Tag Archives: Portland

Portland’s Tiki Kon 2018

Portland’s Tiki Kon 2018: Dipping our toes into the rum-soaked tropical fantasy-land of the Tiki revival community

 

Both Paddy and I have always been fans of mid-century pop culture. I’m also a big fan of Polynesia and spent some time living in Hawaii and learning about Pacific Island cultures in college. Since then, I had always fantasized about having a basement Tiki bar in my house.

In 2015, we bought a house with a basement and I convinced Paddy that a Tiki bar was of utmost necessity. We found vintage bar at an estate sale, put up some grass matting and bamboo, a grass thatch overhang and invested in a Tiki mug collection. We’ve realized since the initial build-out of our Tiki bar that adding to a Tiki bar can easily become an obsession. I began reading up on Polynesian Pop and Tiki cocktails, and we formed a hobby of scouring antique stores for mid-century treasures and Polynesian art. When we read that Portland, Oregon hosts an annual Tiki Kon every summer, we figured it might be time to check out this cult that we may have inadvertently joined.

Tiki Kon started as a small bar crawl of home Tiki bars in the Portland area in 2003, and has since become a fairly large production. It is run by a couple with the help of volunteers, in addition to their full time jobs. This is no small undertaking and I am very impressed with what they have managed to pull off. It seems that the Tiki revival is growing, which was confirmed when the Tiki Kon website crashed within minutes of tickets going on sale this year.

The site crash was a bit of a mess, and I really felt for the producers as they scrambled to go through transactions by time stamp and sort out over-sold VIP tickets. We had opted to just purchase a la carte tickets to the Friday and Saturday night events, and our ticket purchase made it through and was not part of the oversold ticket group.

The hot item was the VIP ticket, which included all events, a private VIP cocktail lounge, and a Sunday home Tiki bar tour. The home bar tour had a hard limit on the number of guests that could be accommodated on the buses and in the home Tiki bars, so unfortunately there were some folks who were disappointed by having their ticket downgraded or refunded. All in all, it was well handled and the Tiki Kon producers upgraded their website to handle more traffic and ticket sales.

*Tip: Ticket sales happen in March, and they go FAST. If you want to attend Tiki Kon, make your ticket selection before the go-live time and get your purchase in online ASAP. Also, make sure you have a PayPal account. I’m not sure if they plan on taking credit cards in the future, but this year PayPal was the only payment option.

Each year has a theme, and this year’s theme was Fantasy Island.

Tiki Kon 2018
Tiki Kon 2018

Custom souvenir Tiki mugs are produced for each year, but in limited quantities of 100. You can go online before the event and try to buy one for $100 when they go on sale, and invites to buy are sent to ticket holders only. They sell out within 5 minutes of going on sale. The Tiki mugs were really cool, and I understand the whole limited-edition collector mentality, but I’m not so keen on only allowing a small fraction of guests to acquire a souvenir Tiki mug for Tiki Kon. Yes, this makes them more valuable and more coveted, but it makes them nearly impossible to get and extremely exclusive. All in all, we didn’t really want to spend $100 on a Tiki mug regardless–but they were really cool.

2018 Tiki-Kon mug
2018 Tiki-Kon mug. Image from www.tikikon.com

 

Day 1:

We opted to take Friday off of work and left Seattle around 8:30 AM, and made record time down to Portland with no traffic. I would recommend not trying to drive to Portland on a Friday afternoon from Seattle. We did this once and hit Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, and Portland rush hours and it took 5+ hours to get there. Not worth it. Take the day off if you are driving from Seattle and trying to get to Portland on a Friday night, or take the Bolt Bus in the early afternoon.

After arrival in Portland, we went straight to the Hawthorne neighborhood to get lunch and do a little vintage shopping. We opted for sandwiches at Lardo, partly because it looked amazing, and partly because they had frosty cold AC and house-made Arnold Palmers.

I had the Italian Tuna sandwich, which was delicious but a little salty with the olive tapenade. I scraped it off and the sandwich was perfect without the tapenade.

