On our way to Powell’s bookstore we stopped in at some of the shops in Union Way, I was struck by the continuity of the architecture and decor of the arcade. Union had a cool obviously thought out design aesthetic and the stores had a collective manliness to them, maybe assisted by the Danner Store, you could definitely deck out your man cave or your hipster lumberjack cabin. On the other side of the arcade was The Buffalo Exchange, not really an op shop or thrift shop but more of a dedicated vintage store.
Powell’s Bookstore deserves a paragraph of its own just as it occupies a whole city block. The block and the 5 stories are full of wonders from the huge range (which didn’t cover some more modern psychology techniques unfortunately for Laura) to the rare books section which had original editions some of which were worth up to $5000 (possibly more but they were probably hidden further away).
Portland’s food was amazing, (I’ve already mentioned the donuts so I’ll leave those but I will revisit the food carts). Throughout the city there are over 700 and on one city block there were 56 food carts. You could get Eqgyptian, Georgian, German, Indonesian, and everything in between. Some food carts are more famous than others, including Grilled Cheese Grill which featured the mega cheeses, a redevelopment of the traditional hamburger-replacing buns with grilled cheese sandwiches (it also comes in a double…or if you want to be healthy, the baby cheeses). The pinnacle of success for a food cart is opening a brick and mortar restaurant and so far, only 5 food carts have done this.
Nong’s Khao Man Gai is one such food cart success story. The story goes, Nong moved to the U.S. with very little money and a recipe. Her recipe was chicken and rice-turns out to be some of the best chicken and rice you’ll taste. We were able to visit her restaurant in East Burnside and the chicken and rice certainly lived up to expectations. When your chicken and rice is that good you don’t need anything else on the menu except a larger size. Another food cart which has made it big is Lardo Sandwiches, they also started out life as a food cart. We visited their restaurant on SW Washington St, West Portland and Laura is still trying-so far unsuccessfully-to recreate their pulled pork salad. I had to try one of the burgers they were known for; the double burger and man, it was amazing.
On our way back from Nong’s Khao Man Gai we stopped in at Sizzle Pie Pizza for happy hour drinks. After eating our chicken and rice-and seeing the size of Sizzle Pies pizzas we decided to just stick with drinks because there was no way we’d get through a small serve. Our bar tender was pretty cool and he agreed to let me take a few photos as he was working (he also gave us a free drink), being Australian we hoped we’d tipped well enough when we left. Sizzle Pie had pizza paddles (if anyone knows the technical term please let me know) illustrated by well known artists for sale hanging on their walls.
More evidence of Portland’s excellent culture is its music, and sadly we felt like we were lacking. We don’t own a record player and it was clear that real music connoisseurs don’t buy CDs, oh well. The best thing about music in Portland was getting tickets to see Wye Oak play in the Doug Fir Lounge for $16 each. Astounding and certainly not something you’d find in Australia. Wye Oak’s support act Pattern is Movement were quite good, (think a white Barry White, a lot of the ladies in the room certainly seemed to). We were so impressed by the ingenuity of their merchandise that we took pillow cases with their faces with us.
Not only does Portland have all of that, but it also has a huge park in the city. You could spend 3 days hiking from one end to the other without seeing the city (alternatively you could come back out of the park to grab coffee if you want). Outside the city we drove to Multnomah Falls, although Multnomah Falls was lovely it was not as cool as Oneonta Gorge but that will have to be another post involving wading through glacial waters with a camera bag above my head.