Monday, August 23, 2010

Portland: Food, Drinks, and more Food!

I know I must have mentioned that I'm a kuishinbo a dozen times.  I love to eat.  I had a list of places where I wanted to eat that was a mile long.  I only had at most 12 meals that I could play around with and that's if I was able to keep my game face on.  I'm good, but I'm a gal who needs some recovery time in between - some longer than others.

I broke it down into several categories: Off the Beaten Path, Drinks, and Lovely Meals.

During my trip around Mount Hood, I was on a quest for Huckleberry Pie.  Unfortunately, I was a day too early and missed the Huckleberry Festival at Apple Valley Country Store, the only one of its kind in the area. 
As I walked into the store, the smell of barbecue nearly overwhelmed me and caused me to pass out.  It was at least 3 hours since my last meal and I was hungry.  First thing first, though.  Huckleberry Pie.
I nearly started to cry when I was told that there were no more Huckleberry pies as they were all being saved for the following day.  The did tell us that we could purchase fresh huckleberries. But since I was still on the road and didn't have a cooler, all I could do was stare, take photos and sigh over these beautiful berries.  On a positive note, I was able to purchase some huckleberry jam made at this store.  The choices were numerous but I decided to be a purist and buy the plain ol' huckleberry.
Ravenous from the smell of the barbecue [which was for the festival the following day] I desperately asked this nice young lady behind the register if she had any suggestions for lunch in the area. 
She recommended Michoacan in Odell. As I was getting directions for the Mexican Restaurant that she claimed had award winning carnitas and homemade tortillas [I swear she smacked her lips when she mentioned the tortillas], I saw this bumper sticker just over her shoulder.  I almost gave in to some primal urge to hurt someone as the sticker mocked me.
The only thing that saved this young girl was her lunch referral...and the fact that I had no desire to spend my vacation in jail.  

Her vague directions of "head towards Odell, it's right on the main street" had us circling around for just a bit until we realized she said "Main St." Michoacan was located on a long street that only had a few shops which included a grocery store, an auto repair shop, and another Mexican restaurant.
I ordered the carnitas, one of my favorite dishes that I repeatedly order when I go to Mexican restaurants.  Before I committed, I made sure it was deep fried, just the way I liked it.  It was.
I realized as I bit into the tortillas that the girl behind the counter at Apple Valley Country Store did, in fact, smack her lips when she talked about the homemade tortillas.  They were to die for.  Just slightly sweet and flavorful corn, thick enough to hold my food, I continued to eat them even though I couldn't eat another bite of carnitas.  They were that good. 
I read this plaque below and asked our server about the ingredients, was it REALLY all made from scratch?? He told me that the tortilla chips weren't but everything else they made on their own.  The guacamole was excellent.  Nice rich and creamy. 
Another favorite meal was in Lafayatte in the Willamette Valley, Martha's Tacos.  Very unassuming, we were referred to this location from a couple of ladies at the Oregon Wine Bar in Portland.  If not for the Garmin GPS system, we would've driven right by it.
I walked up to the counter and asked her what kinds of tacos they had.  Beef, Chicken, and Pork was the bored automatic response.  Yawn.  I asked her if they had any Cabeza [head] or Lengua [tongue].  She perked up and said that while they didn't have Cabeza, they did have Lengua.  I smiled and ordered 3 tacos, even though Carrie and I had decided to eat light because we didn't want to ruin our appetite for dinner.
Three juicy, tender tacos, one tastier than the next.  My favorite is still the lengua but the carnitas and carne wasn't bad at all!  I couldn't stop eating the chips and she did say that they made their own chips as well as their carrots onion jalapeno pickles, which I ate by the handful.
Pine State Biscuits was at the top of of the list for breakfasts which had a booth at the Saturday Farmer's Market at PSU.  I didn't actually see the sign until AFTER we paid for our breakfast but all I had to do to find the booth was to look for the longest line.  I was told by a kind lady in back of us that this line wasn't long at all.
I looked with some confusion at the menu.  Once again, the kind lady in back of us said that she normally just ordered a buttered and jammed biscuit but her husband ordered this monster of a sandwich called The Reggie.  Fried chicken, bacon, cheese, smothered with gravy, with an fried egg to top it off.  Hmmmm...that is MUCH more my speed.  Although I don't like gravy, so I ordered it sans gravy, eggs...and cheese because it doesn't like me.
I saw the first sandwich being snugly wrapped up to go.  I hoped that one would be enough.  I had a big day ahead of me and I didn't want to go hungry...
I felt better once I saw my sandwich of deliciousness.The fried chicken was moist on the inside with a crisp battered shell.  I love that my bacon was a thick cut so had some nice chew on it.  The biscuit...was perfect.  not light and flaky really but more dense, sweet and thick. 
Another great breakfast was at Kenny and Zuke's. I had tweeted in hesitation whether or not one could have pastrami for breakfast in all good conscience. I still don't know the answer to that but I really didn't feel too bad/guilty after having consumed it for breakfast at Kenny and Zuke's.  I don't even like rye bread but some how it tasted magical with this sandwich.  I loved the thick cuts of pastrami with gooey cheese [that still hated me].
Pambiche is a Cuban restaurant located across the river on the way back to the airport.  I lost interest when I saw where it was located until the 2 for 1 breakfast from 7:00am - 8:00am was pointed out to me.  I'm a sucker for food, but even more so for a good deal.

