[You guys know I love Bob’s Red Mill and that I work with them on a few recipes every month here on the blog. They invited me out to Portland this past weekend to tour their factory and check out the city. I’m so thankful that they hosted me during this trip!]
Guys. I just had the BEST long weekend EVER.
I went to one of my bucket list cities – Portland, Oregon – with my main squeeze, and it was one of my all-time favorite trips.
I’ve been feeling a bit…stir-crazy lately. Craving exploration, new opportunities, and getting out of my comfort zone.
This trip satisfied all of those craving perfectly. I took almost an entire week off from the blog, packed up a suitcase, shipped the floof off to her grandparents’ house, and headed out the door with Mark for a quick 48ish hour trip to Portland.
While we were in Portland to check out the Bob’s Red Mill factory, we also were able to do some exploring, eating, and drinking, and I’m so excited to share our favorite finds with you today! If you’re ever making a quick trip to Portland, here are some fab things to put on your to-do list:
Bob’s Red Mill!
Obviously the most exciting part of the trip!
I’ve been working with Bob’s Red Mill for at least two years now here on the blog, and to say that I enjoy their company is a complete understatement.
I love Bob’s Red Mill. The quality of their products – wheat flours, nut flours, seeds, and more – is always top-notch, which is great for someone who loves to use their products to bake. Baking is such a science, and when your ingredients aren’t consistent, you’ll get inconsistent results (think: gummy / dry / all-around icky baked goods). Bob’s Red Mill products have always yielded consistent results for me, and now I know why. :)
Their attention and commitment to quality is bonkers impressive, you guys. They took me around the machines where they mill, mix, bag, and label their products, and it was so cool to see the care and attention that went into every step. Jeff, our tour guide / Production Manager at BRM, explained just how precise each of the machines were, and he showed us how they test, monitor, weigh, and measure every single product. From the moment the product enters the facility to the moment they leave, each step in production is there to ensure that you’re getting the highest quality product possible. We were able to see these moments in their headquarters, laboratory, and manufacturing plant, which is all under the same roof!
Now, you know I’m a huge fan of their gluten free products. During our tour, I was able to see how they adhere to their gluten free standards. They have a completely separate section of their factory for all of their gluten free goods. Not only that, there are specific employees who work in the gluten free section, and no employee is allowed to go back and forth between the gluten free section and the conventional section. They even went as far as to build an entirely separate air system in the gluten free section to maintain the purity of each product. #noglutensplz Plus, we were able to see where they test each batch of product to verify that it has no more than 19 parts per million of gluten (FYI for those of you playing along at home: the FDA requires all “gluten free” products to be less than 20 parts per million). If you’re a GF’er, BRM’s got your back by going through all the necessary steps to ensure that your gluten free good is a true gluten free good.
And you guys: the halls and offices in the factory are completely decked out in Bob’s Red Mill goods and gear. Bags of flour, posters, and pictures all line the walls, and you can really tell just how passionate the employees are about the brand and whole grain wellness. It’s so adorable. Plus! Bob’s Red Mill is an employee-owned company – Bob gifted the entire company to his employees on his 81st birthday. I mean, seriously. Is that the coolest or what?
Plus, I actually met Bob!! One of the coolest blog moments ever. He was just as awesome, friendly, and down-to-earth as I expected. Seriously an inspirational guy!
The Bob’s Red Mill factory is located in Milwaukie, Oregon (like, 20 minutes from downtown Portland by car), and you can actually tour where the magic happens! Plus they offer fun events every month like cooking classes, catering, and more. You can find out more here.
TBH, if I had the chance to just pick up my belongings and move to Portland right this very second…well, I’d have a reeeeally hard time saying no.
The city itself was nothing short of magical. It’s almost like the entire city got together and planned out the branding for every store, restaurant, and hotel. It’s all super chic, kinda vintage, and local. I loved it. Plz brand my life like the city of Portland.
That’s one thing that I really respect about the city: their passion for locally-made products and goods. Whether you were in the airport, in a chocolate shop, or in a clothing store, you better believe each and every place was highlighting their local, Portland-made products (Bob’s Red Mill included, of course). It was seriously so heartwarming, and it reminded me a bit of Pittsburgh!
