Monday, February 26, 2018

Win a Free Dinner for Two for Portland Dining Month 2018

Get the chance to experience Portland Dining Month for free by entering the 2018 Ravenous Traveler Portland Dining Month giveaway. One lucky winner will walk away with a free gift card for two Portland Dining Month menus at The Country Cat Dinnerhouse and Bar (a $70 value). Helmed by Adam and Jackie Sappington, The Country Cat always has a fun atmosphere and serves Southern plates in the Montavilla neighborhood. Travel Portland was kind enough to donated the gift card to Ravenous Traveler.

Here's how to enter:

—Head to the Ravenous Traveler Facebook page and find this post to enter the sweepstakes
—Like Ravenous Traveler on Facebook
—Answer this question in the comments on the post: What is one of your favorite Portland restaurants?

The sweepstakes close at 12:01 a.m. (PST), March 1, 2018. I will choose a lucky winner at random on March 1 and contact the winner via Facebook message. You must respond with a mailing address within 24 hours. I will immediately mail out the gift card, good for two Portland Dining Month menus at The Country Cat (excluding tip and beverages) for two people. Visit PortlandDiningMonth.com to see all of the restaurants' menus online.

The Country Cat's fried chicken sandwich with Judy cheese and shoestring onion rings. Photo: Mattie John Bamman

More details: The promotional value of the gift card is based on Portland Dining Month menu pricing for two guests (excluding beverages and tip). The gift card is only guaranteed to be valid during Portland Dining Month (March 1-31). I strongly encourage making reservations through OpenTable.com because 1) a donation will be made to the Oregon Food Bank, and 2) Portland Dining Month gets busy, and a reservation ensures you a seat. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. By entering this contest, you agree to a complete release of Facebook from any or all liability in connection with this contest. By entering this contest, you agree to a complete release of Ravenous Traveler from any or all liability in connection with this contest.




Friday, February 23, 2018

Portland's Laundromat for Singles Opens Second Location

Within the sultry labyrinth of Portland dating, my single friends say spic-and-span Spin Laundry Lounge sits at the center: A place where you can not only buy someone a beer, but a round of laundry, with the added benefit they have nowhere to be for the next hour.

Following up on the North Mississippi/North Williams location, Spin Laundry Lounge 2.0 is opening at 2326 NE Broadway, right next door to the Rose & Thistle English pub, and on the same block as Ataula spinoff 180 xurros. Owner Morgan Gary tells Ravenous Traveler the new laundromat and lounge will be a little different.

There will still be an indoor lounge area, but customers can bring in food and drink from nearby businesses. Come spring, Spin Laundry 2.0 will start serving coffee and light food from its Coffee Bus, with patio seating. Pop-up parties are also in store.

"We're partnering with local businesses and doing food, drink, event, arts & crafts, and music pop ups in our lounge space," says Morgan. (Fingers crossed the nearby, all-female-run Nightwood Society, which just took over short-lived Chesa in September, will be involved.)

The new Spin sets up inside a former auto repair shop. [Photo: Mattie John Bamman]

So you'll be able to buy someone a beer  coffee along with a round of laundry at the new Spin Laundry Lounge. Or invite them to the bar in the wood-paneled Rose & Thistle next door.

The new spot could open as soon as next week, Morgan tells RavTrav. The team is waiting on final permits. Keep an eye on Spin Laundry Lounge's Facebook page for the latest.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Watch: Meet Portland's Heavy Metal Winery, Teutonic Wine Company

Avant garde winemaking is alive and well in Portland, Oregon. "The scientific wing of the natural wine movement," Teutonic Wine Company balances fine wine and personal style. It works mostly with Germanic grapes — all grown in Oregon. I'm a big fan, not only because I love metal and wine, but because Teutonic proves Oregon wine isn't just pinot noir.

In the below video, winemaker Barnaby Tuttle shares Teutonic Wine Company's latest projects, including a collaboration wine made with local metal band Red Fang; an MSG-packed wine tentatively named "Umami Tsunami"; and a fire-damaged riesling using fruit from the 2017 Columbia River Gorge wildfire.

Teutonic Wine Company's tasting room keeps regular hours and is located in central Portland, at 3303 SE 20th, just off Powell Boulevard. Time a visit with jazz night Wednesdays or one of the urban winery's many culinary events by chef Alex Bourgidu (Genoa, Porta). Events are announced on Teutonic's Facebook page (and definitely be on the lookout for its regular dollar-oyster nights).