Italian Tuna sandwich at Lardo, Portland
Italian Tuna sandwich at Lardo, Portland

Paddy had the Second Hand Smoke brisket sandwich with pickled serrano peppers, American cheese and smokey mayo, which he loved. He also had a side of their potato salad which tasted just like a baked potato. We would definitely come back here.

Second Hand Smokesandwich at Lardo, Portland
Second Hand Smoke sandwich and potato salad at Lardo, Portland

After lunch, we went swag lamp shopping at the Lounge Lizard up the street. Lounge Lizard is a great place to shop for mid-century modern furniture and lamps, and other antiques. They have a small amount of vintage clothing as well. They have two locations on Hawthorne Blvd, very close to each other. We found a blue vintage swag lamp at the Eastern location on Hawthorne, and Paddy found a very groovy 70’s polyester shirt. He doesn’t know where he will wear it, but there will be some occasion I’m sure.

Lounge Lizard, Portland
Lounge Lizard, Portland

We also made a last shopping stop at Fat Fancy, a used clothing store for plus size people. It’s my favorite store in Portland and has moved from downtown to the Hollywood area of East Portland. They have a parking lot now. I found a couple used Torrid tops and the sales lady was very friendly and helpful. If you are plus size, check this place out.

After lunch and shopping, we were ready to check into the hotel and relax for a bit. We had reserved a room at the historic Palms Motel in North Portland. We chose this hotel for the low price ($120/night), the location across from the Alibi Tiki Lounge and near the Mississippi neighborhood, and for the sign out front. The sign out front was a significant draw. I mean, it has a blue monkey.

Palms Motel Portland
Palms Motel Portland

The rooms were clean, and the beds were decent. It is a cheap motel, no frills. But the AC was nice and frosty and there was a fridge, both being a necessity on the 95-degree July weekend. There was even beer left in the fridge from the previous renters. I suppose that means that housekeeping wasn’t super thorough, but I won’t fault them for leaving free beer. There are worse things to overlook.

Palms Motel, Porland
Palms Motel, Portland
Palms Motel, Porland
Palms Motel, Portland

We checked in and relaxed a bit before getting changed into our Tiki Kon attire and heading across the street to the Alibi Tiki Lounge for food and drinks.

The Alibi Tiki Lounge, Portland
The Alibi Tiki Lounge, Portland
The Alibi Tiki Lounge, Portland
The Alibi Tiki Lounge, Portland

The Alibi is a classic Tiki bar, since 1947. It’s gone through some changes over the years, but the epic flashing neon sign and dark kitschy Tiki atmosphere remain and flourish. The Alibi is mostly known to locals as a karaoke dive bar, but no matter what time of day you go, it’s fun. Be prepared for crowds on weekend evenings.

We opted to eat here, although I can’t say I recommend coming here for the food. The food is alright, if you are drinking and need some fried food to soak up booze. However, we just wanted dinner to be cheap and easy and being able to eat some food along with our Tiki drinks was the ideal situation at the time. It was happy hour, and we had the garlic green beans, the potstickers, the chicken fingers, and the lumpia. It was all average.

The Alibi Tiki Lounge, Portland
The Alibi Tiki Lounge, Portland

They have alcoholic slushies at the Alibi, which on a hot day go down really easy. I had the strawberry daiquiri slushy and Paddy had the Alibi Old Fashioned cocktail. They were selling signature Tiki mugs for $20 with a drink in them, so I got my slushy in a souvenir mug.

Alibi souvenir Tiki mug
Alibi souvenir Tiki mug.

After we had food and drinks, we caught a Lyft to Tiki Kon to check out our first a la carte evening show, which was a “surf and turf” show featuring surf rock bands and a “horror” theme.

We checked in at the Tiki Kon booth and acquired our “passports” with stamps for the events that we had paid for. To enter and exit the event, we needed to show our passports. They were pretty fun little souvenirs and very nicely done, with info inside about Tiki Kon and the events of the weekend.

