My last night in Portland, I decided to go to a restaurant called Coquine. I’d read a lot about it, so even though it was completely out of the way and cost way too much money to get there in a cab, I went.
The minute the cab dropped me off, I felt like I had come home. The restaurant is on a street corner in the middle of a neighborhood. The sun was setting and if you looked up, there were steep hills with pine trees awash in light. Everything was quiet, but not eerily so. It was peaceful.
I clamored in with my wheeling suitcase, expecting the inside of the restaurant to be noisier. But it wasn’t. Everyone was sitting at simple wooden tables, sipping wine, talking and relaxing. A few turned to look at me with my suitcase, but otherwise, no one gave me a second glance.
I let the hostess take my suitcase and she led me to a seat at the bar. The man on one side of me was a well-known baker in the area, who, even more coincidentally, was from D.C. The man on my other side was a native of San Francisco, the city I aspire to live in one day. Both of them hate D.C. and tried to talk me into moving to Portland.
They made a good case. “The quality of life here is so much better,” the baker said to me. “Why do you live in D.C.?” the younger man asked me. It came out that he had a cat named Barbra Streisand, which only made me trust his opinion more.
Seriously though, I don’t know why I don’t live in Portland or Seattle. The Pacific Northwest is a magical place where the food is delicious, the air is crisp and pure, water isn’t too far away and people are happy. Like, really happy. After years of people barely making eye contact with me in D.C., it was slightly jarring to have people stare at me with a wide smile on their face. It felt even weirder for them to accept the things that I say as normal.
Anyway, I could go on and on, but basically, I’m in love. Maybe I will move back someday, I’m not sure. Until then, I’ll be pining after my two weeks there (pun fully intended).
Here are some highlights that you should check out if you’re ever in both cities:
I came to visit my friend Steph and my brother, but I almost stayed (forever) for the food. Seattle is a food-lover’s dream. From Pike Place Market to the farmers’ markets every weekend (and I’m assuming, week), you can find fresh, beautiful ingredients that are almost nonexistent in other cities.
We stopped at Pike Place my first full day in the city, and my jaw dropped at all the fresh produce and fish. We walked through the market at the pace of toddlers because I kept stopping to gape at everything.
The second day, we went to West Seattle to check out the farmers’ market and the shops. I loved every store we went into, but especially this one, Fleurt.
My last night in Seattle, we went to get pizza at Delancey. I’ve been wanting to go since I read Molly Wizenberg’s blog and books, so getting to finally have dinner there was a dream. The pizza was the best I’ve ever had: tomato sauce, mozzarella and anchovies. Heaven.
One of my first stops in Portland was the food trucks on Adler Street, and that should probably be one of your first stops, too. The food is better than some I’ve had in sit-down restaurants, and the wrap I had from Wolf and Bear’s was tear-inducingly good.
While the day was young, I made my way to Salt & Straw. It was another dream come true, because I’d read about them years ago and have wanted to try their ice cream ever since. I got carrot cake batter and caramel corn on the cob. Needless to say, I cried.
Some other food places you should check out in Portland are SuperBite, Pine State Biscuits and Vivienne Kitchen & Pantry. SuperBite opened recently and has amazing small plates. I got a salmon avocado dish with puffed quinoa. Pine State Biscuits has…well, biscuits. But they’re unlike any you’ve ever tried or will try again. Vivienne Kitchen & Pantry is also new, and it’s adorable. The interiors are beautiful and the pastries and breakfast dishes are works of art. They’re also delicious.
Tea and an almond cardamom cookie at Vivienne
In terms of things to do, I would recommend going on some hikes. I went on one through Washington Park to see the International Rose Test Garden and the Japanese Garden. Both gardens took my breath away.
I also went on a hike to the Pittock Mansion, which promises unparalleled views of the city. They didn’t lie, but I almost lost a lung trying to get there. Two hours uphill isn’t really in my workout repertoire, even though I consider myself in good shape. It didn’t help that I was wearing Vans, which offer little support in rustic terrain. Still, I made it, and I have the pictures to prove it.
My last night in Portland, I rode the Portland Aerial Tram uphill to get a birds-eye view of the city. I saw Mt. Hood in the distance and it took my breath away.
Check out my Instagram for more recommendations and pictures from the trip!
Also, I heard a lot of good music throughout my time in the Pacific Northwest. Here’s a song that I listened to in Seattle and a throwback that I heard in Portland. Both are pretty representative of the vibe in each city.