Music: Jet Fueled Vixen - Kevin MacLeod: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24mlwq_FG08


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Walk Inside The People's Pig, Now Open on East Burnside

The second location of Cliff Allen's barbecue restaurant, The People's Pig, is now open on East Burnside. Firing up at 3004 E Burnside inside of a former Subway, the new spot nearly rivals the original in character: It's like walking into a 1940s diner taken over by The Devil's Rejects. Take a tour in the video below.

The People's Pig opens daily at 11 a.m. and stays open for dinner until 9 p.m. (10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays). The full menu with additions from the former food cart days is up and running, including the much-touted porchetta sandwich: roasted pork belly and loin with fennel pollen, arugula, garlic, and lemon. See the full menu, including cocktails, below.

The barbecue restaurant threw open the doors in January. The neighborhood was already rivaling SE Division and NE Alberta as Portland's culinary epicenter, with Paadee/Langbaan, Laurelhurst Market, Tapalaya, Guero, Cheese & Crack Snack Shop, Fifty Licks, and many more excellent dining options. And The People's Pig is one of several barbecue restaurants to recently open, joining Clay's Smokehouse on Division and Russell St. Barbecue's second location, on Belmont.

The People's Pig on East Burnside [Photo: Mattie J. Bamman]

The People' Pig menu, 2.15.18 [Photo: Mattie John Bamman]



Tuesday, February 13, 2018

My Client's Book Comes Out Today on W. W. Norton


Writing a book is really hard. That's why I'm extremely excited to say that educator, writer, and somatic therapist David Treleaven has written an empowering book about trauma and mindfulness, Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Healing, and it comes out today on W. W. Norton & Company. David's book hits home for anyone interested in the connection between trauma and meditation, or other mindfulness practices.

I'm not the only one helping to champion the book. David received some awesome book blurbs from powerhouse writers, including Rick Hanson, PhD., author of Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom, and Babette Rothschild, MSW, who wrote The Body Remembers. W. W. Norton is one of the best publishers in America. It was the #1 new book release in psychology on Amazon earlier this year.

My work with David focused on streamlining the writing process. David is a true expert, and he already had all of the content under control. Working on deadline, I helped him put it together into six initial chapters, which he then perfected with his publisher.
Photo: W.W. Norton

I'm really impressed with David's work. I enjoyed learning from him as well as getting to know him personally over many long phone calls. He's a great guy, and he's dedicated his life to helping other people overcome intimate challenges. If only we could all lend such a meaningful helping hand to life's invisible struggles.

Pick up a copy of Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness here (David says 60% of all proceeds will go to "three different social justice organizations challenging systemic conditions that create and perpetuate trauma").

David did a recent podcast with Shrink Rap radio that's worth checking, as well.



Monday, February 12, 2018

Watch: Xico Restaurant Is One of the Best Places to Drink Craft Mezcal in PDX

While most cheap mezcals are defined by their smokiness, the best mezcals can be fruity and grassy and in general have a huge depth of character. After touring a mezcal harvest in Oaxaca in January, I needed to find out where to drink great mezcal in Portland, Oregon.

Xico is one of the only places serving modern Mexican food in Portland, and in my search, it immediately stood out, both for its wide selection of 30+ mezcals and for its Mezcal Experiences, a flight of three mezcals served with three Mexican bites by chef Kelly Myers. When I reached out to Xico, Denis Lindsay, a man lucky enough to bear the title, Mezcal Manager, told me Xico had just updated its mezcal flights.

Mezcal is not just smoky tequila; in fact, tequila is a type of mezcal (like scotch is a type of whiskey), and mezcals can be made from 30 different types of agave — each with their own flavor profiles, much like different wine grapes. Tequila is only made with one: blue agave.

See what it's all about in the video:



Looking for more? Head to Oaxaca with me to tour a mezcal harvest and the Lalocura mezcal distillery.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Daddy D's Barbecue Opens Second Location and Announces Third

One of the Portland area's best barbecue spots, Daddy D's is on fire: It built its reputation while serving barbecue out of — of all places — a Shell gas station in Vancouver, Washington, and in fall 2017, it opened three locations inside the Moda Center. Now owner Donnie Vercher and his son Isaiah are up and running at 11817 NE 117th Ave., in — you guessed it — another Shell gas station. Isaiah's sister Karolyn Vercher manages the spot, so it's a true family-run business.