Tiki Kon passport
Tiki Kon passport
Tiki Kon 2018
Tiki Kon 2018

A few vendors were selling artisan Tiki mugs and other items, and there was a bar with pre-mixed signature cocktails of the evening as well as beer and wine. There was a photo op area, which of course we took advantage of.

Tiki Kon 2018
Tiki Kon 2018

In the main event room, there was a dance floor, stage, and large tables with table clothes and small centerpieces. People-watching was pretty fun, everyone had put a lot of thoughts into their outfits.

The Red Lion event room setting sort of made it feel like we were at a wedding. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was hoping for a little more Tiki atmosphere, which is a big part of what Tiki is all about. However, I can see how challenging creating that atmosphere would be in this location and for an event this size. They did a good job with what they had to work with…but….we still felt like we were at a wedding. I suppose that is the nature of a convention.

We were trying to brainstorm on what they could do to create more Tiki atmosphere at future events that would be cost-effective and easy to put up and take down. I think if they had a large storage space and a lot of theatrically-minded volunteers, they could create some stage set walls on casters with fake lava rock (spray painted black styrofoam?) or jungle foliage or bamboo. These could be constructed and then wheeled in and out and stored somewhere the rest of the year. This would of course require ample volunteers, truck rentals, and a large storage space for the “sets.” But it would be an idea to take Tiki Kon to the next level. Some paper lanterns strung across the space overhead could really add a lot of atmosphere too. Again, this would require a lot of set up and take-down volunteers. Looking at the enthusiasm for the event around us at the event, I think there would be a lot of people willing to volunteer time in exchange for free or discounted tickets.

We knew no one at this event, so we decided to sit at a central empty table and let people sit with us. It worked, we ended up with friendly company quickly. We met two other couples–one who had been to one Tiki Kon before, and another couple who were newbies like us. They had also opted to just do the a la carte Friday and Saturday events to check it out without going full throttle.

Tiki Kon 2018
Performance by MeduSirena Marina Tiki Kon 2018
Tiki Kon 2018
Tiki Kon 2018

There was a dance performance by MeduSirena Marina, a professional mermaid, and then three surf bands: Jon and the Vons from France, The Boss Martians, and Satan’s Pilgrims. All had go-go dancers and put on a good show.

Go-Go dancer for The Boss Martians, Tiki Kon 2018
Go-Go dancer for The Boss Martians, Tiki Kon 2018

Our new friends both left before we did due to the fact that there was no food at the event. The lack of food is my main critique of  Tiki Kon. If you plan on serving people copious amounts of booze, food is essential. I think there might have been some catering in the VIP suite parties, but for us lowly basic ticket holders, there was no food to be found. I think if Tiki Kon could convince the hosting hotel to put some food trucks in their parking lot from 8:00 PM on, it would keep people partying longer and the local food vendors would make a ton of money.

We really wanted to stick around and check out Satan’s Pilgrims, but even we eventually succumbed to the drunk munchies and left a bit early as well. We took a Lyft back over to the Mississippi neighborhood near our hotel and found a taco truck.

 

Day 2:

The next morning, we thought we’d head over to Mississippi Ave and get breakfast at Miss Delta, one of my favorite Portland restaurants. Unfortunately, there was a street fair being set up all along Mississippi Ave and Miss Delta was closed so that they could set up a street fair booth for lunch. There was only one restaurant open for breakfast across the street with a very long wait list.

Our new friends Tom and Sarah from Tiki Kon were local and had suggested the Cadillac Cafe in the Irvington neighborhood as a good spot for breakfast, so we got in the car and drove there.

There was no wait and the food was amazing. We were so happy we took their advice.

Cadillac Cafe
Cadillac Cafe

I had the smoked salmon hash with house-smoked salmon, green beans, leeks, potatoes, eggs, and lemon dill creme fraiche. Paddy had the eggs in purgatory with cheesy grits and a Cajun-Creole sauce. Everything was delicious and the service was great. There is even a real mint-condition 1950’s pink Cadillac on display in the restaurant.

