If you follow along with me on Instagram (@cassandranoelle) you might have seen that I recently spent a lot of time in Portland Oregon. Austin had a job assignment there so we spent just over a month living in a cozy apartment just a quick drive (or a train ride) away from the heart of downtown. My life-long best friends, Hannah and Emily, came from Southern California for a girls weekend while I was there and we made the most of our time and explored wildly.
(The above picture captures just one of the reasons I love Downtown Portland. He’s just nonchalantly riding a unicycle around the city.)
On our first morning, we headed downtown to have brunch at the highly-acclaimed Tasty n Alder on 12th Ave. There was an hour wait, so we put our names in and walked across the street to get coffee at Heart Roasters.
The atmosphere at Heart was incredible. The style and ambience made it the ideal place to stop for a cup of coffee and, while their coffee was decently good, it wasn’t the best we had in Portland.
Finally we got the call that there was a table for us at Tasty n Alder so we made our way back to enjoy our brunch.
Tasty n Alder, a John Gorham restaurant in Downtown Portland, Oregon, is a modern steakhouse featuring a fun, family-style menu of innovative dishes with diverse international origins. Tasty n Alder’s brunch menu is inspired by Chef Gorham’s travels and experiences with the vital immigrant community working in the restaurant industry whose own cultural traditions have helped re-shape American cuisine as a global collaboration of flavors. In Tasty n Alder’s welcoming open dining space that is both urban and comfortable, a guest’s experience can be as versatile as the menu itself with seating at the lively bar, outdoor seats for the downtown Portland experience, or at a classic dining table. Tasty n Alder | About
We ordered three things to share; the Budapest Coffee Cake, Korean Fried Chicken, Tasty Steak & Cheddar Eggs. Everything was delicious on its own, but the flavors didn’t go together too well – if you visit, maybe be a bit less adventurous than we were. If I ever go back, I’d love to try their Lemon Ricotta Pancake with Blueberry Syrup or their Cast Iron Frittata.
Afterwards, we decided to visit Powell’s City of Books to walk off our food. We had all been to Powell’s before on previous trips to Portland, but it’s so amazing we needed to go back. And besides, it gave us a chance to explore as we walked.
Powell’s City of Books is the largest used and new bookstore in the world, occupying an entire city block and housing approximately one million books. Located in downtown Portland’s Pearl District, the City of Books has nine color-coded rooms and over 3,500 different sections, offering something for every interest, including an incredible selection of out-of-print and hard-to-find titles. A one-of-a-kind Rare Book Room draws bibliophiles from near and far to browse an impressive collection of autographed first editions and other collectible volumes. Powell’s City of Books | About
Powell’s Books aka Heaven for Book-Lovers
The entire store is a world to get lost in. If I wasn’t limited by my suitcase, I would have taken several volumes home with me.
Is there anything better than browsing through a lovely bookstore?
“This book is even better than the book CATS was based on!”
(for my fellow Hamilton and musical theatre fans)
Once we were finished at Powell’s, we headed back outside to continue our adventures walking on the streets of the city.
I know, I know. When you go to Portland you’re supposed to get ice cream at Salt & Straw. However, we have all been to Salt & Straw before at their Venice Beach and Larchmont locations in Southern California. Salt & Straw is good, but it’s not our favorite so we were excited to to try Ruby Jewel Scoops instead – especially since we were hungry after all of our walking around at Powell’s.
Now I can say that I like Ruby Jewel better than Salt & Straw. So much more.
Their ice cream isn’t as heavy and the flavors are absolute perfection.
We each decided to try two flavors; Brown Sugar Sour Cream with Rhubarb Jam and Pistachio Matzo Brittle. Both were outstanding and I can’t decide which one I liked more.
Happy faces brought to you by Ice Cream.
Is it a trip to Portland without Voodoo Doughnut?
First, let me add a disclaimer that we didn’t buy these donuts for ourselves (not after just eating ice cream!) I got them for Austin to share at work. But still, it’s an iconic place and popular tourist spot that I was glad to check off my have-seen list. We had to wait for about an hour in line and I don’t particularly like donuts, but I was in awe of the creativity of these.
Note: Voodoo Doughnut is cash-only so be sure to have plenty in your wallet before waiting in line!
It was a long day, full of miles of walking, new books, and delicious food. Portland as a city has such a unique vibe that is artistic, laid-back, fun, and relaxing. It’s not as stressful as Chicago or New York and even though we were tired by the end of our day, we were looking forward to a few more days of new experiences ahead (more of those stories coming soon!)
Have you been to the Pearl District of Downtown Portland?
What are some of your favorite places there?