Aug 252011

As a lifelong East Coaster, I’m familiar with Portland, ME’s reputation as the foodie capital of the northeast, which is why I found it funny that we would have our best food experiences of the trip 3000 miles away on the opposite coast in Portland, OR.   Our time in the city was spent hopping from one amazing meal to the next, stuffing ourselves silly.   Zach is still very close with his childhood neighbors, so the first of our unforgettable food experiences happened in the warm and welcoming home of Tony and Donna.  They spoiled us rotten with home-cooked meals and made sure our wine glasses were never empty.  Adventurous travelers themselves, we are never left searching for good conversation in their company.  Thanks Tony and Donna!

The food cart scene in Portland, OR has exploded in recent years and, somewhat surprisingly, was actually listed by a popular travel guide as a top five “must see” on the West Coast.  On our first day in the city, we idled around the waterfront sipping our morning coffee and biding our time for a socially acceptable lunch hour.  We set our sights on 9th and Alder, the most popular of the many food cart hotspots scattered around the city.  As we approached, four city blocks lined with food carts came into view and we could sense that the mid-week lunch rush was only just beginning.  Overwhelmed, we began our quest for the perfect lunch.  We counted over a dozen types of ethnic foods and countless creatively contrived food fusions, all doing their part to confuse our senses.  There was sweet Hawaiian BBQ, savory bowls of soba noodles, and flawlessly fried Scottish fare.  Organic, health-nut sandwiches, fish tacos and flavorful curries.  We walked up and down the city blocks for nearly an hour, weighing the pros and cons of each delectable menu item.  This was not a decision to be taken lightly.  It is a rare opportunity to be able to indulge in food that is both delicious and cheap.  Ultimately, the intriguing won out over the conventional and we decided on two separate items due to their unique combinations – a Mexican inspired burrito with Korean spiced pulled pork and a vegetable flatbread sandwich with melted brie and pesto.  Yum!

Happy to be relieved of our tourist duties in this familiar city, the rest of our time was spent revisiting some of our favorite spots and catching up with some old friends.