I don’t usually write about dining and lodging options or choices during our travels because I feel like that information is readily available and on the internet, not to mention completely subjective. Portland, Oregon is the exception. The creative approach to housing and culinary arts defines and redefines its neighborhoods in an incredibly magnetic way.
I remember taking the train to Portland from Seattle for an anniversary weekend almost 10 years ago. The Pearl District of Portland was just beginning its urban renewal and my husband and I walked the quiet streets, through soaring galleries, and talked about all the possibilities. This trip it became clear that the Pearl District is in full swing and no longer in need of renewing. We searched to find a neighborhood that could give us that earthy, exciting flavor of renewal that we experienced a decade ago. We found it on Alberta Street.
We knew we wanted to be able to walk all 26 blocks of the Alberta Arts District so we booked a tiny house at the Tiny House Hotel. Each house that makes up this urban hotel concept was designed and built by a different architect. We had our own 134 square foot caboose, complete with a cobbled wood floor and a birds-eye perch of Alberta Street that kept the kids up for late-night people-watching.
We arrived and headed straight to the Grilled Cheese Grill which was a delightful food truck we could smell from our room. We made a pact that we would eat small bites of many things instead of filling up in one spot because we had 26 blocks to cover! The Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese was still lingering when we arrived at Pine State Biscuits. I am not a big biscuit and gravy person so I exclaimed that I would only be interested in one bite. That was, of course, before my first bite. Thank goodness it was “biscuit happy hour” because the cream top buttermilk biscuits, hot out of the oven, topped with fried chicken, bacon, and mushroom gravy along with a bell jar full of sweet tea on the side, rendered us speechless. The boys actually spent their own money on another round!
After a stop at the Bollywood Theater Restaurant to nosh on a sampling of beautifully presented traditional Indian street food, such as vada pav, Kati rolls, and Aloo Tikki, we headed back to our tiny Caboose. We made a bonfire in the courtyard of the Tiny House Hotel. They provided the wood and supplies for all-you-can-eat s’ mores, including free-trade chocolate and gluten-free graham crackers.
We sat in our tiny courtyard, listening to distant music, the air perfumed with everything from grilled cheese to curry, roasting vegan marshmallows, as we watched the stars “come out.”
Portland has become an adjective, “That is so Portland! This is so Portland!” Perhaps that is the moment when a city shifts from being a place to become a part of us.