I cannot believe it’s already been a over week since my trip to Portland! Time flies when you have 8 million things to do. When people found out I was going to Portland, they just kept saying… “Why are you going there?,” with a quizzical look. “Just for fun!” Is it that weird to go on a trip just for fun? If I told you I was going to Vegas, pretty sure no one would confusedly ask me, “Why are you going there?”
Anyways, I went to Portland with my friend Alison and her sister Kelly, and we went for a number of reasons. 1. We needed a vacation. 2. It was a three-day weekend. 3. Portland is super close and an easy flight. 4. We love to eat.
Let me repeat.
We love to eat.
Sometimes trips and even regular meals out are frustrating for me because most of my friends can’t keep up with my stomach. I have a big appetite! Thankfully, Alison, Kelly, and I are always on the same page. #TrueFriendship
My friends gotta like to EAT.
We literally planned our trip around food, which is how I plan most trips. Most people who follow my blog are also foodies, so I’m sure you feel me on that. There is nothing that brings me greater joy than spending endless hours on Yelp looking at restaurants and food photos, or passing an obscene amount of time falling into the Instagram hole while stalking delicious eats.
I honestly had no idea that Portland was such a great foodie spot until Alison and Kelly explained it to me, and then I started doing research. Portland is foodie heaven. Part of me thinks it might have better options than L.A. Like…whoa. Anyways, we actually made a Google Excel sheet with each of our desired restaurants, then we prioritized the list according to what overlapped, and then we came up with a final itinerary of where we would eat for each meal of our 3 day excursion. Organization, people.
Thank god they’re as serious about food as I am. When we weren’t eating, we planned on just walking around and exploring. Doing whatever. Very relaxing and chill.
I never really go on vacation, but doing so is really good for me. I feel like a different person when I’m away from work. I obviously still use my phone, check emails, and try to get a few things done, but I definitely feel much less attached and less obligated to be on top of everything. It’s freeing. Plus, Alison is really good at cracking backs. That combined with the food and escaping L.A. was everything I needed, especially with how overwhelming things have been lately.
It definitely was a complete escape from L.A. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Portland, but I quickly fell in love with the city. I had no idea how cute it was, and obviously I was extra impressed with the food. I love how Portland feels so homey and welcoming. People are actually nice, which can be rare in a big city. It’s a totally different culture, and I literally felt like I was on the set of a movie.
In Portland, no one cares about what you’re wearing or if you haven’t washed your hair in 7 days (whoops). People are just friendly to you if you’re friendly to them. Simple as that.
Beyond that, I was super into the architecture and the overall look of the city. I felt like it was a mix of Boston and Seattle, but much calmer. Also, there are so many twinkly lights, which makes my heart skip a beat. You know how I am with the twinkly lights…
The fairy lights, light rain, gray skies, and endless coffee shops made me feel like I was in a winter wonderland. It was so calming and seriously made me SO HAPPY. Weird as it sounds, after that weekend, I felt like I could see myself living there one day. I love L.A., but it can be a bit much. Sometimes I want to just get away from everybody, you know? I’m an introvert, and I recharge with my alone time. Sometimes I feel like I just can’t get alone time here, no matter how hard I try.
Speaking of that, though, I was genuinely confused about where all of the people were in Portland. We got up, got breakfast, walked around, and it felt like a ghost town. Is it just way less populated than L.A. or does everyone sleep all day?! We were surprised to hear from our Uber driver that Portland is a huge drinking city. Makes sense, though, because no one seemed to wake up before 11 A.M.
I was also really excited because I got to meet so many of my “Instagram” friends IN REAL LIFE. I can’t tell you how many of my closest friends I found through Instagram. Even when you haven’t met in person, it still feels like you have, so when you do finally meet, it doesn’t even feel like you’re meeting. Does that make sense? More on that later.
Like I said, Portland was all about the food. They have a ton of gluten-free options. A ton of Paleo options. A ton of vegan options. You get the idea. The thing is, we didn’t have a bad meal. That’s the beauty of planning everything out ahead of time – you won’t accidentally eat bad food. I would highly recommend every restaurant we went to! The good news is, there are still plenty of places we didn’t get to go, so now I have a reason to go back!
Basically, I’m just going to take you through each restaurant we went to, tell you what we got, and let you look at the 5 million photos I took. I mean, you’re probably just here for the photos, anyways.
Our first stop was Bamboo Sushi. One thing we noticed about Portland is that the best restaurants have a ton of locations, and none of them are very far from each other. I WISH that was the case in L.A.
