TRAVEL THERE: A PERUVIAN GEM IN PORTLAND’S PEARL
Welcome to Oregon! Well, sort of. In June my husband and I spent twelve days traveling the state and now I’m sharing the experience with you. I’ll tell you about the attractions we visited, the meals we ate and where we stayed. Maybe you’ll decide you want to visit Oregon, too. Today’s focus is the best meal we had in Oregon.
Winding Down from Sightseeing
We finished our visit to the International Rose Test Garden with about an hour of sunlight left and a whole lot of Portland still to see. Leaving the rose garden we meandered through Washington Park and then sort of followed our noses around several areas of the city, trying to get a feel for something beyond downtown and the major tourist attractions. What we saw further underlined my notion that Portland was a city you could visit again and again without having to repeat yourself. However, we soon found ourselves without a clue to where we were or how to get back to any of those cute neighborhood restaurants we’d admired as we drove around aimlessly.
We were really hungry, so I recommended we go to the Pearl District which is sort of the happening area of town. Aware that downtown closed by eight, we needed sustenance. We also wanted one more memory from a town we’d grown to love. After a few stabs at it, we found the Pearl District. It wasn’t First Thursday. In fact, it was late Saturday night, which in Dallas means things would have been hopping, but in Portland it was quiet.
Hangin’ in The Pearl
We parked the car (you don’t have to feed the meters on Saturday night) and started strolling. Passing one closed establishment after another, we wondered if it was going to have to be Taco Bell, again. Finally, we found something open – Trader Vic’s. That didn’t seem to be it, even if it was the only thing open. Bill said, “Let’s go a couple more blocks and if nothing is open, then we know we can come back here.” I reluctantly followed him down the sidewalk, because Trader Vic’s sounded pretty good to me.
After a block or two, a couple of well-dressed women giggled and chattered their way into a black rod iron door. The sign read, “andina novoperuvian.” Bill had been to Guatemala on a mission trip, but Peru was a blank page with us, novo or not. Comparing notes, we wondered how different it could be from our beloved Tex-Mex and decided to give it a try.
We opened the door on insanity. Everyone who was still awake in Portland must have been there. Peruvian pandemonium personified. I think there were two different wedding-related parties. There were lots of noise, gifts and music. Besides a couple of girls in the bathroom were having a conference to figure out whether they should let someone know that something happened to someone else, because it could put off the wedding and the question was whether that was the right thing to do or not. I’m sure they woke up in the morning, discovered they had it all wrong and were glad they hadn’t brought the wedding train to a halt.
We’d entered on one floor, gone up to another to find the hostess and then were led somewhere else. I don’t exactly know where we landed, but the hullaboo we encountered at the entrance was far removed. We settled in for a pleasant dining experience…we just didn’t realize yet just how pleasant it was going to be.
We were offered both a tapas menu and a dinner menu. Though we were hungry, it was a little late to be eating a huge meal, so we opted for tapas. We’re not completely unacquainted with tapas, but they’re not our usual Saturday night meal, so we needed some time to peruse the menu. Bill got a cold Corona to accompany his menu selection activity and I chose the white wine sangria. If we had left the restaurant immediately after the drinks, you’d still find me raving about the place. It was the absolute best sangria I’d ever had in my life – period, end of story. It was so good, I soon had a second one and if I hadn’t been worried about public intoxication, I would have had another.
After careful consideration, we chose three small plates to share: Ensalada Verde Peruana, Tortilla de Patata and Anticucho de Corazon (AKA green salad, potatoes and beef kabobs). I’m here to tell you that the food tasted just like it sounded in Peruvian – DELICIOUS. The service was a little slow, but not too slow – and remember they were having riots upstairs. It was one of those dinners where you didn’t mind that they were a little tardy returning with the check, because even though you’ve eaten all your food, the meal is not yet over.
I knew I had to stuff everything back into our suitcases and get ready for the road trip portion of our vacation, so we had to go back to the hotel. Even if you don’t go to anything else I’ve told you about in Portland, you absolutely must go to Andina. It’s totally first class and serves the best food we had in all of Oregon.
So get ready to head out on the road, next week we’re on our way to the Columbia Gorge.