Restaurants on the Route: Bus Line 15 – Belmont/NW 23rd

The TriMet line 15-Belmont/NW 23rd connects Gateway, SE Portland, Portland City Center, and Nob Hill. The route continues to connect Nob Hill to NW Gordon, or to connect Montgomery Park and the NW Industrial neighborhood. On such a long route, there is no shortage of great eateries. These are just a few of my personal favorites.

1. Meriwether’s Restaurant & Skyline Farm 2601 NW Vaughn St, Portland, OR 97210

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto by Adam Sawyer

4 Stars on Yelp. $$$

“One way to make sure you’re cooking with the freshest ingredients is to grow them yourself. Meriwether’s grows the produce it serves at its own Skyline Farm and is proud to be among only a handful of truly farm-to-table restaurants across the country.” ~Meriwether’s Restaurant & Skyline Farm

Nearest Line 15 bus stops:

Click here to read my feature post on Meriwether’s.


 

2. St. Honoré Bakery 2335 NW Thurman St, Portland, OR 97210

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto by Adam Sawyer

4 Stars on Yelp. $$

“From the selection of our quality ingredients to our traditional baking techniques, our menu reflects the French baking tradition in combination with the flavors of the season. In addition to honoring traditional methods, we encourage our production staff to expose their creative talents and develop their own recipes.” ~St Honoré

Nearest Line 15 bus stops:

Click here to read my feature post on St Honoré.


 

3. Huber’s Cafe 411 SW 3rd Ave, Portland, OR 97204

Photo by drburtoni on Flickr

4 Stars on Yelp. $$

“Specializing in a traditional turkey dinner Huber’s also serves Certified Angus Beef, fresh seafood, entrée salads and a variety of pasta dishes. Their signature drink is Spanish Coffee prepared tableside with great flair.” ~Huber’s Cafe

Nearest line 15 bus stops:

Click here to read my feature post on Huber’s Cafe.


 

4. Cascade Brewing 939 SE Belmont St, Portland, OR 97214

CascadePhoto by Christopher Murphy on flickr

4 Stars on Yelp. $$

“Tart, barrel-aged beers are the emerging beer style and Cascade Brewing is a pioneer of the NW style sour beer movement. We are, by nature, the definition of artisanal brewing: we’re not bound by stylistic guidelines, just our own imagination and the ingredients we can access.” ~Cascade Brewing

Nearest line 15 bus stops:

Click here to read my feature post on Cascade Brewing.


 

5. The Country Cat Dinnerhouse & Bar 7937 SE Stark St, Portland, OR 97215

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto by Adam Sawyer

4 Stars on Yelp. $$

“At The Country Cat Dinner House & Bar, American craft cooking is truly at its prime. The seasonally-focused menu represents the best local offerings from surrounding markets; in fact, 65 percent of their produce is hand-picked from the farmer’s market.” ~The Country Cat Dinnerhouse & Bar

Nearest line 15 bus stops:

Click here to read my feature post on The Country Cat.


 

6. Miyamoto Sushi 420 SE 81st Ave, Portland, OR 97215

MiyamotoPhoto by Stephanie Paris

4 Stars on Yelp. $$

“Amazing Sushi on the corner of 81st and Stark.” ~Miyamoto Sushi

Nearest line 15 bus stops:

Click here to read my feature post on Miyamoto Sushi.


Article by Stephanie Paris

Cover photo by Adam Sawyer

A Hike from Balch Creek to The Pittock Mansion

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Photo by Frank Paris

The Balch Creek Canyon is one of the most beautiful urban canyons to be found anywhere. The transition from crowded city streets to peaceful canopied trail and flourishing canyon happens so quickly that you’ll find it hard to believe a bustling city is just steps away. Located in the Macleay Park section of Forest Park, the trail begins at the Lower Macleay Park Trailhead and soon joins up with the Wildwood Trail. Although the diverse trail system of Forest Park can take you on a number of unique adventures though the 5,100-acre park, one of my favorites is the heart-pumping trip through Balch Creek Canyon up to the historic Pittock Mansion

Leaving from the lower trailhead at the terminus of Northwest Upshur Street, the trail begins smooth and paved as it enters the canyon. But the concrete soon ends, and the surroundings become more wild and lush as the canyon walls rise. The largest Doug fir trees in Portland are in this part of the park, as well as native cutthroat trout. Discovered in 1987, the small population of trout that reside in the creek helped solidify efforts to restore the health of the entire watershed.

