When I decided to take a trip to Portland, I had a certain angle I thought I wanted to write about, well a pretty obvious angle/question, since Portland is 76 percent white (making it the whitest major city in America): Do black people live in Portland?
Not to mention that like many cities across the country, Portland has an ongoing issue with gentrification. With all of that information, I didn't know what to make of the town.
One of my questions got answered early on since I got a chance to connect with young black people as I explored the city. One guy was even named Ermias, which sparked a conversation about Nipsey Hussle's senseless death and how we as young black people can help keep the marathon going.
During all of my rideshare rides, I'd ask, "What should I do while I'm in Portland?" The general answer was, "You should eat..." I guess that makes sense given WalletHub named Portland American's number one foodie city. What I realized after chatting with the locals is that much of what the people of Portland "do" aside from waterfall hikes is try the wealth of restaurants the city has to offer — and there are a lot of them.
I had a Middle Eastern brunch, got my caffeine fix with a dose of sneaker culture at a black-owned coffee shop, and topped it all off with a beautiful meal at an upscale Peruvian restaurant. I'm pretty sure I gained a few pounds while I was here, and thanks to the hospitality at two of the cities newest hotel — I felt like I was in my dream home away from home with fresh, crisp air and a little rain on the side.
Here's what I ate, where I slept, and what I did between meals because those were the main event. (And to be honest, there wasn't much time to see anything in between meals.)
Where I Stayed
The Hi-Lo Hotel
Bianca Lambert / xoNecole
The Hi-Lo Hotel is an upscale boutique hotel from Marriott's Autograph collection. Decked out with high ceiling plush loveseats, tiled floors (which I think were heated), and a bathroom I dream of calling my own. Accented with gold hardware, a Kohler jacuzzi tub, a counter large enough to hold all of my beauty products, and plush robe in the closet — I was in my happy place.
I even had a glass of wine compliments of the Hi-Lo, ran an Epsom salt bath, and relaxed.
As an LAer that is used to a limited amount of space and no bathtub, this was everything to me. Thanks to my bath, I was so relaxed that I tried to watch something on HBO (which was complimentary), but I was out until my alarm went off the next morning.
What made the Hi-Lo even better was their staff attention to detail — using my name to greet me and taking care of my concerns with a sense of urgency. Not to mention the hotel was just a block away from Nordstrom, Zara, and a new favorite, MUJI. Imagine Ikea, but with Japanese skincare, minimalist clothes, and sleek homeware. I almost spent all my coins in there, but I talked myself out of it.
The Hoxton Hotel
Bianca Lambert / xoNecole
The Hoxton Hotel is relatively new to Portland and is a hotel concept out of London, which means they are known for their European style rooms and culture. For instance, their room sizes are smaller, and their linens are a little different too. So don't think the housekeeping staff forgot to put a top sheet on the bed or left the room without placing face towels on the rack. If you're a traveler that wants to spend less time snuggled in their room, and more time exploring the city or even the property itself this is your hotel.
With a full-service restaurant (La Neta), a rooftop bar (Tope), and a speakeasy-style basement bar, you don't even have to leave the hotel. One thing I will note is while the hotel decor was beautiful and the staff was friendly, the service was lacking. I had to ask multiple times to get the thermostat adjusted in the room, and even after requesting that many times, no one came up or followed up until Ellie stepped in by bringing me an extra duvet and a glass of wine along with a sincere apology.
Aside from that small issue, I'd say the location, decor, and even the room sizes make it ideal for a traveler that likes swanky style with the exploration.
One more perk of this Portland newbie is that they offer a complimentary breakfast option (granola, yogurt, and organic OJ) and if you have a late night craving for a late night snack like M&Ms or chips, you can grab them downstairs for just a dollar.
What I Ate
Bianca Lambert / xoNecole
Deadstock Coffee was at the top of mind because I read that it was black-owned and their inspiration was sparked by their love of coffee, sneakers, and community — and it showed. Walking into Deadstock was a sensory experience. With the smell of coffee, the sounds of beans grinding over the hip-hop tunes, and the sneakers and lockers lining the walls, you knew what they were trying to say. Since they don't have a menu, I wasn't sure what to order until the barista said, "We're known for our mocha." A few moments later, I was snapping a picture of my sneaker-topped mocha and sipping it on my way to my next place.
