Portland has enough quality fooderies to satisfy even the most well-traveled and cynical food and drink lover out there. You could spend a full week in town and barely scratch the surface. During Round 1, we had a chance to get our feet wet, but the experience left our taste buds aching for more. The stars aligned and J was able to extend a work trip into the weekend so, without further exposition, I give you Round 2…FIGHT!
After being wowed the first time, we had our standards set pretty high. Oh Portland, you little rascal, you just had to outdo yourself yet again.
Langbaan – Possibly the best Thai food we have ever consumed. You will find this hidden gem behind Pradee restaurant, basically through a secret door. Their fixed menu will amaze your senses. A bit sweet, a bit spicy, a little salty, and an experience with Thai food like none other. The menu changes monthly, so you don’t quite know what you’ll be eating till days or weeks prior, but you know it’ll be fresh and innovative. They do 2 seatings per night, and the place is tiny, so make reservations in advance. If there’s nothing available, put yourself on the wait list and you will receive a text message if there are cancellations.
Lucky for us, we were able to grab last minute seats via a cancellation. Start off with a drink – they have cocktails, wine, or beer. It was a great surprise when I got to try a Pono Brewing (a local microbrew) Pineapple Kolsch, which was a perfect pairing for the meal. Dinner consisted of a few smaller appetizers, followed by a hearty entrée, and ending with 2 desserts.
Highly recommend checking this place out if you’re up for a food adventure, you’re into Thai food, and you’re OK with a bit of spice (though I’m sure they can amend if breathing fire is not your thing). One more “secret” pointer is to arrive early. We were the first ones there and got to pick our spot. The chef’s table is definitely where you want to be!
Han Oak – A place that we had heard of that served great Korean food with a Portland vibe, of sorts. When making reservations (recommended), let the hostess know if you are not OK with a communal table or you will likely make some new friends.
For hungry first timers, we recommend going with the Chef’s Choice 11 items courses so you can try all their best dishes. No matter what, don’t forget to try at least one banchan plate, the pork and chive dumplings, and a rice or noodle dish. All of our dishes were delicious. Since parts of the menu change seasonally, we will definitely be returning to check out some other dishes. Make sure to ask your wait staff where you are in the journey so you can pace accordingly.
Voodoo Doughnuts – If you’ve been to Portland, you’ve seen those big pink boxes that have a Voodoo looking doughnut in the front. Everyone talks about the lines, but (pro tip) if you go to the 24-hour shop (Voodoo Doughnut Too), the line is a lot shorter and very doable. In fact, you almost want a little line, just so you can figure out which doughnuts to buy, as there’s so many to choose from! We selected the Maple Bar and the Captain Crunch Doughnut … both
were fantastic, but the Captain Crunch was something out of this world (albeit sweet tooth talking too)!
Base Camp Brewing Company– When you enter this brewery, the first thing you’ll notice is the how well the name represents the ambiance here. It’s got adventure written all over it! Plus, you can get craft beer in an aluminum bottle for your next beach trip or hike, how cool! Split a flight of 10 with your buddy or just have it all to yourself. J and I went for the 10 taster option, because let’s be real here, it was not happening any other way. Don’t forget to try the S’more Stout if it’s available, since they will fire up a little marshmallow as a topper! If you’re hungry, you can order some delicious wood fired pizza that’s made out of an oven in the back of a truck! It’s legit, trust us.
Soter Vineyards – Located atop a mountain near the beginning of wine country. I’m sure the views from the tasting room are fantastic, but visibility was limited due to the dense clouds. Highly recommend doing the MSR Provisions Tasting, which was a complete indulgence of food and wine to the nth degree. Small bites made in the open kitchen on site included hoe cakes with golden roe, arancini, squash gnocchi with truffle, and a turkey bacon, coppa, ham terrine just to name a few. All bites were paired with the Mineral Springs or North Valley Soter wines from whites to Pinots.
Our favorite wine here was their sparkling rose – a must try for sure. If you just visit for a tasting, the vineyard offers a classic (foodless) tasting as well. Reservations are required for all tastings. This was not a cheap visit by any stretch, but you get value for your money!
Portland Japanese Garden – While the winter may not be the best of times for visiting the garden, the zen vibes and greenery still surround you throughout the walk. The garden is located in the West Hills of Portland and overlooks the city and Mt. Hood (on a clear day). There’s about 2 hours worth of walking if you tour the entire garden so bring good shoes and a jacket. If you can, give yourself at least an afternoon to visit.
During your visit, you’ll get to see different garden arrangements including a pond garden, sand and stone garden, and a bonsai terrace. The garden also offers tea ceremonies, art exhibits, and other cultural demonstrations at different times of the year. During our visit, the garden was showcasing a Noh Mask exhibit, which was pretty interesting, as we had never seen Noh Masks up close before. Since the garden is located in Washington Park, parking is plentiful, but to actually get to the garden you will need to take a free shuttle from the parking lot or take a 10-minute walk up some stairs from the lot.
Tip for Bank of America customers, the Garden participates in the “Museums on Us” free museum weekends.
We stayed out near Beaverton during Round 2. Beaverton is home to many companies, including the most well-known, Nike. The Aloft Beaverton is a great spot, right near Whole Foods (to pick up any snacks or just breakfast), and also has a very contemporary feel. It’s not quite luxurious, but nice amenities include an indoor pool, location right across from a park with a nice walking/running path, and a new fitness center. Parking is also covered, which is a plus in wet weather! The best part about staying in Beaverton is its closer to the Willamette Valley and cuts down the time required from leaving your room to when the vino first hits your lips!
Round 2 was a success. Round 3 will be completed during some warmer weather…when the trails are ready for some hiking!