The Portland Hop. I know, it sounds like a dance craze in 1937. But really, it's what you do when Southern California gets you down and you need to drink small-batch beer, eat Northwestern locavore meals and see bike commuters in the rain. My wife, daughter and I hit Portland, Ore., for a few days last August. Here's the report.
The bed. Once a Days Inn, the Hotel Modera (515 S.W. Clay St.;  484-1084; rooms for two start at about $129 in spring) got a serious upgrade before opening in 2008. Its lobby and 174 guest rooms are done in modernist style, punctuated with lots of original art and accompanied by an accomplished upscale restaurant, Nel Centro. We stayed two nights, ate well in the restaurant and enjoyed being situated about six blocks from Portland's central Pioneer Courthouse Square.
The meal. It's tempting, but I'm not going to insist you try "totchos" (the marriage of Tater Tots and nachos), which we encountered at the genial Oaks Bottom Public House in the Westmoreland area. Instead, keep an eye out for the tasty and casual Pacific Pie Co. (1520 S.E. 7th Ave.;  381-6157; no single item over $9). The bakers here specialize in Australian-style meat pies and sweet pies. As is the Portland way, they value sustainability and local ingredients. If the Moroccan chickpea pie doesn't seduce you, the grass-fed beef braised in stout beer just might.