Category Archives: Portland

TWW’s Cool Places: Pine State Biscuits

home_logoSometimes the best approach to competing in a city full of amazing breakfast places is to not compete. Instead of filling your menu with creative omelets and interesting meat and waffle pairings start with one basic food item: the buttermilk biscuit. From there, build a small menu that has nothing more complicated than a fried egg. Open a two table, three stool diner, get there early to get the smell of fresh baked biscuits going, supply your customers with Stumptown coffee while they wait, and watch the customer line pile up outside the door.

Pine State Biscuits has executed this strategy to perfection and as a result it has become one of the most popular breakfast joints in Portland and one of our favorite places to start the day. Their biscuits are huge and flaky and provide the perfect platform for menu items like the Moneyball (biscuit and gravy topped with egg over easy) and the Reggie (fried chicken, bacon and cheese, topped with gravy). Too much? Get just the biscuit and some of their amazing jam. Regardless of your order, the food is guaranteed to be good, the service fun and quick, and the line outside the door full of interesting people to talk to to pass the time. We love this place. As will you.

Pine State Biscuits

Location: 3640 SE Belmont Street, Portland, OR and at the Portland Saturday Farmers Market

Hours: Monday thru Sunday, 7AM to 2PM

Contact: (503) 236-3346

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TWW’s Cool Places: River City Bicycles

logoLocated in Southeast Portland near the underside of the Hawthorne Bridge, River City Bicycles is a landmark Portland bike store that should be a required stop when visiting the city. Stocked with the latest in road, cyclocross and mountain bikes, along with the required necessities (think a LOT of racks of spandex, supplements, shoes, etc), River City has created a brand all of its own. In addition to selling bikes, the store sponsors its own cycling team, and participates in a ton of community outreach throughout Portland. The staff is young, attractive and helpful and they all look like they could crush your soul on the bike. In a nice way. My favorite part: the store always provides free coffee. River City Bicycles is a great place to tap into the Portland cycling scene, and grab some cool stuff while you’re at it.

River City Bicycles

Location: 706 SE MLK Boulevard, Portland, OR 97214

Hours: Monday thru Friday 10am to 7pm, Saturday 10 to 5, Sunday 12 to 5

Contact: 503-233-5973

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Broder

Broder logoAll too often breakfast can become a meal defined by its excesses rather than the actual cuisine. We go to pancake houses and greasy spoon diners because we like the fact that the pancakes are plate sized, come with eggs and cost only $3.99. We tell ourselves that such gluttony is okay because we grew up on the notion that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that a large and greasy one is the best cure for a hangover, which is all well and good until breakfast becomes an event in which you need to impress someone in a way that has nothing to do with your ability to hoover three gigantic pancakes, some saugage and four eggs without breaking a sweat.

Think of Broder as the antithesis of the greasy spoon breakfast/hangover cure/$3.99 special. Instead, picture a European minimalist breakfast cafe, where the food is presented in such a delicate way that it seems almost a shame to disturb the plate. Picture menu items like a baked scramble with smoked trout, aebleskivers with lemon curd and brown bread with a softboiled egg and ham. Picture Broder as the place where you bring the girl you finally asked out and brought home last night and now want to impress with your sense of style and knowledge of great Portland food.

Broder opened its doors in 2007 as a Swedish restaurant, bringing its northern European aesthetic to the Northwest, and combining the best of both cultures in its food. The interior of the long and narrow restaurant is divided into two sections; the dining area along one wall and the open grill along the other. The open grill creates the feeling of a large family kitchen, evoking  a communal sense of eating, which is helped along by the small and closely placed tables. Broder’s intimate space much more suited to couples than large groups.

The food fits Broder’s intimate setting, arriving on small, basic plates and wood boards in delicate presentations that showcase the visual aesthetics of the food. I’m a large guy, and at Broder I feel like a giant when the food arrives. But in its presentation lies Broder’s strength; the place knows it is a Swedish restaurant and it makes no compromises in order to fit the American idea of breakfast. This notion is reflected in the food itself which is incredibly and surprisingly flavorful. Among our favorites are the aebleskivers; Swedish style pancakes served with lemon curd, jam and maple syrup that can be eaten with your hands, and the breakfast sandwich; duroc ham, baked eggs, gruyere cheese, marjoram cream and tomatoes. The bords are all great as well (Bords are the Swedish version of a continental breakfast plate: bread, jam, egg, and usually ham). Everything we have tried here has been wonderful, which keeps us coming back and makes us eager to explore more of their menu. Make sure to check out their drink menu as well; the coffee is Stumptown and their bloody mary is fantastic.

The service here also skews distinctly non-Portland, which usually suffers from a weird dichotomy of great food with generally awful service. Broder’s service is efficient and quick. The server rarely lingers to chat, allowing you to focus on your breakfast date and the food, which generally arrives quickly. The only downfall of the service is that Broder is incredibly busy, which can cause a bit of a lag, especially if you arrive with the eight other tables once the doors open. However, this is a testament to Broder’s appeal more than a service issue, so its hard to fault them for falling behind a bit.

