Portland Oregon Food Travel Kids


we’ve visited portland probably 5 times now. i’m always up and down about this city. some visits i love it and some not so much. this time i had a list of places to eat + visit. i wanted to make the most of portland and we definitely did. let me tell you i love portland. coming from san fransisco it seems so clean + less crowded. there are neighborhoods that are so cute and some you want to avoid. we got in just in time for dinner at porque no? before we got there ivan said he thought i was setting us up for failure. coming from az its really hard to find mexican food we love in another city (besides mexico) but it didn’t disappoint. the chips and guacamole are really good + fresh. we got a few different tacos but ended up loving the carnitas. the line went pretty fast and i think its worth the wait. ivan said they were some of the best taco’s he’s ever tasted.

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we spent the 4th of july downtown. a lot of the stores + restaurants were closed but we still had so much fun. we had lunch at lardo. we loved the bahn mi. the kids grilled cheese was the best i’ve ever had. i kept taking bites off their sandwiches. we walked up to jameson square. the kids wanted to get in the fountain and to be honest i did too but we didn’t have our suits on and i knew they’d hate being in wet close the rest of the day. instead we headed over to salt & straw to cool off. again we waited in line but it went pretty fast. i got the strawberry honey balsamic with black pepper +  sea salt with caramel ribbons. ava’s was really good too she got cinnamon snickerdoodle.

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we decided to head back to the hotel to change into our swimsuits and find a lake or river to swim in. unfortunately non of them were close enough and from what the locals told us the willamett is not clean and you definitely don’t want to get in it.  so we made our way over to powells books. ava was in heaven. that place is huge. we could’ve spent all day there. i loved the cards they had hanging off the shelf giving a overview of some of the books. some were even written by kids her age which i thought was so great. we were hoping to make it to pok pok for dinner but it wasn’t open so we went to a pizza place called sizzle pie instead. the pizza was pretty good.

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ivan looked around for where to watch the fireworks and decided the best spot would be the waterfront downtown. the kids had so much fun and kept telling us this was the best 4th they’ve ever had. we’ve decided we love portland and with any city it is what you make of it. i think we did a great job making the best of all portland has to offer. amazing food + super cute downtown + friendly people. the kids are getting used to all this walking. that makes me the most happy.




we spent right about 24 hours in SF. while i think a good 3 day trip is the perfect amount of time for adults, you can get a lot covered in 24hrs with kids. the kids did great walking, better than i expected. i put elle and jack in the double stroller. initially i was hesitant about pushing it around the city but it wasn’t bad. i even took it through chinatown. we alternated between the double stroller and the ergo + backpack carrier. i was surprised at the restaurants and how accommodating they were with our big stroller. we had such a great time and i’m so happy the kids got to see the city.


24 hrs in the city

3pm late lunch at house of nanking- its a MUST! we stumbled upon this place over 10 years ago and its still just as good.

walk through chinatown

ghiradelli and walk down to the water to get a glimpse of the bridge

walk down to pier 39 to see the sea lions + alcatraz

trish’s donuts for a late night snack, head back to the hotel

breakfast at dotties or mama’s. la boulange if you don’t want to wait in line

walk over to mr. holmes bakehouse if you’re at dotties. they open at 7 and sell out quick. i got to the door to see a sold out sign. tears

if you’re at mama’s watch the ladies do tai chi in washington square park. also a great place to let the kids play while your significant other stands in line.

walk over to union square and ride a trolley

lunch at boudin, because its an SF staple (although i have to say pike’s place chowder wins hands down for me)

walk down chestnut street in cow hollow and window shop.

lay on the grass at great meadow while the kids run around. you’ll have a great view of the city + golden gate bridge

drive over the bridge on the way out


if you have extra time

seward slides

giants stadium tour- i’ve never done this but a friend who lived in SF said its awesome and kids love it

walk the golden gate bridge

blondies pizza

shopping in union square

coit tower

painted ladies

crissy field

tour alcatraz


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we headed out on our adventure today. we hung out on the porch at my parents house this morning. talking + laughing. the kids ran around the yard + road their bikes. we ate lunch and packed up. the suburban is packed to the brim. i actually had to repack is at my parents and toss a few things. california is typically a 5 1/2 hour drive for us but since we were in the mountains staying with my parents it added on another 1 1/2. there was a terrible accident on the one road coming into town, they blocked the whole road off and made us detour. so that added even more time.


we left around noon. my mom made us lunch. we filled our bellies and headed out. jack was pretty good initially. then nap time hit. i always nap him at the same time everyday. in his bed with his blanket tucked underneath him. he’s a creature of habit so sleeping in the car is not something he is happy doing. we stopped after about 4 hours of driving for a snack and to stretch out. we thought surely he’d go to sleep but nope. he didn’t fall asleep until around 5. i knew he would never go to bed at a decent hour but i’ll take any peace + quiet in the car i can take. the other kids did great. they always do.

