This is part of a series of posts about my vacation to Portland, Oregon, in late February 2013.
As is probably evident, my roommate/travel partner and I did a lot of research on the Portland food and drinks scene in preparation for our trip. Among the themes that quickly emerged: coffee and donuts, plus other artisanal sweets and breakfast items. With a little planning, we managed to hit most of the major places on our list. I knew we’d cover the classics – I’d heard about Voodoo Doughnut for years, and Stumptown is a well-known roaster whose brews I love when I can get them here in Chicago. But I didn’t expect another donut shop (Blue Star) to win me over with its brioche-like dough and bold-flavored glazes, or to taste such an outstanding bagel-and-cream-cheese combination at Bowery Bagels that I thought it could only exist in Sriracha-spiked dreams, or to have the best French macarons either of us had ever tasted at Ken’s. And as someone who loves spending time in coffee shops, I was thrilled by Stumptown’s wall of magazines to go with its impeccable cups (I paged through Barista and Imbibe) and the vastly different but equally enjoyable atmospheres at Extracto and Sterling. I could go on, but just see for yourself in the photos below.
Why it’s this week’s Best Bite: I was overjoyed by this unique take on eggs benedict on a recent weekday morning. The poached eggs sit atop cheddar jasmine rice cakes, crispy on the outside and cheesy on the inside, with hollandaise, pico de gallo, and black beans to tie it together. Large pieces of grilled pineapple and red pepper also make a statement as garnishes, joined by a pleasant arugula salad. It’s filling and a little exotic, meant to be enjoyed with coffee and a good read (in my case, the never-ending quest to catch up on magazines).
Walking into Grandma J’s is like stepping into someone’s living room, mismatched furniture and all. Bold art, antique photos, and knick-knacks huddle under the colorful fabric panels that adorn the ceiling, and an armoire surrounded by wall-mounted clocks holds an array of hot sauces, a gentle reminder that it’s still a restaurant. The service is casual and friendly, and the open kitchen makes it feel like you’re pulling up a stool to watch Grandma cook (if Grandma was younger, with hipster sensibilities). It’s tucked away in Humboldt Park, a block from my old apartment – I so wish it had opened while I still lived there, as it would have been a dream to have brunch like this within walking distance. If you go, make sure to also stop for a treat at 100-year-old Roeser’s Bakery, just across North Avenue.
Travel Eats documents my food adventures outside of Chicago.
Before heading full-speed into Restaurant Week, I wanted to share a few more photos from my vacation earlier this month. From a sandwich that stole my heart when we stopped for lunch in Madison (see above), to more of my favorite bites and sips from Saffron in downtown Minneapolis (see also: this tagine); and from a hearty Northwoods breakfast to convenience-store-assembled dessert by the fire, there was a little bit of everything. Definitely a cold but successful getaway!