Category Archives: small business

Where to Eat in Portland: First-time Favorites

A month has gone by, yet I’m still craving some of the great meals that I had in Portland. If you love food, this town is serious about ingredients and giving them the respect they deserve before they end up on your plate. Whether it’s a lunch with beer and charcuterie, crazy flavor combos in doughnuts or artisinal ice cream, or a quick bite one of Portland’s many casual food carts, it’s hard to leave disappointed.

Here are some of my favorites from my first visit to Portland:

Little Bird Bistro


Charcuterie and cocktails at the bar at Little Bird Bistro

Little Bird Bistro and it’s big sister restaurant Le Pigeon came up on almost everyone’s list of recommendations for dining in Portland, inclluding Eater’s list of best deals for Portland Dining Month. While we originally planned on getting the Dining Month menu, it was close to the late night happy hour, so we opted to order ala carte instead. For excellent French bistro fare in a cozy setting, this was a great place to catch up with my classmate, Annebelle (of Pulehu Pizza) and to linger over cocktails and wine.

Little Bird Bistro
219 SW 6th Ave
Portland, OR 97204
(503) 688-5952
Reservations | Facebook | Twitter | Yelp

The Woodsman Tavern

Enjoying a variety of oysters at The Woodsman Tavern

Enjoying a variety of oysters at The Woodsman Tavern

This was my first restaurant in Portland, based on my cousin Daniel’s recommendation. As you can see from the photo at right, I didn’t get the memo to wear plaid as an homage to the Pacific Northwest. I said that jokingly when we first arrived, but in reality there were references to lumberjack culture everywhere, including on the menus. To get into the spirit, I started with a cocktail called The Hunting Vest (charred cedar campari, rye & vermouth) which warmed me up right away.

Just about everything we ordered was excellent, but I think the highlights were the platters of Pacific NW oysters from the raw bar, NY steak with marrow butter, the american ham selection, and the cheeky cocktail names. Just about everything is local and brought in from artisinal purveyors as much as possible and the staff is well versed in sourcing for just about everything on the menu. A bit pricey, but worth it.

The Woodsman Tavern
4537 SE Division St
Portland, OR 97206
(971) 373-8264
Reservations | Facebook | Twitter | Yelp

Lardo (West)

Pork Belly Gyro ($9) at Lardo

Pork Belly Gyro ($9) at Lardo

Lardo was another “no brainer” stop because we had gotten so many recommendations for it. When my beer-loving friend Edwin came to meet me in Portland, we chose Lardo to start off a day of beer tasting (blog post to come) with a substantial lunch. Edwin opted for the Smoked Coppa Cubano and I loved my Pork Belly Gyro. For sides we got the Dirty Fries (pork scraps, marinated peppers, fried herbs and parmesan – sooo good!) and Pickled Vegetables.

In a city with such a huge variety of local craft breweries and a menu full of meat-filled sandwiches, it only makes sense that the beers on tap would be tasty compliments to our lunch. I opted to go with the staff recommendation of a local IPA while Edwin got a Pinup Porter and we were both pleased. It was the perfect start to our afternoon!

Lardo – Westside
1205 SW Washington St.
Portland, OR 97205
(503) 241-2490
Facebook | Twitter | Yelp
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Made in Hawaii Festival 2013

Despite the crowds, ridiculous parking fee, and the fact that I spend more than I budget every time, I love the Made in Hawaii Festival and I continue to go every year. It’s a chance to support local small businesses and to see what’s new from around the state. This year there were more vendors from the outer islands (especially Maui) and it’s great to see their products showcased here on Oahu.

Here’s a look at some of my favorites from this year’s Made in Hawaii:

Adoboloco - Booth 384 (Arena)

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Adoboloco is my latest hot sauce obsession. I have every hot sauce they've ever made, including the very limited edition Habanero Pineapple which is made with 100% local ingredients and which you can ONLY get at the Made in Hawaii Festival this weekend. Prices range from $8 - $10 per bottle.

>> Click “next” above for the rest of the slideshow

Admittedly, I did not have time (in the 3 hours I spent there) to visit every single booth, so I’m sure I missed some gems. However, I think I did well by my “greatest hits” and got to try some new things as well. Not pictured above, but worth a visit are: [Ki-ele] jewelry in booth 237, Maui Preserved (I missed this one, shucks!) in booth 538.

Tips for your visit to the Made in Hawaii Festival

  • Parking at the Blaisdell costs $7. Carpool with friends or allow yourself extra time to walk a little bit to find street parking around Thomas Square or down towards Kapiolani Boulevard.
  • Admission is $4 per person (kids 6 and under are free) and you can save $1 off if you snag a coupon from a First Hawaiian Bank branch.
  • The festival is HUGE! Don’t miss both sides – the Exhibit Hall is the largest, but there are also lots of booths in the Arena. If you have limited time, check out the list of vendors and their locations in the official program you can also check some Guides to read some reviews.
  • Food demos and entertainment happen throughout the weekend! Check out bands like Kapena, commedian Frank Delima, and chefs from Cactus, Tiki’s, Chai’s, and more. The program lists all the entertainment & demos.
  • Bring cash. Although many vendors now accept credit cards, there are some which are cash only. The ATMs at the Blaisdell charge a fee.
  • Go early & be patient. It gets really crowded at the festival, try to go as early as you can – 10am is less crowded than mid-day. Some vendors also sell out – Kanemitsu Bakery from Molokai did not even last the whole first day!

Made in Hawaii Festival 2013

Neil Blaisdell Arena & Exhibition Hall
Dates: Friday 8/16 – Sunday 8/18
Hours: Friday & Saturday 10am – 9pm, Sunday 10am – 5pm
Cost: $4 per person, $7 parking

>> This is just one of the awesome events happening in Honolulu during August 2013. Be sure to keep an eye on our foodie calendar for other great events year-round.

Latest Obsession: Paiko Hawaii

It’s an unfortunate fact that I was born lacking the green thumb gene. My grandma had a beautiful garden full of flowers, fruit and macadamia nut trees, and a huge, grassy lawn. The centerpiece of our yard was a Surinam cherry tree so large you could climb up in it, whereas most times I see it around town as a bush or shrub. She had that touch.

I, on the other hand, do not.

(But you can’t say I don’t try.)

One of the items in my 30 before 30 list was “Find a plant I can’t kill,” and I successfully grew a succulent for months until I forgot it out on the lanai for awhile and it shriveled up, all brown and sad. I had a potted cherry tomato plant that yielded maybe 10 juicy little fruit before succumbing to some sort of rot. And this year, I picked “Grow” as my word for 2013. I got a hanging plant with cheerful blue flowers to put outside my door, in December. You guessed it, dead by February.

So while I don’t always trust myself to keep a plant alive, I really really admire those who can! Enter my new obsession: Paiko.


The girls at Paiko have hand-picked a selection of flowers, succulents, air plants, and terrariums and will happily advise you on what grows best where, what’s easiest to care for, and tips to keep your plants happy and… alive. Their concept is about creating art from nature, which shows when you walk through their beautiful little space – you’ll even see vases for cut flowers and living staghorn ferns mounted on the wall. I love stopping in to pick up gifts for friends (like the cute little agave plant shown above) but haven’t yet taken the plunge into getting one for myself after the hanging plant disaster.

Bonus: they’re just a couple doors down from Taste, with a rotating lineup of vendors (like Cocina Hawaii) and around the corner from The Whole Ox. Two birds, one stone… Yet another reason to venture into Kakaako.

Paiko Hawaii
675 Auahi Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
(808) 988-2165