Broder has quickly become one of our favorite breakfast places in a city that has some incredible breakfast options. This place has style and grace, and provides a wonderful little respite from American breakfast dining. Bring people here to impress. Keep coming back here because your paradigm of what breakfast should be has shifted. Welcome to Broder.

Location: 2508 SE Clinton Street, Portland, Oregon

Hours: Breakfast/Lunch is from 9am to 2pm daily, Dinner is 6pm to 10pm Thursday thru Saturday

Price Point: breakfast is between $7 and $10, dinner entrees run between $7 and $10. Nothing on Broder’s menu is over $10.

Menus: breakfast, lunch, wine list, beer list, beverages

Contact: (503) 736-3333, broderpdx@gmail.com

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Bunk Sandwhiches

BUNK.logo.inddHave you ever taken a road trip and stopped at one of those highway-side diners that you spot periodically on the way? The ones where the waitress has been there for 30 years, the cook looks like he might be on his second trip through the parole system and the sandwiches are greasy piles of meat and cheese that stick to your ribs and make you love, and loath, the fact that you didn’t hold out for a healthier alternative. Think of Bunk Sandwiches as that diet destroying diner done by the hipster elite of the liberal arts college crowd; a greasy lunch counter packed with people and the smell of fried onions and toasted bread, replete with the mandatory Portland hipster staff and Northwest cuisine infused menu.

Tucked along SE Morrison in a neighborhood that looks like it has seen better days, Bunk can be spotted by the line out the door, a result of both the quality of food they serve and the limited seating space. Inside, the long room is divided between seating and the open kitchen, allowing you to watch and smell everything that goes into one of Bunk’s sandwiches.  The chalkboard menu, to the right of the door once you walk in, changes daily, but is anchored by some Bunk staples such as the Meatball Hero and the Italian Cured Meats sandwich. From there, the menu ventures into items like Bone Marrow and Snails on Toast and Tongue on Rye with onions and spicy mustard. Our favorite so far? The Elvis: peanut butter, banana and bacon done pannini style. Greasy spoon appearance aside, the sandwich chefs at Bunk create food that is wondrously flavorful, and surprisingly light on the stomach.

If the sandwiches alone aren’t enough to fill you up, the sides provide another avenue of food exploration. Items like Potato Salad with Bacon and Eggs and Roasted Butternut Squash Agro Dolce are mild enough to compliment the sandwiches, but flavorful enough to enjoy on their own. And no diner experience would be complete without cake and cupcakes, especially ones that are made locally by friends of Bunk’s proprietors. Bunk also does a very basic breakfast, with two basic sandwiches that are both amazing, and greats starts to a cold and dreary Portland day.

The staff at Bunk is knowledgeable, quick and generally friendly in that “I’m way too cool to talk to you right now but I’ll try and be overly nice” kind of way. On a recent visit the cashier was quick to provide recommendations and steer me towards some of the menu boards better items, entertaining my questions even though the place was packed (I was totally that douchebag asking questions while people where impatiently waiting).

For us, Bunk has become one of our go to food spots in Portland, a place we somehow talk about every time someone mentions the great food in the city. Don’t let the neighborhood or the greasy diner appearance scare you; the line out the door is testament to the quality of this place. Recently, a friend  summed up her first experience at Bunk by looking at me with a mixed look of satisfaction, desperation and loathing: “I can’t believe that place is so close to my house. This is going to be dangerous. I’m not sure if a ‘thanks’ is appropriate. Good find, douchebag.”

Location: 621 SE Morrison, Portland, OR

Hours: Open Monday through Saturday, 8 to 3pm

Price Point: Most sandwiches fall in the $8 range, with sides between $2.50 and $5. Breakfast sandwiches are $5.

Menu
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Forest Park – Portland, OR

As a rule, running in Portland during the rainy season will require that you get muddy. Very very muddy. And since Portland’s rainy season is fairly extended, embracing the idea of getting covered in mud every time you hit a trail is the best way to start enjoying Portland’s abundant running options.

Our nominee for “Muddiest Place in Portland Where Hot Girls Like to Run” is Forest Park, located in the hills west of downtown. The park is the “largest forested natural area within city limits” in the United States, which translates to a huge variety of running trails and multiple points of access throughout the western edge of Portland’s downtown; allowing you to run from Portland’s city core, to a quiet, verdant forest in less than 10 minutes. Because of the dense forest, and Portland’s abundant rain, the trail system in Forest Park gets muddy and stays muddy for a while, making for rather messy jaunts. Working through the mud is well worth the effort, as the trails here are some of the best and most scenic in Portland. For the most part, nothing in the park becomes too impassable; foot placement and a towel in the car are the keys.