Another thing I loved was how easy it was to get around the city. We eventually gave up using Google/Apple Maps because they kept getting confused, and we actually managed to navigate through the city on our own pretty easily. This is actually kind of amazing for a directionally-inept person like myself. Plus, we ended up walking pretty much everywhere (with the exception of to/from the airport and to/from Bob’s Red Mill), and we quickly learned how to get around our section of the city in just a few days.
We also absolutely adored how many trees and parks there were around the city. Cities can be a bit building-heavy, with little to no nature in sight. But the trees in Portland really made the city feel inviting and like you wanted to spend time walking around the streets.
We seriously made the most out of our 48 hours in the city! We walked nearly 9 miles during our one full day in the city, and we saw a ton in the process. Here are some of our must-sees:
To stay: Hotel Lucia 400 sw broadway, portland, or 97205
I 👏 love 👏 this 👏 hotel. It’s eclectically cool, outrageously beautiful, and impeccably accommodating. It has this cool boutique vibe I’ve never experienced in any other hotel, and I would go back and stay there again in an instant.
It’s right in the heart of downtown Portland and about 30 minutes from the airport. When we walked into our room, there was classy music playing, the lights were dipped low, and we had a gorgeous view of the city. Seriously, I felt like Don Draper or something.
The hallways are lined with super cool black and white photos, the lobby has a tantalizing “signature scent,” and they have CRAFT BEER HOUR every single day. Yes, from 5:30-6:30 every day, you get free beer. Holla.
And I know this is kind of a weird thing to mention, but the bed was seriously so comfortable. I’ve stayed in my fair share of hotel rooms with really crappy beds. This one? Perfect. Plus they have a pillow menu (!!!!) where you can request your favorite kind of pillow (soft, hard, body, etc.) for the most restful sleep ever.
I felt so welcomed at Hotel Lucia. Absolutely check it out if you’re heading to Portland anytime soon.
To get in touch with nature: Japanese Garden 611 sw kingston ave., portland, or 97205
So I was never really a nature person until I met Mark. He’s “rural,” I’m “city.” He walks barefoot through the grass, I always have to have shoes on. He loves gardens, I cannot stand the smell of flowers.
So while this trip was certainly food-focused (see below), I wanted to do something that Mark was super excited about. And that was the Japanese Garden.
It was about a 40 minute walk from our hotel, so while I’d probably suggest hitching a ride via public transportation or Lyft in the colder or warmer months, it actually was a really enjoyable walk. Even with the off and on rain. Plus, it’s a great way to see a lot of the city!
I was delightfully surprised by the garden tbh. It hit me just how spectacular it is that the different heights, shapes, colors, and textures I was seeing in the plants and trees in the garden all happen naturally. I typically think of man-made things as being beautiful – a food plating at a fancy restaurant, a car, clothes, jewelry -, but it was so energizing to walk in nature and admire all of this “unrefined” beauty.
To explore: The Alphabet District northwest district/nob hill
Not gonna lie, I could have spent the entire trip here. I loved the Alphabet District, and we happened upon it completely on accident.
While walking back from the Japanese Gardens, we wanted to grab some kombucha on tap (see below). The neighborhood was so cool, we decided to eat lunch and explore the Alphabet District for a few hours! There were so many trees, the shops were adorable, and I couldn’t stop window shopping.
I joked to Mark and said that the slogan of this part of town should be “woah, look at that!” because I said it approximately every 5 seconds. There was so much to see and do and taste and experience there. If you’ve ever been to Shadyside in Pittsburgh, it’s sort of like that. Just on a bigger, more west-coast scale.
We went into a really fun chocolate/salt/bitters shop, a fun homegood store, a kitchen store, and an eyeglass store with two resident cats inside. It was just so cool, and I totally got a warm and fuzzy vibe from the neighborhood.
