When family visits during your last days of summer, you simply must find a way to pack it all in while the warm weather and open schedules avail themselves.I was thrilled to learn in July that my sister and family found a way to join us in the week leading up to this week’s school start.
I always get a bit depressed when I see my kids go back to school so this was the perfect distraction for our pending separation — and the perfect excuse to go all out with loved ones.
I have four suggestions for you all as to how to eke out the last bit of summer you might have left.
First and foremost, duh.
Let’s be honest — there’s no small amount of joy in celebrating wonderful food with those you love the most.
So there’s was a lot of indulging in the best our city has to offer — at places that were affordable and easy to manage with a small crowd.
Polly lives in Concord, Massachusetts, a lovely colonial town that’s gorgeous but lacks interesting food options, so one of the first requests her family had was to eat out.
So if you want to sample some of the most varied, delicious and affordable food in Portland?
ONE. Hit the food carts and some of the affordable quick/delicious food spots in town.
Perhaps my favorite cart food pods is the one at 9th and Alder. It has a huge variety and while there’s no seating there, Director Park with its shade, tables and over-sized chess game is just a few minutes away on foot.
I got one of my favorites downtown, the crepe at Bing Mi: a Chinese street food staple that has a black bean sauce, a crisp wonton cracker, green onion and a fried egg and it’s absolutely addictive.
In our group of seven there were multiple noodle dishes (Thai and Italian), that crepe, pot stickers, gyros, Nong’s steamed chicken and rice, and a bacon-lashed mac and cheese.
There were other wonderful eats we enjoyed out.
There was Little Big Burger for the kids — and Poke Mon for us gals.
I’ve been to Poke Mon four times in the last three weeks, and I’m addicted to it.
We had a couple other sumptuous surprises, too.
You guys have to try Fried Egg I’m in Love — that egg food cart on Hawthorne.
Don’t think a fried egg sandwich lacks the power to surprise because I’m telling you theirs will.
(Spoiler alert — I think it has to do with their insanely crisp sausage patty and choice of either aioli or pesto sauce on impeccably toasted sourdough.)
And if you have a little more time on your hand and have a car, seek out this Mexican taco truck in the Brooklyn neighborhood.
Its called Taco Express and it’s on Steel St. in this funky industrial area but the Yelp reviews aren’t wrong.
Their tacos are unbelievably delectable and for 1.35 a piece your whole family can blowout on these for a song.
What the heck — maybe your dog can even enjoy one (hold the onions!).
TWO. Whatever your definition of amusement is, in Portland you should all jump in right now.
No we didn’t make it to the Lake (see above) his year, but the cousins have fun whenever they’re together, and Portland has plenty of fun just ripe for the taking.
We have Pips and Bounce, a ping pong place that I love (but unfortunately we didn’t get to show them).
We have Grand Central Bowling — which is always so much fun with the videos and music going on.
We have the quaint and old-timey Oaks Amusement Park which always charms me with its simplicity, scale, affordability and location (river front with downtown views).
The kids jumped on and off rides
and then roller-skated until they were almost too tired to move.
Any activity that reminds my 17 and 14 year old what it feels like to be a kid, I’m all in.
Portland also has wonderful old movie theaters like Hollywood and Roseway which are always fun to check out.
(Griffin, my nephew, is obsessed with movies and moviemaking and we, like apparently 500 billion other people, went to see Crazy Rich Asians.)
THREE. Brunch it up — and taste some of the Portland’s best bevies in town.
Mornings with my family were usually leisurely affairs with big breakfasts
featuring smoothies with either eggs or pancakes and sausages or homemade buttermilk biscuits and bacon.
As always, there were games and games and games.
We did, however, also manage to get them to Nuvrei
which I think makes the best pastries and cookies in town.
Some of us went to Proud Mary, my number one most loved brunch spot right now.
It’s the kind of place that you can go to and eat the same thing over and over and be completely satiated
or you can try something new (like this miso crab cake plus the burrata with tomatoes and peaches) and be smitten anew.
Whatever you do, do not miss Proud Mary’s lovely drinks.
I’m currently obsessed with their turmeric latte.
Speaking of lattes, any visitor to Portland has to try some of our amazing tea and coffee shops.
I wanted my sister and her crew to try one of my favorite drinks in town, an iced Mint Majik Latte.
They come from Tea Bar and that gorgeous hue is thanks to a specially harvested spirulina.
We also went to other two new favorite coffee spots.
And Extracto on Killingsworth.
FOUR. Go to our rivers and spend time near our bridges.
I miss the proximity to the Pacific Ocean in San Francisco, but I never fail to get a mood lift from spending time near the Willamette River.
We took Porter to a park along the river and it was so fun to skip stones, check out the view downtown and watch Porter wade in the water to go fetch his bouncy ball.
The Willamette separates the westside (where downtown is) from the eastside (we we live) and my favorite bridge right now is Tilikum Crossing, a carless bridge near OMSI that is used only for light rail, pedestrians and bike riders.
It’s very similar to the Bunker Hill bridge over the Charles River in Boston, and ours is also a beauty.
And speaking of rivers, here’s one last outing I recommend highly.
Take a quick drive out to the Sandy River.
Since Porter is so new to us we didn’t know what he’d do with moving water and swimming so early on in the week we thought it’d be fun to do this with Polly and Co. (who also have a Golden named Riley who loves to swim).
We’d never been here, but it came recommended to us as a place where dogs were free to join in on the fun (and it’s only 20 minutes from my house).
It was a little tricky climbing down the rocky cliff to get there, but so worth it when we got to the bottom.
And guess who is a natural swimmer?
My nephew Cooper spent just a few minutes with him in the water helping him acclimate to the water but before you knew it, Porter was swimming back and forth between cousins.
He was so happy!
Of course we had to celebrate with another wonderful new find for us: Sugarpine.
Turns out this is a little drive-through that’s just steps from this beach and it’s beyond adorable. It attracts throngs of thirsty swimmers from the Sandy River (and thousands of foodies from Portland who’ve heard the tales of the magical soft-serve, froze and delectable salads).
We LOVED Sugarpine — and I can’t wait for some of you to try it, too.
We particularly liked the floats (like this spectacular Black Cherry)
and the soft-serve and toppings were on point.
I mean c’mon.
Just look at that homemade brittle.
And look what Porter and I shared to celebrate his first big swimming adventure with us.
(Kettle Potato Chips as a soft-serve topping? GENIUS.)
And before you knew it, it was time for summer to end and a flight back to Boston loomed.
But not before we had the opportunity for one last lovely meal enjoyed together.
Grilled flat-iron steak with shallot butter sauce.
A crispy potato gratin.
Ciabatta garlic bread.
A giant arugula and herb salad.
And one last group pic.
May I present to you, awkward prom prose, cousin edition.
So Adios Meyers and beloved summer, we all miss you more than words can say.
(Someone get me one of those potato chip laden cones, STAT.)