Smoked salmon hash, Cadillac Cafe
Smoked salmon hash Cadillac Cafe
Eggs in purgatory, Cadillac Cafe
Eggs in purgatory and a side of bacon, Cadillac Cafe

After breakfast, we went back up to Tiki Kon for their Saturday Tiki Marketplace.

The Tiki Marketplace is open to the public and free to enter. It ended up being our favorite part of Tiki Kon, as it gave us an opportunity to look at the work of a lot of amazing artists and craftspeople we’d never heard of, and shop for items to add to our home Tiki Bar.

We were immediately drawn into the vintage Aloha shirt and dress racks that were front and center in the market. It was a little intense–people were furiously and aggressively flipping through racks of dresses, kaftans, and mumus. I didn’t see anything in my size and didn’t really expect to, so I quickly lost interest and exited the vintage clothing feeding frenzy while Paddy persisted.

Tiki Kon Saturday Marketplace
Tiki Kon Saturday Marketplace

At the next booth I found a fabulous vintage lamp for only $65, and we also bought several art prints at other vendor booths to decorate our home Tiki bar with.

Tiki Lamp
Awesome lamp we scored for our home Tiki bar at the Tiki Kon marketplace!

Later that afternoon, we met up with our new Tiki Kon friends Tom and Sarah at Portland’s other Tiki bar, Hale Pele.

Hale Pele has been written up as one of the top 10 Tiki Bars in the world by Critiki.com, and we had not been there yet. Just for Tiki Kon weekend, they opened early at 2:00 PM (normally they open at 4:00 PM daily). Sarah and Tom were regulars at Hale Pele, and they had some great food and drink recommendations for us.

Hale Pele is easy to miss from the street, which is sort of a classic Tiki bar thing. The idea is to create a hidden, exotic, transporting environment that assaults your senses when you open the door. Tiki bars are also supposed to be fairly dark, so no windows to the outside world. As soon as we walked in, we knew why it was rated as one of the world’s best. It is small and intimate, with a ton of attention to detail. The owners clearly put a lot of love into this bar, and it shows.

Hale Pele Tiki bar, Portland
Hale Pele Tiki bar, Portland
Hale Pele Tiki bar, Portland
Hale Pele Tiki bar, Portland
Hale Pele Tiki bar, Portland
Hale Pele Tiki bar, Portland

If it is your first time at Hale Pele and you are not driving after you leave, order the Jet Pilot cocktail. It is quite a production and does not disappoint. It also tastes amazing and is super strong. I really liked that Hale Pale divides their drink menu up into sections according to how strong the drinks are, so you know what you are getting into. Paddy opted to be the designated driver, so he chose a cocktail off the weaker list. I ordered the Jet Pilot.

The Jet Pilot comes on fire, and just before it is served, the lights in the bar flicker and thunder sounds are played over the speakers. The bartender brings out the drink and sprinkles cinnamon onto the open flame, causing a large fiery flare. It was really quite exciting (Did you know cinnamon was flammable? Neither did we).

The Jet Pilot, Hale Pele Tiki bar, Portland
The Jet Pilot, Hale Pele Tiki bar, Portland
Jet Pilot, Hale Pele Tiki bar, Portland
Jet Pilot, Hale Pele Tiki bar, Portland

Tom and Sarah told us that we HAD to try the Hawaiian bread, which is grilled and buttered and sprinkled with sea salt, served with a guava jam. It was delicious and yes, you HAVE to order it.

We tried a few of their other small plates as well, and everything was outstanding. We spent some time talking to the friendly bartender/manager Sierra, who was a lot of fun and really seems to enjoy her job. We will be back to Hale Pele on our future trips to Portland for sure.

Hale Pele Tiki bar, Portland
Hale Pele Tiki bar, Portland

For dinner that evening we wanted to save a little money and go somewhere relatively inexpensive. Tom and Sarah recommended Tamale Boy for good inexpensive Mexican fare. I had the tacos de pescado and Paddy had a quesadilla. Both were excellent. Tamale Boy is attached to the LABrewatory brewery next door, and you are welcome to eat your food from Tamale Boy while sampling LABrewatory’s beers in their taproom.