Bianca Lambert / xoNecole
I was told to expect a line at Fried Egg I'm In Love, but lucky for me I'd just missed the lunch rush. I walked up and was greeted by Ryan, who I asked to tell me what I should order. I always want to know what the locals think is good because they know better than anyone. "Order the YOLKO ONO," he said.
Stacked with a fried egg, homemade pesto, parmesan, and a hand-pressed house sausage patty, the sandwich already sounded delicious, but he told me to add Havarti and aardvark aioli — which I did, and it was one of the best things I've ever eaten. I usually find over-hyped restaurants to be a disappointment, but this one was worth it.
Bianca Lambert / xoNecole
I was going to head over to Voodoo Doughnut for breakfast, but decided on Tusk — a Middle Eastern restaurant that everyone in this town raves about, I mean everyone. Screen Door (another local fave) was just across the street, but the line was out the door, and I was in a time crunch because I had a horseriding lesson at noon. I walked into the airy eatery and was seated at the bar. I took a look at the menu and decided on the Chicken and Apricot Sausage that came with chickpeas, yogurt, fried cauliflower, sunny eggs, and of course the sausage. I almost asked to take the yogurt off, but part of enjoying something new is having it the way the chef envisioned. It was one of my favorite meals I had over the course of my trip, but I have to talk about the rhubarb tart.
Y'all, it was so good—I inhaled the warm, crispy pastry in what felt like seconds.
Tasty and Daughters
Bianca Lambert / xoNecole
Next up was venturing to the Southeast to try another recommendation of my Uber drivers. This was another restaurant that I was told to be prepared for a wait, but I think skipping weekend brunch and opting for their Happy Hour saved me some time. I walked in and was seated at the end of the bar. One thing that stuck out to me about this restaurant was their chef Marcus Sherard, who is a black and classically trained with Southern roots. The happy hour menu had a lot to offer layered with oysters, radicchio salad, frites, and a fried chicken biscuit. I went for the biscuit, and it didn't disappoint — the biscuit was flakey, the chicken tender, and I felt like the bartender saw me when she said, "Would you like hot sauce?"
Black-owned and operated by Véronique LaFont, the Santé Bar is a part of the community and a favorite local hangout. You can feel it the moment you walk through the door of the LGBTQ craft cocktail bar. If you're a fan of charcuterie and an original cocktail like the Cat's Meow (all designed by the owner), you'll enjoy spending a little time here.
Bianca Lambert / xoNecole
Another local recommendation was Pok Pok, a street Thai restaurant that comes highly recommended because of their fish-sauce wings, which didn't disappoint. If you're a sour whiskey person, don't forget to order their Tamarind Whiskey Sour.
I had to make my last night's dinner count by going to a highly recommended upscale Peruvian spot called Andina. From the service to the food, it lived up to its reputation. Everything was wonderful: the Yuca Frita, Acelgas, Conchas A La ParrIila, and the service was top notch, thanks to Kale. Oh, and don't forget to have their Sacsayhuamán cocktail made with habanero pepper vodka shaken with pureed passionfruit and cane sugar. Since I love a spicy cocktail, this one hit the spot — I wish I could have one right now.
What I Did
Vintage Window Shopping on Hawthorne Blvd
One thing I loved about Portland was Hawthorne Blvd. Lined with rows of vintage stores and coffee shops (there is no shortage of coffee in Portland), if you aren't afraid of a little rain, you can walk the street and pop in and out of boutiques like Magpie, House of Vintage, Vintage Pink, and plus-size consignment boutique Savvy Plus with friendly faces and epic finds. If you get hungry on your trek, stop by Matt's BBQ Tacos food truck for a quick bite.
Getting out of the city was important to me since Portland is known for its green lush backdrop and hiking trails. You all know how much I love an Airbnb experience, so I took a rideshare to North Plains (17 miles from Portland). As my driver swerved around the windy roads, I got a little nervous about getting back, but that wasn't an issue. Thirty-seven minutes later, we arrived at the ranch where I was going to take my first horseback riding lesson. Lisa and Jon were my guides. I walked the grounds, interacted with the horses, and learned about the remarkable creatures.
Then, it was time to learn to ride. If I'm honest, I was terrified. While horses are gentle giants, I still was fearful, but Jon and Lisa did an excellent job of giving me the knowledge to help alleviate the fear and encouraged me to let them know if I was nervous.