To chill: Powell’s Books 1005 w. burnside st., portland, or 97209
Omg. Fellow book lovers, this place is for you. It’s the world’s largest used and new bookstore, and that’s seriously no exaggeration. This place is huge. So many different rooms, genres, and levels, books for literally everyone and anyone, and just a hop, skip, and a jump from our hotel.
We didn’t spend too much time here (after walking nearly 9 miles that day, we wanted to sit), but it definitely was one of my favorite experiences in the city. SO so cool.
The Vegan Food!
The part you’ve all been waiting for! We had some epic food experiences in Portland, and it was surprisingly simple to eat vegan nearly the entire time we were there.
It wasn’t necessarily surprising for Portland, but it was surprising in a way because I’ve never been to a city that was so welcoming and understanding of a vegan diet. It was really cool to see vegan items on the regular menus of the restaurants we went to, and some restaurants even had their own separate vegan menu! Really freakin’ cool if you ask me.
Here were some of our favorite restaurants in Portland:
To get caffeinated: Stumptown Coffee Roasters 1026 sw stark st., portland, or 97205
Mama mia. This place. I love coffee, and I was so excited to try Stumptown while in Portland. They take coffee so seriously, and you can absolutely taste the difference.
In fact, the barista grinded, weighed, and brewed the coffee beans to make my particular [almond milk] cappuccino right before my eyes. Plus, the beans are roasted fresh – if you buy a bag of their coffee, they recommend consuming it within two weeks of the roast date.
My cappuccino was creamy with just the right amount of sweet-bitterness from the espresso. We loved it so much we went back the next day before heading to the airport and tried their americanos (I got mine with a bit of steamed almond milk on top).
Stumptown has multiple locations throughout the city, but I was thrilled that we ended up in the one attached to the Ace Hotel. This. Place. Was. So. Cool!! We sipped our cappuccino in the lobby with a record playing, and it was just the best atmosphere to welcome us to a busy day in the city.
Okay, this place was awesome. It came recommended by someone I work with at Bob’s Red Mill, and Mark and I seriously had the best time there!
The atmosphere was unlike anything I’ve experienced at a restaurant before – just really modern and funky with big windows, exciting platings, and an epic menu. It’s located on the 15th floor of the Nines Hotel, so you really get a great view of the city (even if its pouring down rain like it was for us 😉). It’s a bit on the pricer side, so it’s a great place for a special occasion.
Departure had a huge vegan menu and a crazy cocktail menu. I ended up with a fall-inspired cocktail that came with a thin slice of dried apple inside (so warming and comforting after a long day!). We split the wok-fried brussels sprouts as an appetizer, and while they were good, we weren’t a huge fan of the warm lime flavor. And then I ordered their vegan golden curry. I know it doesn’t look like much in the picture. But TRUST ME, friend. It was, hands-down, was one of my favorite meals ever. Like top five in my life. Same for Mark. We loved this curry!! The flavors were so balanced, it was really herby and fresh, and it came packed with really interesting ingredients like pickled apple and spiced cashews. I got a side of rice to eat with it, and it was perfect. Mark ate the leftovers for breakfast the next day!
To relax: Tea Chai Te 734 nw 23rd ave., portland, or 97210
After a crazy long walk to and through the Japanese Garden, we were stoked that an on-tap kombucha place was nearby. On-tap kombucha was something we both seriously wanted to try in Portland for some reason, so I Googled and Yelp’d until I found Tea Chai Te.
It’s in the Alphabet District of Portland, and it was about a 20 minute walk from the Japanese Garden. It’s located at the top of a small house, and the minute you walk in, you know you’re in a serious tea place. They have so many different kinds of hot tea, cold tea, bubble tea, and kombucha – there is absolutely, 100% something for everyone.
We opted to get some of their locally-made kombucha (Happy Mountain Kombucha), and it definitely didn’t disappoint. I got their seasonal flavor, Spiced Chai, and it was subtly spiced and sweetened with just the right amount of bubbles (plus, how cool are those giant mason jars?!). Mark ordered the Dragonfruit flavor which was a bit sweeter but still refreshing. Sitting by a big window and sipping our kombucha was a great way to relax after our long walk.
