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Jesstours.com is a travel website that details my adventures from around the world. It’s a mixed bag of travel experiences, stories and insights. It’s also a blog that doesn’t take itself too seriously but will provide my family and friends with an outlet to keep track of my travels as well as hopefully serve as an interesting and entertaining read, with some helpful travel maps and tips for those who simply stumble across this page. Happy reading and happy travelling!

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Food Guide – Portland

Mar 2017

Portland, a city best known for its vibrant cafe culture, thriving craft brewery scene, and eco-friendliness, as well as its many parks, bridges, and bicycle paths, has stolen my heart in a major way.

Although Nick and I have visited a handful of times, Portland has never let us down. We are still in love with it and here are the reasons why:

Portland is a city that we both feel at ease in. We love walking aimlessly along the streets (especially the ever-photogenic NW 23rd stretch), popping in and out of cafes (getting hyped up on caffeine), indulging on one too many doughnuts, grabbing a craft brew (or cider) at one of the many microbreweries, savouring every bite at one of our favourite restaurants in The Pearl District, and of course, catching up with one of our dearest friends and her gorgeous family.

As you can see Portland’s varied dining scene has certainly shaped the way we’ve seen and more to the point experienced the city, and it continues to whet our appetite for more. With so many fantastic options I’ve gone ahead and listed a few must-try eateries that I believe should not be missed on any Portland itinerary (take note food lovers!). I would also love to know your PDX food hotspots so please feel free to jot them down in the comments sections below.

Barista

Cafe junkies and coffee snobs connoisseurs will feel right at home when they drop by one of Barista’s four locations. Grab a seat and unwind in a Pinterest-inspired setting, while sipping on an expertly poured coffee. Refer to the blackboard at Barista for a list of roasters (from near and far) as well as the flavour profiles of the beans themselves.

Salt and Straw

For me, a trip to Portland is not complete without a visit to Salt and Straw. This wildly popular Portland-based ice creamery (which now has locations in LA and San Francisco) consistently scoops up a range of lip-smacking flavours. There’s a reason why this frozen treat purveyor sees a lineup form out the door and around the corner most days, and nights for that matter, of the week. Once you make it to the counter reward yourself with a generous scoop or two in either a cup or a crisp waffle cone. Classic flavours, like Double Fold Vanilla and Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons, are offered alongside new favourites, including Honey Lavender (delicious!), Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache, Pear & Blue Cheese (personally, this is not my first choice), Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper, Cinnamon Snickerdoodle, and more.

Irving Street Kitchen

Special shoutout to my dear friend HJ for recommending Irving Street Kitchen. Nick and I had one hell of a meal here. I would even go as far as saying it was one of the best meals we’ve ever had! Big call, I know!

Located in The Pearl District, this insanely charming restaurant is difficult to fault. The warm ambience, the server’s friendly and knowledgeable spiel, the dazzling cocktails, and the delectable (change-your-life!) southern-spun Northwest cuisine, are all fabulously on point. For those who visit in the evening, whatever you do, be sure to order the ham, buttermilk biscuits and pepper jelly — you will not be disappointed.

The Screen Door

Traditional southern cooking with NW food values is what you’ll find at The Screen Door. Tuck into soul-satisfying dishes like the Screen Door Praline Bacon (smoked bacon caramelised with toasted pecans, brown sugar and a hint of cayenne), Screen Door’s famous buttermilk battered fried chicken served with sweet potato waffle and syrup, warm fluffy buttermilk biscuits topped with country sausage gravy, and a whole heap more. With such hearty and generously-sized meals, this wonderfully casual spot is, unsurprisingly, a popular hangout for both local folk and out-of-towners, so be mindful that there may be a wait for a table, especially if you arrive between prime brunching hours.

Pok Pok PDX

Thai food at its best. That’s what you can look forward to at Pok Pok PDX (as well as at the eatery’s sibling restaurants). The menu is best enjoyed when served family-style here, so turn up hungry, order a few dishes, and prepare to feast. Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings is a must-try dish. Marinated in fish sauce and sugar, deep fried, tossed in caramelised Phu Quoc fish sauce and garlic and served with pickled vegetables, these wings are as delicious as they sound.