BalchCreek-Castle-webPhoto by Adam Sawyer

After 0.85 miles, you’ll come to a junction with the Wildwood Trail. Just past this turnoff you’ll find the Stone House, also known as “The Witch’s Castle.” Despite its medieval appearance, what remains here is the stone framework of an elaborate rest station, once with bathrooms, that was originally erected by the Civilian Conservation Corps back in the 1930s (though what you tell the kids about the mossy, fern-covered tribute to spookiness is entirely up to you).

Continue straight along the path that follows the creek, cross over a footbridge, and soon the trail ascends up three long switchbacks to the Upper Macleay Park on Cornell Road, .54 miles from the Stone House. Follow the path around the parking lot and use the crosswalk to cross Cornell Road and pick up the Wildwood Trail on the other side. The trail continues steadily up hill to the Pittock Mansion parking lot.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto by Frank Paris

The Pittock Mansion holds historical significance, and the visual magnificence of the mansion and its grounds, including views of Portland’s skyline and Mt. Hood, offer a generous reward for your efforts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto by Frank Paris

Touring the grounds is free, but for an extra treat, I highly recommend paying the small entrance fee to tour the inside of the mansion. The exquisite artifacts, furniture, art, and every other piece of the house has been carefully preserved, and the moment you step into the mansion, you feel as though you’ve stepped 100 years back in time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA      Photos by Frank Paris

Once you’ve satiated your Downton Abbey fantasies, head back the way you came, and enjoy the lush forest as you descend back down the trail, across Cornell road, and down through the Balch Creek Canyon. The total hike is approximately 5 miles round trip, with about 900 feet of elevation gain. 

How to get there by bus:

From downtown, board Line 15 at SW Washington & Broadway stop ID 6137. Alternatively, you can also take line 77 from the rose quarter transit center stop ID 2592. Whichever bus you choose, you’ll get off at NW Vaughn & 27th stop ID 8802To get to the trailhead, walk east on Vaughn St., turn left on 26th Ave, right on Upshur St., and walk a short distance to the Lower Macleay Park Trailhead. Visit trimet.org‘s trip planning page and enter your starting location and use the ending location of stop ID 8802 to get your specific route and scheduled departures/arrivals.

Collaborative article by Adam Sawyer and Stephanie Paris

Beyond Portland: Historic McMinnville and the heart of Oregon Wine Country

StreetPhoto by star5112 on flickr

Sometimes there can be a place so unique and charming that gets overlooked merely because larger, more boastful cities reside nearby. I never thought much of McMinnville, Oregon, but that’s only because I had never been. However knowing that it’s in the heart of Oregon Wine Country, I became increasingly curious as to what this small town had to offer. Once I learned that it was accessible by bus from Portland, it was settled. I had to visit.

My journey began in downtown Portland at Pioneer Courthouse Square. From there we boarded the MAX Blue Line to Hillsboro, and got off at the Hillsboro Central/SE 3rd Transit Center. We then connected to Yamhill County Transit Area bus line 33, which took us right into historic downtown McMinnville. Eager to get to my home for the next couple of days, we began the easy walk to the Oregon Wine Cottage.

OregonWineCottagePhoto by Stephanie Paris

I’ve stayed in many hotels, B&Bs, cabins, and vacation homes. Until you’ve been to a place, you just can’t be sure what you’re going to get. The Oregon Wine Cottage exceeded my expectations in many ways. It was clean, inviting, and quaint. But not quaint in the way your grandmother’s house is quaint. More like your best friend’s house where you immediately feel comfortable and at home. This is the perfect place for a double date weekend, featuring two bedrooms, each with their own bathroom. Although you may just have to rock/paper/scissors to decide who gets the room with the fabulous soaking tub.

