What's Cooking in PDX 2019

Portland, Oregon never disappoints when you’re in the mood for tasting and sipping. The bar and restaurant scene there has openings and closings that make you want to cry just as Seattle does. This trip in summer 2019 we mourned the losses of the Lakeside and Wildwood Restaurant in the NW area where we always stay because the value at the Silver Cloud can’t be beat—free parking and walking to sooo many places.

Our first stop on the first day was a new venue Xica Cantina. (Say CHICA Cantina.) A Classic margarita and an intense salad taco with avocado, cheese and nuts fueled the walk to lunch. I can’t go to PDX without a visit to Pok Pok and that genius Andy Ricker has opened up an outpost in the NW area. Ike’s Vietnamese Wings are still paying the mortgages and we can’t pass them up. Also tried a braised Burmese double pork curry that was super satisfying. They are selling a new line of Soms, which make excellent cocktails.

Added to our new favorites list is The Old Portland, a charming wine bar owned by the lead singer of the Dandy Warhols. They feature only old world palettes, mostly European, usually a selection of four. We tried the white Burgundy, the Cremant and a rose. I love this place.

We toured SE Hawthorne Street, more than 40 blocks of auto repair, bars, restaurants and vintage furniture and clothing shops. Other than good exercise on a beautiful day, I snagged a “fascinator” hat to wear to a semi-formal wedding in San Francisco this summer and excellent fish tacos at Por Que No Tacos

Old favorites we had to revisit included Ataula, because the gin and tonic with grapefruit liquor and salt cod fritters are essential to any visit. Little Bird Bistro has a terrific charcuterie program, unusual cheeses and foie gras. St. Jack is on the way back to the hotel and open late night. This place is for Francophiles. You know who you are.

In the culture department, The Japanese Garden was a delight. The Portland Art Museum has an exhibition all summer called Paris 1900. It features paintings and much more from the International Exhibition at the height of the Belle Epoque era. As we sat outside in the museum patio considering how to end our tour and head home, a bicyclist drove up to a mirror coated piano and sat down to play Debussy’s Claire de Lune. It was an exquisite moment to punctuate the trip.