‘Keep Portland Weird’ is written in huge letters on the back of a building across from the famous Voodoo Donuts on Third Street in Portland and few sayings can sum up Portland quite so well. It is a weird place, that’s for sure. However, it is also one of the best cities in the United States and I was as surprised by being there as you may be reading this article. Portland has so much to offer in terms of restaurants, bars, good walking, parks, nice people and mainly just people watching. Portland is a city of transients, runaways and just plain weirdoes or yahoos as I like to say. But obviously that’s not all, it has very normal people as well but the yahoos are much more fun to watch and talk about! The main thing I will be left with from Portland is that it is a gorgeous city with a great edgy vibe. You see all types of people. It’s like San Francisco meets Seattle but more laid back and much cheaper. I had an absolute blast in the most underrated city in America.
I stayed at ‘The Nines’ hotel which is a Luxury Collection property and one of, if not the best hotel in Portland. It was an awesome hotel with a great lounge with free drinks and good food along with a great bar and restaurant called Departure on the top floor. Departure is one of the few really nice, chic places in Portland. The hotel is located right in the center of the city and is very easy to walk to anywhere in town and is just across the square from the main tram line that circles the city and even goes out to the airport.
My first stop after arriving Thursday night into Portland was to go to the famous Ringside Steakhouse. You may recognize it because it is listed in all of those airport magazines as one of the top independent steakhouses in America. Needless to say, it didn’t disappoint. The onion rings, seared scallops and steaks are killer. The service was great and the prices can’t be beat for a well known steakhouse. As I said, Portland is very affordable.
After dinner, we headed over to a bar called Rialto, which was around the corner from the hotel to play some pool. We met some people that were out on an expense account and kept offering to buy us food and drinks which was funny and fine of course. It was a guy and a girl who worked together and they had been out with clients. The woman was out for the first time since remission of her breast cancer so it made us feel good to play pool with them and have a great time. They were so nice to us and I was so happy to hear she was OK.
My first move upon waking up Friday was to hit the aforementioned Voodoo Donuts. I had never heard of it before although apparently I did see a special on it on the Travel Channel as it was featured on a wacky food show. So after posting my Facebook status as I was in Portland, I received a lot of emails about what I should get at this donut place. So I ordered pretty much everything in the store including their famous bacon and maple donut. Yes I know it sounds awful but it was tremendous. Other unique donuts they offered were Butterfinger and Oreo donuts along with various cereal donuts like Cocoa Puffs and Trix. Other more creative donut names were the ‘cock n balls’, among many others. The bottom line was Voodoo Donuts is a must when you visit Portland…although the sugar may leave you shaking for a few hours afterwards!
After donuts, I needed some real food as well and Portland is chalk full of food stalls. I mean there are tons of them with every type of food you can ask for. I ate at a really good Mexican stall that had carnitas and all the other Mexican favorites. They also had Hawaiian, Thai, Vegan, Chinese, Vietnamese and anything else you could think of.
Friday night I went out to dinner with my friend Donovan who was actually the guy that initially approached me to start this website when he worked at Bootsnall. So we caught up and had a great meal at Deschutes Brewery in the Pearl District of Portland which has a lot of bars and restaurants and is kind of the Soho/Meatpacking District of Portland. After dinner we went to a place called Touché to meet up with one of my readers, Ryan-who is a wealth of travel knowledge and a nice guy, who had moved to Portland. We played pool for a while and then hopped around the area a bit to check out a few other places. After several vodka sodas I was off to bed to prepare for Saturdays festivities.
The main reason I was in Portland was to go to the huge Oregon/USC game in Eugene at the University of Oregon. The seats were awesome, 12th row at the 10 yard line and the stadium was great too. What a home field advantage for the Oregon Ducks who ended up winning 47-20, scoring the most points ever against USC and taking control in the Pac 10 title race, while gaining an outside shot at the BCS title game. The weather stayed pretty good for the time we were in Eugene but the best part of the game was the tailgating beforehand and at halftime.
Walking from the parking lot, we were looking for a good place to have some beers before the game and we asked some random people who were walking toward the stadium, they mentioned a few bars but then said, why don’t you just come to our tailgates. We were delighted at their kindness and were happy to join. The people we were with were awesome and so nice. All lifelong Oregon fans, they were such gracious hosts and were great to talk with, I am very grateful. Speaking of Grateful, I really enjoyed hearing some of the old Grateful Dead stories from the father that he experienced during the 70’s. Anyway, I think they are probably going to read this so I just wanted to say thanks again to all and I really appreciate it. And it’s going to be nice to have some Maryland Terrapin fans in Oregon come basketball season.
After the game, we headed back to Portland, getting in around midnight and heading straight out for a few drinks for Halloween. I didn’t have a costume but a great time was had simply watching others in theirs and in some case out of theirs. Some of the girls we saw were falling out of their costumes as they appeared to be wasted on several drugs at the same time. It was fairly entertaining and that’s pretty typical of Portland. Ironically, I ended up talking to four guys dressed as pimps from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Yes I thought it was really random too and we followed them to some ‘after hours’ place although it closed at like 2:30am. It was fun and I was exhausted so headed back to the hotel and hit the hay.
Sunday, I just walked around the local markets they have by the water on Sundays and got some good food including Nepalese momo’s from one of the street stalls aside from two cool T-shirts. I was sad to leave Portland as I had a really great weekend and was pleasantly surprised about how much I liked it. I highly recommend taking an open mind and heading up to Portland for a weekend. You won’t regret it and if you head to Eugene for a Ducks game, be sure to get ‘Ducked Up On Quack’!