· By Carley Sheehy
48 Hours in Portland: Must-Try Foods
So much to eat, so little time. But Portland’s famous food scene did not disappoint. Trust me when I say there are a gazillion food options that will satiate any craving… because I could write a book on cravings! Being preggers with #2 arriving right around the corner, I jumped at the chance to return to the Pacific Northwest with my hubby (grown-ups only) for a combined “work trip,” “babymoon” and “anniversary trip,” consisting of uninterrupted time to work (got this done), and do what I do best: EAT! Here’s my guide to 48 hours of food in Portland.
Food Cart Pods
While most major cities dub them as “food trucks,” Portland’s legendary street food is cooked up in “food carts” that usually stick together as “pods.” With over 600 and counting, these food carts are a huge part of Portland’s culture, and not to be missed. I was smitten with the Alder Pod, one of the city’s largest that spans 4 blocks in a square, plus another block across the street. The options are overwhelming with practically every type of major global food represented.
I walked around the block several times, narrowing my cravings down to Bing Mi, home to a line-forming breakfast and lunch item called Jiang Bing. This handheld Chinese savory crepe is unlike anything I’ve ever had before with scrambled eggs, black bean paste, chili sauce, green onions, cilantro, and pickled veggies, plus wonton crackers for a delightful crunch in every bite. With only 48 hours in Portland, every bite counts and let’s just say I went back the very next morning to get my Jiang Bing fix. Absolutely delicious!
But it felt selfish to focus on only one craving, so I frequented the pod a couple more times throughout our quick trip. I settled on the long-ass lamb wrap from Persian Sofreh with oh-so-flavorful seasoned lamb meat that was the star amongst the other fillings, all wrapped up in a toasted tortilla (my hubby’s favorite). I also managed to devour a refreshing honeydew smoothie boba drink and a steamed bun sampler. Have I mentioned that the “48 hours of food in Portland” challenge is not diet-friendly?
I had to see what the buzz was about at this Thai and Southeast Asian restaurant known for their fish-sauce wings. I enjoyed the salty, crispy wings as much as the people next to me, and was glad to pair it was a refreshing papaya salad. It was a little too pungent for my anti-wings hubby, but we both agreed it was worth trying, even for a brief 48 hours of food in Portland.
Pok Pok also has Pok Pok Som, a line of natural drinking vinegars that are refreshingly sweet and tart, all hand-crafted in Portland. With flavors like basil, honey, pomegranate, tamarind, ginger, turmeric, and pineapple, I couldn’t leave without a few flavors. I plan to re-create the delicious mocktail I had the night prior at our hotel bar that was made with apple cider, lemon, bitters and the Pok Pok Som apple vinegar.
For our anniversary dinner, we went with a local’s recommendation to go to Andina, a Peruvian restaurant in the Pearl District that has been a staple long before the current Peruvian food trend. I always ask the server for recommendations when dining, and the kind gent at Andina took us through almost every item on the menu. We settled on a few tapas, namely scallops (conchas a la parrilla), potato “tower” (morada causas) and the most delicious empanadas. For the entrée, we went with a classic Peruvian beef and potato entrée (lomo saltado). Every morsel was thoroughly enjoyable and beautifully plated.
Speaking of sweet tooth cravings…
Salt & Straw
The line around the corner only made this handmade ice cream joint more intriguing. But it’s the flavors that really hooked me in… A whole section of the menu dedicated to vegetable flavors (what the!!!), pear and blue cheese, strawberry honey balsamic with black pepper, to name a few. While their “home” is Portland, Salt & Straw seems to be rapidly growing and I’m ecstatic that they have some shops opening in the Bay Area.
Blue Star Donuts
Having been to VooDoo Doughnuts a couple of times before (another Portland must-try), I wasn’t sure what to expect from this Portland donut rival. With both classic and innovative flavors, VooDoo speaks to my wild and slightly tacky side, while Blue Star speaks to my sophisticated classy side. A totally different experience! Blue Star’s gourmet donuts are made from scratch with local fresh fruits, herbs and spices. My hubby is a self-proclaimed donut afficianado, and he was thoroughly impressed.
And that, my friends, is how you eat your way through Portland in 48 hours (oink-oink!). While I wish we had more time (to eat), kiddo #1 was waiting for us at home, sweet home. But I definitely plan to return… when I’m not preggers and food disabled (wah-wah), so I can also participate in the beer and coffee scene that is near and dear to Portland too.
What are your favorite eats in Portland?