The trails within Forest Park are almost all single track, and wind throughout more than 5,000 acres, making learning the trails a fairly difficult task. We have often started a run only to find ourselves inadvertently looping back to the same spots. The key to figuring out the trails is the Wildwood Trail, a 30 mile trail that runs the entire North to South length of the park. Most trails branch off of the Wildwood, making it a good foundation for extended loops. Another good foundation is Leif Erickson Drive, which is a intermittently paved road that runs north 11.2 miles from the Thurman Street entrance to its terminus at Germantown Road, paralleling the Wildwood Trail for much of its length.

Unfortunately our mapping abilities fail us in the dense forests, so until we are up an running with a more GPS centric method, we leave you with links to maps (bad maps – again, we apologize). We have, however, outlined the general park area and have provided links for maps and various trailhead/park entry points. There are parking lots near the entry points, however, during peak times (morning, late afternoon) they fill up fast, so be prepared to park in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Trail Maps:

Friends of Forest Park Maps (very basic)

Topo Map (giant PDF file)

Trailhead Map

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Eagle Creek

The first time I ran in the Gorge I was invited to go running on the Eagle Creek Trail by a very athletic, slightly unhinged, friend of ours who insisted on showing me what she considered one of the best trail runs she had ever done. I was interested, but slightly weary. The drive up to the trailhead would allow for the most one-on-one time I had ever had with this girl, and I was hesitant to be confined to the car, without quickly available means of escape. Thankfully I got past the fear that she was going to stab me, and was able to try out the run in all of its glory (this is after we almost died on the off ramp, as she apparently manifests her crazy in the way she takes icy corners). Heart rate blasting – we headed up the trail for what has become my favorite run in Oregon. For me, Eagle Creek provides the quintessential Northwest running experience, a place where I can retreat when I am not sure if I can handle the gray skies or the seemingly endless rain. The run is green, muddy, steep and utterly gorgeous.

The trail runs along the walls of the canyon that has been carved by the Eagle Creek, which runs from the foothills of Mt. Hood into the Columbia River. Numerous other creeks pour into the canyon, creating countless waterfalls that you pass as you wind your way up the canyon. The waterfalls make the trail popular with hikers, hence the first 2 miles or so are fairly crowded with day-trippers (the crowd seems to thin out after Punch Bowl Falls). I could go on and on about the wateralls as they are truly amazing, but part of the fun of this run is discovering what is around the next turn.

For the most part, the trail is narrow and rocky, and runs along the canyon walls resulting in incredibly steep drop offs through many parts of the trail. The actual ground is fairly jagged in a number of areas, forcing you to pay attention to footing. Additionally, there are parts where water sprays off the rocks above creating numerous puddles, mudslicks and wet areas that have to be navigated carefully to avoid slipping into the canyon below (how cool of a story would that be – “I was running Eagle Creek and fell into the abyss!”). But do not let this deter you; the run, while perhaps vertigo inducing in some sections, climbs gradually enough to be fairly easy on the legs. You can generally make it as easy or intense as you want.

The map below ends at my usual turn around point – just above Twisting Falls, about 7 miles from the trailhead. It’s a good spot to take a break, stretch and let the dog play in the water.

Topographic map and elevation profile here.

Do it because: the amazing views and excellent trail conditions provide so many “I can’t believe I am seeing this” moments that 12 miles just doesn’t seem enough.

Distance: 12+ miles round trip (I generally stop at Twisting/Eagle Creek Falls, but the run can continue past for another 8 miles).

Time: 2.5 hours

Directions: Take I-84 East out of Portland and take exit 41 (the exit is immediately after a tunnel – take it slow, this is where my friend almost killed us on the ice). After exiting, take a right at the stop sign and continue along a narrow road until it ends, there is usually parking available.

Our Suggestions: Lock your valuables in the car as apparently they have been having problems with break ins. There is a $5.00 day use fee that I have never paid but never been ticketed for. Bring food for during and after – it’s a long one and a picnic lunch is a perfect ending. Time your trip so you head back to Portland during the sunset. You’ll fall in love with the Northwest all over again.

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Race for the Roses

With my subscription to Outside Magazine comes a weird predilection for trying to attempt every training program that is included. Among those recently was a half-marathon training schedule used by Olympian runner Ryan Hall’s coach. The schedule has a great mix of short distance speed work mixed in with longer tempo runs. I was able to stick with most of it until the end, when Spring Break and a desire to snowboard got the better of me. I definitely got faster and more confident in my running, which was a great result.

The Race for the Roses was my ultimate training goal. I was shooting for 7:00 minute miles, and ended up somewhere in the 7:24 range. Not bad for me, and a good lesson for the next time I attempt the schedule. The Race itself is a great course with a great cause attached. Race fees go toward the Albertina Kerr Center, which provides aid to children placed in foster care, and group homes for the developmentally disabled. 93% of every dollar in fees goes toward the center.

The race runs through downtown Portland, and starts and ends at the Rose Garden. Overall the course is pretty flat, and fast. The worst part for me were the long out and backs, but you definitely get to see a lot of Portland during the race.

Course map here (in PDF format)

Event website here

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