Blue Star Donuts

Calling all doughnuts lovers: If you’ve already tracked down (and undoubtedly waited in line at) Voodoo Doughnuts (a donuterie known for their wacky and overloaded creations), be sure to check out Blue Star Donuts, the next time the craving for a seriously sweet treat arises. This ‘gourmet’ doughnut shop whips up a variety of tempting options, made from a classic brioche recipe. Although selections change seasonally, expect to find flavours like Blueberry Bourbon Basil, Lemon Poppyseed, Mexican Hot Chocolate, and a grown up favourite — Cointreau Crème Brûlée. With a handful of locations sprinkled around the city, one is never too far away from a Blue Star Donuts fix.

KURE: Juice Bar

After scoffing down all those doughnuts, balance your PDX diet out by heading on over to KURE: Juice Bar, where vibrant fruit-based concoctions are prepared right before your eyes. Those who prefer solids over liquids will be happy to note that KURE also offers a range of Acai Bowls and salads, as well as hot oatmeal, which is made with almond milk, coconut sugar, cinnamon, sliced almonds, strawberries, banana, shredded coconut, and chopped apple.

Coava Coffee Roasters

Those in need of an afternoon caffeine fix should hit up Coava Coffee Roasters, in particular, their Brew Bar, which acts as the tasting room to the roastery. Simplicity is key here, so patrons can expect to find two selections of hand-poured coffee and two selections for espresso-based drinks. The pastries on offer are made locally by Little T American Baker and Petunia’s Pies & Pastries.

Pips & Bounce

Priding itself on being Portland’s ping pong social club, Pips & Bounce provides its patrons with a welcoming space to eat, drink, and play ping pong, of course. Armed with a local cold draught in one hand and a racket it the other, serve, slice, and hit your way to victory over an afternoon of laughs.

Ex Novo Brewing Co.

A pioneer of the craft beer movement, Portland is absolutely brimming with breweries. If you fancy a pint and want to do good, head on over to Ex Novo, a non-profit brewery in north Portland. Passionate about social justice and helping others, Ex Novo distributes all of their net profits evenly amongst their partner organisations. Not only that they also pour an excellent selection of lagers and IPAs.

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Posted by Jess Fleming

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General Porpoise – Seattle

Dec 2016

Those who know me well understand I have an unshakeable craving for doughnuts. I dream about them, I speak lovingly of them, and I search for them, constantly. Therefore, it should come as no surprise to hear that on a recent return trip to Seattle I firmly told Nick that we would be frequenting Capitol Hill’s General Porpoise to indulge on their heavenly creations while we were in town. And indulge we did!

Located on East Union Street, General Porpoise is a modestly-sized hipster-haven, specialising in two things: coffee and doughnuts. If your heart desires a pot of tea and/or a crumpet you best go elsewhere, however, those who enjoy biting into a freshly baked (filled) doughnut will find comfort in the eatery’s pillowy treats and superior caffeinated beverages.

Now, while some people may question the legitimacy of the filled doughnut as a doughnut at all (Nick!), General Porpoise’s sugar encrusted morsels really do take the cake. The doughnuts are delicious and simply brimming with seasonal jams, jellies, curds, custards, and creams. Expect to find classic flavours like vanilla custard or berries and cream, as well as house-made twists, like peanut butter and jelly, roasted lemon curd, apple butter, and chocolate marshmallow.

The doughnut-centric shop also offers the ultimate doughnut companion — a well-crafted cup of coffee. While the lattes are to die for, expect to pay top dollar for your caffeine hit here.

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Posted by Jess Fleming

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The London Plane – Seattle

Dec 2016

Part cafe, part specialty foods grocer, and part florist, The London Plane is a one-stop-shop, where locals and visitors alike can sit and enjoy a lingering bite to eat, pick up a range of pantry staples, grab a bunch of flowers, and/or peruse the sweet homewares section (stacked with one-of-kind knick knacks).

Thanks to a thoughtfully decorated open space, a warm ambience, and some truly delicious grub (be sure to order a baked good or two), The London Plane is the perfect brunch spot, where every moment (and bite) should be savoured.

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Posted by Jess Fleming

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Melrose Market – Seattle

Dec 2016

Any self-confessed foodie who finds themselves strolling along the streets of Seattle should make every effort to visit and/or eat their way around Melrose Market. Located between Pine and Pike on Melrose Avenue in Capitol Hill, this industrial-chic spot boasts an array of artisans, shops, bars, restaurants, and more.

The modestly-sized food hall, which flaunts original brickwork and exposed heavy timber, offers an entirely pleasant experience, featuring eateries and retailers such as Sitka & Spruce, Marigold and Mint, Rain Shadow Meats, Bar Ferdinand, Butter Home, Glasswing, Still Liquor, and Homegrown.