We all love sushi, so thankfully this was a no-brainer. Bamboo is amazing because it’s the first certified sustainable sushi restaurant in the world. Everything is incredibly fresh, and they have a huge selection of sushi and sashimi to choose from. Plus, it tells you the “status” of every fish on the list, which I really appreciate.
Since I don’t eat rolls, I went with a salad and sashimi, featuring a few different types of salmon. I was drooling over all of the different salmons they had – very overwhelming. The waiter gave me a 10 minute spiel about each of them… which did not make it any easier for an indecisive girl like me.
What I was looking forward to most were some QUAIL EGGS, because I saw them while stalking Bamboo on Yelp. Pictured above ^^ is the most amazing thing ever. Best combo of flavor and textures. Don’t be afraid of quail eggs! They’re so good for you.
Alison and Kelly got a bunch of rolls, and their eyes were literally rolling to the back of their heads in pleasure. Bamboo has a ton of really unique, delicious sushi rolls, and they had a hard time picking just a few. If we weren’t in the restaurant they would’ve licked their plates to get the leftover sauce. The standout roll seemed to be the Green Machine, which can be made gluten-free! Look at that sauce…
After Bamboo we went to Eb & Bean, which I think we were all most excited about. Eb & Bean is a frozen yogurt shop with both dairy and non-dairy flavors, and gluten-free options, as well. The froyo is organic and filled with probiotics! YAAAS.
We became frequent flyers at Eb & Bean, to say the least. I’m embarrassed to tell you how many times we got froyo there during our 3 days in Portland. They rotate their flavors every few weeks, and the 3 non-dairy flavors were Chocolate Hazelnut Pudding, Palm Sugar Peanut, and Marionberry Pomegranate Som. Oddly enough, I feel like these flavors looked way better than the dairy flavors, anyways. We’re all dairy-free, so we rotated through those choices.
First of all, I love the texture of this froyo. It’s light and fluffy, smooth and rich, and doesn’t make you feel gross. All of the flavors were insanely delicious.
The first one I got was the Chocolate Hazelnut Pudding, and I topped it with the Newtella hard shell, caramel sauce, roasted hazelnuts, and cacao nibs. No joke, this tasted like a giant Ferrero Rocher. It was insane.
That brings me to the other very important thing about Eb & Bean — it has an INSANE toppings bar. Especially if you don’t eat gluten or dairy. First of all, they have both chocolate hard shell and NEWTELLA hard shell – the Newtella really does taste like nutella. They also have a GF/DF caramel sauce, honey, coconut whipped cream, and marionberry compote. One location even has Honey Mama’s… I die. They have all the classics – toasted coconut, cacao nibs, chocolate chips, almonds, pecans, etc., but they also have some delicious, less common suspects – almond toffee crumble, GF/DF cookie dough, cookie pieces, oat streusel, roasted hazelnuts…the works.
We didn’t leave without buying a pint, though. You know… just in case we needed a snack in the room. We went with the Roasted Banana Caramel.. I think it was called that? It was banana something, for sure. And it was heavenly.
We kicked off our Saturday with a trip to Canteen, which is an adorable breakfast/lunch spot that was very L.A. -esque. They had a ton of delicious looking bowls, juices, and seasonal cheesecakes. The entire menu was gluten-free and vegan… familiar.
There wasn’t a lot on the menu for me, because being grain-free tends to be tricky at most vegan restaurants. Luckily, the one thing I wanted fit the bill perfectly! I went Christina-style and had lunch for breakfast. I got the walnut taco salad, and it was everything I could have hoped for. Super refreshing, filling, and very flavorful.
Alison and Kelly both got the oatmeal, and that bowl was LOADED UP. You can’t get oatmeal at a restaurant unless it’s really freakin’ dolled up, ya know? They both said this was the best oatmeal they’ve ever had. It had goji berries, walnuts, hazelnuts, cacao nibs, fruit, coconut milk, maple syrup… I mean.. could you say no?
After breakfast, we walked around a bit, got our nails done, and went into a few really cute shops. I bought some candles that smell DELICIOUS, because I can’t turn down candles. We also really lucked out with the weather. It was storming in L.A. but magically dry in Portland.
I’m not a coffee person, but Kelly and Alison are big-time coffee lovers, so visiting coffee shops was a must. Plus, it’s Portland. You can’t go to Portland and not visit the coffee shops!
For lunch, we went to Kure Juice Bar. If you want the bowls (which I did), then you have to go to the one on 12th Street for the full menu! Their smoothies look amazing and delicious, but I wanted a MEAL. They have salads, smoothies, soups, warm drinks, acai bowls, juices, tonic shots, and more.
