Pug Road Trip: Portland, Pork and Purple Doughnuts

grilled cheese grill schoolbus

Courtesy of emilypearl on Instagram.

Ah, Portland. Everyone told us it really is like the show “Portlandia.” Well, we confirmed it. At least in the Northeast neighborhood, where we spent our couple of days. Everything is homegrown, fresh from the “bins” (read: dumpster) and off the grid. Our tiny side-apartment (one of our airbnb.com finds) even had chickens in the backyard for fresh eggs. The pugs, sensing their opportunity, wanted chicken dinner, but, alas, there was a fence preventing their feast. And they are slower (and dumber) than chickens. One flew out of the coop and Roscoe chased it around.

Portland is laid-back, earthy and bordering on dirty.
We loved it.

emily and a vw bus

Courtesy of emilypearl on Instagram. So hot.

We found a secret garden of sorts, the newly-established Nargila Garden. Don’t bother checking out the website, though, because they’ve taken “too-cool-to-care” (when it comes to internets) to the extreme in Portland. It was pretty amazing in person: think food truck pod (four or five mini-campers serving super-yummy food in a small, outdoor lot) with a hookah bar surrounded by comfy, covered hangout spaces. All this tucked behind a grilled cheese schoolbus. Apparently, there is more than one grilled cheese school bus in Portland.

chickens in the backyard in Portland

The view in pretty much every backyard in Portland

We only tried one of the food trucks: Lillikoi. But we ate there two nights in a row. The worn-out camper was a step above in-shambles, but that’s just part of the appeal in Portland. Their unique take on a pulled pork sandwich (Homemade Sweet Bread, Carlton Pork, & Creamy Asian Slaw) had me stuffed and mesmerized. It was better than any sandwich I’d had in Chicago. I know. I hate writing this, because now all I want is to get on a plane and go back there right now. The only thing stopping me is that they’d be closed by the time I got there. Seriously, their homemade sweet bread is like cake (no pun intended).

voodoo doughnut cocoa puff doughnut

Yes, Cocoa Puff doughnuts do exist.

If you find yourself in Portland, you should shut up, drop whatever stupid thing you’re doing and buy doughnuts at Voodoo Doughnut immediately. Then eat them. The doughnuts. Because they are from heaven. That’s the only explanation I can think of for why they are so amazing. The best (and worst) part about this experience is that there are cases full of every kind of doughnut you can imagine (and about fifty more you can’t) with absolutely no labels to tell you what you’re looking at. Instead, they have a distant chalkboard with hundreds of doughnut names scrawled on it. Fortunately, the hip staff is actually really friendly and super helpful. I eventually chose one of the many purple doughnuts with sprinkles, which I was informed was supposed to taste like grape Kool-Aid. And that’s exactly what it tasted like. To eat a mere donut (sans the fancy spelling, that is), from any other establishment, is to eat a bagel dressed in corn syrup.

Oh, and Emily loves VW buses (pictured above). So she took a picture of every one she saw, which was about a hundred.

Relvy-pug wants bacon

Relvis can haz bacon?

We had a really, really hard time leaving Portland. But we had to cross the border and get to Vancouver before nightfall. So we packed the pugs in the tiny Vibe, gave one last wave to “the city that works (in mysterious ways)” and headed North.