Living in Portland wasn’t quite the stop Anela Malik intended on making this year, but with her husband being a Rose City native, and the couple wanting to be closer to family—the decision was inevitable. The food and travel influencer behind Feed the Malik, a platform that provides guides, tips, itineraries, and recommendations to dive deeper into food and travel (and which boasts more than 60K followers on Instagram), is no stranger to moving around. She's lived in Jordan, Washington, DC, and, most recently, northwest Arkansas. But that didn’t stop her from having concerns when it came time to calling Portland home.
“The weather was one reservation,” Malik says. “I’m originally from Hawaii, and though I’ve moved around a lot I’m used to living in warm and sunny places. The lack of diversity was another concern. Portland is a major city, and to be such a big city Portland is very white. And the city is very sensitive about how white it is.”
Despite Malik’s reservations, she made the move in September. And as an entrepreneur with a job that requires her explore the city at a fast pace, she’s finding her footing. We caught up with her to discuss her take on Portland thus far, her favorite spots, and what excites her the most about the future of the city.
Portland Monthly: Where’s one place in the city you can go to get inspired/clear your mind and why?
Anela Malik: A lot of my inspiration comes from the restaurant scene here. For me as a creative, especially in this season, it's nice to see that there's so many new things developing. There’s pop-ups, new concepts, and old concepts that are being retooled and tweaked. I’m going to be exploring the food carts here forever. I just recently stumbled upon a Guyanese food cart called Bake on the Run and tried the dhal, the yellow split pea curry, and some of the bakes—which are like a semisweet pastry stuffed with different things like saltfish, or vegan options like chickpeas.
What’s your go-to restaurant to take out-of-towners?
I would take out-of-towners to Republica, the Mexico-forward tasting menu concept. Throughout your meal you’re going to have a conversation that you typically would not have at a restaurant about immigration, power, and politics. And that's the design, that's the conversation they want to start with their food. And it's very affordable for such a great tasting menu concept. It's like around $85. Sometimes the price fluctuates based on what's on the menu that day, but it's amazing.
What’s one of the most slept-on places/businesses in Portland?
A place we just learned about that we love is Chettinad Indian Cuisine in Beaverton. It’s in a strip mall across from the Nike campus. The biryani is amazing, and they have a really good selection of dosa, including lamb keema dosa. We probably drive out there twice a month. I feel like so many of the recommendations that I get from people really focus on Portland proper, and I get why that happens. But I've had some great food out in Beaverton.
What’s one misconception people have about Portland?
I will say this knowing that I’m very new here, but I hear very often these complaints about how bad it is to live in Portland now, and how it used to be so much better. Portland's being talked about as if 20 years ago it was this beautiful, vibrant utopia. I think that's a misconception, because while it may have been great at certain points in time for some people, the history of Portland is similar to the history of Oregon, filled with racism, exclusion, predatory lending, and segregation. It's just like the history of America. So, I just think people talk about Portland's problems as if these problems don't exist in every other city.
What excites you most about the future of the city?
Summer. I recently got into biking, so I'm just imagining sunny, breezy days where I can ride to a coffee shop or Forest Park and not get rained on.
Define Portland in three words.
I don’t know (yet).