In addition to the cottage being simply adorable, the location was perfect. It’s close enough to the main drag that you feel like you’re still part of the action, but far enough away that you get that secluded privacy that a hotel just can’t offer. The owners gave recommendations for dinner and breakfast, and trusting they knew what they were talking about, we went with a couple of their recommendations, which ended up enhancing our weekend experience.

Both restaurants were located in historic downtown McMinnville, which is a short, pleasant walk from the cottage. For dinner, we tried Nick’s Italian Cafe, where the Lasagna Bolognese was absolutely heavenly. After dinner we ended up spending the rest of the evening in The Back Room, their appropriately named bar. Whether you dine in the main restaurant or the bar in the back, they offer a huge wine selection, and refreshingly inventive cocktails.

CommunityCoffeePhoto by Stephanie Paris

The next morning we had breakfast at Community Plate, where I was pleased to enjoy my home city’s Stumptown Coffee. It was a pretty busy morning in the cafe, so with our coffee we opted for one of their savory bacon-cheddar-chive scones from the pastry case to hold us over before our order was up. That was a good move, because it was super tasty, but not necessary because despite the crowd, our food arrived surprisingly fast. Both restaurants were as good as promised! Having great dining options close to the cottage was a huge plus for our stay.

Now it was time to do one of the activities that was the main inspiration for our trip. It was time to taste some wine! The greatest thing about McMinnville by bus is that there is a plethora of good wine tasting options right in the heart of walkable downtown. Visit any or all of the tasting rooms listed below, and your palate will thank you!

Wine Tasting in historic downtown McMinnville

  • R. Stuart and Co. Wine Bar – 528 NE 3rd St – “R. Stuart & Co. is a winery specializing in Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, located in McMinnville, Oregon. Winemaker Rob Stuart gathers the best fruit possible to make wines that are friendly and approachable for real people to enjoy with their friends, family and good food. Our Wine Bar is the perfect setting to taste through our wines, linger over a glass, have a snack, and purchase wine to take home. For a little variety we also offer a couple of local microbrews, and espresso from our favorite Portland roaster.”
  • Willamette Valley Vineyards – 300 NE 3rd St –  “Our mission in growing cool-climate varietals is to create elegant, classic Oregon wines from the Willamette Valley Appellation. As native Oregonians, we treasure our environment and use sustainable practices in growing and vinifying our winegrapes. The Willamette Valley Vineyards Tasting Room in McMinnville provides an opportunity to experience our award-winning Pinot Noirs right in the heart of Downtown McMinnville.”
  • Terra Vina Wines – 585 NE 3rd St – “Delicious! Is the adjective we hear the most when describing our wines. Many different varietals crafted in small lots showcase the purity of each varietal’s flavor and uniqueness of the terroir of the finest Northwest vineyards. Consistently recognized by the NW Wine Summit, and receiving numerous gold medals over the years, in 2007, our 2005 Amore, Late Harvest Semillon, received a gold medal and “Best Dessert Wine.” We are honored by the awards our wines have received showing the consistency in our winemaking.”
  • Dominio IV – 845 NE 5th St – “At Dominio Wines, we practice Biodynamic™ farming to ensure that the land which feeds our grapes remains viable and fruitful for future generations. Our winery resides in the thriving Granary District of McMinnville, Oregon. What was once a dilapidated, agricultural storage building has since been renovated into the perfect home for creating and enjoying wines. During the warmer seasons, the doors to our tasting room spill out to an outdoor patio. There, you can explore our wines while enjoying the sunshine.”
  • Eyrie Vineyards – 935 NE 10th Ave – “The Eyrie Vineyards has been known for elegant, classic wines since 1970, when we produced the first Pinot noir and Chardonnay in the Willamette Valley, and the New World’s first Pinot gris. Join us in McMinnville, at Yamhill County’s original winery, to enjoy current Eyrie releases and a taste of Oregon wine history!”
  • Remy Wines – 905 NE 10th Ave – “Remy Wines is a small, urban winery producing Old World Style Italian varietals including Sangiovese, Barbera, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo and Lagrien. We are also home to the Three Wives Wines.  baR (pronounced R bar) is open every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we offer fantastic small plates, wines by the glass, and outdoor seating. Ciao!”

