The flight from Los Angeles to Portland was about 2.5 hours. On these shorter trips, I enjoy sitting by the window so I can take in the city from up high.
For an early lunch, we chose Nong's Khao Man Gai. Probably Portland's most popular place to eat for their famous Hainan chicken and rice. I missed this food cart the last time I was in Portland 5 years ago. Now they have a brick and mortar location which opened a few years ago serving alcohol and a dining area.
Hainan chicken and rice (PISET) large size with chicken liver, broth, and KMG sauce
Nong's Khao Man Gai - 1003 SW Alder St, Portland, OR 97205
Next stop after Nong's was Delicious Donuts. The thing to try is their apple fritter. Crisp on the outside and moist in the inside.
Delicious Donuts - 12 SE Grand Ave, Portland, OR 97214
Breakfast sandwich - this is probably the best breakfast sandwich I've tasted. The light and crisp texture of the bagel and flavor bomb inside this sandwich is worth seeking out. The coffee shop serves coffee with beans from Coava coffee in an unpretentious friendly environment.
First Cup Coffeehouse - 4103 SE Woodstock Blvd, Portland, OR 97202
The Grotto would be a good choice to spend the morning or afternoon strolling the garden and grounds for about an hour or 2. Around noon, you can attend mass at the church. You'll have to pay for a token to take you up to the garden where you'll find a nice view of the city.
The Grotto - 8840 NE Skidmore St, Portland, OR 97220
For lunch, I recommend lunch at Coquine -- 2016 Restaurant of the Year (The Oregonian). Don't miss dining at this restaurant. They have a set lunch special for $24. The lunch includes soup, salad, sandwich, and that chocolate chip cookie that won best dish of the year. Things are a bit more expensive in Portland in comparison to Los Angeles.
The famous Coquine Chocolate Chip Cookie.
Coquine - 6839 SE Belmont St, Portland, OR 97215
I wanted to visit a brewery and was pleased to find out Breakside Brewery had a taproom that was close to my cousin's place. I didn't really know what to expect, but thoroughly enjoyed the beers here. It looks like they've won many awards for their beers and they specialize in IPA. I enjoyed their Passion Fruit sour they had on tap. I brought a bottle of it back home.
From their website: "In 2014, Breakside was awarded the highly coveted Gold Medal for American-Style IPA at the Great American Beer Festival for their flagship Breakside IPA, which was also named to Men’s Journal’s 100 Best Beers In The World and “The Best Beer in Oregon” by The Oregonian."
Breakside Brewery - 5821 SE International Way Milwaukie, OR 97222
Probably the best doughnuts in Portland is Pip's. You'll have try all their flavors and do a chai tea tasting. Truly essential Portland. Don't make the mistake of visiting Voo Doo Doughnuts as I did during my first visit to Portland.
Pip's Original Doughnuts - 4759 NE Fremont St, Portland, OR 97213
My cousin decided to surprise me with a spontaneous trip to Hood River just outside of Portland. He knew that I enjoyed the pilsner I tasted at Nong's and the waterfalls including Mutnomah Falls were still closed to the major fire.
All of us enjoyed our visit to pFreim for the beer tasting and the food. I don't think I have ever tasted mussels prepared this way. The mussels were not chewy and melted in my mouth. You definitely have to the order the moules frites at this brewery. The beers at Pfreim were also outstanding. It's worth the drive to explore this area outside Portland.
pFreim Family Brewers - 707 Portway Ave #101, Hood River, OR 97031
While I was in Seattle, I made visited Seattle Fish Guys twice. I loved the Hawaiian laid back vibe and the friendliness of the employees. It was the start of uni season so I ordered the local sea urchin harvested from San Juan Island, Stellar Bay oysters, and Pike Place Market chowder. During my second visit, I ordered both the Stellar Bay and Kumamoto oysters along with another taste of the Pike Place Market clam chowder. As one blogger said, "if you're not doing seafood in Seattle, you're doing it wrong."
Seattle Fish Guys - 411 23rd Ave S, Seattle, WA 98144
The Canada-US border took about a half an hour to cross. Not as easy as crossing the Mexico-US border. The drive from Portland to Seattle took about three hours and the drive from Seattle to Vancouver was a little more than two hours.
Once we finished dropping off our bags and checking in at our AirBnB, the host recommended we check out the Richmond Night Market. It's the largest Night Market in North America and it happened to be the final weekend of the season.
The Richmond Night Market was a nice surprise for our first night in Vancouver. I had fun walking around and trying different foods. There's a small admission fee and there are ATMs on site. I recommend a visit to the Night Market during the summer months as the evening I visited was a little chilly. Don't miss the freshly made Dragon's Beard Candy.
Richmond Night Market - 8351 River Rd, Richmond, BC V6X 1Y4, Canada
For morning coffee, I chose to visit Forty Ninth Parallel Coffee Roasters because I've had their coffee in Los Angeles. You have to get a donut while you're there. My donut of choice is always is a French crueller. This is the best interpretation I've tasted anywhere.
