For those of you who read my travel piece about Seattle, there’s more where that came from. And for those who haven’t, what are you doing? Go and read that right now. Listen up, folks, because this is the sequel to “Allison takes the Pacific Northwest.” The next stop on my spring break travels is another popular city in the Pacific Northwest: Portland, Oregon. Home of breweries, coffee shops and we can’t forget about the kombucha — Portland really has it all. Although I’ve been to Oregon many times before, I have yet to experience Portland, and what better way to explore a new city than with one of my best friends!
So after our 6 a.m. SoulCycle class at the grand opening of SoulCycle South Lake Union, my friend and I hopped on a BoltBus from Seattle to Portland. We’ve never taken a bus like this before, but it was a great experience. We met a really amazing couple on the bus and shared many stories and laughs during this bus ride, which made it much more enjoyable.
11:00 a.m.: Bowls ‘n ‘buch
The bus dropped us off in the Pearl District and we said goodbye to our new friends. With four hours of sleep, our day’s cardio complete and some green juice in our system, we were ready to explore a new city, but our first order of business was to get food. We decided on Prasad, a vegetarian and gluten-free cafe where I ordered a dragon bowl with smoky tempeh and a turmeric latte that were both insanely delicious — I literally still dream about this bowl to this day. With our stomachs full, we were on our way to our Airbnb until we stumbled upon World Foods, a family-owned grocery store. Of course, we had to stop and check out what the locals were eating and drinking. And by drinking, we mean kombucha. After picking up a couple bottles of Portland kombucha, we were finally ready to drop off our stuff at our Airbnb just outside of Downtown.
1:00 p.m.: Makin’ our way Downtown
After settling down in our Airbnb, we made our way Downtown. Our first, and definitely not our last, stop was Stumptown Coffee, an iconic Portland-based coffee shop. As avid coffee drinkers, we both ordered iced lattes with cow milk alternatives. We sipped on our first brews in Portland as we explored the many gems in the area, including Powell’s City of Books, which is a bookstore that spans an entire block and is filled floor-to-ceiling with new and used books. As we worked our way through Downtown, we also stumbled upon some cute boutiques, and if there’s anything I like just as much as plant shops, it has to be cute shops (bonus points if the cutesy shop also sells plants). From handcrafted jewelry to leather goods, candles and even hot sauce, MadeHere PDX sells all things made in Portland. Porch Light and Tender Loving Empire are some other cute shops that you need to check out if you’re into jewelry, plants, stationery and everything in-between.
5:00 p.m.: Everything’s in full bloom
As a recommendation from our Airbnb host, we checked out the cherry blossom trees by the water before we headed to dinner. We came at the perfect time of the year because apparently, these beauties are only in full bloom for a short period of time. After taking in the beautiful view, we headed over to Marukin Ramen for dinner. Located in the Pine Street Market, Marukin serves delicious ramen sourced from local ingredients. We both got the vegan shoyu red ramen, which was a great way to end our first day in Portland.
9:00 p.m.: Portlandia in Portland
What’s a better way to spend our first night in Portland than to watch Portlandia while snacking on some Siete Foods grain-free chips with Whole Foods guac and sipping on Portland kombucha? Nothing. As we winded down for the night, we started planning for our last day in Portland and, boy, was there a lot for us to do in the next 24 hours.
8:00 a.m.: Some pretty good coffee
Today was focused on exploring the east side of Portland. We started off our jam-packed day with a cup of Good Coffee, literally. This aesthetic coffee shop serves more than just a backdrop for some cute pictures — they also serve a mean brew. Serving Oatly oat milk, my favorite cow milk alternative, this spot’s definitely a gem. Lightly caffeinated, we made our way to Broder Cafe for some Scandinavian brunch as recommended by a sales associate at Porch Light. We opted for the Swedish hash and baked eggs, which were so savory and mouthwatering. Pro tip: You can’t really go wrong with anything on the menu at this popular brunch joint.