Walking from tasting room to tasting room made for a fun and relaxing day. We met so many wonderful people, and whether they were locals or fellow travelers, the conversation was always lively and interesting. And if you’re looking for a guided tour experience with a chance to visit some of the actual vineyards, sign yourself up for the Tour and Taste Daytrip offered by Grape Escape Winery Tours. Their joinable tours begin at McMenamin’s Hotel Oregon in downtown McMinnville one Saturday per month, and ticket packages can be purchased through the Hotel Oregon website.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto by Adam Sawyer

With all of these amazing experiences, it’s easy to say that my stay in McMinnville was nothing less than fantastic. The community, the sense of history in the town, and the great food and drink were all things that contributed to creating a memorable trip. As I boarded the bus to return to my Portland home, I found myself wishing we had booked more days at the Oregon Wine Cottage. I have a feeling that the next trip I take to McMinnville will end with me thinking, “Just one more day …”.

Alternative bus routes and lodging

For a unique hotel experience, try the McMenamin’s Hotel Oregon. The building is a wonderful piece of McMinnville’s history. They even offer a self-guided walking tour of art and history that provides detailed information about the furniture and interior design, architecture and room detail, and art and old photos that grace the walls. Their European-style rooms feature original porcelain sinks, with shared bathrooms exclusively for hotel guests conveniently located down the hall. For a bit more privacy, they also offer King and Queen rooms with private bathrooms. Dining and nightlife options at the hotel include their McMenamin’s Pub where you can get daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner, their Cellar Bar which is described as a “20s-style speakeasy meets modern day wine bar,” and finally their Rooftop Bar where the views offer an unobstructed look at Oregon’s lush wine country, the impressive Coast Range and beyond.

As an alternative to the route described in the article, you can also take TriMet line 12-Barbur to the Tigard TC and then the Yamhill County Transit Area line 44 on Weekdays, or 46S on Saturdays, to the downtown McMinnville TC. Making this trip on a Sunday is less convenient, so if you’d like your travel plans to include part or all of the weekend, I’d recommend making sure that both your arrival and departure days fall on a Monday through Saturday. For example, bus in on a Friday or Saturday and leave on a Monday. For more information visit the websites of TriMet and Yamhill County Transit Area for trip planning assistance. You can also plan your trip using google maps and choose the bus option when finding directions from a beginning and ending location.

Article written by Stephanie Paris

The Bite of Oregon

Bite

The Bite of Oregon is an annual festival and fundraising event for Special Olympics Oregon that takes place at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in downtown Portland. It is a celebration of some of the many things that make Oregon unique, highlighting our abundant quality of life in terms of our food, drink, entertainment, and community. As you experience the Bite, you’ll discover so many reasons why some of us just can’t leave Oregon, and why others keep coming back. With downtown Portland being one of the easiest destinations to get to by bus, there’s no excuse not to journey down to what is sure to be one of the tastiest events of the summer.

Food:

Mist

This year’s theme is Oregon’s Bounty, and as expected, some of Oregon’s culinary finest will be there in full force to bring you delicious preparations using Oregon’s local seafood, beef, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, potatoes, dairy, and more. Bites at each vendor will range from $2 – $9, and between the Oregon Bounty Chef’s Table, food carts, specialty food vendors, and desserts, the offerings are sure to please the most discerning palate.

Drink:

Beer

With a whopping 718 vineyards, 314 wineries, and more than 40 varieties of wine, Oregon is one of the top wine destinations for wine connoisseurs and amateurs alike. The tap also flows freely with an abundance of beer in Oregon, with 120 brewing companies in the state. Though these breweries are spread across 59 cities in Oregon, Portland boasts 51 operational breweries, more than any other city in the world. Some of the finest of these libations will be on site to sample, as well as many non-alcoholic choices as well.