Tamale Boy and LABrewatory on N Russell Street, Portland

 

The Tiki Kon event for Saturday evening was fairly similar to the night prior, with more bands and a cabaret act by the Starella Sisters. When we arrived they were just finishing the Iron TikiTender bar-tending competition, where bartenders from Tiki Bars around the country compete for the Iron TikiTender title and a grand prize trip. The winner was Jeanie Grant from San Francisco’s Pagan Idol Tiki Bar. After the competition, we were able to walk into the main event room and get a view of the three finalists’ over-the-top drink garnishes.

Iron TikiTender
Iron TikiTender finalists’ elaborate drink garnishes made during the competition
Iron TikiTender
Iron TikiTender finalists’ elaborate drink garnishes made during the competition
Iron TikiTender
Iron TikiTender finalists’ elaborate drink garnishes made during the competition

The evening was yet again another big Tiki fashion show and we enjoyed checking out everyone’s fun outfits and accessories. There was a charity raffle with proceeds supporting the people affected by the volcanic lava flows in Hawaii.

We had a few drinks and watched the music for a while (more awesome surf music by a band called Tikiyaki 5-0. It was fun, but we didn’t stay until the end.

Tikiyaki 5-0
Tikiyaki 5-0

On the way back to the hotel we stopped into The Alibi again for a late night snack and another drink. It was packed with karaoke revelers. The Alibi is a hoppin’ place on a Saturday night!

Palms Motel Sign at night
Palms Motel Sign at night

 

There were a lot of Tiki Kon events that we skipped, including a banquet dinner and Polynesian dance show, and several educational symposiums. The VIP package included a home Tiki bar tour on Sunday, which is extremely popular (a tour of Portland’s home Tiki bars including bus transportation). It seemed that the magic of Tiki Kon really is in knowing people in the Tiki revival community, and getting a VIP ticket that includes the VIP lounges and the home Tiki bar tour. We only dipped our toes in the lagoon for this event.

Would we go again? Well…it was fun, but I think the people who have the most fun are the hardcore loyal returnees, who know each other and look forward to celebrating with each other at this event every year. There were a lot of events we opted not to pay for or participate in, so we can’t give an accurate review of the entire weekend. The highlights of the weekend for us were visiting Portland’s Tiki bars the Alibi and  Hale Pele, and the Tiki Kon Saturday Marketplace. I think that if we go again, we may just get a la carte tickets to only one of the evening events and hit the Saturday Marketplace and the local Tiki Bars.

I did just see an announcement that Tiki Kon is moving to the DoubleTree Hilton Lloyd Center, closer to one of my favorite Portland neighborhoods (Buckman) and downtown. It is clear that the interest in Tiki Kon is growing, and I’m curious to see what next year brings. The fact that a couple with full time regular jobs put this event together in their spare time is really impressive, and I think the event will continue to grow.

Other Tiki events that happen annually around the country are Tiki Caliente in Palm Springs, CA, The Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale, FL, and Tiki Oasis in San Diego, CA. Of the three Tiki Oasis seems to be the largest event. I’m curious about checking out Tiki Oasis, but it would be a splurge between airfare, hotel, and the event tickets. If we combine it into a vacation to San Diego it might be pretty fun. I also saw something about a second Tiki Oasis going on in Arizona starting in 2019. The Tiki revival continues to expand.

Portland Oregon 2015: Downtown and Buckman

A quick girls’ getaway to Portland: A concert in Vancouver, vintage clothes shopping, books, brunch, a creepy cafe, a horror theme bar, and some fabulous food.

I love Portland. It seems that I never run out of things to see and do there. It is a mecca for food, craft beer, vintage clothing stores, doughnuts, and strip clubs. This is the second of several posts you will see probably see on Portland, because it really never gets old. This weekend was a quick girls trip to Vancouver and Portland, and we got to explore a little more of downtown and the Buckman neighborhood in Southeast Portland.

One major drawback about heading down to Portland from Seattle on Friday is the traffic. My friends Brooke and Cass and I left Seattle at noon, and arrived at our Vancouver hotel just north of the Oregon border at 4:30. On Friday, the rush hour traffic is the worst, and you hit Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, and Vancouver’s traffic on I-5 on the way there.

