The Best of Portland, Oregon – Part Two

dear handmade life's best of portland oregon crafty wonderlandWelcome to part two of our two part series on our favorite spots in Portland, Oregon. If you missed the first installment of this series please check it out here.


“If I had a shop, I’d pretty much want it to be like this,” Kari said as we walked to Flutter. When I saw Flutter’s eclectic array of goods including vintage clothing, housewares, books, bath and body products and lovely decorative papers I understood why Kari was so drawn to this shop. Usually when I’m in a shop with so much to see I get overwhelmed yet Flutter managed to create organized sense of it all with artful displays. The store cat sent Delilah’s allergies into overdrive signaling that it was time to leave but not before I was able to purchase some Tokyo Milk perfume, a tarot card reading book and two tiny plastic slide viewers in the shape of a camera and a television featuring vintage photographs of Paris and San Francisco.

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This dark and cozy cocktail lounge housed in a former hotel lobby retains a vintage charm that makes me wish its walls could tell the century-old stories of its guests from the 1900s who were “sailors, travelers and ladies of the night”. The Sapphire Hotel celebrates its shady history with cocktail names like The Other Woman, Room Service, Apricot Blonde and You’re Not My Real Dad. Kari, Delilah and I opted for sipping the happy hour special, a sweet and tart concoction featuring huckleberry juice while plate after plate of delicious and cheap happy hour food came our way.


Before we headed to the Sweet Hereafter we drove back to Kari’s house for a little downtime and on the way Delilah saw a wishing tree in a front yard. There was a bucket of fabric scraps and a pen and passersby could write down their wish and tie it to the tree. Big hearts go out to the rad person who had the wishing tree in their yard.

Normally the word vegan is a huge turn-off for me when choosing a place to eat and drink. It’s not that I have to eat meat at every meal (okay almost every meal) but I like having the option. Delilah on other hand eats a mostly plant-based diet, so I agreed to take one for the team and happily headed to the Sweet Hereafter. While we were walking there we randomly ran into our friend and Craftcation 2015 presenter Rachel Smith of The Crafted Life who’d recently relocated to Portland from San Francisco. What kismet! Rachel and her man joined us for one of the Sweet Hereafter’s ‘Long Island Ice Teas’ served in gigantic jars and made from house-infused liquors which are not to be missed. It was so awesome to get to hang out with Rachel outside the craziness of Craftcation. I even tasted a bite of Delilah’s jerk ‘chicken’ bowl, which was so good that I actually felt like I could give up animal products… well, almost.

dear handmade life's best of portland oregon wishing tree dear handmade life's best of portland oregon the sweet hereafter dear handmade life's best of portland oregon the sweet hereafter dear handmade life's best of portland oregonPODCAST AT KARI’S HOUSE

After I packed my many, many, many bags, Delilah cooked breakfast and the three of us sat down in Kari’s living room to record an episode for Kari’s new podcast AIM (Action, Inspiration and Motivation) with Kari Chapin. Although I’ve been interviewed for radio, given presentations for hundreds of people and even been on television before, I always get a little bit nervous when some presses the record button. I tend to speak without thinking and struggle with being a ‘serial interrupter’ the latter of which I think stems from the fact that I spend so much time alone and get a little too excited when I have someone to share ideas with. I took a deep breath and tried to be present and a good listener as well as a talker. Kari had great questions about how and why Delilah and I do what we do. It was so inspiring to hear Kari talk about her own path and motivations as well as listen to Delilah (one of the people I know the best and longest in this world but who still surprises me) talk about business and life. I’m incredibly excited about Kari’s podcast going live and you should be too!

After the podcast, Delilah and I hit the road and spent a few days in Seattle. I’ll be posting about our suggestions and adventures in Seattle next week. Then I dropped Delilah off the airport and picked up my man and we spent a few days in Seattle and then headed back to Portland. I visited these last three spots below with my husband on the second leg of our Pacific Northwest tour.