Entertainment:

Entertainment
The Bite has all your entertainment bases covered. With two music stages and a full lineup each day of the festival, the Garden Stage and Vineyard Stage provide top notch local musical artists. There’s even a Kids Area Stage that’s fun for the whole family, featuring kid-friendly activities including interactive stage performances from the School of Rock, as well as face painting, balloon artist, and much more. And of course it wouldn’t feel complete without culinary entertainment. At the Northwest Chef’s Stage, watch cooking demonstrations, and even Iron Chef competitions with local Oregon chefs.

The 31st annual Bite of Oregon takes place August 8th, 9th, and 10th. For more information including event times and ticket prices, please visit the Bite of Oregon website.

This event is accessible by TriMet bus lines 4, 6, 9, 10, 14, 15, 17, 19, 31, 32, 33, 35, 36, 38, 44, 45, 51, 54, 55, 56, 92, 99, Max Blue, and Max Red. See this complete list for the closest stops to Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Visit TriMet’s trip planner for further assistance in planning your trip. 

 

Photo credit:

Header: Phil Romans on flickr / Bite of Oregon Chef: Loren Kerns on flickr / Tacos: Adam Sawyer / Beer: Adam Fagan on flickr / Stage performer: Electrolatino on flickr

 

Restaurants on the Route: Bus Line 4 – Division/Fessenden

The TriMet line 4-Division/Fessenden route is a long one. It connects and travels through Gresham, SE Portland, Portland City Center, Old Town/Chinatown, Union Station, the Rose Quarter, NE Portland and St. Johns. As you can imagine, there are a great number of restaurants worth exploring along this route. As I find ones I love, this page will be updated with the addition of newfound hot spots. As of now, these are my top 5 restaurants on the Line 4 route.

1. Butterfly Belly 6036 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97206

Photo by Stephanie Paris

4.5 Stars on Yelp. $

“As butterflies selectively collect nectar and pollens from all over, Butterfly Belly’s selection of many popular dishes from all over Asia strides to please our guests with warm and colorful ambiance, uncompromising hospitality, fresh, healthy, and most importantly tasty food.” ~Butterfly Belly

Nearest Line 4 bus stops:

Click here to read my feature post on Butterfly Belly.


 

2. Tangier 221 SW Pine St, Portland, OR 97204

SpinachPiePhoto by Stephanie Paris

5 Stars on Yelp. $$

“A warm and welcoming family restaurant conveniently located in downtown Portland near the water front, noted for serving the finest msot traditional Moroccan and Mediterranean available. Our casually elegant atmosphere and exquisite cuisine will enhance any dining or celebration experience.” ~Tangier

Nearest Line 4 bus stops:

Click here to read my feature post on Tangier.


 

3. Samurai Blue 3807 N Mississippi Ave, Portland, OR 97227

Photo by Adam Sawyer

4.5 Stars on Yelp. $$

“A tantalizing variety of hot and cold dishes, sushi and sake.” ~Samurai Blue

Nearest Line 4 bus stops:

Click here to read my feature post on Samurai Blue.


 

4. Sidecar 11 3955 N Mississippi Ave, Portland, OR 97227

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto by Adam Sawyer

4 Stars on Yelp. $$

“Sidecar 11 is perfect for celebrations, joining friends with food and beverage in a small bar setting. The food menu emphasizes simple creation small plates and the bar creates unique and classic style cocktails with a dedication to the art of mixing drinks.” ~Sidecar 11

Nearest Line 4 bus stops:

Click here to read my feature post on Sidecar 11.


 

5. Signal Station Pizza 8302 N Lombard St, Portland, OR 97203

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto by Adam Sawyer

4 Stars on Yelp. $

“We pride ourselves on serving a delicious pizzas at a fair price. Our goals are to provide both a quality product and and friendly service. Our menu offers artisan pizzas, calzones, sub sandwiches and salads. We also serve sodas, beer by the bottle and on-tap,  and a fine selection wines by the glass or bottle.” ~Signal Station Pizza

Nearest Line 4 bus stops:

Click here to read my feature post on Signal Station.


