The real Portlandia, featuring its best.

Follow this post’s route if you want to get the whole shebang of downtown Portland!  My friend and I started off in the Alphabet District, then wound our way down to Yamhill and the Waterfront, then to Old Town/Chinatown and back to the Alphabet District.

This month of August began with a blaze of hot weather, and we walked about 3.5 miles in the heat during this excursion. Needless to say, we were caked in sweat by the end. But we managed to pick some legendary rest spots to sample some of PDX’s most popular eats and drinks!

First stop: the Daily Cafe in the Pearl (902 NW 13th Ave, Portland, OR 97209)

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This place was friendly and chic, bathed in morning sunlight and showcasing a menu with fresh-faced options that change weekly. The frittata I devoured was a round cousin of the omelette loaded with golden tomatoes slightly charred from the roasting, basil leaves, and generous, plump pieces of burrata cheese. And guess what? I’m now in love with burrata. (Does this make me basic?)

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Burrata cheese reminds me of mozzarella, but it’s a milder flavor in my opinion with a creamy taste. And the cheese is deliciously stretchy, like that glorious string of grease you get when you lift up a pizza slice. On another note, Daily Cafe gives a nod to local products–we dipped crispy-edged taters in the healthiest ketchup hailing from the Portland Ketchup Company.

Price: $$

Huevos rancheros. Photo credit: Nivedita Mandal
Huevos rancheros. Photo credit: Nivedita Mandal

Even after such a rich meal, we made a beeline for Blue Star Donuts, which was on the way to the Waterfront Park. I’ve already been here many times, and it has fulfilled my donut dreams every single time. I emphasize this truth as well: Blue Star is better than Voodoo Doughnuts. (Check out my previous blog post on Blue Star here.)

Address: 1237 SW Washington St. Portland, OR 97205

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This, my friends, was an orange & olive oil cake (Blue Star’s newest!). The orange carried a beautiful fragrance, like a burst of citrus in my mouth. The cake donut itself was moist and delightfully crumbly as well, with a thick coat of powdered sugar laced with sweet orange zest.

Blueberry bourbon basil on the left, olive oil & orange on the right.

Now we were certainly gorged to bursting. So we attempted to walk off the food comas by strolling along the Willamette River’s murky depths.

Later on, we headed into Old Town/Chinatown for some of Stumptown’s famous joe. I am no longer a nitro brew virgin thanks to Stump, and I’ve fallen head over heels for this cold drink. The layer of utterly smooth yet light foam tickled my taste buds and each sip elicited a sweetness at first, then a savoriness with a little jolt of bitterness.

Address: 128 SW 3rd Ave. Portland, OR 97204

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Last stop: Steven Smith Tea’s Tasting Room in the industrial part of the Alphabet District. (At this point we both wished that the alphabet was much shorter. We walked from Old Town to W Burnside, then staggered from there to NW Thurman.)

My friend has never had Smith tea, which is Portland’s most iconic and famed tea company. Even the packaging is exquisite. We satiated our thirsts with sparkling honeybush tea on tap, admiring its brilliant, scintillating hue and the refreshing brew. I wish Smith would make this in bulk someday so I can pry it off New Seasons Market’s shelves.

Address: 1626 NW Thurman St., Portland, OR 97209

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Who needs to go hiking when you can just traipse all over Portland to scout out its urban delights?


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