I got a seriously amazing bowl with greens, cauliflower, carrots, beets, hemp seeds, almonds, and an epic garlic tahini sauce. Anything with tahini, I’m game. I also got the BEST latte I have ever had in my life – I kid you not. It’s called the Golden Mushroom Elixir, and it has almond milk, reishi, turmeric, coconut manna, and ashwagandha in it. It warmed my body and soul.
Alison and Kelly each got a taco-style bowl – very similar to what I had for breakfast. They both agreed it was bomb. The sauce looked VERY promising.
After lunch we stopped by a shop called Cacao, and it was every chocolate lover’s dream. They had every type of chocolate you could imagine, and they let you sample any bar you wanted. You could go for a classic, like 100% pure cacao, or something unique, like PB&J. Some of it literally looked too perfect to eat. I mean, they hid half of it behind a glass window!
I got my roommates some organic, clean-ingredient fancy drinking chocolate that came in a bunch of different flavors, and I also bought myself a nice bar of 100% pure cacao. That stuff is hard to find. It was so delicious, and completely clean ingredients! We didn’t order any, but Cacao also served different types of chocolate shots, as well as a number of other chocolate drinks. I definitely want to go back next time and get some 100% dark drinking chocolate on a chilly winter day.
I walked around for a bit and finally met up with my friend Valerie from LetsRegale.com. It was our first time meeting in person, but I felt like I had had already met her a million times before. That’s the beauty of Instagram stories!
Funny enough, we’re actually from the same part of the Bay Area, and it’s very rare for me to meet someone from my part of the Bay. She went to high school down the street and around the corner from me, so it was fate for us to connect on IG!
Valerie is like a giant ray of sunshine, and she is so incredibly sweet. Her positivity and happiness light up a room. If you haven’t checked out her site, please do! She posts incredible, quick, healthy recipes that anyone will love. She’s one of the few people on the Internet who posts recipes and meals that I will actually make – delicious, easy, realistic, and very allergy-friendly!
I always see her visit Tea Bar in her Instagram stories, and it makes me insanely jealous, so I asked if we could meet up there so I could try it out! It’s such a cute place – very modern and white and blogger-esque. We both got hot matcha lattes, because I die for a good matcha. Definitely one of the best matcha lattes I’ve had. They also have a ton of other options, including a Golden Milk Latte that I had my eye on. Most of the people in there were drinking boba, and they also had some really good-looking baked goods.
The entire place was bursting with the aroma of freshly baked donuts because there was a Bigwig popup inside. They were literally making donut holes on the spot, and they were gluten-free, vegan, and organic. Ummm… L.A. doesn’t even have that.
For dinner we went to Harlow, which was one of the places I was most excited about. Can we just talk about this drink list, for a moment? Pay special attention to the Harlow Chai, Harlow Latte, Moondrop Mocha, Red Velvet Cocoa, and Turmeric Toddy. I’m really into the hazelnut milk.
Harlow is a vegetarian/vegan restaurant with lots of healthy, organic options. They have a ton of gluten-free, vegan baked goods, kombucha on tap, and a whole section of healthy snacks. The menu is huge, and everything looks incredible. Their bowls are just… yes. I started off with the Turmeric Toddy, and Alison got a Turmeric latte.
For dinner, I got the Bhakti Pasta, which is a zucchini noodle pasta with a sun dried tomato and basil pesto with carrots and spinach, topped with hazelnut ricotta. You guys know how I feel about zoodles. I feel like this dish was invented for me personally.
Alison got the Chipotle Chili Bowl, which we late heard from our Uber driver is one of the best things on the menu.
Kelly got the Hawthorne Mac. Is there anything more comforting than Mac & Cheese?
After din, we headed off to Petunia’s Pies and Pastries. Petunia’s is an entirely gluten-free, vegan bakery, which we were all very excited about. It’s all pink and white – very old school, classic bakery style. Loved it. Want it to be my Instagram theme.
Even though this place is gluten-free and vegan, it’s definitely not healthy, though. Just warning you. Everything was delicious, but we had massive stomachaches after.
If you’re familiar with Salt & Straw, then you’re probably more familiar with Petunia’s than you realize! You know how Salt & Straw always has that one vegan/gluten-free flavor?! It’s a collab with Petunia’s! THIS PETUNIA. For example, right now they have Petunia’s Cookies & Cream with Raspberry Swirl at Salt & Straw, and they’re also serving it at Petunia’s Bakery.
