Below is the second part of my discussion with Helen (contributor for the “broke girls who travel” series) on her recent, entirely affordable, trip to Oregon. While there was much to celebrate on the wine side yesterday, we could not forget the food!
Any other places you can recommend from your travels?
I spent a couple of days in Corvallis, which is a college town, but also the home of HP. It’s a cute town that’s really walkable. There’s a great farmers’ market. People know each other. They meet on the street and stop to chat.
That’s crazy talk!
I know! There’s nice shopping, and a lot of stuff is made locally… right in the area.
Is Corvallis expensive?
No. It’s probably more expensive than say Salem, or other smaller, nearby cities, but compared to Los Angeles it’s cheap. Also, Oregon has no sales tax, so shopping there is fun.
It’s really a cute town. They have a local theater. I’ve seen plays there, and it’s really great, local theater. There’s quite a bit going on for such a small town culturally. Also, there are some really nice restaurants. For instance, there is place called Big River (http://www.bigriverrest.com/) that was really good. It has been there forever, and they focus on using local farmers/producers.
Any other stops?
I also spent some time in Portland. Coffee was everywhere! Good coffee, too: Stumptown Coffee (http://www.bigriverrest.com/) and then all kinds of other coffee places. Also, amazing food is up there—again, a lot of locally-sourced foods, great Pacific Northwest type of food like salmon and mushrooms, and they had an amazing farmers’ market in a park downtown near PSU.
Of course, Portland is home to the world’s best bookstore, which is Powell’s (http://www.powells.com/). It’s at least one city block big and multi-storied. There is actually a map when you go in to help keep the rooms straight. It’s new and used together on the shelf. You can get so many different things! It’s just the world’s best bookstore. You could literally get lost in it.
One of my goals for visiting Portland was to visit Pine State Biscuits (http://pinestatebiscuits.com/). They make all sorts of combinations of biscuits and gravy (you can even get a vegetarian version if that’s your thing). So good! It’s not expensive at all, and has been a goal for a while. Similar to that goal, I also made a point to eat at Bunk Sandwiches (http://www.bunksandwiches.com/). They had this thing called the Pork Belly Cubano. Oh my God! It was the best thing ever. It was worth walking for—because I walked to everything. I would have walked farther for this, it was so good! Again, not expensive at all and it was a lot of food. It was quite a food day, but I was on a mission of tasting!
There’s also a place I’ve been to a couple of times called Dick’s Kitchen (http://www.dkportland.com/). It’s sort of diner-y, but they serve only free-range beef, elk or buffalo—so a healthier bend to typical burger and fries (the fries are baked). What is hilarious to me is that in the dining room there are pictures of famous Dicks, so Richard Nixon, etc (you thought I was going somewhere else with that, didn’t you).
Ooh, I stayed in a really cool hotel: Hotel Modera (http://hotelmodera.com). It was an old [Days Inn], and they made it into a boutique hotel. The rooms have all been upgraded with really nice beds and stylish furnishings. The downstairs restaurant/bar is called Nel Centro. They have fire pits and during the summer you can sit outside during happy hour and have $5 sparkling wine and half-priced appetizers. It’s lovely to sit outside and take it all in. Plus, it’s centrally located downtown, so it’s easy to get to different places around town.