Food, wine, and rain. That about sums up my trip to Portland this past weekend. Portland has been on my ever-growing list of places to visit since we moved to San Diego in July. It is a bustling city full of life, eccentric culture, and delicious food. Portland is a short 2.5 hour flight from San Diego and an easy weekend trip from anywhere on the West Coast. Not to mention, one of the the most eco-friendly cities on the West Coast.
Portland is definitely trying to be a sustainable city. It has the highest rate of cycle commuters in the country and a vast public transportation network. Portland-area hotels, restaurants, and businesses are implementing green initiatives in an effort to give back to the environment. The list of projects and resources provided by the City of Portland is impressive and comprehensive. Check it out here.
I was in the city of Portland all day Friday and some of Sunday (where was I the rest of the weekend? Check it out here). My main mission was to try as much vegan food as possible while also getting a taste of the city. I've never seen so many vegan options in one place. A special shout out to ReachNow and Hotel Vintage for working with me on this project. Here is my sustainable travel guide to Portland...
How to Get Around
Biking is a great way to get around Portland. With endless bike lanes and a city-wide bike share program, biking in Portland can be easy, fun, and eco-friendly. I myself am not a cyclist, therefore braving the streets of an unfamiliar city did not suit my fancy (plus I might have had flashbacks to biking through Amsterdam). However, plenty of locals commute and get around via bike. Don’t forget to rent a helmet!
The MAX Light Rail and TriMet bus network make getting around Portland both easy and affordable. I purchased a $5 one day pass which gave me unlimited access to the MAX and bus system for the day. I took the MAX from Portland International Airport to my Hotel which took approximately 45 minutes compared to a 35 minute ride via car. While it took 10 minutes longer it cost me a fraction of the price ($5 vs. $25). I then took the 8 line bus from Downtown to Alberta. The bus stop was one block from my hotel and dropped me off in the heart of Alberta. The one day pass for public transportation was absolutely worth it for me and a great eco-friendly way to get around.
ReachNow is a car-sharing program in Portland that allows you to use electric vehicles to get around the city, drive to the airport, and even take weekend trips outside the city. You just need to download the app, sign up, and reserve a car. The cars are conveniently placed throughout the city making a ReachNow car never too far away. When you are done with the car, you just park it in any public parking spot and end your reservation.
Coming Soon: A Sustainable Weekend in Oregon Wine Country
Where to Stay
Hotel Vintage is located in the heart of Downtown with easy access to public transportation, restaurants, and shopping. The wine-themed boutique hotel offers a daily wine hour, live music, and complimentary bike rentals. The hotel is the perfect place to kick off a weekend trip to the Willamette Valley. Hotel Vintage recently completed a $16 million renovation to make the property more eco-friendly including upgrading window panes and installing energy-efficient appliances.
Just a block away from Hotel Vintage is The Nines, a boutique hotel that is LEED Silver Certified. The luxury hotel boasts energy-saving appliances, a roof-top garden, and diverts 80% of their waste from the landfill. The Nines is a perfect location for those visiting Portland for the first time.
Where to Eat
Now for the main attraction, all the stops on my vegan food tour. Eater is my best friend when traveling to a new city. They have all the best recommendations for the latest and greatest restaurants in town. So a big shoutout to Eater for making my Portland food tour extra delicious. All restaurants are 100% plant-based unless otherwise noted
A bright and airy cafe serving up both comfort and healthy plant-based options. I opted for the chili with cornbread. It was the perfect appetizer to start off my vegan food tour. Biscuits and gravy, kale salad, and vegan drumsticks also caught my attention.
Vita Cafe reminded me of a dive bar, except serving delicious plant-based food. I ordered the vegan Ceasar salad. It was my first time having a vegan Ceasar salad and it did not disappoint. Ceasar salad was my favorite salad before going vegan and I have been missing it for sure. My salad was fresh, had the perfect amount of dressing, and was surprisingly filling. I will say, Vita Cafe felt more like an evening place rather than lunch but the food was fabulous regardless. *Vita Cafe does offer non-vegan options*
I stopped here twice on my food tour and it got better each time. The first stop was Day 1 of my trip following my lunch. I ordered a Rice Krispie Square that happened to be refined sugar and soy-free. 10/10, it was bomb. The second stop was my last stop prior to heading to the airport. I let David surprise me with the order. He opted for the Brownie Cheesecake. I would never have chosen this, but Oh. My. God. It was the most delicious dessert I have had in a very long time, definitely since going vegan. It reminded me of a creamy Boston Cream Pie except a thin, crunchy layer of brownie on the bottom. We ate it with our hands, didn't take any photos, and had no shame.
Coming Soon: An Eco-Friendly Guide to Oregon Wine Country
Order by the slice or a Whole Sizzlin' Pie. This fast-casual pizza joint serves vegan, vegetarian, and regular pizza. I opted for the slice + salad for $8. The slices are large and that would have definitely filled me up, except I couldn't decided between slices so I got them both. One Half Cab and one Void with a Rabbit Salad. The vegan ranch dressing was the perfect addition.
A recommendation by Eater, this Israeli plant-based restaurant was delicious. We stopped here on our way to the airport and ordered the spicy hummus and beet salad as a mid-afternoon snack. The spicy hummus was definitely spicy but had a unique herby flavor that you don't always find with spicy foods. The beet salad was in pureed form and was the perfect addition to the warm toasty pita bread.
There you have it, my sustainable travel guide to Portland. I wish I had more time to explore the activities Portland has to offer, but I was too busy eating. Maybe next time?