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we made it into town around 8. yep 8 hours in the car!!! we rolled down the windows and let the cool air blow in our faces. our first stop was Ajisen Ramen. one of our favorite places and certainly our favorite ramen spot. we’ve tried other places in seattle + canada but nothing compares. we love the spicy pork ramen. they kids like the regular pork ramen. i like that they are adventurous with food. especially jack lately. we walked over to 85c for our dessert but they were out of our favorite pastry. i wish i knew what it was called. i’ll check next time we go. its a soft circle bread looking pastry filled with cream. its so so good!

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we are in southern california for the next few days. we aren’t sure how long. the first thing out of avas mouth was “lets live here!” i said well we could. because really we have no plans. we are just winging it day by day. i know this is the only time in our life we will be able to just drive until we love a place enough to stay. we are also trying to decide where to spend the 4th of july. i hear san fran has a pretty fantastic fireworks show. portland and seattle have great shows too.



we love pizza at our house.  we eat it all too often.  i love making pizza at home and recently shared our very favorite recipe here.  although some nights its just easier to order in.  here are a few of our favorite pizza joints.


grimaldi’s- is our favorite.  we love the pepperoni.  the pesto is really good too.  we get either the house salad or caprese. they don’t deliver, so pick up or dine in.


brooklyn v’s- this is the pizza we order in most.  closest to a ny slice that i’ve found in az.


sal’s gilbert pizza- garlic knots with cheese + antipasto salad + pepperoni pizza + chocolate dipped cannoli.  the italian sub is good too. it can get pretty busy. the kids like to go here for their date night and sit at the bar.


barros- who doesn’t like barros?!  we get a pepperoni pizza and a salad + olives. the kids and i like the cheese sticks (like a sauce-less pizza).


casanova brothers- we ate here a lot more before we found brooklyn v’s. the nicest owners from NYC. a great laid back place to take the kids and enjoy and easy night out.


lgo- all of their pizzas are great. the wings are even better.


slices- on mill or tempe market place. my favorite is the chicken pesto. ivan gets the bbq chicken or pepperoni.


anywhere you recommend? we don’t love spinato’s, the sauce is too sweet although i know a lot of people do. i grew up on red devil in phoenix. we don’t eat it often anymore. i know a lot of people in mesa like vito’s.




we love bbq-ing.  especially when the weather is so nice like it is right now.  i don’t know what is going on in az right now but i like it.  we try to spend as much time outside as we can before it really starts to heat up.  if you’ve been over for a bbq then you know ivan really is the best.  he is constantly getting asked if he has a restaurant and why not?  i asked him to share a bbq recipe and some tips he has learned along the way.


prepare your meat the night before so it has time to marinade.

you can use whatever seasoning or spices you like. he typically does a wet rub on the meat.

wet rub recipe:

apple cider vinegar

olive oil

brown sugar

garlic salt

montreal steak seasoning

apple cider vinegar

olive oil


cocoa (dash)

tony chachere’s original creole seasoning

coat the meat with oil and vinegar then add the dry ingredients on all sides.  place in a bag, remove as much air from the bag as you can.  store overnight in the fridge.

in the morning he will start up the smoker.  he prefers to use a mix of mesquite and pecan wood, mostly pecan.  he smokes the meat for 3-4 hours at around 225, then places it in a deep pan and covers with foil and bakes it in the oven at 270 for another 3-4 hours depending on how tender you want it.


a few of his favorite cuts of meat are


cross rib roast- for shredded beef



pork shoulder- for pulled pork sandwiches

st. louis ribs

and of course his amazing bbq sauce completes the meat.  i couldn’t get him to share the recipe,  but come on over and grab a jar.  he’s always willing to make extra.






we went to the gilbert farmers market this morning.  i love showing the kids what fruits and vegetables look like fresh out of the ground.  carrots aren’t always perfectly straight and tomatoes aren’t always perfectly round.  they had a lot of fun checking out all the booths.



i had no clue that artichokes bloomed into beautiful flowers.  the color was so vibrant.  the nice lady at the market said if you don’t pick the artichoke it will bloom into this amazing flower, once they bloom they’re no longer edible.


