Oh my, I found this is my half-written posts so finished up to post.
Portland, Oregon is a lovely city that seems to get better each time I go. I love the public transportation and the walkability. Where else can you get right from the airport door to the middle of downtown for $2.30? The food there is always improving too. I just was there for the Public Library Association conference and did not have all that much time to discover dining pleasures but I did manage to have a few good meals and treats.
Small treats: after a 35 minute wait I had the famous bacon and maple bar from Voodoo Donuts, the current must eat in Portland. I was not too impressed. Good, not great. A cinnamon crown from Pearl Bakery was a great way to start the day. I got there soon after they opened so smells and treats were fresh. I also had an excellent blueberry muffin from Great Harvest Bread Company.
Meals: An excellent lunch was had at Southpark Seafood Grill and Wine Bar. One of the fresh fishes of the day was sturgeon, beautifully grilled and served over a terrific bean puree with very fresh veggies ($16.50)The bread was great and excellent wines are to be had by the glass. I had a Loire white for $8.50 that was dry, loaded with flavor. As always, I had a terrific breakfast at Bijou Cafe, the oyster omelette, not cheap at $13.50 but superbly unusual. Potatoes were perfect and an apple cinnomon muffin was nice. Another homey star was Mother's where I indulged in a grilled gruyere and bacon sandwich with fries. Oh so good on the taste meter but maybe not on the cholesterol. Another not great on the cholesterol but nevertheless very enjoyable was a thick-sliced, nicely seasoned pastrami and chopped liver on rye at Kenny and Zuke's Delicatessen ($10.50)-- filling and surprisingly authentic for this pretty whitebread city. Another Portland treat, food for the mind over body is Powell's Bookstore; it's just a pleasure to be there. Kenny and Zuke's is just a block away. An excellent Bay Area kind of meal was dinner at Ping in Old Town, featuring modern takes on Southeast Asian. Starting with large well-filled Thai pork buns and moving on to green beans, salmon, and yam yai salad. The server forgot our fried little fish and grilled octopus skewers, but we left full and satisfied. I really would have loved to try the octopus but my other 3 companions were not, so just as well. Something to add to my list for my Portland visit.
OAXACA: Here are recommendations for the wonderful city and environs of Oaxaca. I went at the end of January so there may be some memory lapses but hopfully the sensory memories are still acccurate. Oaxaca is loaded with great food so every meal was good, but some stood out. Having exit visa problems I had to stay another night but that gave the opportunity to have breakfast at Itanoni in the Colonia Reforma, where I had the best hot chocolate and best chiliquiles of my trip. I'm not sure how you know about this place if a local didn't tell you, so I'm telling you, Go there.
Oaxaca is famous for their moles so I had to try them whenever possible. The best I had was in the weaving center of Teotitlan del Valle at Tlamanalli, which Rick Bayliss swooned over. So dark and rich and bursting with deep chili flavors. They also had the best guacamole. Prices are not cheap for Oaxaca, but worth the trip. We stopped there on the way back from the Sunday market in Tlacolula, a wonderful cornucopia of food, mescal, handicrafts and local people.
Someone gave us a tip to go for lunch at Los Danzantes, a really beautiful outdoor restaurant and considered one of the finest dining experience in Oaxaca city. Had a lovely tomato soup and fish entree at a very reasonable prix-fixe (about $15). Had a delicious dinner with very good drinks at another dining star, Biznaga, where the only menu is a large blackboard. Other highlights were several stops at street food places including incredible empanadas at the Merced Market.