There isn’t much to see in Vancouver, it is kind of a suburb city in Washington just outside of Portland. We were there to see the Courtney Love and Lana Del Rey show at the Sleep Country Amphitheater. We stayed at the Quality Inn and Suites nearby, which was nice and affordable at $89 a night.

Day 1:

We arrived hungry and tired of being in the car. Billygan’s Roadhouse was right across the street from our hotel, so we went over there for a bite to eat before the show. Paddy and I have eaten breakfast there twice on the way home from Portland, and their breakfast was good.

Billygan’s is one of those places that gives you free peanuts and you throw your shells on the floor. Always a good time.

Billygan's Roadhouse
Billygan’s Roadhouse
Billygan's Roadhouse
Billygan’s Roadhouse
Billygan's Roadhouse
Billygan’s Roadhouse

The food is your standard American diner/pub fare, and it’s pretty good. Cass and Brooke each had the baked potato and salad deal, and I had the teriyaki chicken burger with a side salad. Billygan’s is a pretty solid road trip stop-off, signs for it are posted on the freeway.

This was our first show at the Sleep Country Amphitheater. We had chosen the cheapest assigned seats in the back. There was a lawn area behind us with even cheaper admission, but we were glad we didn’t go for the lawn. The view looked bad, you had to fight for a spot (and keep it saved), and there was no cover for rain. The assigned seats are worth it.

Beer, wine, and snacks are served all over the courtyard outside the amphitheater, and you have to get a wristband for adult beverages from one of the little wristband kiosks walking in.

Sleepcountry-Amphitheater-Vancouver (2)
Food and drink courtyard outside the theater
Sleepcountry-Amphitheater-Vancouver (3)
Pre-show beers

Sleepcountry-Amphitheater-Vancouver (4)

The amphitheater was quite the teen summer fashion parade. The shorts are very short this year, and the waistbands are high. There were so many girls with fake flower crowns on that I kept looking at the merch booths to see if they were selling them but they weren’t.

After a 45 minute diva-like late start, Courtney Love took the stage. We were surprised that her show was actually not bad, with some old Hole covers and a few new (albeit not so great) songs. She gave the audience shit about the plethora of flower crowns throughout the whole show. She was pretty entertaining, but I don’t think there were that many Hole fans in the audience. Most of the audience looked like they hadn’t even been born until the mid to late 90’s.

Courtney Love Vancouver WA
Courtney Love
Courtney Love Vancouver WA
Courtney Love

Lana Del Rey put on a great show, with an elaborate set. Her dress made me think of Alice in Wonderland.

Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey

After the show, it took us an entire hour to get out of the parking lot, and there were still a ton of cars behind us–who knows how long it took them to get out. Fortunately we were staying nearby, but it was a pain in the ass. Everything else was efficient and easy about the amphitheater, but the traffic back to I-5 was a total clusterfuck.

 

Day 2:

Cass had to head back to Seattle for a wedding, so Brooke and I were on our own for 24 hours in Portland. I’m a loyal Lyft customer back in Seattle, especially since when I first signed up for Lyft this winter and received a $20 ride credit towards my first 10 rides if used in a week. I figured Uber had to have some sort of sign up deal as well, so I signed up for Uber and found a $25 off your first ride coupon on Retailmenot.com. Our ride from Vancouver to downtown Portland ended up being only $7.00.

**Tip: If you haven’t used them before, wait and sign up for Lyft or Uber when you need an expensive ride somewhere and see what kind of deals you can get on your first ride.

I’d looked at brunch spots in downtown Portland and we decided on Tasty N Alder. There was an hour and a half wait, but we got on the list and gave our cell number, and then walked a couple of blocks over to Powell’s City of Books.

