Portland shopping is twice as nice when you bring a friend

Originally published December 4, 2015 at 6:05 am Updated December 8, at 9:50 am

By Moira Macdonald  /  Seattle Times NW Traveler editor

So, a writer and an anesthesiologist walked into a bar …

I don’t know that joke, but I do know that story: That was me, with my friend Amy (a Bay Area anesthesiologist), enjoying our annual trip to Portland together last month. Every November, I take the train south and Amy flies north, and the three-day weekend is basically a delightful, giggly chapter of the ongoing conversation we’ve been having since college — with shopping, happy hours, and wickedly good meals thrown in.

That conversation? Well, the topics were pretty far-ranging: life, love, world affairs, our jobs, the health and general well-being of all of our mutual acquaintances, the pros and cons of every clothing item we’d packed, a spirited discussion of whether some birds perched on treetops near Pioneer Courthouse Square were an art installment or actual birds (I was right — but, in Amy’s defense, it was awfully dark out), and how we felt about our hair. Those staying near us, on the third floor of Portland’s Hotel Monaco, may have overheard bursts of uncontrollable laughter; I hope the sound reminded them of their own friends.

The food and drink? I can recommend the “Fifty Shades of Grey” cocktail at the Heathman Bar (1001 S.W. Broadway, heathmanrestaurantandbar.com) purely for the giggle factor — it has handcuffs attached to the glass — but admittedly it was tasty. (The posh Heathman Hotel was one of the settings in E.L. James’ execrable book — if you, like Amy, are lucky enough not to know this fact.) And we loved our dinners at Mother’s Bistro, a chandelier-hung, comfort-food haven (212 S.W. Stark, 503-464-1122 or mothersbistro.com), and its Italian-flavored sister restaurant around the corner, Mama Mia Trattoria(439 S.W. Second, 503-295-6464 or mamamiatrattoria.com).

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