I’ve been blogging up a storm about the Pacific Northwest these past few weeks but for good reason. I made my March Take 12 Trips visit into a real vacation and spent five days in Seattle and Portland. While you’re all probably sick of hearing about the PNW by now, for blogging formalities (which I imposed on myself), I still have to write my March installation in this series, but will keep it brief with a Friday Five.
1.) Local and Organic–I arrived at a point on this trip where I wondered why the restaurants who aren’t local and organic don’t advertise that they are, because they’re the exception, not the rule in this area. So many restaurants in Seattle have locally sourced ingredients, are fair trade, and are part of the farm-to-table craze. So, when I say that “local and organic” was one of the highlights of the trip, what I mean is almost all of the food stuck out during my travels. Some of my favorites were Portage Bay Cafe for brunch, Homegrown for the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten, and Lardo in Portland, which isn’t necessarily part of the farm fresh craze but still has delicious sandwiches.
2.) Coffee–Seattle’s coffee culture is some of the most famous in the country, and Portland’s right up there with it. I’ve always enjoyed going to a city’s coffee shops when I travel and trying their iced coffee after going for a run, but I really started getting into coffee this summer when I worked at a cafe and then when I studied in Italy last semester, which meant spending more time on coffee breaks than in class. For me, coming to Seattle and Portland meant several stops to cafes throughout the day, and I don’t think I once drank a bad cup. My favorites were Fremont Coffee Company, Fuel, and Stumptown. The original Starbucks across from Pike’s Place is a pilgrimage destination for caffeine addicts, but the coffee they serve in the store is the same that you will find elsewhere.
3.) Books–The PNW also gets another one of my favorite things right: books. Powell’s is a marvel in and of itself, but I also enjoyed the Wide World Travel Store which is a traveler’s paradise. The Fremont Vintage Mall is stocked with old school comic books, records, and other oddities, and is another fun place to browse at leisure.
4.) The Views–It’s hard to think of a more photogenic American city than Seattle. Everywhere you go, you find parks, funky restaurants, and then a glimpse of majestic Mt. Rainier off in the distance. I thoroughly enjoyed being artsy and taking some funky pictures around the Emerald City. It was more difficult to do Portland justice in my pictures, except one in particular which I think defines best defines Portland with the bike, flannel, nature, and bearded hipster.
5.) Portland’s Food Trucks–When you visit Portland, the key is to food truck. Yes, it’s a verb. My favorite was Big-Ass Sandwiches: yes I ate a big-ass sandwich, but I didn’t feel uncomfortably full after (probably because I didn’t entirely finish and we had just walked up and down Mt. Tabor). The French Dip which I tried was phenomenal: slow-cooked beef, delicious french fries packed right into the sandwich, and cheese all squished into some light and fresh ciabatta bread.
Aside from Big-Ass, we also liked Nong’s Khao Man Gai and next-door The Dump Truck, a dumpling truck whose sampler is a great dish to split alongside something else. On our last night, we got dinner at the food truck pavilion at the end of Mississippi Ave where you can find weird things like vegan BBQ and Korean-Mexican food. Only in Portland, right?