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 Travel Article Travel Article Archive  
June 2009 Email this to a friend


Love the great outdoors? You can't beat Portland

By Michael LaBelle

Scandals, Portland

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NOTE: This is an archive article. For an updated and expanded Portland article click DailyXtraTravel

Text below is an archive version from June 2009

Perhaps because of its frontier history, Portland retains a certain nonconformist outlook. The outgoing, good-natured folks who live in the "City of Roses" are a little more casual and rambunctious than their Seattle cousins. The architecture gives the downtown a look found nowhere else -- a combination of modern towers and renovated warehouses. Outdoor pursuits abound, especially on the gorgeous stretch of the Willamette River that runs through town. The ocean and the mountains are close by.

The main gay districts are downtown around Southwest Stark Street and in Old Town around Northwest Davis and Northwest 3rd. There are other places of interest across the river, including Northeast Broadway, Southeast Stark and Northeast Sand.
Neighborhoods along Southeast Belmont and Southeast Hawthorn have lots of little shops and restaurants which retain remnants of a counterculture that's disappeared elsewhere.

Ace Hotel (1022 SW Stark; 503-228-2277) modern, informal rooms, economy or deluxe, cable TV, free wi-fi.
Hotel Lucia (400 SW Broadway; 503-225-1717) stylish photography, original art, cutting-edge yet comfortable.
Jupiter Hotel (800 E Burnside; 503-230- 9200) Among the top-rated new hotels, suitesperfect for entertaining.
Lion and the Rose B&B Inn (1810 NE 15th; 503-287- 9245) brewery magnate's Victorian, full of style, sophistication, tradition.
Mark Spencer Hotel (409 SW 11th; 503-224- 3293) historic landmark, perfect location, kitchens, rooftop deck.
A Painted Lady (1927 NE 16th; 503-335- 0070) grand Victorian home, gay-friendly oasis in hip Northeast Portland.

Bars & Clubs
Portlanders enjoy totally nude performances and sex videos at several clubs. This masculine culture is balanced by a local penchant and reverence for drag.

Burnside & Southwest
Aura (1022 W Burnside) early evening lounge transforms to dance club Thursdays to Saturdays, young professional set.
Boxxes (1035 SW Stark) two-story dance complex, innovative DJs, go-go dancers, shows, energetic young patrons.
Fez Ballroom (316 SW 11th) alternative, artsy mixed crowd, live music, top new DJs and performers showcased.
Invasion (412 SW Fourth) new lounge and caf�, morning pastries, afternoon tapas, espresso bar, evening cocktails.
Redcap Garage (1035 SW Stark) video bar, sidewalk caf�, attached to Boxxes disco and Fish Grotto restaurant.
Scandals (1125 SW Stark) big beer selection, local microbrews, food, games, sidewalk tables, hot DJs, weekend dancing.
Silverado (318 SW 3rd) non-stop naked young strippers, friendly crowd, Monday karaoke, food, wi-fi.

Old Town
CC Slaughters (219 NW Davis) large dance floors, DJs, dancing, shows, superior sound, lights, quiet martini lounge.
Darcelle XV (208 NW Third) legendary glitz and glamour, comedy, pageants, dinner cabaret, midnight male strippers.
Dirty Duck (439 NW Third) longtime favorite neighborhood tavern, showtunes, country-western nights, live rock Sundays.
Eagle PDX Underground (27 NW Sixth) mostly guys, mixed ages, outrageous monthly Blow Pony party.
Embers (110 SW Broadway) infamous drag, karaoke, large dance floor, superb DJs, diverse crowd, cheap drinks.
Escape (333 SW Park) alcohol-free weekend gay dance and show club, all ages, open after-hours.
Fox And Hounds (217 NW Second) neighborhood bar, supper club, Sunday brunch, affable older crowd.
Hobo's (120 NW Third) quiet lounge, courtyard dining, stylish piano bar, premium cocktails, game room.

North & East
Crush (1412 SE Morrison) bar and restaurant, outdoor seating, drag brunch, classic bingo, cash prizes, wild queens.
Eagle (835 N Lombard) friendly watering hole, bears, leather Joqs (2512 NE Broadway) popular men's sports bar, pool table, wild holiday stripper parties, American food.
Northbank (106 W Sixth; Vancouver,) neighborhood gay bar on Washington side of Columbia River.
Starky's (2913 SE Stark) gay favorite, food and spirits, late-night weekend menu, open till 2am.

Portland has restaurants and cafes of every kind, as well as good street vendors and food carts for a quick nibble. There are 56 food carts in the downtown area alone.