Petunia’s was really really really overwhelming. When I’m out at vegan/gluten-free dessert shops, I always want to get something that I couldn’t usually get anywhere else. That was everything on Petunia’s menu. They had a Bruleed Banana Split that literally looked insane, but I wanted to get a baked good since I can get ice cream lots of other places.
Petunia’s has an amazing selection of cupcakes, pies, cakes, cheesecakes, breads, and cookies. The only problem was, by the time we got there at night, they were basically sold out of almost everything. In the end, that was a good thing, because I had a hard enough time deciding between what was there. In the end I went with the Raspberry Chocolate Cheesecake. Kelly started off with a birthday cake cupcake.
Alison went with a scoop of the seasonal ice cream and a slice of the berry pie. I was really impressed with Petunia’s pies, because it’s very difficult to find real vegan, gluten-free pie anywhere. And this was BIG PIE. Everything was very rich, dense, and perfectly plated.
After my cheesecake, I got a Millionaire’s bar because I had my eye on it and couldn’t stop thinking about it. I liked this way better than the cheesecake, which was a little too chocolate-y for me. The Millionaire’s bar had a bunch of nuts, coconut, and I don’t even know what else in it. But it was damn good. And I paired it with my Eb & Bean Banana froyo we got the night before – unreal combo.
Kelly also got a scoop of Petunia’s ice cream with a side of the cookie dough for all of us to try. The one thing we agreed on was that no one would know that Petunia’s was gluten-free or vegan unless they looked at the website or asked. It tastes exactly like plain old dairy-filled, gluten-filled baked goods. Very dense, thick, and sweet. It was delicious, butttt we all felt like crap afterward.
The next morning, we could barely get out of bed from our sugar coma, but I was highly motivated by the fact that I was going to meet up with Nat from Blonde Gone Clean. (If you haven’t read my interview with Nat, you can read it here!)
We met up at Harlow for breakfast, which I was very excited about because I couldn’t get enough of that place. Yup, it’s that good. (Plus, with that drink menu, how could I not go twice?) Nat and I both got the Arcadian Scramble, which makes sense considering we are practically the same person. It was delicious – I highly recommend. The Farmers Vegetable Scramble and Pesto Garden Scramble also looked amazing!
Again, even though it was our first time actually meeting in person, it felt like I had known Nat forever. When you Snapchat someone and watch their stories, it’s easy to forget you haven’t met in person. Plus, Nat is someone who I vent to on the reg, so we are way past any casual small talk. Catching up with her and talking nutrition, workouts, stress, school, college life, work, and everything in between totally rejuvenated me and reminded me how lucky I am to have such amazing people in my life.
After basically crying because I didn’t want to leave Nat, I met up with my friends at another coffee shop. Then I was off to Townshend’s Tea Company to meet up with another one of my favorite humans, Nicole Christensen!
Nicole is my Beautycounter mentor, and it was so exciting to finally meet her in person. Again, I honestly forgot I hadn’t. Beyond being an amazing mentor for Beautycounter, she is an incredible support for me in all aspects of my life, and I can talk to her about anything. She is truly one of the kindest people I’ve ever met, and she always makes me feel better about everything. I feel like she’s the more mature, wiser version of me. So she’s amazing.
Townshend’s is a tea lover’s dream. If you love tea, you will die over their BOOKLET of a menu. The shop itself is adorable. Old-school, Harry Potter library-esque. I bought a few of the loose leaf teas to bring home, because I had such a hard time choosing off of the menu. They have about twenty different types of chai lattes, which all looked incredible, and that’s what Nicole got. I got a mix of peppermint tea and vanilla black tea — insane combo. Highly recommend! They can make it as a latte, as well.
I also ran into Dana from Minimalist Baker while I was there, and it was a major fangirl moment. She is so sweet!
After Townshend’s, I met up with Alison and Kelly again at Broth Bar. OH. MY. GOD. This might have been my favorite place we went. I am dying for them to open one in L.A. As I’ve talked about before, I’m obsessed with bone broth. I’ve used it for about two years to help heal my gut, but I personally think everyone should make bone broth a part of their diet because of all of its amazing benefits.
The only problem with bone broth is that it takes forever to make, so I practically keel over in joy when I find a high-quality bone broth that I can buy. Broth bar has basically every type of bone broth you could ever want. You can choose one of their suggested combos (see above), or you can come up with a combo yourself. I went with the turmeric, scallions, smoked salt, and chili oil beef bone broth and added the braised beef tongue and kelp noodles. I was deciding between that and the rosemary salt, juiced ginger, and scallions bone broth with the chicken hearts. Next time.
