One of our favorite things to do when visiting a city is to eat! We love all kinds of food from the dive to the finest restaurant – as long as the food is good! (And a clean environment is key too – sadly, there have been good restaurants we stopped going to because of visible grime.) We’ve always loved eating in Portland and this trip was no exception – YUM! Here are some of our favorite stops from our recent visit.
1. Queen of Sheba – Ethiopian restaurant
This place started off in the 1990s as an Ethiopian market and became a restaurant in 1996. Since then it’s received rave reviews. This is one of my favorite spots in Portland, ever since John and Gail (my brother-in-law and sister) took me there years ago. This was Bob’s first time there. The night we went, the service was unusually slow – I suspect someone must have called in sick because usually service is friendly and brisk. This did not detract from our experience, however. The food, as always, was superb. Ethiopian food is served family style on a tray of special bread (injera) and menu items are placed in dollops around the tray. You tear off pieces of the spongy bread and scoop up whatever item you want and place it all in your mouth. Fabulous! Some of my favorite items to order are Kik Wet – Split pea stew with warm spices, Misr Wet – Lentil stew with warm spices, Tibs Siga – Spicy sizzling beef in a hot berbere sauce, and Yedero Wet – Lemon washed chicken legs stewed in a spicy sauce topped with a hard-boiled egg. All the food is amazing and I always, always eat too much! For vegetarians, there are options for no meat meals.
2. The Cheese Plate – food cart
I can’t recall exactly, but I think Portland was where I first heard of food carts. Now they are prolific and everywhere! Surprise surprise, I had yet to eat at one! Gail indulged me one evening and took me to The Cheese Plate at 2231 NE Alberta Street.
We arrived early enough that there were no lines and we were able to secure a picnic table for the three of us (my 4-1/2 year old niece joined us). It was hard not to just order everything on the menu, but we did manage to narrow it down some. We ordered kale chips, soft boiled eggs with caviar, hazelnut and popcorn party mix, olives, the cheese plate, and fried cheese. Everything was fresh and delicious but my favorite was the fried goat cheese which was wrapped up in philo dough (I think).
And of course we had to get dessert. Now THAT was something to write home about for sure! If you are ever in the area, it’s worth a visit to this cart just for their fudge brownie with blue cheese topped by a port wine drizzle! The combination of chocolate and blue cheese sounds weird, but they are perfect together! Slightly tart but not overwhelming. My niece practically devoured it on her own! I may have to try playing with a recipe to see if I can make something like that at home.
3. Voodoo Donuts
Need I say more? This doughnut shop has been featured on numerous food and travel shows and in magazines for their wild doughnuts, like voodoo doll, maple bacon bar, and dirt (oreo cookies) doughtnut, along with some more slightly risque choices. It may seem like a gimmick, but those doughnuts taste amazing! The flavors are fabulous and the doughnuts supremely fresh. Truly the best doughnuts! There’s a reason why there’s a long line out the door! Ah, but we have an in….
That’s my stepson (Bob’s son) Jason who is a manager at Voodoo! WOOHOO! We stopped by for a boxful and skipped the line (thanks Jason)! YUMMMMM! (Good thing I don’t live there because I’d be a billion pounds from eating my way through their menu!)
4. Whiskey Soda Lounge
My brother-in-law, John, is a bit of a beer connoisseur, so when he learned that the Whiskey Soda Lounge served jelly beer (bia wun), he had to visit and we wanted to, too! What is bia wun? It’s basically slushy beer. Now, I am not a beer drinker and typically don’t like beer, but this beer? Delicious! Bottles of Singha beer (which are pretty light as beers go) are placed in a special machine that churns and cools the beer until it’s slushy. The waitress gives a quick pound of bottle to floor, pops off the top, throws in a straw (!) and hands it to you to make sure the foam doesn’t overflow – and after a time, it stops foaming and you can enjoy this amazingly refreshing drink! We also ordered appetizers and my favorite was a special – fresh corn fritters with chili oil dipping sauce. So fresh and delicious! Those of you in the foodie know have undoubtedly heard of Portland’s best Thai joint Pok Pok. The Whiskey Soda Lounge is owned by Pok Pok’s owner so expect the same outstanding food without waiting in a long line. Or at least wait there until your number is called (since it’s right across the street).
5. Thai Peacock
A great find! Jason, Bob’s son, recommended this place while the three of us were looking for lunch after visiting the Japanese Tea Garden. The food was delicious – some of the best Thai food I’ve had in a while. Plus Jason introduced me to a great dish I’d never had before: pad se-ew – kind of like pad thai but with wide noodles (think chow fun over chow mein). I hope to order it the next time I find myself at a Thai restaurant. Oh and big plus for the restaurant? It’s located just across from one of my all time favorite bookstores ever – Powell’s Books! And yes, we went there, and yes I bought books! Lots!