TJ: Before we left for Arcane Cellars for the solar eclipse, we made a few stops in Portland for some more amazing food. We ate so well on this trip it was kind of insane.
Dara: Our first great find that morning was Marukin Ramen. We just happened to drive by it on our way to pick up our rental car and just seeing the word ramen made my mouth water. So after a quick google search to make sure it was a decent place, we decided we’d eat our lunch there. And boy, Marukin did not disappoint. We eat ramen all the time in LA, and I still think Marukin was the best ramen I’ve ever had.
TJ: Then right before we left we stopped by Blue Star Donuts, which is less famous than Portland’s Voodoo Doughnut but by far the local favorite. I’m not really a donut person but my blueberry bourbon basil donut and cold brew coffee were beyond delicious. Dara got a Mexican hot chocolate donut, which was good but more spicy than expected. They were already out of most of the donuts by the time we got there at noon though so if you visit go early! And they now have two locations in LA too, so check them out! They are some of the best donuts you will ever have.
Dara: Once back in Portland Monday night, we were tired from a long day so we decided to catch a movie (Logan Lucky) at Cinemagic, right nearby our apartment. It’s one of many cool indie theaters in Portland, featuring coffee and beer and cider on tap.
The next day we slept in late, then went to get an early lunch at Pok Pok Thai, a fantastic little restaurant a bit deeper into East Portland. They have a newer location in NY, and actually tried expanding to LA once, but that restaurant has now closed. Pok Pok doesn’t offer the normal Pad Thai and Drunken Noodles et al, but spicier, authentic (and a bit more expensive) fare. The fish sauce chicken wings are to die for, as is the slow drip Vietnamese coffee.
After that we went the Oregon Zoo, inside the expansive and beautiful Washington Park, on a hill above downtown Portland.
If you love zoos as much as we do, the Oregon Zoo in Portland is a must. It’s a small but very well done zoo, built in a very convenient and larger than expected loop. Plus, since this is Portland, they have excellent food and drinks.
Their giant snow cones are absolutely delicious – whatever syrup they used was A++. We also had beer on tap (because of course) and excellent coffee.
I think the most fun we had though was watching the elephant waterhole, as two elephants were playing around in the water, jumping in and splashing each other. A huge crowd gathered around because it was super cute.
But then the mom started pooping in the water and they kept swimming in the poop and it got awkward…
Yea… it was weird haha. But we also got to see a bat feeding which was very cool! To get the food, the bats walked around on the top of a cage with their claws, over to baskets of food that a zookeeper hung for them.
I also loved watching two really clever orangutans use a stick they found to pull down the branches from a tree that was outside of their enclosure and take the leaves off it to eat! It was absolutely hilarious seeing how smart they were. Felt like a movie scene.
Washington Park also has a Children’s Museum, Archery Range, Arboretum and more (check out the map here). So after the zoo, we took the free shuttle to its famous International Rose Testing Garden. Normally, the train at the zoo could also take you there, but it’s currently under construction.
Portland is famous for its roses (and also known as the City of Roses) because it’s the perfect climate for growing them. The expansive and gorgeous rose testing garden is the center of rose growing in the United States. It’s the perfect spot for wandering and thinking, or for an Instagram surrounded by flowers.
Later, we headed to the Portland Sky Tram, which connects the OSHU hospital with downtown Portland. It’s one of only two commuter aerial tramways in the US – doctors and patients use the tram to get to the hospital everyday.
But it’s also open to tourists, so for $5/person you can ride it too. From there is probably the best view of Portland you can get.
Finally, our last stop in Portland was (finally!) the original Voodoo Doughnut. Voodoo is the west coast’s most famous donut, known for it’s fun logo and out there donut toppings. They’ve since expanded outside of Portland, but the original shop is a sight to behold. There’s almost always a line, but thankfully it wasn’t that long for us since we went around 5pm.
TJ had the Oh Captain, My Captain donut, which was frosted and covered in Captain Crunch. But I’m such an east-coast style donut girl, I just got a plain glazed donut. They were, as expected, really delicious, but a little overhyped in my opinion (I’d honestly prefer Dunkin Donuts over anything else).
But either way, one great last snack before heading back to the airport!
But this actually the end of our Portland adventure posts! Join us next week as we talk about our journey into the beautiful Willamette Valley.