Delicious pastry basket filled with tastiness like this made the early morning wake up totally worth it. 
I had a big day ahead of me with a walk up to Multnomah Falls so I knew I had to fuel up. This plate was so full that they had to bring my scrambled eggs on a separate plate.  I love black beans and rice but this was too much even for me.  The Plantanos with sweet onions were just too much of a sweet mash for me.

I arrived a little early for one of my tours so I decided to grab a drink from the bar.  Generally speaking, I usually wait until evening to get my drink on.  But I was thirsty and it couldn't be helped. Especially when the bartender at the Heathman Hotel told me about the wondrous vodka based pear and sage concoction that he made.  I had to have it.  I was glad I did.  
Best alcoholic beverages by far was served at Yakuza by this bartender in the background.  I'm pretty adventurous when it comes to eating and drinking.  So long as it doesn't kill me, I'll try almost anything once.  Having said that, I think Gin is my least favorite alcohol.  I want to like it, I try to like it.  Every time my friend orders her Gin and Tonic, I always take a sip to see if its grown on me.  It never has...

Back to the drink of choice...I told this bartender to surprise me, but I don't like Gin.  He served me his Gin specialty.  Much to my shock, I loved it.  I asked him to continue.  He made me a carrot drink, vodka based. He made Carrie a fantastic beet drink because he had just run out of his Sugar Snap Pea drink.  
Stumptown Coffee.  The Legend.  I've heard so much about it and even had a chance to taste it at White on Rice Couple's party.  [It was excellent but I'm convinced that everything tastes better when you're at their house.]  I had to see for myself if Stumptown was all that it was cracked up to be.  I ordered a regular Americano style, made the same way I get it in France, espresso added to hot water.  I love my French espresso so I had doubts that it would be as good.  I don't normally have my coffee black [I need cream and sugar to cover the bitter/burnt taste of the coffee I drink] but I had to see if it was really that good.

It was.  I mean, not Paris good [what really is??], but it was good.  If they had the roasters here in LA, I'd pick it up on a semi regular basis. 
I was fortunate enough not to have a bad meal the entire trip.

One of the most memorable meals was Beast.  Unfortunately, I had just come from Yakuza next door where I partook in many, many delicious bevvies.  It made me very, very sleepy.
Beast runs as a pre-fixe dinner with 2 seatings in the evenings.  We secured the 8:30pm seating since we were running around Mount Hood River area that day [and partook in the very large portions of Michoacan's carnitas].  I love pre-fixe since I don't have to make a decision.  Sweet and savory mouthfuls of deliciousness is just presented to me - the best from the kitchen.  Oddly enough, my favorite part of the dinner was the green salad. It was the organic corn from Groundworks that had me digging through my salad to make sure I ate every tasty morsel.  If I didn't think that Carrie would stab me with her fork, I'd have gone through hers as well.
Pok Pok was recommended to us repeatedly and we didn't think it'd be wise of us to miss it.  When we finally arrived we were told that we would have to wait about 45 minutes, but that there was a bar across the street, Whiskey Soda Lounge, a sister restaurant where we could grab a drink.

When we were finally seated, we discovered that Pok Pok was very different from our other culinary feasts. Ethnic, extremely flavorful...and spicy.  I should've known when our waiter brought us mustard leaves buried in ice and said, "this is to help cut the spiciness. you're going to need it."
We really did need that, along with the ice and the Thai iced tea.  The mango sticky rice really rounded up the meal for me.  Did you note that each of us had a dessert and we didn't share??  Yeah, we don't share. 

After all that eating and drinking, I'm good for the next few weeks until my next trip somewhere to explore and enjoy its culinary delights.  Unfortunately, I suspect it won't be as delicious as Portland...
Apple Valley Country Store
2363 Tucker Rd
Hood River, OR  97031


5425 NE 30th Ave, 
Portland, Oregon 97211

Heathman Hotel
1001 SW Broadway
Portland, OR 97205

Kenny and Zuke's
1038 Southwest Stark Street
Portland, OR 97205-2610
(503) 222-3354

Martha's Tacos & More
440 3RD St
Lafayette, OR 97127

(503) 864-3304

3405 Odell HWY
Hood River, OR 97031

(541) 354-2900
Pambiche 2811 Northeast Glisan Street
Portland, OR 97232-2433
(503) 233-0511

Pine State Biscuits [or at PSU Farmer's Markets on Saturdays]
3640 SE Belmont St
Portland, OR 97214
(503) 236-3346

3226 SE Division St,
Portland, OR 97202

Yakuza Japanese Pub
5411 NE 30th Avenue
Portland, OR  97211


  1. Great recap of what looks to have been a fantastic trip. I left my heart in Oregon when I was there in April.

  2. portland is an amazing place for scenery and food. You captured it perfectly! Homemade tortillas and biscuits? Holy wow, you ate so well.
    We're living vicariously through you!

  3. Geez, Jenny, I just ate lunch (shut up, I know it's 12:06 but I was hungry, OK?) and now I'm hungry AGAIN. I'm so bummed we missed Pok Pok when we were in town last year, but Portland has such a wealth of eating riches you can't squeeze it all in. I am laughing though, that you traveled from So Cal to Portland to get tacos!

  4. TKTC: I wish I left some poundage there instead of bringing it home with me! :)

    D&T: I ate way too much but enjoyed every bite!! Who knows when I'll have time to go back up! :)

    Kate: huh? Whaat? It only takes me like 6 minutes to eat an entire meal! :) You will HAVE to go back for PokPok - i really enjoyed it a lot!! Mouth still burns from it but it was just that good! [i will try a taco from anywhere, so long as its not that "tex mex" crap!!] :)


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