West of the Willamette
Fish Grotto (1035 SW Stark) intimate dining, landmark building, seafood, farm-fresh ingredients, great wine list.
Portland City Grille (111 SW 5th; 30th floor) restaurant and bar, captivating city and mountain views, mixed crowd.
Ringside (2165 West Burnside) downtown steakhouse, a standby since 1944.
Roxy (1121 SW Stark) kitschy greasy spoon, open 24 hours, after-bars breakfast rush.
Scandals (1038 SW Stark) interesting, affordable menu, sidewalk tables on gay block.
Stumptown Coffee Roasters (1026 SW Stark) ground floor of stylish Ace Hotel.
Voodoo Doughnut (22 SW Third) open 24 hours, handmade doughnuts like the "cock and balls," fun afterhours crowd.

East of the Willamette
Belly Restaurant (3500 NE MLK Jr) three-course meals for $25, popular Sunday brunch.
Bread & Ink Cafe (3610 SE Hawthorne) blintzes, wholesome breakfasts, freshly brewed coffee for 25 years.
Bridges Cafe & Catering (2716
NE MLK Jr) breakfast and lunch daily from 7am.
Cadillac Cafe (1801 NE Broadway) inspired breakfast and lunch, creative cocktails.
Fire on the Mountain (1708 E Burnside) best hot-wing joint in town, sauces galore, many local brews.
Grendels Coffee House (729 E Burnside) coffee shop, sandwiches, bagels, veggie and vegan friendly, free wi- fi.
Invasion Cafe (412 SW Fourth) daytime coffee and pastries, martinis at night.
J&M Cafe (537 SE Ash) breakfast, lunch, self- service coffee.
Francis Restaurant (2338 NE Alberta) all-day breakfast, lunch, huge portions, satisfying deserts, Italian sodas, wine, beer.
Milo's City Cafe (1325 NE Broadway) breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch with many options, four variations on eggs Benedict.
Night Light Lounge (2100 SE Clinton) bar and cafe, live music, patio seating, art gallery, no cover, mixed crowd.
Tin Shed & Garden Cafe (1438 NE Alberta) new lesbian-owned eatery, farm collective grows the produce.
Old Wives' Tales (1300 E Burnside) vegetarian meals, chicken dishes, seafood menu, salad bar, awesome mushroom soup.
Wild Abandon Restaurant (SE Belmont) locally grown organic food, "recession buster" meals from $10, nice vibe.

Steam Portland (2885 NE Sandy) lively, modern spa, open 24 hours, visitor rates, hot tub, blackout parties, nude tanning.

Shopping & services
Bagdad Theatre & Pub (3702 SE Hawthorne) old- fashioned movie palace, cheap flicks, beer and pizza at your seat.
Powell's City of Books (1005 W Burnside) huge store, new, and used books, paperbacks, classics, rarities.
Q Center (4115 N Mississippi) gay community center, art, culture, events, coffee house.
Taboo Adult Video (237 ML King) erotica for all, sale and rental DVDs, magazines, toys, novelties.
Underu4men (507 Broadway) live model shows, brand- name undies, cosmetics and skin care products, clothes, accessories.

Getting here

Portland International Airport has buses, shuttle buses and car rentals at or near the terminal building. TriMet MAX Red Line light-rail trains run every several minutes to downtown. The 40-minute trip is $2.30.

Getting around

Pedestrian-friendly Portland has excellent public transit, with streetcar service running through the gay districts. Ride free within the downtown "Fareless Square." Daily or weekly passes can be bought on buses, streetcars or trains outside that zone.

Top experiences

A day of browsing. Find that rare autobiography of Andre Gide among Powell's out-of-print classics, or the perfect knickknack in a tiny shop on the Southeast Hawthorne strip.
Concerts in Pioneer Courthouse Square. There are year-round free concerts and movies in "Portland's living room," where a circle of steps lets you watch the passing parade.
Portland Saturday Market. The baked goods smell great, the street performers are engaging, the many crafts intriguing, and the grassy lawns of Waterfront Park beckon.
Getting an all-over tan. Rooster Rock State Park and Sauvie Island (Collins Beach) are great places to lose your tan lines. Keep walking along the sand until you see the men.

Event planner

Oregon Leather Pride
Fetish ball, uniform party, barbeque, leather bears, Mr and Ms Oregon Leather contests.
July 31 - August 9, 2009

Portland Lesbian & Gay Film Festival
Feature, documentary and short films from around the world.
Cinema 21 (616 NW 21st Ave)
October 2-8, 2009

Imperial Sovereign Rose Court Coronation
Wraps a week of festivities all around town with a night of Broadway to Hollywood musicals.
Melody Ballroom (615 SE Alder)
October 17, 2009

Local media

Just Out is a free gay paper full of local news, events and listings.

Pride Day

Portland Pride
Annual mid-June parade and festival, plus a drag race

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