Alison and Kelly both got the black cumin seed oil, turmeric, ghee and coconut butter bomb, and black garlic salt bone broth with an added kimchi pickled egg. (I love how they always order the same thing.) At first I think they thought I was a weirdo for how obsessed I was with this place, but after tasting it, they were sold. I was honestly dying over how delicious my bone broth combo was, and it was perfect for the cold weather outside!
They also sell a ton of bone broth that you can buy there and take home – pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, bison, alpaca, and more. If I lived in Portland, I would def be stocking up.
For dinner we headed off to Dick’s Kitchen, which was one of the places I was most excited for. My NTP actually recommended it to me, and it was the most “Christina” style restaurant we went to. Grass-fed beef, paleo-style meals…the works. I had a very hard time deciding what I wanted, per usual.
They have a ton of different burgers to pick from – the classic (100% grass-fed beef), turkey burger, buffalo burger, veggie berger, salmon burger, etc., and everything can be made “naked” – a.k.a wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun! They have fries that are actually on the healthy side – sweet potato or regular potato fries that are air-baked with no added sugar.
I was seriously torn over what to get. I wanted the Caesar Turkey Bowl, the Paleo Plate, and the Naked Buffalo Burger with some veggie sides, so I kind of cheated and got everything I wanted on one plate. I got the Paleo Plate and subbed out the classic patty for the buffalo burger, and then I got their vegan caesar dressing on my side salad. The Paleo Plate came with their special greens, which was braised kale and cabbage. So. Delicious. That burger gave me life.
Kelly got a naked salmon burger with the regular potato fries, and Alison got a naked classic burger with potato fries, too! Dick’s also had a very tempting selection of desserts, including a flourless chocolate torte, paleo carrot cake, and vegan milkshakes. We passed, though, because we had big dessert plans for later that night.
After walking around Alphabet District for a bit, we also stopped by the OG Salt & Straw. Alison is Salt & Straw obsessed, so she was dying to see the original. We didn’t get anything, but we had to look. This place was poppin’. Even moreso than in L.A., which is to be expected, since it is the original. I also think the food always tests better at original locations. Maybe it’s just me.
Then we ventured off to the bakery I was most excited about – Back to Eden Bakery! Back to Eden is a 100% plant-based, vegan, gluten-free bakery!
It was overwhelming, in a good way. Cookies, brownies, a number of cupcakes, pies, donuts, and more! I was especially impressed with the pies. I’ve never seen a GF/vegan cherry pie, ANYWHERE! I have a lot of fond memories that relate to cherry pies, so it got me all sentimental. They also seem to be famous for their chocolate cream pie, which isn’t my thing, but I can appreciate its uniqueness.
They usually have cinnamon rolls, which was honestly the #1 reason I wanted to go, but they were out when we went. They also had some amaaaazing sundaes and milkshakes. A milkshake sounded SO good, but I can get that at a lot of places, so I had to go with some baked goods. Also, their soft serve is made from a soy-base, so I wouldn’t recommend it. You can pay extra for them to use Coconut Bliss ice cream instead for the sundaes and milkshakes, and I would definitely go with that option if I were to order it.
We got a few things to try, including this divine Rosewater Chai Cupcake! I loved how unique that combo was, and the flavors paired together perfectly. I also usually hate frosting, but this was the perfect amount of sweetness and the perfect texture! Didn’t make me feel gross like most frosting does.
We also got a snickerdoodle and a toasted almond cookie. Both were delicious, but I especially loved the Snickerdoodle! I’d definitely go for that one again.
We had to end the trip with a bang, so we headed back to Eb & Bean. I discovered the Palm Sugar Peanut/Chocolate Hazelnut Pudding SWIRL… and my life changed. I usually hate peanut-flavored things, but I was really into this combination. I topped it with some caramel sauce, toffee, and crumbled Snickerdoodle. Game changer.
Yes, we went back for multiple rounds. We even went to a different location for our third round so the workers wouldn’t judge us. Go big or go home, right? For my last round, I got the Marionberry Pomegranate Som with the marionberry compote, coconut flakes, and Honey Mama’s. Alison and Kelly got the Marionberry Pomegranate Som with Newtella and chocolate every single time. Creatures of habit. Honestly, I don’t even know what marionberry is. It was the perfect way to end the trip, though.
I truly fell in love with Portland and I cannot wait to go back! I have more places on my list that we didn’t get to, so if you need any more recommendations, send me a message and I will happily share my full list!