Local Choice Market

Local Choice Market, NW Portland, Oregon

I decided it was finally time to take Eric to Madrid. I studied abroad there — and he’d patiently take my calls at all hours because of the time difference — but he’d never walked the streets I loved, tasted the tapas, drank the wine and strolled through the Puerta del Sol.

For a week, we wandered. I walked him past the apartment I lived in, the school I attended and the spots where I used to meet my friends for dinner and drinks. And then, once the trip down memory lane concluded, we went off in a new direction, looking for a spot we could call our own. We found it in Chueca — a large, four-story gourmet grocery store with a restaurant on the top floor. We walked past fresher-than-fresh seafood onto an entire floor lined with small stalls. One sold hamburgers, another traditional tapas. Twice we ate dinner there, relishing the food, the view and the experience.

Local Choice Market, NW Portland, Oregon

I hadn’t seen anything quite like this grocery store in Portland until I happened on Local Choice Market. They offer seasonal veggies and high-quality meats, then have a special area for wines and beer (pull up a stool and taste something!) a deli section and an area with an espresso bar and fresh-squeezed juice selections. Pull up a chair and make some new Portland memories.

Local Choice Market, NW Portland, Oregon

Local Choice Market is located at 830 NW Everett St. in Portland’s Pearl District. Do your shopping, or stop in for a juice, lunch, coffee or wine tasting. Follow their blog for more.

Lovejoy Bakers

Lovejoy Bakers, Portland, Oregon

We hopped on a plane and we went to Las Vegas — five women who had just met a handful of times and wanted to learn more at a photography conference. We had our profession in common, but otherwise we were practically strangers. But something about a hotel suite, a batch of fun parties and exploring the conference together bonded us, and we decided to keep in touch after we arrived back home in Portland.

Annie, Christy, Deyla, Melissa and I met up a few weeks after that conference for coffee and shop talk at Lovejoy Bakers. We were new friends, we were still discovering things about each other and we talked mostly about business as we got to know certain personal details about one another.

Just a few weeks ago, as I sat and had lunch with a couple of these girls, it hit me — this place saw the birth of a friendship. It morphed from the five of us comparing notes about photography into a much deeper connection. When Melissa, and then Christy, announced that they were expecting babies, we hugged and celebrated. Now those babies are here, and when we meet together, we hold them and pass them around.

I’m so grateful for my friends, but I’m also grateful for the place that provided the morning coffees, sandwiches and treats that got the ball rolling.

Lovejoy Bakers, Portland, Oregon

Lovejoy Bakers, a bustling spot in the Pearl District, is encased almost entirely in glass and overlooks the Portland Streetcar. The custom light fixtures, fashioned by local Pigeontoe Ceramics, add a touch of whimsy to the modern space. Snag a pillowy spot by the window and trust me, you’ll never want to leave.

My personal favorite is the smashed chickpea sandwich, with fennel sliced super-thin and a lemony substance inside that’s pure magic. It’s vegan, and they’ll swap out the non-vegan potato salad for you gladly, but usually I just eat it, because as far as potato salads go, it’s delicious.

Lovejoy Bakers, Portland, Oregon

Lovejoy Bakers, NW 10th & Lovejoy in the Pearl District. Near the foot of the Broadway Bridge.

Kenny & Zuke’s Bagelworks

Kenny & Zuke's Bagelworks, Portland, Oregon

Two years ago, I volunteered with a local organization that brought empowering outdoor spots experiences to at-risk teenage girls. It was tremendously fun, as we’d learn to snowshoe and rock climb and mountain bike together. It hardly felt like volunteering, frankly.

One weekend, we packed up two buses full of teenagers and volunteer women and we headed over the hills to Central Oregon, where we spent two days learning to rock climb at Oregon’s gorgeous Smith Rock State Park. It couldn’t have been more perfect — our guides were earthy chicks who knew what they were doing and encouraged all of us as we scrambled up the huge hunks of rock. We all left the rock that day feeling great about ourselves because we’d accomplished something. It was easy to see the way this confidence boost was needed in some of the girls. Beyond tired, we drove the buses back to our camping spot and set up camp before someone lit a campfire and we settled down to prepare s’mores.

The type of adult woman who volunteered with this group was mostly affluent, educated, athletic and adventurous, and certainly had the best of intentions. And yet, somehow a woman was put in charge of buying chocolate for the s’mores and she thought she’d get fancy. She purchased expensive bars of artisan chocolate with different additives and cacao percentages. The problem was, no one knew that because it was pitch black outside as we prepared our s’mores. So the girls broke off chunks of this fancy artisan chocolate, and then around the fire, they all made weird faces as they tried to figure out what had gotten into our s’mores. Most of them had never tasted 88% cacao, and if you have, you know it’s no Hershey’s.

No one said anything at the time, but on our way home we passed out a survey to the girls and every single one mentioned the s’mores. “Those s’mores were nasty,” one said. Another: “Why didn’t those s’mores have normal chocolate in them?”

Kenny & Zuke's Bagelworks, Portland, Oregon

Sometimes it’s best to stick with a classic. At Kenny & Zuke’s Bagelworks, they have taken the classic, done it really well and made a fun neighborhood eatery at the same time. They offer some of the favorites from the original downtown deli (like the reuben and sliders), but mostly they focus on excellent fresh bagels. Try the garlic with chive cream cheese and you’ll be a happy camper, minus the weird s’mores.

Kenny & Zuke's Bagelworks, Portland, Oregon

Kenny & Zuke’s Bagelworks is one of three Kenny & Zuke’s locations. It’s the more casual neighborhood joint that’s all about the bagels. Located at 2376 NW Thurman St. The other locations are in the West End district and on N. Williams Ave.