I spent a weekend in Portland recently. For half the time, I was in regular old Portland at an old fancy hotel with no sign of hipsters. I drove the three hours to attend industry meetings in a windowless ballroom. The meetings were about as exciting as you might expect. Our client dinner in El Gaucho’s private room was just as fancy as you might expect. Also, stuffy. If it were on my personal tab, I probably would have regretted the $1,000 bill. But it wasn’t, so I didn’t mind much. I happily ate my steak and chose the wine.
In my few spare moments of free time, I snuck a peek into all the glory of Portlandia. Seattle is not so far from Portlandia, both in distance and, in some neighborhoods, culturally. But Portland takes it to a much higher level of hipsterness that I can’t even pretend to understand. I drank an americano at Stumptown. I watched girls (…and boys) in neon leggings paired with hand-knit oversized grandpa sweaters and majorly messy top-knots saunter to the barista, showing a complete lack of interest in life generally. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are from Seattle, but these Stumptown folks seemed to know all about popping tags at the thrift shop. I snacked on a scone in my Lululemons, feeling utterly yuppie and out of place. I strolled through Powell’s on my to lunch and got lost in the Rose room, mesmerized by the smell of old books and people a few days past their expiration date for showering. It felt romantic. And kind of grungy.
The Portlandia food (other than El Gaucho, honestly) was what got me. I called J at every meal or texted him a photo to share the deliciousness. Hipsters do some weird things, but one thing they do well is choosing the best restaurants. I managed to follow their lead to some amazing places in Portlandia:
Brunch at Clyde Common in the Ace Hotel, aka Hipster Heaven. Bacon steak. Rosemary biscuits. Communal seating, get to know yo’ neighbor.
Oven and Shaker. In the Pearl District, this little spot made me swoon at lunch with its perfectly concocted pizza pie. You can buy the kitchen a 6-pack; it’s on the menu. It’s also across the street from Jonathan Adler’s store, a feast for my color-loving eyes.
I also went to The Parish, a Cajun/Creole gem that served me a delicious soft-shell crab sandwich and the southern fried chicken to my colleagues, I enjoyed a mini-cupcake from Cupcake Jones and had the best mini chocolate chip cookies with sea salt of. my. life from Two Tarts Bakery on 23rd. Oh, and don’t forget the food trucks. I visited those, too. To sum up, I mostly sat in windowless ballrooms, walked, ate, observed hipsters doing various decidedly cool activities, and ate some more.