Article by Stephanie Paris

Beyond Portland: The seaside charm of Anacortes

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto by Adam Sawyer

It is my firm belief that every city has its own charm. When the opportunity to travel to Anacortes on Fidalgo Island in Washington presented itself, I was not sure what to expect. But as always, I knew I could count on a great adventure, traveling my way up and down the west coast, riding rails and buses the whole way. The western Washington coastal town of Anacortes resides on the only one of the San Juan Islands connected to the mainland by a bridge, making an easy sojourn for those on wheels.

UnionStationPhoto by Stephanie Paris

The journey began from Union Station in downtown Portland, where the Amtrak Cascades train departs, and travels approximately six hours north to Mt. Vernon, Washington. Let me just say, if you have never been on a train, remedy that stat! It’s such a fun way to travel, and can turn your trips into more relaxing experiences. Once the train arrived in Mt. Vernon, I took the Skagit Transit line 615 westbound to our home for the next two days: the Swinomish Casino & Lodge.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto by Adam Sawyer

This was only my second stay at a casino, and although gambling is rarely a part of my life, I find the whole experience of a hotel with attached casino very entertaining. Our room was large and clean, and offered a beautiful view of Mt. Baker. Our stay happened to coincide with the Bite of Skagit, an annual fundraising event for the Skagit Food Distribution Center, which links farms to families in need to ensure that all residents have access to fresh local produce. At the event we sampled delicious food from various local restaurants, and the live music performed by the Shadow Creek Project Band made this an authentic summer experience. The casino’s restaurant, 13 Moons, got my vote for “best bite,” and on the evening that we chose to eat there, I had worked up my expectations as much as my appetite.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto by Adam Sawyer

We started with a couple cocktails and appetizers. The White Truffle Sea Scallops were so good they alone could have justified my trip to Anacortes. The Dungeness Crab Cakes came in a close second for dish of the night, and were fresh and flavorful. My entree for the evening was Wild Chinook Salmon, cooked to a soft medium, just the way I asked. All three dishes featured Native Catch seafood, which is all natural, wild, and sustainably harvested and processed by the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community. The skit from Portlandia made it cliche, but I truly am interested in the origins of my food, and I love knowing that the local natives were the harvesting hands before the talented chef at 13 Moons made magic with the bounty.

GolfLinksPhoto by Stephanie Paris

Another wonderful feature of the Swinomish Casino & Lodge is the Swinomish Golf Links course about a mile down the road from the lodge. It features an 18 hole par 72 course with views of Mt Baker and Fidalgo Bay. Never having golfed before, this links-style course with open, tree-lined fairways and approachable greens was perfect for me. Skagit Transit Line 513 got me there and back without a hitch.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto by Adam Sawyer

The next day we had planned to go whale watching with Island Adventures. Commuting by bus in a city where I am not familiar with the local transit system means that I have to plan my trips carefully and allow time-buffers so I don’t miss things like scheduled boat departures. I have found that this can actually enhance my travel experience by giving me more time to explore a particular area if I do end up being early and not needing the buffer. Taking Skagit Transit line 513 to line 410 got us there with plenty of time, and I was able to make some purchases in the gift shop, holding up my end of the deal I have with my boys when I travel without them. Once checked in, we walked to the docks for a pre-voyage talk with the captain, and then we boarded the vessel and set sail. If ever you find yourself anywhere near Anacortes, you must check out the Island Adventures whale watching trips. They guarantee whale sightings, and as promised, we saw whales from three resident pods as they swam and played, breaching multiple times throughout the morning. We also saw harbor seals, porpoises, bald eagles, and even had a rare puffin sighting. It was sunny and clear, Mt Baker was out in all her glory, and it could not have been a more enjoyable experience.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto by Adam Sawyer

The charm of Anacortes certainly caught my attention. The only fault in the trip is that I was only there for 2 days. I would love to return and spend more time wandering through historic downtown, visiting some of the 50+ antique dealers, discovering more local dining hot spots, and I’d definitely get another scoop at Mad Hatter’s Ice Cream shop. But unlike ice cream, the end of a trip is always bittersweet – I hate to leave, but I love coming home. At least now I know how easy it is to go back.

 

Article by Stephanie Paris