Powell's City of Books Portland
Powell’s City of Books

Powell’s is the book store to end all book stores. I visit it every time I visit Portland. They have a map at the front entrance to help you navigate the sections, and there are plenty of information clerks to help you find something specific. Best of all, they have used books and new books on the shelves, together in harmony. If there are six copies of the book you want, you can check the price on each one and decide how used or new you are willing to pay for. Powell’s is also a great spot for Portland souvenirs–they have lots of coffee mugs, guide books, and other fun items from the Northwest. (You always wanted a log pillow so you can be like the log lady from Twin Peaks, right? Powell’s will hook you up.)

Right as we were wrapping it up at Powell’s, Brooke got a phone call from Tasty N Alder that our table was ready.

Tasty N Alder was definitely worth the wait. They have a bunch of unique small plates and larger entrees, all meant to be shared. Sort of like a brunch tapas bar. Also on the menu is a selection of brunch cocktails and boozy milkshakes (called “grown-ass milkshakes.”).

Brunch at Tasty N Alder Portland
Brunch at Tasty N Alder Portland

I went for the “Tasty Mary” which was a classic bloody mary with a little sriracha and house-made pickled okra, beet, and mushroom. It was fabulous. Brooke had the “Elizabeth Taylor,” a sparkling cocktail with creme de violette and bubbles.

Tasty Mary at Tasty N Alder
Tasty Mary at Tasty N Alder

We also shared the simple greens, potatos bravas, and the Korean fried chicken. It was all amazing. The Korean fried chicken came in a rice bowl with a fried over-easy egg on top. The chicken was crispy and boneless, which made it a lot easier to share and eat with the rice, egg, and kimchi.

Potatoes bravas at Tasty N Alder Portland
Potatoes bravas at Tasty N Alder Portland
Simple greens at Tasty N Alder Portland
Simple greens at Tasty N Alder Portland

After brunch we were ready to do some vintage shopping. Another great thing about Portland? No sales tax! As if you need another excuse to shop…

Our first stop was Ray’s Ragtime, which is also right next door to a plus size vintage shop, Fat Fancy. I am plus-sized, and it is difficult to find great stuff at regular vintage stores. Not a whole lot at Fat Fancy is vintage, but they have a lot of great stuff at great prices. I found a summer dress, a sequin skirt, and another pair of sunglasses to match my new bathing suit I got for this summer.

Ray’s Ragtime next door is a treasure trove of vintage clothing, costume jewelry, vintage hats, and mardi gras masks. Brooke found an awesome 60’s go-go dress and a bracelet to match, and I got a fabulous lime green vinyl purse.

Brooke and her new dress from Rays Ragtime
Brooke and her new dress from Rays Ragtime

We walked over to Burnside and stopped in at Buffalo Exchange, where Brooke found some great boots to go with her new dress.

It was edging towards late afternoon, and we were ready to check into our hotel and ditch our backpacks. We caught the #20 bus a short ways across the Burnside bridge to the Eastside Lodge, where we had a reservation. The Eastside Lodge isn’t the classiest joint, but at $100 a night including lodging tax, it was quite a bit cheaper than the more hip and more preferable Jupiter Hotel across the street. The lobby smelled like cigarette smoke, and I filled out our information on a handwritten index-card sized form. It was clean, however, and the beds were decently comfortable. Included is a mini fridge and coffee maker. No hairdryer built in, but we were able to check one out from the front desk. Bottom line: When I visit Portland, I don’t spend much time in the room other than to sleep. There are far better things to do.

We ditched our bags and explored Burnside a bit, which borders the Buckman neighborhood in Southeast Portland.  We found Bombshell Vintage, which had an impressive collection of 1950’s prom dresses and crinoline skirts.

Bombshell Vintage Portland
Bombshell Vintage Portland
Bombshell Vintage Portland
Bombshell Vintage Portland
Bombshell Vintage Portland
Bombshell Vintage Portland

Rock and Rose a bit further down the street had an interesting selection of new and vintage clothes, as well as gifts and collectibles. There are quite a few other shops, restaurants and bars along Burnside to see as well.

Keep Portland Weird
Keep Portland Weird
rainbow watering cans portland
Hardware and garden store in Buckman

Further east on Burnside we stumbled across Hippo Hardware, a vintage hardware shop with a Hippopotamus fetish. We weren’t looking to visit a hardware store, but the hippos were calling to us.

