During a quick weekend trip this spring to Portland, Oregon, Traveler‘s assistant online editor Mary Beth LaRue had some of her best meals not in four-star restaurants (although those weren’t too shabby either) but in neighborhood Victorians with vintage charm. She reports:
Several of this innovative city’s most popular restaurants have taken a low-key approach, offering creative cuisine in the comfort of a home.
Lovely Hula Hands, housed in a pink-stucco house, offered affordable courses like salt-and-pepper battered calamari and Cuban pumpkin rice with tomato coconut sauce and plantains. Both were delicious when paired with a glass of Oregonian Pinot Noir or one of the owner’s concoctions.
A personal favorite was the Bee’s Knees, an enticing mix of rum, lemon juice and honey. Get there early for dinner because the restaurant doesn’t take reservations. Take note: The restaurant plans to move from its home at 938 N. Cook Street to 4057 N. Mississippi Street sometime this fall, so keep your eyes peeled for more than pink paint.
"After dinner, have a nightcap at the Brazen Bean, a hip lounge in an Old Victorian on N.W. Glisan Street. The Bean offers 27 different kinds of martinis, from cucumber to sake to jasmine-infused. If you stop by during happy hour, you can save $2 a pop. Still hungry? Sample one of the Bean’s upscale midnight snacks like the smoky roasted corn, cheddar and chicken quesadilla.
"Last but not least, a restaurant that serves some of the best dessert in Portland in more than modest surroundings. The Rimsky-Korsakoffee House doesn’t advertise, has a tiny outdoor sign and is, like the other two, housed in an antique home. This late-night coffeehouse serves ice cream sundaes, cheesecakes, and pies, plus a variety of coffees and loose-leaf teas. Every night at 7 p.m. there is live classical music. The place holds lots of surprises, but you’ll have to stop by to find out."
IT has just one question for Mary Beth: Did you do anything other than eat on your trip?
For more National Geographic Traveler-vetted Oregon picks, check out Andrew Nelson’s "New Oregon Trail" article in the September 2006 print issue, and our online Oregon Shopping Guide.
- Nat Geo Expeditions