Portland is a city with wonderful tea. While our beloved Steve Smith has died and moved onto the great tea tasting room in the sky, there continue to be many wonderful options for tea in Portland.
Having grown up in Portland, I have a soft spot in my heart for Stash Tea. They have been around since 1972 (older than me!) and now have their headquarters south of Portland in Tigard. Their company story is really fun to visit — and most grocery stores in Portland carry their teas. Their bagged teas are always solid and dependable, and their loose-leaf is delicious.
I feel a little wild, saying that I have a favorite restaurant. There are so many wonderful ones in Portland and I love so many of them.
But I’m going to go out on a limb (for me) and state my favorite. I love Grain & Gristle the most. The space is small and cozy. The staff is friendly without being smarmy or condescending. There are no televisions. The drinks are great: house wine never disappoints, cocktails are scrumptious, and they serve my favorite local brewery (Upright Brewing — deserving of their own post).
The food is delicious. The burger is fabulous. The mussels slay me. The “two-fer” is a great and amazing deal. I love pickles.
I believe dessert is also great, but I’m usually too full to order any.
They are on my bus line: #8.
Grain & Gristle is in NE Portland at 15th & NE Prescott. You can make reservations on Open Table.
Why, you might ask? Well, I know very little about rum and have had a tendency to dismiss it as a sweet, cloying drink best served with coke in the backyard. But as I have discovered more about bourbon, rye, aquavit, and others, I’ve grown curious about rum. Hale Pele seems like the perfect place to learn more, and is conveniently located (for me).
Lessons from New Year’s Eve: when tasting the rums, consider trying only one or maybe two. After two drinks, everything tastes great (and oddly similar).
Hang out on a floating dock: Eastbank Esplanade is the best place to seek an almost boating experience. Bring sunscreen, water, and a comfy chair. You might also want a book and a snack, as there is a surprising lack of refreshments along the Esplanade.
Update: guys. guys. guys. The Grand Central in my neighborhood closed. I am still upset. Years later. A salon and nice clothing store do NOT fill the void in my stomach. However, the salami sandwich (aka the grinder) is no longer a thing, so that gives me a very slight sense of comfort. Although I do like their veggie grinder.
I tend to call them Grand Central Bakery, but after a little research today, I see that they are technically Grand Central Baking Company. And after a little more research, I’m reassured to see that the local shops are called a Grand Central Bakery. So I’m all good after all. Phew.
Our local bakery is in NE Irvington (more or less) has an impressively stable staff and is full of delicious treats: warm cinnamon rolls, tasty salami sandwiches, and fresh bread. Yum!
While some Portland area Farmers Markets keep going year round (see Hillsdale Farmers’ Market), my two favorite neighborhood markets are coming back to life soon!
My absolute favorite is the Sunday Montavilla Market at 7600 SE Stark. However, I have to wait until June 21 for my first low-key, small market dose. This is my favorite market partly because it is on Sundays, but mostly because it feels like a neighborhood occasion with enough choice to be tantalizing. Neither the options nor the crowds are overwhelming, and there is much to delight in!
In the meantime, we have the closer Hollywood Farmers’ Market opening on Saturday, May 2 at NE Hancock between 44th and 45th Avenues. This market has many more options, but also has some serious crowds (and almost always an unexpected friend encounter). Great fun but also some what anxiety inducing for wimps like me!
There are many wonderful farmers and vendors at both markets, but I got to give special mention of the Village Crepery — they are the best! Definitely visit their website for the wonderful animated gifs — and the crepes are even better!