Our Quick Portland Getaway

Vancouver beauty, life and style blogger Solo Lisa stands in front of a sign that says Hello Ballard in Ballard, Seattle

As you might have seen from my Instagram, Hubs and I went to Portland for an extra long weekend recently! This getaway coincided with me attending a professional conference and honestly it couldn't have come soon enough. Working overtime on a demanding project, dealing with staffing issues, and overall stress and exhaustion were really starting to get to me, which is also why I've been MIA from the blog lately. It was so nice to escape from everyday life for a couple of days and unplug for a bit. All the details on where we went and what we did after the jump! (Spoiler: It involves a lot of food.)

2 pairs of feet wearing white sneakers stand on a street corner that says Ballard Ave NW and NW Vernon

Saturday: Pit stop in Ballard, Seattle and arriving in Portland

We made good time crossing the border and arrived in Seattle just in time for lunch. Now, Pike Place Market and the first Starbucks get a lot of tourist love, but my favourite corners of Seattle are Fremont and Ballard. Both are formerly independent townships that were gradually absorbed into Seattle as the latter grew. Fremont has lots of quirky public art and a freewheeling hippie spirit, while Ballard (formerly a community of Nordic fishermen) is now home to a mix of indie shops, restaurants, and coffee shops and feels like a combination of Yaletown and Mt. Pleasant.

Mole chicken and halibut tacos from La Carta de Oaxaca with watermelon agua fresca

Our favourite restaurant in Seattle is La Carta de Oaxaca in Ballard, hands down. This place makes the best mole sauce I've had outside of Oaxaca as well as a mix of other Mexican favourites, and they serve micheladas and agua frescas. We ordered mole chicken and halibut tacos with watermelon agua fresca for a lunch that made our spirits and our bellies very happy indeed.

A plant shop in Ballard, Seattle

Ballard is a nice place to stretch your legs on a long road trip, especially on a sunny day. We strolled the narrow cobblestone sidewalks and peeked into cafes, bars, and restaurants. We popped into little boutiques and checked out shoes, antique jewelry, plants, locally made goods, and home decor. It was a very pleasant way to pass a couple of hours and a reminder of how much I'd love to return. Ballard has a farmer's market on weekends too. The farmer's market, brunch, some shopping, dinner...this is a neighbourhood you could lose yourself in for an entire day.

A quiet street lined with greenery and sidewalk cafe tables in Ballard, Seattle
An eclectic indie shop in Ballard, Seattle
Airbnb in Portland near SE Division St

SE Division St, Portland, OR

A couple hours after leaving Ballard, we pulled up to our Airbnb near SE Division St. "Adorable" doesn't cut it as a descriptor of this space; it was the coziest little laneway home in a quiet, tree-lined neighbourhood, with all sorts of amenities to make it feel homey. Just a few blocks away, the trendy eateries and coffee shops on SE Division St. beckoned: Pok Pok, Salt & Straw Ice Cream, Ava Gene's, Stumptown Coffee.

Airbnb in Portland near SE Division St
Pok Pok on SE Division St, Portland, Oregon

For our first meal in Portland, we decided to brave the daunting wait times at Pok Pok. Thank goodness the surrounding boutiques on SE Division St. were open late. I killed a lot of time browsing the unique stationery, dot grid journals, and Japanese pens at Little Otsu. We peered into the windows of closed shops like Gild and Adorn, marveled at the long lineup outside Salt & Straw, and read the menus of other restaurants as we strolled the entire length of SE Division.

Toasting each other with limeades at Pok Pok

Fast forward 1.5 hours and we were in! That called for a toast with limeades.

Chicken wings, chicken, papaya salad, and glass noodle salad at Pok Pok

The food was so good, if a little too rich and intensely spiced and seasoned. We definitely ate too much. Shown here from the top left, going clockwise: Papaya Pok Pok (their version of a papaya salad), Kai Yaang Tuua (roasted, air-cooled chicken stuffed with lemongrass, garlic, pepper and cilantro and served with spicy/sweet/sour and tamarind dipping sauces), a glass noodle salad that turned out to be surprisingly spicy, and Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings.

Candles and greenery display in Anthropologie in Portland, Oregon

Sunday Funday: Shopping on SE Division, in the Pearl District & NW 23rd, dinner at OX

Sunday was a fairly aimless and relaxed day. We walked down SE Division and enjoyed quiche and Nicoise salad at the St. Honore Boulangerie before driving to other neighbourhoods and exploring and window shopping.

I know Anthropologie is a chain store and we have it in Vancouver now, but the one in Portland is on another level. They had a big beauty section, home furnishings and an interior decorator consultancy in the back, BHLDN bridal, even a petites section upstairs. I didn't buy anything but I enjoyed browsing and just being in the store and seeing how everything was merchandised.

Furniture display in Anthropologie in Portland, Oregon

Dinner at the James Beard Award-winning OX was definitely the culinary highlight of the trip. Hubs and I ordered skirt steak with cauliflower, asparagus, and spaghetti squash, and every dish was executed perfectly. I don't know if it's old age or what, but these days we get very excited about a restaurant that can make vegetable sides that are as exciting as a meat dish. Hubs raved about everything.

Cauliflower, asparagus, skirt steak, and spaghetti squash at OX in Portland, Oregon
Write the Docs conference at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Oregon

Monday/Tuesday: Write the Docs conference and Nong's Khao Man Gai

The next couple of days were pretty cut and dry. I'll spare you the details of the conference I attended (unless you're really into learning about the ins and outs of writing user manuals and technical documentation). As one of the few technical writers at my company, it was just a really cool opportunity to meet other industry professionals and learn from their experiences.

Hubs and I were craving something a little simpler and homier after the rich fare of the past few days and Nong's Khao Man Gai definitely hit the spot. Poached chicken, rice cooked in chicken broth, soup, and a spicy savoury dipping sauce. So simple, so good. Of all the meals we had in PDX, this was the only one that I wished we had back home in Vancouver. I'd probably be eating this at least once a week if we had a Hainanese chicken place in Mt. Pleasant.

Thai-style Hainanese chicken from Nong's Khao Man Gai in Portland, Oregon
Brunch at Broder Cafe in Portland, Oregon

Wednesday: Brunch at Broder Cafe and a stop at Chanel

One last meal of apple fritters, smoked trout hash, and aebleskiver before departing! We also swung by Chanel to pick up something I'd been eyeing and mulling over from the previous evening. (You can check my Instagram to see what's inside the box!)

Tax-free shopping at Chanel in Nordstrom in Portland, Oregon

6 comments

  1. I haven't been to Portland in years but it's been hovering on my "to go" list for a while. Thanks for all the suggestions; now I really want to try Pok Pok!

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    1. I think our downfall at Pok Pok was that we were thinking of packing up leftovers in a doggie bag and we just ate everything in one sitting haha. But still worth a visit!

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  2. Your trip to Portland looks amazing. We've always wanted to go!! Plus yay for beautiful Chanel treats - there's nothing better!! xo

    www.girlandcloset.com

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    1. You two would love Portland! And yes to Chanel, always. I love my new wallet.

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  3. Great pictures of the food! I’m hungry just looking at them!

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    1. The four of us should do a trip together again!

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