I don’t think I ever had Korean food until this trip, and now I’m a huge fan. OMG. Why has nobody told me how good bibimbap is?!
Contrary to the name of the place, Bibi2go is a cute, little sit-down restaurant in the Alphabet District. You can get food to go, but if you’re lucky enough to snag one of the few tables inside of the restaurant, I recommend sticking around. They have fun Korean television shows playing in the background, and the employees are ridiculously friendly and kind. I had a few questions about the menu (making sure it was vegan, finding out what was in their addictive spicy sauce, figuring out what the heck bibimbab actually was…), and the employees were more than happy to answer my questions.
And when the food came out…my word. I ordered a vegan bibimbab (with tofu, no egg). Not only was it beautiful, it was so tasty. Each ingredient had its own texture and flavor, and I literally had to stop myself a few times so that I wouldn’t finish my entire meal before Mark made his way through his. The two sauces – a traditional bibimbab sauce and their spicy house sauce – were perfect on top (definitely ask for extra of each if you’re getting it to go!). Mark got ramen (not vegan), and said it was equally as amazing.
Don’t worry – you will absolutely be seeing a recipe for bibimbab on the blog SOON. So tickled to find this little gem of a place in Portland!
On our last morning in Portland, we wanted to find a quick place to grab a bite to eat before we had to head to the airport. Neither of us wanted something too heavy, and I was craving carbs (what else is new?), so I searched for a bakery on Yelp and found that Pearl was only a few blocks from our hotel.
The minute we walked on the block, you could smell the enticing smell of freshly baked bread. As we all know, there is nothing better.
It took me a while to choose what to get because they literally had everything – savory rolls, sweets, loaves, breakfast sandwiches -, but we opted to go simple. I got a multigrain roll, Mark got a rosemary and pecan roll, and we got a vegan scone to split.
All three were fabulous. The multigrain roll had a great crust and chew, and the interior was tender. Mark’s roll was packed with rosemary flavor and large chunks of pecans. I would love to recreate his roll for Thanksgiving here on Fooduzzi! And the scone was filled with hazelnuts (the flavor rotates, but we lucked out because hazelnut baked goods are the best), and sprinkled with coarse sugar. I loved the scone because it was perfectly tender (not at all dry), and juuuust sweet enough. I loved the fact that it didn’t put me in a sugar coma for the flights home!
For sweet treats: Blue Star Donuts 1237 sw washington st., portland, or 97205
I figured I had to mention Blue Star because it has a huge cult following, but I wasn’t entirely impressed tbh. For months leading up to this trip, all I could talk about was finding a good vegan donut. I was so excited.
So I ended up ordering the Blueberry Basil Bourbon vegan donut because, hello, doesn’t that sound amazing? And the texture totally was – it was a dense cake donut (my absolute fave), and it almost reminded me of a muffin. But the flavor? It pretty much just tasted like sugary blueberries to me. No basil or bourbon to be found. Plus, it was cold. It’s possible that I hyped up this donut experience a little too much, but I felt pretty meh about the whole thing.
Kinda bummed, but I was happy to try it! Hopefully I get to go back to Portland soon and try some of their other vegan goods.
I learned a lot about myself in this quick trip.
One, I really love traveling and writing about food. Of course, the food portion of the trip was one of my favorite parts, but the fact that I was almost covering the food I was eating for the blog was just really really…cool.
Food and travel writing go hand-in-hand, so I’m hopeful that I’ll get to do more of it in the future!
Two, I can travel on my own. I’ve never really traveled by myself before – making the plans, finding the restaurants, reserving the hotel, etc. -, so this was all a bit new to me.
Shock of all shocks, I can handle it. Just gotta trust myself!
Three, I’m completely honored to be working with Bob’s Red Mill here on Fooduzzi. I always say that I’ll only work with a brand if I trust them completely and if I think my readers with love them; I know BRM fits that bill perfectly because I’ve seen it first-hand.
And 3400 words later, we’ve reached the end! Clearly, I had a lot to say about this spectacular city. Have you ever been to Portland? What’s your favorite city? I’m unashamedly already looking for another food travel experience. 😊
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