Going to Portland on the Left Coast, I knew the numbers.
Portland, Oregon, consistently comes out in the top rankings of U.S. cities in a number of categories, including: the most microbreweries, the best for bicycling, a supportive sporting community, among a myriad of other areas to those of us who like to get into the great outdoors, as well as having a penchant for food and the drink.
I went there to eat and drink.
Although, by the last day I was starting to see signs that seemed to tell me to walk away from the bar—which, of course, I ignored with extreme prejudice.
“In certain hoppy circles, Portland is known as Beervana, due to its high number of top-quality microbreweries: 31 breweries operate here, according to the Oregon Brewers Guild — that’s more than any other city in the world.”
But, I only had two full days and 31 breweries is almost too much, even for me, especially when you add other “attractions” I intended to visit.
One of those attractions happened to be food, as there are plenty of fantastic options in the Portland area.
One of those locations did a double duty, in offering an amazing selection of ales (as I previously mentioned), plus a high quality menu, which would also serve to absorb all those alcoholic beverages.
The first being, the popular Deschutes Brewery Public House, where I discovered a somewhat unusual (and very tasty) “hamburger.”
The Yellow Belly Burger was voted Best Burger at Brew ‘n Burgers, 2011, and consisted of seared Coleman Ranch beef, root beer braised pork belly, jalapeno pesto, whipped goat cheese and candied yellow tomatoes on fresh baked mustard ciabatta.
Another “attraction” I specifically ventured to Portland in search of was based on the fact that I have made it no secret that I love mobile food trucks. I have expressed my frustration that the capital city of California has them, basically , on the run.
Make that literally on the run, given the 30 minute maximum they can stop at one location.
Portland, on the other hand, celebrates their existence and popularity with multiple permanent occupations of parking lots and other open areas, enclaves they call pods.
I call them Targets of Opportunity.
I might say they provide the Low Hanging Fruit of the mobile food movement, but, truth be told, I honestly never noticed any fruit among the dozens of food trucks I saw.
While the SactoMoFo “organization” has held three events, the fact is, that under the current rules Sacramento is not mobile food friendly, while Portland clearly is a mobile food Mecca.
Some of the resistance to the mobile food vendors in Sacramento is, what I consider, an unfounded fear that they “rob business” from the brick and mortar places. I didn’t see that as a problem in Portland. We found restaurants a block away, who were serving a cuisine similar to the food trucks, yet had an hour to hour and a half wait for a table.
Some in Sacramento, while not exactly throwing in the towel, have resorted to opening their own brick and mortar places, maybe in a form of “if you can’t beat them…” attitude.
Given my limited visit on this trip, I barely had time to put a dent in my self-inflicted dining and drinking overindulgence of the Greater Portland area.
But, I did make time to swing by an area called Distillery Row, named as such for obvious reasons: they distill.
This includes whiskey, rum, vodka, and other spirits of the heart and head, including a coffee and rum concoction from one of the establishments, House Spirits Distillery.
While they do offer tiny samples, apparently Oregon liquor laws prohibit full on alcohol sales at these places that…ah…produce for sale…alcohol.
That’s just not right.