I just returned back to South Florida from an incredible Labor Day weekend spent exploring Seattle, Portland and the town of Dundee, Oregon (located in Willamette Valley). The northwest was the only part of the country that I had never really been and I liked it a lot more than I expected to. There’s lot of trees and beautiful scenery, fresh food and friendly, happy people everywhere.
Whenever we talk about the other places we would like to live, my boyfriend Jeremy often mentions Seattle. The only thing I knew about the city before this trip was that it doesn’t have an NBA team and that it’s cold, rainy and gray for about seven months of the year. I am a Floridian who loves my sunshine and Heat, so I was a little unsure.
We decided to check it out for the long weekend, which also happened to be Jeremy’s birthday. The long, deal breaking winters are a damn shame because I really fell in love. I loved the way Seattle is a colorful, diverse, big walking city without being overwhelming like NYC or Chicago. It’s the perfect sized city for me. While we were there we had six days of sunshine, and if it could be like that for a little longer than three months I could see myself living there.
Portland, on the other hand, was a bit of a disappointment. The people (hippies) were nice, the farmer’s market at the university was huge and impressive and the fresh food was delicious, but the city is just sooooo damn sloooooow. Service, although pleasant, took forever and nobody seemed to be in any sort of rush to accomplish anything. We actually walked into a business hoping to get a drink early in the evening, only to be told that they were closing early because they were tired. Seriously? I know this is only one small example, but this pretty much sums up the overall vibe that I got from the people in Portland, and I need to be surrounded by a little more motivation than that.
Here are some of my favorite places and things that we ate/saw/drank/did:
Pike’s Place Market. Probably the biggest tourist attraction in the city, but for a good reason. Fresh, local food everywhere and some of the best restaurants and happy hour deals around (we loved The Athenian).
Matt’s in The Market. Our dinner spot for the first night in town. It’s on the third floor of a building facing the market, and being seated next to the huge open windows provided some of the most beautiful views of the sun setting over the water. My favorites were the Dungeness crab ceviche and guacamole and foie gras with chocolate doughnuts. Service-A, Ambiance- A, Food- B.
Art of The Table. The perfect place for a date or celebration. There are only six tables and a small bar in the place, and five employees. The menu changes weekly and for $80 gets you a 10-course sampling of most of it. This is what we did, and I can honestly say that every single thing I tried was delicious. Service- A, Ambiance- A, Food- A+!
Bathtub Gin & Co. A cozy little speakeasy that was not so easy to find. We were lost in an alley for almost 10 minutes before we spotted the entrance, but I’m so glad we didn’t give up. The bartender Matt’s mixology skills were one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen. He didn’t make a single vodka and cranberry or rum and coke- everything was a carefully-mixed specialty drink, crafted with so many different types of fresh fruit, bitters and mixers. Even the way he cut fruit and crafted twists was impressive, and he had some awesome jokes. Every night Jeremy and I joked that instead of going out and exploring new places, we just wanted to go hang out with Matt again.
Kerry Park. We were instructed by a local to check out this park for the most amazing view of the city. We were not disappointed with what we saw when we got to this little gem in the West Queen Anne neighborhood.
Capitol Hill. The “gayborhood.” Lots of cool little restaurants, bars and shops with character. Jeremy scored a sweet new little party shirt from a vintage shop.
The Escala. Ladies, the Escala is not fiction. I wonder if Mr. Grey is.
Lola. Across the street from the Escala is Lola, a breakfast spot that was recommended to us by Matt the Bartender. After a long night of drinking, Lola’s fresh powdered doughnuts with homemade cream and blueberry jam and omelets hit the spot. Service- B, Ambiance- A, Food- A
Toulosse Petit. This Lousiana-style cajun restaurant was so yummy that we visited twice. Service- A, Ambiance- A, Food- A+
Cougar Mountain. We took a nice hike about 30 minutes east of downtown Seattle. Lots of little trails and beautiful greenery!
Farmer’s Market. We hit the biggest one at Portland State University. The amount of amazing fresh food was overwhelming. Just look at how many different-colored tomatoes there were! Walked around for about two hours, ate breakfast from the Verde Cocina stand and bought enough fresh food for a small feast, which we enjoyed that night.
Aviary. A newer, tapas-style restaurant on Alberta, one of Portland’s more “happening” streets. We had a nice outdoor table that overlooked the block. Pleasant but extremely slow service (15 minutes just to get a cocktail). Luckily we were in good company and in no rush. Service- C, Ambiance- B, Food- B
All three vineyards and wineries that we visited were at the top of the hills, so we had some of the most beautiful views.
Bella Vida Vineyard
White Rose Vineyard