Arnold was my horse. I helped brush his silky coat (they shed as it gets warmer) and then Lisa got him ready to ride! My nerves kicked in, so I could walk him around the bard for a bit first. We walked around the barn, and Arnold let me be his guide, but I still wasn't quite ready to ride. But, I did face part of my fear by climbing on Arnold's back, which felt like a small victory. I hope to keep working with horses to get more comfortable with them, but this first is an experience I will always cherish.
Portland is now one of my new favorite cities. It was more than I expected and I can't wait to get back and see more! Next, the time I'll have to remember to pack my denim with lots of stretch and an umbrella.
Featured image by Getty Images
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
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The Fall Equinox begins on September 23, 2023, and it’s time to embrace abundance, gain clarity, and know that you are worthy of your desires. The Fall Equinox marks the beginning of fall and the end of summer and is a turning point of the year, where things settle in and come to fruition. The energy that fall brings is one of harvest, but it is also one of release, letting go, and finding your ground. Coming from a summer of intensity, drama in love, and overall moving through a space of deep spiritual growth- now that fall is here, we are ready to decompress, dream, and enjoy that which we have created for ourselves.
What Is the Energy of the Fall Equinox 2023?
The energy this fall is opening up new doors of abundance and is a time of reaping your rewards in life. Fall begins at the same time as Libra Season, and a lot of these blessings have to do with love and the relationship developments that will be taking place over the next few months. With a New Moon Solar Eclipse in Libra occurring a few weeks after fall begins on October 14th, something enchanting is happening in romance right now. The scales are coming into balance, new beginnings are occurring, and clarity prevails.
Relationships over the next few months are about focusing on the gifts and gratitude you find in them and accepting where things need to change as well.
By the time winter begins, most of the planets that are currently in retrograde will be direct, and this signifies the change of pace that fall is bringing. This fall highlights Eclipse Season overall, and the Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in Taurus on October 28th will be a time of creating boundaries, honoring your values and energy, and closing a chapter in your life that doesn’t align. Financial worlds are growing and finding new ground, but with Jupiter still in retrograde in Taurus until December 30th, patience is needed here.
Over the next few months, give yourself the space to gain some new perspectives, make room for love, and grow in abundance.
Your guidance this fall is to take those first steps toward the goals you have been pondering over this year. There is a Full Moon in your sign a week after fall begins, and you get the opportunity to enter this season with less baggage and more closure. You will possibly be starting a new position or working in a new field, and you need all the good energy to back you right now. Know that you can count on your skills and talents to move you further in life and that help will be there when you least expect it. This is a fall of abundance for you, Aries, claim it.
Your lucky days this fall are: Sep. 29, Oct. 13, Nov. 13, Nov. 21
Patience, patience, patience, Taurus. You are creating something beautiful in the world right now, and the time it’s taken to get you here will all be worthwhile. Your guidance this fall is to nurture your world and your dreams and to bring more love and compassion to your life. You are preparing for a new reality but need some more time to dream it up and define that which you want for yourself and your future. The Full Lunar Eclipse happening this fall is occurring in your sign, and you are moving through some major closures in your life right now. This is a creative time for you, Taurus.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 28, Oct. 29, Nov. 6, Nov. 20
This fall is all about taking care of yourself and valuing your time and energy, Gemini. The way you see yourself and your life are coming up for review right now, and you are being urged to look at yourself in a better light. Your ruling planet, Mercury, goes retrograde for the last time this year on December 13th, just before fall ends, and this time is all about taking what you have learned and choosing better for yourself. You may be tested to be more confident or true to yourself right now and over the next few months, and it’s about owning your part in this life and standing up for what you want.
