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A Perfect (Food!) Day in Portland

NVR Guys

It's time for us to give Seattle a little air and, instead, do some rambling on-and-on about our second favorite city. Portland, Oregon. We used to live there, so this bit of Portland love is long overdue.

Recently, we planted ourselves in our old hometown for a couple days of catching up with family and friends. Aside from getting up to speed with everyone and their dog (literally, in some cases), the highlight for us was the food. Surprise, surprise.

Consider these cheap eats in Portland if you see a visit in your future. As a bonus, hitting all of these little gems gets you to several different parts of the city that you'll want to check out anyhow.

Assuming you're staying in/near the core of the city, you'll want to make the Pearl District's Nuvrei Patisserie and Cafe your first stop. Since we usually work out and then work and have oatmeal in the room, we didn't need breakfast on this day. Rather, by the time we got the heck out of our room, we were ready for a mid-morning jump start. We got just that in the form of a shared serving of wild berry brioche. Goodness gracious – the interplay of sweet and tart was spectacular.

Want to make Nuvrei your breakfast stop? No problem. They also offer heartier fare that, I have no doubt, will leave you satisfied.

A day in Portland, Oregon / Cheap eats in portland, Oregon

One more thing before we move on. Nuvrei is where you should make the budget saving move of picking up your dessert for back in the room at the end of the day. Without any hesitation, order as many of the gluten free double chocolate cookies as you think you'll be able to handle. After a long day exploring Portland, you'll dive into them and, before drifting off to sleep, promptly head to Yelp to add your "Best. Cookie. Ever. I can't believe they are flour-less" review.

Moving on. After working up an appetite strolling around the Pearl, ignore all the eateries that are calling to you and head directly to Mi Mero Mole. It's across the river, in SE Portland.

I don't even know where to begin. I know you understand, because I know that you know all about our (often ill conceived) attempts to get Mexican food where ever we are. Suffice it to say, we have found our official stop for Mexican grub in Portland.

Aiming to offer up Mexico City street food, MMM succeeds brilliantly. First rule = let the person behind the counter tell you what to order. We ate every last bite of our squash blossom quesadilla and  guisados plate – packed with two stews, rice, beans and tortillas. Our vegetarian stews – rajas con crema and tinga de calabacitas y elote – were well composed with interesting seasoning and an ideal consistency for loading into tortillas.

A quartet of sauces and a refreshing aqua fresca rounded the meal out perfectly.

A day in Portland, Oregon / Cheap eats in portland, Oregon

While you're over in Southeast, be sure to check out a SE neighborhood. Hawthorne and Belmont are wonderful places to meander and people watch.

Before heading back to your hotel for a late afternoon rest break (and to drop off your cookies from Nuvrei), we heartily believe that downtown and the Pearl District deserve more of your attention. Portland is about the most walkable city that exists. So start walking and – no joke – try to get lost. The city's footprint is small and manageable enough that you can't go too far without a quick look at the map getting you back on track.

If your random wandering happens to drop you at Cool Moon Ice Cream for an afternoon snack, well lucky you. No need to even think about what flavor to choose. Go for the wallet-friendly Geological Dig and let it all be a mystery. Sitting at the park across the street (hint, hint), we found mint chip, banana and coffee chip in our pint.

A day in Portland, Oregon / Cheap eats in portland, Oregon

And then it was time for that power nap.

A little later, revived and ready to head into the night, we knew right where we wanted to start things off – NW Portland's Melt Bistro and Bar. Why Melt? They offer a 100% laid back vibe and one of Portland's best happy hour options (which supported our budget eats goal). Most days, happy hour runs from 2:00 PM until close. So you can make a meal out of it, as we did, or use it as a snack stop before eating elsewhere in NW.

We found the menu to be a bit too all-over-the-board, but we lucked out with a couple of manhattans and their delicious feta stack salad. Afterwards, we walked all around 21st and 23rd streets (as you should!) and played "remember how much fun we had there" as we ambled past old haunts.

A day in Portland, Oregon / Cheap eats in portland, Oregon

After an uncharacteristically late night out, we were exhausted but not too tired to pass up those double chocolate cookies waiting on the nightstand.

Is Portland on your travel wish list? Have you been to Portland, and do you have a cheap eats place to recommend? Let us know in the comments so that we can hit it on a future visit.