What Should President Biden Do on His Portland Trip?
The Prez is coming to town, due in this Thursday to discuss infrastructure and, presumably, eat a LOT of ice cream.
Naturally, he’ll be coming to Portland Monthly for tips on what to do when he’s in town, so we thought we’d save him the hassle of combing through our extensive lists of best restaurants, best food carts, best bakeries, best hikes, and things to do, and put together a tailor-made itinerary for no. 46.
Stop. We know ice cream must be on there. We’ll get to that. But we’re gonna recommend he start his day by appeasing his notoriously sweet tooth at Jinju, one of our favorite bakeries in town. Our advice, as a nod to his last trip to Switzerland, where he had cordial talks with one not-so-cordial-these-days Vladimir Putin, is to plump for the store’s new cult favorite, a “cream-filled chocolate croissant meets an ecstatic éclair” known as the pain suisse.
Belly full, it’s time to stretch his legs, and if he’s missing his own pooch—Commander moved into the White House just last December—we’ve got 10 delightful dog parks to choose from for wet snout sightings. We’ve also heard he and First Lady Jill are in the market for a cat: May we suggest a stop by the Oregon Humane Society, which for more than 150 years has been rescuing animals and introducing them to their forever families: could a White House match finally be on the cards after a century and a half of paw shakes?
Time for a snack, and we’ve heard Biden is partial to a PB&J: we recommend Oui Presse’s delightful take on the kid lunch classic.
And from there? Biden earned the nickname Amtrak Joe after spending years commuting to the Senate from Delaware on the train. We’ve got a much prettier train ride for this ferroequinologist with our Hood River Valley Excursion from the Mount Hood Railroad, a 1.5-hour jaunt on a century-old railroad along the lower main fork of the Hood River, with views of our beloved Mount Hood, blessedly without any presidents' faces carved therein.
Once he’s taken in all our local, non-royalist majesty, Biden will surely have worked up an appetite. Time to carbo-load: for classic Italian fare, Nostrana serves up some home-cooked Italian style nosh, while the one-time food cart turned restaurant-du-jour Gumba is home to some of the tastiest bites in town, thanks to freshy made pastas with rich, seasonal sauces.
If he fancies a zero-proof nightcap, Biden’s made no secret of his fondness for all things Irish, so he might follow that up with a pint of ginger beer at T.C. O'Leary’s—the President doesn’t drink alcohol, but the convivial atmosphere at this Northeast Portland Irish bar seems right up his street.
What’s that you say? We still haven’t gotten to the ice cream? Fine. Our food team could not agree on one cone to rule them all, but instead put together a top five for the commander in chief and his notorious appetite for sweet, cold, dairy bombs.
First stop, Lovely's Fifty Fifty, one of the last reminders of what real ice cream tastes like, with no branding, no bacon. Just old-fashioned, deluxe creaminess and seasonal flavors so ripe they seem like they just fell from a tree. This is the best of Portland's food scene: small-batch, high-craft, unpretentious, obsessively perfected to the max. The day's flavors—buckwheat honey toffee to buttery salted caramel—are scooped in a case just inside the door of this primo pizza shop. Evenings only, but Joe could probably swing a day tasting.
Next stop? Fifty Licks, with almost gelato-like ice cream: textures concentrated and dense, flavors poised between surprise and familiar, and blessedly not too sweet. Who wouldn't kill to see Joe order a scoop of Chocolate AF? The coffee ice has good jolt, and Fifty Licks is a good place to show vegan creds and court the youth vote—the dairy-free flavors are as fanatically formulated as the regulars, and no two like. Coconut lemon saffron, lush and zingy, is a house signature for good reason.
Still got room? Try Cloud City. Their sea salt chocolate chip cookie dough, which is almost more dough than ice cream, is impossible to beat, though the marionberry crisp with a mascarpone base comes awfully close and is undeniably Oregonian. Biden has already made a Salt and Straw stop, but how about rounding off the ice-cream tour of Portland with something totally different: Pinolo Gelato, where the pistachio is smooth, flavor-packed perfection.