Kari’s suggestion of the Jupiter Hotel couldn’t have been more perfect. The Jupiter is a “mid-century, renovated motor inn-turned-boutique hotel” that was walking distance to spots like Le Pigeon, Voodoo Doughnuts and Sizzle Pie, which we planned on going to but were too full and exhausted after our marathon eating fest at Pok Pok (see below). When we walked into our room my husband said, “Whoa, it totally looks like you decorated this hotel room.” My husband is as far from a hipster as you can get, had never stayed in a boutique hotel and didn’t realize I’m not the only one who has a deep affection for minimalist décor with bursts of bright colors and vintage elements. He’s adorable like that. The room was tiny but we didn’t mind since there was a huge covered patio just outside our door and the hotel’s restaurant/bar The Doug Fir Lounge just across the parking lot. The inside of The Doug Fir Lounge was like walking into a mountain cabin in the 1970s that was just about to break out into a disco party. We grabbed a few drinks and headed out to the huge patio complete with a vintage photo booth and gigantic wooden Sasquatch and I caught up on a bit of work before we headed to dinner.

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If you can only eat at one place in Portland make it Pok Pok or you’ll regret it forever. Due to Pok Pok’s immense fame (hello! James Beard award winner) I was fully prepared for a long wait and ready to head to their sister establishment the Whiskey Soda Lounge for a pre-dinner drink and snack but somehow we walked up and were led to a table on their patio right away. Pok Pok is Thai food like I’d never had but always suspected existed. I could talk for hours about their killer cocktails featuring drinking vinegar or how I actually got a little bit weepy while eating the chicken wings… YES, they are so good that they made me cry. I also highly suggest the Kai Yang (stuffed charcoal roasted game hen served with dipping sauces) and the Het Paa Naam Tok (a spicy forest mushroom salad that I dare any mushroom hater to not like). After Pok Pok our plans of heading out to explore the neighborhood around the Jupiter fell by the wayside and we opted to stay in and marathon watch my new favorite show Broad City. Then my husband surprised me by sneaking out to the Doug Fir and picking up a warm brownie and ice cream and the night was complete.

dear handmade life's best of portland oregon pok pokPINE STATE BISCUITS

“This. Is. The. Best. Biscuit. I’ve. EVER. Had!” I repeated over and over and over again as I devoured my first Pine State biscuit. My fried chicken, pickle and honey biscuit not only took my mind off my Pok Pok craving but, was one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had. I couldn’t resist peeking my head into their open kitchen and offering a heartfelt thank you to the chefs. The sweet buttery goodness was the perfect was to end my Portland love affair before we headed towards home.

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Instead of braving the long drive home, we broke it up and spent one night in Ashland, Oregon. My husband had started coming down with a cold en route to Ashland and the long days driving were catching up with my back and I was in desperate need of a heating pad when we arrived in Ashland. Sadly the drive took longer than expected and we didn’t have time to soak in the theater scene and many of the restaurants we wanted to check out were closing by the time we checked into our room at the Ashland Motel and headed out. I probably wouldn’t suggest the Ashland Motel to anyone unless their only concern was getting a cheap room. The motel bills itself a boutique hotel but it’s a got a long way to go to live up to the standards of boutique hotels I’ve stayed at like the Jupiter or the Phoenix. They basically took an old motel slapped on some purple paint and called it day. The room was clean and the motel clerk was nice but that was about it. No character. Nothing to write home about. Then we found Smithfields Restaurant and Bar and things started to look up just as my Advil was kicking in. A lovely charcuterie plate with house-cured meats and pickled veggies later my husband and I were ready to have a nightcap and Paddy Brannan’s Irish Pub was right across the street. The bartender was awesome and didn’t scoff when he had to make a pot of hot water for the Hot Toddy my husband ordered. There was a guy in the corner with a guitar and tiny amp playing covers and three semi-drunk slightly too old (in some people’s opinions but not mine) to be dancing in a bar girls swaying and twirling in front of him. The bartender told us he’d moved to Ashland because it was a great place to raise his two kids and we chatted about the benefits of living in a small town then headed back to hotel. In the morning we began our long trek home during which we drove through Mount Shasta and I finally got to see the majestic mountain which was no longer hidden by sheets of rain and storm clouds.

-Nicole S.

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Stay tuned next week for a recap of our adventures in Seattle.

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