beard papa’s

One of my favorite places for a sweet treat when strolling around in the International District, is Beard Papa’s, located in the Uwajimaya Food Court.  Originally from Japan, this chain is spreading in the states.  Very straightforward place with a well-honed focus on one thing – cream puffs, filled with one of three flavors of the day.  Filled on the spot – it is the perfect combination of a crispy pastry shell, and a filling made of custard mixed with whipped cream.  And just the right size so as not to instill too much guilt!


portland, oregon

My friend Tami is moving to Portland, and I promised her a few recommends.  This list is by no means complete, but I figured that I should start somewhere…. and of course that is with food:


Hands down, my most favorite thing to find in Portland in the last year is Pine State Biscuits.  This place will make everyone happy, but specifically the displaced southerners.  A trio of North Carolinians opened this walk-up spot on Belmont and they say it best on their website: “a mix of old-style Southern goodness and modern restaurant professionalism, throw in some Portland foodie sensibility, and you have Pine State Biscuits.”

Clyde Common is located on the ground floor of the Ace Hotel on Stark Ave downtown, serving elevated “tavern” food in energetic communal space.  One of the best burgers Shawn has ever had, a rotating menu of beautiful season plates accompanied by classic cocktails and an impressive array of whiskeys.

My current favorite spot for a sit down breakfast/brunch (when pried away from the biscuits of course) is Everett Street Bistro in the Pearl.  The oatmeal and panna cotta is so delicious for something so simple.  Billed as a “European-style charcuterie” I have had some wonderful dinner there too.

Somehow Portland has much better southern food than Seattle – maybe there are just more southerners in Portland, or maybe it’s because I have my southern-transplanted food-obsessive family there scoping it out for me (I come by my travel guide and food oriented genes honestly, as they would say).  Either way, one of the best is Screened Door on Burnside & 24th, combining the best of southern traditions with fresh NW ingredients.  My dad can’t go too long without the buttermilk battered fried chicken, and I always debate between the plate of sides with catfish, or the shrimp and grits.

Portland also seems to have a leg up in the Mexican food arena as well.  My recent fave is Neustra Cocina on SE Divison.  Every sauce I have had there has incredible depth and flavor taking me back to Oaxaca.

And a special convergence of foodie culture and street vendor laws creates an incredible breeding ground for some of the best food carts around.  My favorite late nightspot to hit with my brother after one of his gigs is Cartopia, a collection of carts in SE Portland.  Check out plethora of carts all over town here:

One of my most favorite restaurants in Portland just closed in December, Lovely Hula Hands.  They decided to focus all their energies on their new endeavor, Lovely’s Fifty-Fifty on Mississippi.  While I haven’t been there, if the care they put into it is anything like the care they put into Lovely Hula Hands, it will be beautiful stuff.

Favorite Wine Bar – Noble Rot. I miss them in their old location – a wonderful little mixed used building on Akeny Street in SE, but nice, down to earth place for sipping.

Speaking of imbibing – Portland has an uprising of small distilleries.  I’ve only been able to check out a few myself, but this Seattle Times article seemed to sum it all up pretty well:


Having a hard-working, Portland-based musician for a brother, means that just about any night I am there I can catch a glimpse of him and get a dose of one of his varied projects – Jazz in various incarnations, Americana with Troubled Boots or Redwood Son, joined with amazing singer Shelly Rudolph, sitting in with the incredible wealth of musicians of Portland and beyond, or his booking gigs for the Brasserie Montmarte.  This also means I don’t really see much music beyond that when I am visiting, but he is definitely worth checking out, and this is not just coming from the proud partial sister.

Other Wanderings

Do I really even need to mention Powell’s City of Books?

The architects and do-it-yourself-ers will love the Rebuilding Center on Mississippi.

The Japanese Gardens in Washington Park are some of the best I’ve seen in the states. The Lan Su Chinese Garden is also a great oasis in the midst of the city.

Portland is a city of great neighborhoods, all very walkable, bikable and full of small-grain beautiful little architectural gems.  The Pearl, SE Hawthorne/Burnside, NW 23rd are all fairly established.  Up and coming favorites are spots like Mississippi, NE, and Belmont.  A great tour I did last year was organized by 11xdesign (can still download last year’s map):

So, those are my most recent thoughts on Portland.  I will add more along the way.  It is a great town – hope you enjoy your few years there, Tami!

white horse trading company

Not entirely unknown to most Seattlites, the White Horse Trading Company somehow keeps its hidden feel.  This comfy, wee, tucked away spot is perfect for some one-on-one catching up with a buddy, as I did this week, or a cozy spot to unwind by yourself, and chat with the very amenable bartender (where else in Seattle does this really feel comfortable?).  Very British in decor, and stacks of books for sale and a straightforward pub menu of beer, wine and cider.  Their specialty is the Pimm’s Cup, in traditional British pub fashion:  made with fortified wine, Pimms, bitters, brown sugar, and lemon.  No food, but the butter flavored pretzels were pretty dang tasty considering.  1908 Post Alley, between Stewart St & Virginia St, no website.