Forty Ninth Parallel Coffee Roasters & Lucky's Doughnuts - 2902 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5T 3G3, Canada
On Sunday morning, we attended mass at a late 19th-century French Gothic revival church. I like attending mass while on vacation in a new city.
Holy Rosary Cathedral - 646 Richards St, Vancouver, BC V6B, Canada
This is Canada.
The top attraction in Vancouver is Stanley Park. October is a nice time of the year to witness Fall Foliage in this region.
We drove through the Lionsgate Bridge which connects Downtown to North Vancouver.
We visited a Filipino restaurant in Vancouver for some grilled pompano, sinigang, and buko pie. Our server was not Filipino, but the cooks in the back were. The menu didn't look traditional, but the flavors were authentic. I was surprised that there weren't many options for Filipino food in Vancouver.
Hapag Ihaw-Ihaw - 5432 Victoria Dr, Vancouver, BC V5P 3V7, Canada
The border crossing wasn't too bad. Nothing compared to the wait times to cross the US-Mexico border in Tijuana.
For dinner, I wanted to try Oprah's favorite fried chicken so we drove to Ezell's, a chain of fried restaurants around Seattle. I was told Oprah gets the chicken shipped over to her. We ordered the traditional and spicy chicken, along with bread rolls, fried okra, and potato salad.
Ezell's Famous Chicken - 17323 140th Ave NE, Woodinville, WA 98072
One of the top attractions in Seattle is Pike Place Market. A place I've always wanted to visit. After walking through the market and the hassle just to find paid parking ($16 - $24), I was really disappointed with this market. It's a tourist trap and not really anything I thought it would be. I have visited better markets during my travels.
We stopped by the Seattle Central Library to take a look at the building exterior from architects Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus.
I grew up watching Bruce Lee films and saw Brandon Lee in "The Crow," so I thought it would be appropriate to visit their final resting place in Seattle.
Lake View Cemetery - 1554 15th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98112
I visited a local coffee shop near the touristy Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room for a pour over Aeropress coffee. This place is a jazz-themed coffee shop with three locations in Seattle.
Victrola Coffee Roasters - 310 E Pike St Seattle, WA 98122
Back in Portland, for lunch we wanted soup because it was a cold and raining. After visiting the largest Asian market which is Vietnamese in Portland, I was intrigued by the large Vietnamese population in Portland. I've heard about this Rose VL Deli so I wanted to give Vietnamese food a try in Portland.
The restaurant wasn't trendy, but a simple "hole-in-the-wall" family owned restaurant. There are only two soups offered each day. The owner was chatty and told me that she was from Saigon and her husband was in prison for 10 years. VL is for the owners' last names. She told me that a lot of the Vietnamese people live outside Portland in the suburbs. I could've spent the entire afternoon chatting with her.
Rose VL Deli - 6424 SE Powell Blvd, Portland, OR 97206
For my birthday dinner, we went to Double Mountain Brewery Tasting Room. My cousin has been and told me that they have really good pizza. This is their brussels and panchetta pizza inspired by the style in New Haven, Connecticut.
Double Mountain Taproom - 4336 SE Woodstock Blvd, Portland, OR 97206
Food carts are pretty common in Portland. I wanted to try ice cream while in Portland and visited Hurry Back Ice Cream. They offered me samples of their ice cream. It seems everything is very top secret about how they make their ice cream. They call their ice cream Pennsylvania style because they don't use eggs.
Hurry Back Ice Cream - 7875 Southeast 13th Avenue, Southeast 13th and Lexington, Portland, OR 97202
Cardamom and chocolate chip ice cream
One of Portland's top chefs (chef John Gorham of Toro Bravo and Tasty & Sons) said that this is the best sandwich in the Northwest so I had to try the Bosnian Ćevapi. It's made on their housemade bread called lepina. The meat is a blend of beef and lamb. All their ingredients are local or made from scratch.
4-4-2 Soccer Bar - 1739 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214
For my second lunch, I visited Lardo, a typical Porland-style establishment. We ordered the Nashville-style hot chicken sandwich, pig ears, hush puppies, Lardo fries, and some craft beer. 90s hip-hop beats and good food. I loved this restaurant. The sandwich is probably the best Nashville-style chicken I've tasted.
Lardo - 1212 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214
For last hurrah in Portland, I stopped by the celebrated Cascade Brewing for a tasting of their sour beers. They currently have a 100/100 on ratebeer.com. I tasted their collab with the Bruery named "One Way or Another," Manhattan NW, and Stumptown Bourbonic. If you love sours, I recommend a visit to Cascade when you're in Portland.
Cascade Brewing - 7424 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy, Portland, Oregon, USA 97225
As much I enjoyed my week away from Los Angeles exploring the Pacific Northwest, I was so happy to return home. Every time I leave, I end of missing my hometown of Los Angeles. We have a beautiful coastline, almost perfect weather year round, a mind blowing amount of things to do and see, and an unmatched food scene. Until next time. I will surely miss my family in Portland and my lovely niece (actually second cousin) that I met for the very for first time.
I love exploring Los Angeles like a tourist. I have as much fun in my hometown as I do traveling to another country. I hope my adventures inspire you to eat well and travel often.