after chores were done we decided to get a pretzel at qt.  i don’t typically eat gas station food.  as in i never ever eat gas station food.  except for pretzels at qt.  did you even know they have pretzels?  i didn’t until this past week when ivan got me one.  they’re delicious and the machine you order them on is so fun for the kids.  you can pick flavor, butter + salt, cinnamon sugar and a few others and then pick your dipping sauce.  a little bribery helps make chores a little more enjoyable and qt pretzels make us all happy.







we ended the night with dinner at houstons.  i can never decide between the french dip and the cheeseburger.  i got the french dip.  you can’t go wrong either way.  the ice-cream sundae really made my night!





i had this dish in san fransisco over 8 years ago and instantly fell in love with it.  its so simple yet so delicious.  i like to pair it with a simple salad and bread + olive oil.



3 large tomatoes

1 log of mozzarella diced (or container of small round ball mozzarella cut in half) or brie with wax cut off

1/2 package fresh basil cut into strips

2 garlic cloves

1 package of angel hair or spaghetti (i love angel hair my husband doesn’t so we use spaghetti)

1/2 c. or more olive oil

salt + pepper


boil noodles according to package


in a bowl combine

diced tomatoes

basil cut into strips

finely minced garlic

salt + pepper

brie (if using mozzarella i like to mix all the ingredients including warm noodles then add the mozzarella last, it doesn’t melt as well as the brie does)


pour hot noodles over the top of tomato mixture

pour olive oil on top and combine

serve warm









tarts glorious tarts!  these are a favorite around here.  they’re so simple yet look so pretty that i whip a batch up almost every time i’m asked to bring a dessert.






4 sticks of butter (melted)

4 c. flour

1 1/2 c. powdered sugar


combine ingredients in a bowl

roll into balls and place in tart pan (make balls about the size of a bouncy ball)

then press down with a tart tamper (you can find one on amazon)




3 8oz cream cheese (softened)

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1/3 c. lemon juice


beat together and refrigerate filling for a few hours


fill tarts with filling and top with one comstock cherry (pie filling)

then try to not eat the whole pan.  i dare ya!







where to eat

mastro’s city hall steak house– my absolute favorite always consistent meal
-shrimp cocktail
-wedge salad
-gorgonzola mac & cheese
-brussel sprouts
– warm butter cake, do not skip this!  Its pure heaven.  I’ve gone for this dessert only.  Trust me its worth it.

i’ve tried other salads and sides but this is my go to.  a lot of people like the lobster mashed potatoes. i’m not a fan of lobster its too chewy and tough but if you are, then go for it!

white Chocolate Grill
-tomato gin soup
-spit roasted turkey dip
-filet mignon cobb salad
-white chocolate banana cream pie, i would normally never order a slice of pie but this one has a graham cracker crust and is to die for.

houstons or hillstone (they’re pretty much the same, hillstone is usually not as busy and its close to last chance.  houston’s is closer to scottsdale mall.  If you want to walk off some of that food and get some retail therapy)
-house smoked salmon appetizer, toast with a mayo mixture and top with salmon.  i actually recreate this at home, its pretty great.
-cheeseburger with fries, the best cheeseburger you will ever have, get the spicy mayo.
-french dip aus jus, i ask for it cut lean.
-pan Seared Ahi Tuna
-center-Cut Filet
-chicken Salad, its not the one on the menu and its only at houston’s, it has chicken, egg, avocado, tomato and their house dressing.
-chicken Sandwich, it has a spicy mayo, cheese and tomato also not on the menu and only at hillstone.
-hot fudge sundae with sugared pecans

the original pancake house (not to be confuse with IHOP, barf)
this place is attached to a Motel 8 or 6 or some kind of motel.  its just west of scottsdale mall.
-2 eggs scrambled with patty sausage and either strawberry or pecan pancakes -that’s my jam
-the dutch baby is ivan’s favorite
-crepes are really good
-get the pancakes, any kind really, they’re all good!

bosa donuts – i don’t care what anyone says bosa has the best donuts.  the only donuts i like better are from doughnut plant in NYC.  go early in the morning while they’re hot.
-maple long john, you can’t go wrong
-buttermilk bar, i was hesitant when ivan told me to try these.  boy am I glad I did.