Your lucky days this fall are: Sep. 25, Oct. 21, Nov. 20, Dec. 12
This is an abundant fall for you, Cancer. You have worked diligently on claiming the opportunities and new doors that have been opening for you, and you are feeling free to be your successful self. You are encouraged in your independence right now, and you have proven to yourself just how talented you are and how much you have grown. No major aspects are happening in your sign this fall, giving you the space to breathe, create, and receive your rewards. Happiness fills your world, and even though you still feel like you are just getting started in a sense, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the gifts that are presenting themselves today.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 13, Oct. 15, Nov. 12, Nov. 13
This fall is a turning point for you in love, Leo. New developments are taking place in your relationships, and you are being received especially favorably. This is the time to open your heart to growth and new possibilities and to get creative with what you are looking for right now. The Last Quarter Moon happening in your sign on November 5th will be a turning point for you this fall. Your unique charm and charisma are enough, and you attract many to you through your natural energy and love for life. Your ship is coming in this fall, and your heart is fulfilled.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 1, Oct. 31, Nov. 5, Nov. 14
Virgo, this fall is a blessing for the heart space. You are feeling in tune emotionally, and there is positive energy coming your way and into your love life. You have spent a lot of this year healing, forgiving, and finding your voice, and over the next few months, you will be creating the spaces you have been looking to enter in your life. Venus enters your sign for a month on October 8th, and there are some pleasant surprises in store for you during this time. Fresh starts are coming in for you, and spiritually, you are awakening to the gifts within you and in your heart. Your beauty is showing, and love is coming in for you this fall.
Your lucky days this fall are: Sep. 25, Oct. 22, Nov. 5, Nov. 20
This fall is a new beginning for your financial world, Libra. Autumn begins the same day Libra Season does, and you have some extra motivation and energy within you right now. You are ready to put the action behind the intentions you have been setting for yourself financially, and this is a time of plans coming together and falling through to success. The more you stay focused and diligent, the more opportunities that can come for you right now. The first month of fall, the Sun is in your sign, and this is really the time to get things moving in your life, especially with a New Moon Eclipse in Libra on October 14th happening as well.
Your lucky days this fall are: Sep. 27, Oct. 14, Oct. 30, Nov. 20
It’s all about the vision for you right now, Scorpio. You are focused on the future, your path ahead, and manifesting your dreams, and there is something passionate about the next few months for you. You may be taking some risks this fall as you test the boundaries on how far you want to go with something and what worlds are opening up to you now. Mars is in your sign from October 12th until November 24th, and life is exciting for you right now. You have your eyes on the prize and are ready to move forward toward the things that are lighting you up right now.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 12, Oct. 13, Nov. 6, Nov. 13,
This fall is about taking a leap of faith, Sagittarius. Your guidance over the next few months is to do the things that you would do if you knew you would be supported in doing them. Less self-doubt is needed now, as you are walking on new ground. You are moving towards personal healing you have been wary of from the beginning, and you are ready to let go of some energy that has been holding you back. Trust that once you decide on something, the universe instantly begins to make it happen for you. Your season begins on November 22nd, and it’s time to put yourself first more. Have courage in yourself this fall.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 8, Nov. 22, Nov. 24, Dec. 12
This fall is all about clarity for you, Capricorn. You are a wise soul, and you are owning this energy about yourself right now. Over the next few months, you will be developing spiritually, helping those who need your sound advice, and evolving in life. You have found a new sense of enlightenment and are enjoying the clear perspective that has been gained. Mercury goes retrograde in your sign on December 13th, right before fall ends, and this is when you will be feeling more tested to take the lead in your life and use your voice. Overall, fall 2023 is your time to surrender to the good within you and in your life, Capricorn.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 10, Oct. 23, Nov. 4, Dec. 1
Things are moving fast for you this fall, Aquarius. This is a successful, harmonious, and passionate time for you, as many opportunities come your way at once. It will be hard to settle down with all the energy flowing through your life over the next few months, as you have so much to do and so many people to see. Overall, however, this is positive energy that you have been looking forward to in your life, and everything is coming together and moving forward where it was once stagnant. Fall is giving you the closure and the opportunity to reinvent yourself and start on new, solid ground in your life.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 30, Oct. 31, Nov. 20, Nov. 28
Your guidance for fall is to have balance in your life. There is a lot of new coming in for you, but you are also working on letting go of what has fallen. You have grown in many ways this year, and financially, you have seen growth as well but may be feeling the weight of responsibilities this has come with now. To move through this season with the most grace, give yourself more time to rest, to be, and allow things to fall into place on their own. Saturn has been retrograde in your sign since June and goes direct this fall on November 4th, Pisces. This is your opportunity to see things more clearly, protect your energy, and feel more in tune with your internal guidance system.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 22, Nov. 4, Nov. 6, Dec. 12
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