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Posted by Jess Fleming

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Food Guide – Seattle

Jan 2015

A perfectly packed Seattle long weekend consists of many things: sightseeing, coffee shop hopping, a trip to Pike Place Market, a photo of the city’s infamous gum wall, a ride up to the Space Needle’s observation deck, and the consumption of copious amounts of great food and wine. In fact, with a new generation of chefs and restaurateurs leading the way, Seattle is fast becoming a food destination all on its own; a food destination with an eclectic mix of cuisine and dining venues.

I was absolutely blown away by Seattle’s diverse selection of food and culinary offerings, as well as by the affordability of the meals in general, and as such I have compiled a small Seattle food guide, where the places listed below ensure some truly sensational grub. So if you are planning a trip to Seattle this year please take note as you’re in for one unforgettable foodie adventure where your tastebuds won’t leave the city disappointed!

The London Plane

Part cafe, part specialty foods grocer, and part florist, The London Plane is a one-stop-shop where locals and visitors alike can sit and enjoy a lingering bite to eat, pick up a range of pantry staples, grab a bunch of flowers and peruse the sweet homewares section. With a thoughtfully decorated open space and a warm atmosphere, The London Plane is the perfect brunch spot, where every moment is savoured.

Tavolàta

Located in the heart of Belltown, Tavolàta is a thriving neighbourhood dining hot spot serving generous bowls of house-made pasta, as well as wood-fired pizza, delicately prepared fish, and tender cuts of steak in a beautifully lit and decked out space. Do yourself a favour and order the rigatoni with Italian sausage, tomato, and marjora — the sauce’s rich yet subtle flavours make this a truly wonderful dish.

BRGR BAR

Fresh, flavourful, satisfying burgers are the name of the game at BRGR Bar. Located in Seattle’s Pioneer Square BRGR Bar provides its patrons with a pretty chilled setting. The atmosphere is relaxed, the menu uncomplicated, and the burgers made-to-order. With a juicy, locally sourced beef patty and an organic seeded brioche bun, the classic burger is mouthwateringly good, as are the hand-cut fries!

Trove

Don’t be fooled by Trove’s nondescript exterior, this 4000 square foot restaurant houses four unique dining concepts under one roof. In addition to a walk-up ice cream window serving frozen layered custard, there’s a noodle counter (the rice cake and chipotle Pad Thai are a must), bar/lounge and Korean barbecue dining area. Exceptionally friendly and accommodating staff, quick service, fair pricing, a well thought out layout, and fantastic food make this place a true gem.

Storyville

There are plenty of Starbucks in Seattle (the world’s first Starbucks opened in Pike Place Market in 1971) but there are also lots of unique and indie coffee houses. Renowned for its devotion to the perfect cup of coffee, Storyville pours a range of well-made espresso drinks and drip coffee. They also bake in-house every day a delicious range of baked goods, like frosted cinnamon rolls, danishes, and lemon cake.

Market Grill

Teeming with fresh produce, specialty foods, and made-to-order meals, Pike Place Market offers visitors an astounding amount choice when it comes to edible fare. While each stall has their own speciality, a meal at the popular Market Grill should not be missed. Cooked before you, perfectly grilled fish (try the tuna) is heaped onto a fresh baguette or added to a combo platter of rice, salad, sweet onions and garlic bread.

Purple Cafe & Wine Bar

A downtown Seattle favourite, pairing a global wine selection with a menu that combines classic American cuisine with seasonal North West ingredients. While you can opt to have a sit down meal it’s also fun to pull up a stool at the bar under the spiral staircase, which is shelved with and extensive (and impressive) wine collection and sample some of Washington’s best local wines and cheeses.

Pintxo

Pintxo is a modern tapas bar offering a range of small plates designed to be sampled and shared. Seated at either the bar or an individual table enjoy the sophisticated yet laid back atmosphere, house-made Sangria, along with a selection of the kitchen’s exquisite small bites, including bacon wrapped dates and salt roasted potatoes, which are served with picante paprika, aioli, and salsa verde. 

Top Pot Doughnuts

With an outstanding variety of hand-forged doughnuts (baked, fried, yeast raised, old fashioned, cinnamon, glazed, frosted, sugared, filled) Top Pot Doughnuts is sure to satisfy any doughnut craving. Indulge yourself with a fluffy ring of doughy goodness (or two) and a cup of coffee, while enjoying the donuterie’s relaxed space. The two-story 5th Avenue shop boasts an impressive floor to ceiling bookshelf and plenty of seating.

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Posted by Jess Fleming

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