11:00 a.m.: Stay hydrated (and caffeinated)
At this point, we’d only had one cup of coffee, and if you know us, you would know that one cup of coffee is never enough. With that in mind, we decided to get caffeinated via a different method: tea. This lead us to Townshend’s Tea Company, a popular tea and kombucha company known for its Brew Dr. Kombucha. We each stocked up on some loose leaf tea and ordered some drinks — a vanilla rooibos latte with coconut milk and kombucha on tap. After exploring the rest of Southeast Division Street, we took an Uber to Alberta. Still craving more caffeine, we stopped by Barista and ordered an iced oatmeal cookie latte with Oatly oat milk — boy oh boy was this delicious. Call me a grandma but I love oatmeal cookies. Sweet and cinnamon-y, this latte was a real treat. With our delicious lattes in our hands, we made our way down Northeast Alberta Street, stopping by shops and picking up some pastries from Petite Provence, a French bistro that serves yummy brunch and delicious pastries.
3:00 p.m.: Heaven on earth, aka kombucha taproom
The highlight of our time in Portland was definitely our visit to the SOMA Kombucha taproom. Although Portland is known for its breweries, its kombucha is pretty noteworthy as well. A self-serve taproom, SOMA Kombucha offers growlers, cups and pre-packed bottles of its yummy kombucha. If you’re indecisive like me and can’t make up your mind about anything, no fear because you’re free to sample the many flavors that they have on tap! Bonus: they also have ginger shots which are oh-so-satisfying. We made sure to pick up several bottles of kombucha each to fly back to Berkeley with, in addition to cups of kombucha to sip on before dinner. With nine bottles of kombucha in a box and a few in our hands, we made our way back to the Airbnb.
6:00 p.m.: Doughnuts or donuts?
Our time in Portland was coming to a close, but there was still something we needed to do: visit the iconic Voodoo Doughnut. Now, I’m not a huge fan of donuts but it didn’t seem quite right to visit Portland and not check out this spot. With creative and crazy concoctions, Voodoo Doughnut really has something for everyone, even our vegan folks. Although the vegan cock n’ balls seemed pretty appetizing, I opted for a classic vegan frosted donut with rainbow sprinkles. After donuts, we headed across the street to the famous Keep Portland Weird mural, a popular spot for photos. As we made our way to dinner, we had to stop by Stumptown one last time to grab some coffee and kombucha on tap. To continue with our ramen tour of the Pacific Northwest, we went to Boxer Ramen and both enjoyed an insanely flavorful vegan ramen.
4:00 a.m.: Bubble wrap and ‘buch
Remember all the kombucha we got from SOMA Kombucha yesterday and the other bottles we picked up throughout our 48 hours in Portland? Well now came the challenge of packaging them for our flight back to the Bay Area. With a roll of bubble wrap in hand, we woke up at 4:00 am and started wrapping each bottle (and our beloved Ellenos from Seattle) individually for safe travels. Layering towels in a box, we carefully placed our bubble-wrapped kombucha and hoped for the best as we made our way to PDX for our early morning flight. We checked in our box of kombucha and made sure to ask for a fragile sticker because we were flying with some precious cargo, aka 12 bottles of life-changing kombucha. When asked what was in the box, we both responded without hesitation, “kombucha.” The clerk was unfazed by our response, so I’m assuming kombucha is a popular commodity to ship out of Portland. Go figure. Once we got through TSA, we both stopped by, you guessed it, Stumptown Coffee for our final cup of brew in Portland.
If you were wondering, every bottle of kombucha made it back to the Bay Area in one piece! This just shows that with determination and hope, anything is possible, friends — and we really do mean anything. That also includes exploring Portland in 48 hours with one of your best friends. Spending spring break in the Pacific Northwest is a bit out of the ordinary, given that I went somewhere that was 20 degrees colder than the Bay Area, but I had an unforgettable time in Portland and cannot wait to go back again in the near future.