I recently had a vacation with my mainstream-eating husband, Flynn The Video Game God. It was a toss-up between Portland, Oregon and New Orleans, but we ultimately decided on Portland, and it was an excellent choice! His plan was to go to the museum, the zoo, and Powell’s. My plan was to buy cookbooks from Powell’s and eat my way through the city.
Traveling while gluten free can be a harrowing experience. While you can be positive that there are restaurants in most areas, there’s no guarantee that they will be able to feed you safely. The last thing you want is to start getting Symptoms when you’re away from the comforts of home. That’s why it was such an absolute joy to be able to visit Portland, one of the most GF friendly cities I’ve been to in my GF travels.
We were lucky enough to be able to stay in a hotel very centrally located in the downtown area, so most of the places we went to were within walking distance (or easily tram-able).
We got to town later in the day and by the time I caught my breath, a lot of places were already closed. So we started our GF Eating Adventure with Pastini, a pasta place across the street from our hotel on SW Taylor street. I think if I had been only GF, I would have had a better time of it, but I am also dairy free, and everything that looked good to me had cheese on it–which is probably why it looked good to me. Pastini does offer gluten free pasta in linguini and penne shapes, so you can get most of their meals in GF form. (No lasagna, sorry.) The pasta that I got was a little soggy and covered in oil, which made it extremely difficult to scoop up, and led to an underwhelming experience there. BUT! It was late at night, we were hungry, and I was able to eat, so it was still a valuable experience. Flynn and I quickly learned that we cannot eat out late at night in Portland and still expect to have Options. (The trials of being a night-owl, y’all.)
For breakfast the next morning, we went to Cheryl’s on 12th, which is, of course, located on Washington (on the corner of 12th, but the door is on Washington). They did have a separate GF menu for me, but as I started going through the menu, I ran into the same difficulty of finding something satisfying that was also DF. There were a couple of options that did look good, but one in particular caught my eye, Portuguese Fried Rice: fried rice (using GF soy sauce) with scrambled egg and bacon added in. It’s served with slices of spicy sausage (chorizo, I believe?) and slices of avocado. You can also get it with an additional runny egg on top, which I absolutely needed.
Y’ALL, it was GOOD. And no gut reactions, if ya know what I mean. The restaurant was so lovely, the wait staff were great, and that fried rice hit so many happy places for me, that for the rest of our stay in Portland, we went to Cheryl’s on 12th every single morning for breakfast. I didn’t want to risk getting sick on my vacation, and BREAKFAST FRIED RICE FTW. Flynn was happy to try some one day and he loved it too, but he also tried a bunch of other dishes, not being the biggest fan of breakfast foods in general. His particular favorite was the flat iron steak.
The one sad thing about Cheryl’s is that they offer beignets and huuuuge cinnamon rolls, but none of it was safe for me, so I got to watch Flynn eating some pretty epic pastries but I couldn’t join him. That was okay, though, because I knew that Petunia’s was right down the street. Every day after breakfast we walked to second breakfast at Petunia’s Pies & Pastries, which is also on 12th. And, you know, actually is on 12th.
I could sing songs about Petunia’s. Not only is everything in the bakery DELICIOUS, not only is it all gluten free and vegan (meaning that I could, for once, eat anything listed on the menu!!!), but they have pie. I don’t know about you, but I cannot find gf pie anywhere in my town except in my own kitchen. And not only do they have pie, they have Marionberry pie. Marionberries are a sweet blackberry hybrid, but they don’t travel easily out of the Pacific Northwest (PNW). If you want marionberries, you’ve got to come to them. They won’t easily come to you. Flynn is a huge fan of marionberries, ever since he lived in Portland some 20 years ago, and has since turned me on to them.
So of course, every day after Cheryl’s we walked up the street to Petunia’s where, time after time, I did not get pie. I DON’T KNOW WHY. But at least I have an excuse to go back again soon. Instead, I got fluffy cinnamon rolls, huge cookies, gooey brownies, and colorful blondies. I did my best to buy out the place (not really, but a girl can dream), and every time we came back there was more and more and more. It was heavenly. And I still haven’t tried any of their savory offerings yet. That mac and cheese looks So Good.
There was one other place that we went back to multiple times–and this one was at Flynn’s request. It’s a teensy tiny little shop called 1927 S’Mores Company, located on SW Alder St. They make s’mores and s’mores related delicacies, and that’s it. We went three times, and the wait each time was at least half an hour. We stood in line, surrounded by folks of all ages and backgrounds for the smokey delights of a s’more. When you finally get to the front of the line, the folks behind the counter are armed with blow torches and melt your marshmallows before your very eyes.
They do carry GF graham crackers in the store, but I don’t think they have GF kits. And they have vegan chocolate. I think it would have been possible for me to get one of their wacky flavored s’mores, and I’d still have been okay, but I’m a sucker for tradition. Why mess with a classic? Flynn got their Wild Marionberry s’more. (Did I mention he likes marionberries?) We both had the same order every single time we went there, and we were both thoroughly pleased each and every time. It’s been a looong time since I’ve had a proper s’more, and while my little town does carry some GF items, it’s hard for me to find a dessert that isn’t sorbet. (Ironic, since Flynn would happily eat sorbet every day.)
Those were the places we went to every time, but there were a bunch of places we went to just once so that we could try a bunch of options. But that’s for another time.
For more information about the restaurants we visited, check out their web sites:
Pastini – https://www.pastini.com/
Cheryl’s On 12th – https://www.cherylson12th.com/
Petunia’s Pies & Pastries – https://petuniaspiesandpastries.com/
1927 S’mores Company – https://www.1927smores.com