fractured prune
-sea salt + vanilla

burrito express
-i love their red salsa
-egg + potato + cheese breakfast burrito
-red chili and egg burrito

lee’s sandwiches
-egg + cheese + bacon breakfast sandwich on a croissant (ivan likes the baguette)
-french horn
-almond croissant

lolo’s chicken and waffles
another phoenix joint we’ve been going to since they were in the dumpy location south of the ballpark.  call me crazy but i actually loved that location.  something charming about a little hole in the wall that is constantly packed because its just that good (they now have several locations)
-the betty boop with a side of mac & cheese

LGO (la grande orange)
when ivan and i were first married we lived near here, before it was the crazy trendy place that it is.  man I love that neighborhood.  that area makes me feel at home.
-turkey breakfast sandwich with eggs and avocado on an english muffin
-artichoke appetizer
-cheese burger on an english muffin
-chicken wings with blue cheese (the blue cheese is so good, I could drink it)
-the pizzas are all pretty good
-i love the Sea Salt Chocolate Chip cookies, for some reason the last time I went they put waaay too much salt.  Which if you know me that’s nearly impossible, but there was.  So take a look before you get one.

-green chili burrito with green chili sauce

the best tortillas this side of the border.
-machaca Burrito
do yourself a favor and get a pint of machaca to go and a dozen tortillas.  if not you’ll regret it when you get home and are craving more.  while you’re at it get a buttered tortilla for the drive.

if you grew up in mesa you know.
-i like the hot and mild salsa mixed
-cheese crisp
-chili relleno
-chilaquiles casserole- fried egg, no onions, shredded beef, red sauce
-chicken burro enchilada style with red sauce

el charro
-usually people i meet like el charro or matta’s, i like both.
-homemade buttered tortilla (request this with everything you order or you’ll be stuck with a crappy store bought one)
-i like a homemade buttered tortilla with a side of rice and beans and I make my own little burrito
-mojado quesadilla, filled with beans and cheese

tum nak thai
-pad see iw -ive tried other dishes but i always go back to this.  its just so good.  i like it with chicken and medium spicy.

tamari sushi
-tuna poke
-surprise roll
– hot and saucy roll

sakana sushi
-boston Roll
-salmon Bomber
-rainbow Roll
-tootsie Roll
-red dragon roll

yoko bowl
-i get the number 6 and number 12.  one is yakisoba and the other is chicken.  i really have no idea which number is what.  i just order both.  i order the Yakisoba will all noodles and white meat chicken.
-get the red spicy sauce they keep in a squeeze bottle up front, its really good.

-i know it seems like all ‘berto’s” are the same but i’m here to tell you they’re not!  rolberto’s has the best bean and cheese burrito’s ever.  i do mean ever!  it’s on main just west of country club in mesa.  don’t eat there just go through the drive thru and eat it in your car because its too good to wait until you get home.

-3 rolled tacos + guac.

honey bears bbq
-pulled pork sandwich + side or coleslaw (to put on top of your sandwich)

the bagel man
-everything bagel + scallion cream cheese

A few more places you should check out
-jp mcgurkee’s
-grimaldi’s pizza
-chelsea’s kitchen
-republica empanada
-tee pee mexican food
-defalcos great italian food + sandwiches
-cheba hut
-burger house in globe, az for green chili burros
-el ray also in globe green chili quesadilla. their homemade chips and salsa are great

where to stay
scottsdale is where all the resorts are. some of our favorite are
westin kierland
arizona grand– great for kids
scottsdale princess

what to do 
scottsdale mall for shopping
scottsdale quarter + kierland commons- across the street from each other and both are great for shopping.  they both also have splash pads. quarters splash pad is better but kierlands is less busy.
tpc- golfing
camelback mountain- hiking
science museum- great for kids
phoenix childrens museum- my kids love this place, its huge and has tons of stuff to do.
phoenix zoo
butterfly wonderland
tempe town lake










german pancakes are super easy to make and really delicious.  i love being able to make them all at once so i can sit at the table with the kids rather than stand at the stove flipping pancakes.  our family loves these.






12 eggs

1/2 c. butter

2 c. flour

2 c. milk

1/4 tsp. salt


preheat oven to 375


dice 1/4 c. butter and distribute into 2 muffin pans (i like to use large muffin pans but regular size will work too)

heat the pans in the oven and melt the butter until bubbling (do not skip this step)


in a blender combine eggs + flour + 1/4 c. melted butter + milk + 1/4 tsp. salt


pour batter into hot muffin pans and cook for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.


top with powdered sugar + a squeeze of lemon + my favorite buttermilk syrup found here







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