The new Daddy D's serves the exact menu as at the original location — only Isaiah rules the smoker. He says his dad taught him everything he knows, right down to peeling the potatoes, and serving a consistent product is what it's all about.

"My dad trained me, and he wouldn't even let me touch the pit for the first three years," Isaiah tells Ravenous Traveler. "I never saw myself doing this growing up. I thought I'd go to the NFL. But I fell in love with it. I view it like football: It's not just what you do, it's how you do it."

Isaiah says Daddy D's make its own "family style" of barbecue, with influence from his father's home state of Louisiana. On the menu are chopped beef brisket, chicken, pork ribs, pulled pork, cole slaw, potato salad, and more.

Isaiah and Karolyn Vercher [Photo: Daddy D's Southern-Style Barbecue]

The new Daddy D's opened at 11817 NE 117th Ave. in the last week of January. Like the original, it smokes its meats in a smoker beside the Shell station. Currently, there's some outdoor seating beneath the Shell station roof, and coming soon are picnic tables and a large tent for additional seats. It's open Tuesday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., or until the meat sells out (if it's later in the day, you can check availability by calling 360 356 8357).

And Isaiah had some other big news to share: The first full-fledged brick-and-mortar location of Daddy D's is slated to open behind the Oak Tree Casino in Woodland, Washington, right off I-5. Isaiah says his father will finally have the restaurant he's always wanted, and the menu will definitely expand. Daddy D's first brick and mortar aims to open late spring 2018, at 1243 N Goerig St. (formerly Premium Smoked Meats).

Here are some more things to think about:

"I love the physical form of making barbecue," says Isaiah. "It's a craft, and I love the everyday learning. I don't think anyone could ever say, 'I mastered barbecue.' And barbecue also brings people together. I've met some of the coolest people in the world over barbecue, and while I know a lot of good things attract a lot of good people, I gotta say barbecue really brings great people together."

Some things to think about [Photo: Daddy D's Southern-Style Barbecue]




Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Take a Tour of Puerto Escondido's Culinary Center, the Mercado

As I wrote last week, you'll find some of the best food in Puerto Escondido at Mercado Benito Juarez. Many travelers miss the Mercado because it is located away from the beach in Puerto Escondido's city center. This is where locals do their shopping and go out to eat. The video below shows how to catch a bus to the Mercado from Zicatela Beach.

This video is from January 2018. The bus took around five minutes and cost US$.50 each direction.  Buses ran regularly. I never had to wait longer than a couple minutes for a pick up.

At Mercado Benito Juarez, I found dozens of sit-down food stalls serving traditional Mexican food, from moles to chile rellenos. The concierge at our hotel said the best way to choose where to eat is to see which spot is the most popular. We settled on Los Tres Giresoles and the dishes were excellent.

Besides all the great food, the Mercado is the heart of Puerto Escondido. There's tons of shopping, so expect to pick up a souvenir or two. Don't miss the stands selling Oaxacan string cheese.

Here's how to get to Puerto Escondido's Mercado from Zicatela Beach:






Friday, February 2, 2018

Puerto Escondido's Best Mexican Restaurants, 2018

On its list of the best restaurants in Puerto Escondido, the LA Times recently wrote, "Pretty much everything is amazing" — a statement that truly confounds the mind.

Puerto Escondido is a tropical beach destination, and almost all of its restaurants along the beach are geared toward tourists: Italian pizzas and pastas, American breakfasts and burgers, Middle Eastern wraps, Thai curries. There's even a telling joke on Puerto Escondido's main beach, Zicatela: You can find any type of food you'd like, as long as it isn't Mexican. If you want traditional Mexican food, you have to go hunting.

Here are some of the best restaurants to get Mexican dishes in Puerto Escondido. Note this list focuses on Zicatela Beach and concludes with the mother of all mouthwatering musts, the Mercado in downtown Puerto Escondido:

Where to Eat in Puerto Escondido in 2018

COFFEE
El Cafecito's Takeout Window
Price: US$1.50 for un latte doble (latte with two shots of espresso)

The line. [Photo: Mattie J. Bamman]

I don't stand in lines, which is why I would never eat at El Cafecito, but there's a trick: The surfer-beloved cafe has a takeout window serving excellent espresso drinks to sip on the beach, right across the street.

