Portland is only a little over 2 hours from Tacoma, so it is so easy to hop on down for the weekend. It's so easy, I wonder why we don't do it more often.
Alas, 2 nights is not enough time to really get out and about. We went with a group of people. All four of them (including my husband) spent all day Saturday at a programmer's "code camp" so I was able to get up to the Japanese Garden and buy some new sunglasses (I broke my favorite pair last week) and spent 3 hours in Powell's book shop--one of my favorite shops in the whole world.
We spent much of our free time enjoying the fabulous bars and restaurants in downtown Portland, particularly the Pearl District.
First off, we stayed at the Hotel DeLuxe, which is owned by the same group that owns the Hotel Murano here in Tacoma and we were not disappointed: comfy bed, ipod stereo (if you forget your ipod, they have pre-loaded ones you can borrow), and a great little bar called the Driftwood Room. They make delicious twists on the Champagne Cocktail and French-75 with things like Absinthe and Pine-infused Vodka. Great happy hour eats too including $5 for an organic burger.
First night there after spending all afternoon at the Driftwood Room, Tony, Trevor, and I went down to Vino Paradiso, a highly recommended wine bar that turned out to be a huge disappointment. How hard is it to give good customer service, nay, adequate service, people???
On the way back to the hotel, we discovered 1001, a great restaurant/bar that made up for the crappy service (and sub-par Pinot Noir) we had at Vino Paradiso. They have a great sipping menu with small tastes of every one of their tequilas, wines, scotches, absinthes, etc. Lots of fun. I sampled some scotch. Tony had a micro-brew that came in a cute little can. Oregon is interesting because it has breweries and wineries and distilleries. Sigh, I wish Washington could have distilleries too.
We finished the evening back at the Driftwood Room with Danny and Alex, who had just arrived from Seattle. The bartender was a lot of fun and gave me a taste of a really smoky, lovely scotch.
The highlight of the weekend was Saturday night dinner at Andina, a true foodie find of Peruvian food in the Pearl District. Our friend Danny is a celiac and can't eat any gluten at all and they had a gluten free menu. They also had spectacular cocktails; I had one with muddled cucumber and lime in it and Danny had one with passion fruit and habenero--yum!
Dinner was a mouthwatering feast of melt-in-your-mouth-cured tuna loin, purple potato cakes, pork tenderloin, pan-seared duck, mahi mahi, and rack of lamb. The spices and flavors were far too numerous to explain here. Their wine list was extensive, reasonably priced, and easy to navigate. We shared a bottle of 2006 Colome Malbec. We ate so much fine food that we couldn't even eat dessert, which was sad, because they had interesting looking things like goat cheese and lemon cake and Peruvian truffles with hot pepper and apricots. My mouth is watering thinking about it. I will make this restaurant the go-to place next time we are in Portland.
We thought our culinary excursions were done with Andina's, but Sunday morning the desk clerk recommended Byways Cafe, also in the Pearl District. Interesting eats like blue corn pancakes and brioche french toast served up with Stumptown Coffee.
Funky Americana memorabilia lined the walls:
We ended the trip with one more stop at Powell's (both the technical shop and the regular one) and I picked up some Pain Au Levain from the Pearl Bakery along with some Parisian-style macaroons.
Thank you, Portland!