantastic Cuban restaurant, to meet Michelle and Brian again. Pambiche is one of their fave places in their neighborhood, and I’m so glad that they shared the love and joined us for dinner.
Monday, May 27
I didn’t think we would do any repeats since there’s so many awesome options in Portland, but we were both totally in the mood for Country Cat again, and this time it was just the two of us so we managed to get right into seats at the bar and it was a completely different experience. I’m glad we went back.
After brunch we walked up Mt Tabor, a volcanic cinder cone surrounded by a park. It was a drizzly, hot and humid day, but it made for a great walk anyway. Afterward we hit up the Rain or Shine Cafe for a pit stop and I had a tasty cardamom latte!
We weren’t sure where to go next, so we just started walking and stopped at the nearest beer bar, the Hedge House. We got there just in time too because it started pouring rain as soon as we got in. We sat outside on their deck (thankfully it was covered and even had heat lamps) and enjoyed a beer until the rain passed.
Raven and Rose
I’m glad I ended up liking the Commons Brewery on Facebook because it was through their page that I found out about the Night of the Living Beers event happening at the Raven and Rose — a sour beer and cheese tasting. The timing and location just worked out perfectly for us. The event took place in the gorgeous upstairs space — very classy and upscale, yet relaxing at the same time. I’d love to go back there for dinner some time.
For dinner a while later we decided to head back to Biwa to try the Omakase (chef’s tasting menu, similar to what we did at Toro Bravo) — $35 per person, everyone at the table had to order it, and they just brought out course after course of whatever the chef wanted to make for us. There were a few repeats of things we had the previous week when we ordered off the regular menu, but it was all welcome and delicious. We finally had to tell the server that we were so full we couldn’t eat anymore, otherwise I don’t think they ever would have stopped bringing food out. The perfect dinner experience before heading back home. All the shots below were taken at Biwa. :)