BREAKFAST
Sativa Lounge
Price: Breakfast with coffee for US$5

Breakfast bowl at Sativa Lounge [Photo: Mattie J. Bamman]

This is a hip option at anytime of day, with second-story bar seating overlooking Calle El Morro and the beach, but I really love its breakfast: great espresso drinks, creative fruit juices blended to order, and humungous healthy breakfast bowls loaded with tropical fruits, nuts, and seeds.

CHEAP EATS
Street/Beach Tacos and Taquitos
Price: US$.50

My favorite beach tacos are always potato, because of some sort of delicious seasoning. [Photo: Mattie J. Bamman]

You'll find people peddling deep-fried tacos stuffed with your choice of meats, fish, potatoes, or chile rellenos. They're a tasty, cheap snack or light meal. Make sure you get yours loaded with cheese and spicy salsa.

TRADITIONAL MEXICAN
Santa Fe Restaurant 
Price: Around US$50 for a nice meal for two with tip
Perfectly grilled whole fish with sliced garlic [Photo: Mattie J. Bamman]

Located in the swank Hotel Santa Fe, this is probably the best option for a nice meal of Mexican plates on Zicatela Beach. You'll feel like royalty in the open-air dining room among columns and beneath a thatched roof, with views of the beach. Go for the margaritas, the gazpacho and Aztec soups, the chili rellenos, coconut shrimp, and whole roasted fish.

TRADITIONAL MEXICAN
Costenito Cevicheria
Price: US$50 for a nice meal for two with tip

Grilling in style [Photo: Mattie J. Bamman]

Serving seafood prepared on a grill inside of a Volkswagen bus, this place vies with Santa Fe Restaurant for the best seafood in Puerto Escondido. Order whole fish by the kilo, and don't skip the ceviche.

TRADITIONAL MEXICAN
Brisas del Mar
Price: US$30 for a nice meal for two with tip

Brisas del Mar [Photo: Facebook/Brisas del Mar]

This is the only spot near Zicatela Beach I found serving Mexican plates without tourist prices, and that's because it's located at the top of a stairway off of the beach. The family-run spot has a killer view. Go for the nachos with chicken and the garlic shrimp (camarones al ajillo).

TRADITIONAL MEXICAN/CHEAP EATS
Mercado Benito Juarez
Price: Varies; most plates around US$3.50

Chilaquiles rojo with crispy fried eggs [Photo: Mattie J. Bamman]

The Mercado is full of family-operated food stalls serving chilaquiles, moles, tacos, and more at normal Mexican prices. Personally, I loved Los Tres Girasoles for its chilaquiles rojo. And the Mercado is a sight unto itself, so plan to explore the vibrant marketplace as well as grab an excellent lunch. You'll have to catch a bus or taxi.

Find a killer restaurant not listed above? Share it in the comments!


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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Watch: Puerto Escondido Mini Travel Guide, Mexico

Puerto Escondido, Mexico, is my ideal tropical beach getaway: It's a tropical paradise and everything's so inexpensive you get to act like you're rich for a week or two. Watch the video below, offering an introduction and travel guide to Puerto Escondido. You'll see just how chill and comfortable the place is. You may even feel like you're in a John Grisham novel discussing how to hide your fortune in the Cayman Islands.

The video includes where to find the best coffee in Puerto Escondido, as well as a hip bar and restaurant for help finding long-term apartment rentals. The staff speaks English.

The rest of the video highlights Puerto Escondido's natural beauty and dedication to the do-nothing vacation. Bring a book. Soak it up.

My first major trip abroad was to Puerto Escondido, Mexico, in 2004. Coming from a frugal back-to-the-land family, I had no idea how easy and cheaply I could travel to Mexico. The flight cost around $500, and I spent three weeks traveling through Mexico for a grand total of $1000. Prices really haven't changed. We found hostel beds for $9/night, surf hotels for $30/night, and upscale hotels for as cheap as $50/night, proving you can choose the level of luxury to your taste. Let me know if you have any questions.


Join Me on a Riverboat Cruise Through Pacific Northwest Wine Country This November

Care to join me for a glass of wine... on a 7-night river cruise through the Columbia River Gorge? This November, I'm teaming up with ...