With COVID restrictions lifting this week, it's time for Portlanders to rejoice. Get ready to venture out once more and explore the city's hidden gems. So many great new small businesses have opened during this year of hibernation. Here's your guide to a weekend balancing wellness with a healthy dose of indulgence.
Begin your day with breakfast at Smith Teamaker's new plant-based cafe in Northwest Portland near the Portland Japanese Garden. Tea is a key ingredient throughout the food menu, including beets roasted in fragrant jasmine tea, quinoa cooked in vegetal Sencha and housemade Woodblock chocolate granola served with chai milk. The plant-based bowls and sandwiches here are all incredibly nutritious and flavorful. Black and herbal tea lattes are pulled from an espresso machine, an incredibly innovative technique to extract aromatics in a full-bodied, concentrated flavor without steeping. Tea mocktails and traditional porcelain gaiwan tastings are available too.
If you prefer coffee to tea, visit Portland's newest chocolate maker for a sublime iced mocha. An engraved copper roasting machine from Izmir, Turkey catches your eye as soon as you step through the door at Roste Chocolate House and if you're lucky enough to catch them on a roasting day, the aroma of freshly roasted beans is just like brownies right out of the oven. Chocolate maker Michael Arnovitz crafts bean-to-bar chocolate from several different origins and the friendly staff will offer tastes of liquid chocolate straight from the melanger as you marvel at the chocolate-laced pastries in the case. Roste's iced mocha is made with Coava Coffee cold brew and the buttery gianduja with Oregon hazelnuts. Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants, so technically these treats can be considered a health food.
On a hot summer day, there's no better way to cool off than with a couple scoops of ice cream. Kate's Ice Cream makes the best plant-based ice cream in the city (maybe even the entire country) with signature flavors like rose water cardamom almond and marionberry cobbler. The rich combo of organic cashew and coconut milk can't be beat and Kate's ice cream base is subtle enough to allow delicate flavors like lemon balm hibiscus to shine. All the mix-ins and waffle cones are gluten-free too. For now, you can enjoy Kate's in a cute courtyard Friday through Sunday in Kerns, although she's opening a second location soon.
A couple blocks away, Make & Mary is a fairy wonderland of whole plant beauty and lifestyle products, all crafted with ethically grown botanicals, and many of which include high quality CBD. Owner Yvonne Perez Emerson distils hydrosols and crafts small batch serums and balms with the help of her daughter, all infused with Oregon-grown full spectrum hemp extract. The well-curated boutique also includes floral printed silk dresses made from recycled saris and books on herbal healing. Make & Mary hosts monthly self-care workshops ranging from sound baths to tincture making and Brie James offers tarot readings Thursdays and Saturdays to help you tap into your inner wisdom. Mull over your cards while sipping a refreshing herbal iced tea.
A short walk away, dine al fresco at Montelupo Italian Market for freshly made pasta like ricotta cavatelli with lemon braised chicken and olives or pappardelle with red wine boar ragu. Restaurateur Adam Berger opened Montelupo in July 2020, helping home cooks more easily recreate their favorite Italian meals from the comfort of their homes during quarantine.
If you're gathering with a group of friends and family, there's nowhere better to share plates and sip lightly sparkling Txakoli than Urdaneta. The outdoor dining setup here is charming, but I can't resist a table inside facing the open kitchen, watching the hard-working chefs constructing each pintxo and stacking eggplant fries like Lincoln Logs. The more the merrier here – although you might be fighting your dining companions for the last bite of beef tartare with horseradish crema.
When we've been unable to travel internationally for so long, one way we can indulge in wanderlust is through food. If you're longing to travel to Scandinavia, the Icelandic-inspired menu at Dóttir intertwines ingredients from the Pacific Northwest with a no-waste Nordic philosophy and friendly, convivial service. Standout dishes include lavender and aquavit-cured crudo, roasted cabbage with whey caramel and celeriac brown butter and an ice cream sundae topped with smoked hazelnuts. If you have too much aquavit you can always crash at the 26-room boutique hotel attached to the restaurant. KEX Portland recently reopened and they have a fun rooftop bar too.
Where To Stay
If you're visiting from out of town, or just looking to treat yourself to a well-deserved staycation, Hotel Grand Stark is the newest boutique hotel in town, with 57 rooms conveniently located in Portland's trendy Central Eastside. The spacious common area mixes and matches marble tables, leather chairs and wood side tables with local art and vintage furnishings. Rooms are well-appointed, with a fabulous locally stocked minibar (Jacobsen sea salt caramels!), luxe Diptyque bath amenities, and ample space to spread out your belongings and kick back your feet.
Just off the lobby, there's a casual all-day cafe that's equally popular among locals and hotel guests. Grand Stark Deli is operated by Submarine Hospitality (the same restaurant group behind Portland favorites Ava Gene's and Tusk) and serves excellent coffee, breakfast pastries and to-go lunches. Pastry chef Tara Lewis is making the flakiest croissants in town with beautiful lamination and English muffins that are as good as The Model Bakery in Napa. They're the perfect foundation for avocado toast, smoked salmon and scallion cream cheese or a hearty eggs Benedict.