Hippo Hardware Portland
Hippo Hardware Portland
Hippo Hardware Portland
Hippo Hardware Portland

Hippo Hardware Portland

Hippo Hardware Portland
Hippo Hardware Portland

Hippo Hardware is huge–two stories full of old antique hardware such as light switch plates, knobs, door knockers, bathtubs, toilets, sinks, and an entire upper floor devoted to antique lighting. If you’re looking for an antique chandelier or funky old knobs for a chest of drawers or cupboards, or really want a pink toilet, this is the place to go. The owner’s impressive collection of various types of hippos mingle with the merchandise on almost every shelf. They also sold T-shirts, and I’m kicking myself for not buying one. Next time.

Hippo Hardware Portland
Hippo Hardware Portland
Hippo Hardware Portland
Hippo Hardware Portland
Hippo Hardware Portland
Hippo Hardware Portland

It was 4:00, and we needed a break. Not interested in hanging out in our moderately skanky hotel room, we decided to find somewhere to sit down and get a drink. We consulted our phones, and Brooke thought she found a brewery up the hill a little further east. When we got there, it turned out to just be a bottling plant. We glanced around and saw The Sandy Hut.

The Sandy Hut Portland
The Sandy Hut Portland

It looked like the worst dive bar in Portland, but we were there. And we were thirsty.

The Sandy Hut (I recently read that locals call it “The  Handy Slut”) turned out to be the best accidental bar discovery I’ve ever made in Portland. We walked in the front door and past the Playboy pinball machine, and stepped straight into the 1960’s: old Hollywood mural on the wood-paneled wall, curved faux leather booths, and Frank Sinatra mixed with other hits from the 40’s-60’s played on the jukebox. The bartender was friendly, and the blended strawberry margarita she made me was strong and refreshing. The food menu even looked decent, and reminiscent of times past.

The Sandy Hut Portland
The Sandy Hut Portland
The Sandy Hut Portland
The Sandy Hut Portland
The Sandy Hut Portland
The Sandy Hut Portland
The Sandy Hut Portland
The Sandy Hut Portland
The Sandy Hut Portland
The Sandy Hut Portland

We left The Sandy Hut thoroughly refreshed, and hungry. My friend Eric, a former Portland resident, told us Biwa Japanese Izakaya in Buckman was his favorite restaurant in the entire city. He has also lived in Japan, so his recommendation held some weight. We walked to Biwa and stopped by a mural for a photo op along the way:

Portland mural

Portland mural

Portland mural

Biwa Japanese Izakaya (215 SE 9th Ave) turned out to be as good as Eric told us it would be. If you’re not familiar with Izakaya style Japanese restaurants, they are kind of like a Japanese tapas bar. Small plates meant to be eaten with beer or cocktails.

Biwa Japanese restaurant Portland
Biwa

We started with some fancy cocktails. Brooke had a drink that was called something like “so cool, so modern,” which was herbal and fresh and came with a green strawberry. I had the “wtf” which was reposado tequila, yellow chartreuse and cardamaro, the latter two ingredients I’d never heard of. The waiter told me if I like tequila I’d love it. I didn’t. But it was drinkable. Medicinal tasting, but drinkable.

We started with the “porkiest” pan-fried gyoza dumplings to share, which were the best gyoza I’ve ever had. The dipping sauce tasted house made and had a bit of an extra vinegar bite that really complimented the porkiness.

Biwa cocktails Portland (2)

Biwa porkiest gyoza Portland (3)
The “porkiest” gyoza at Biwa

Brooke had the masu (trout) prepared like BBQ eel, and the miso soup. She said it was good. I had the rice cake soup with pork belly and clams, and the onigiri (rice ball with tuna and mayo inside and wrapped with crispy nori). Both were outstanding. The tuna inside the rice ball tasted smoked, and the rice was seasoned perfectly. I wished I’d ordered two of them. The soup was also delicious.

We were still a little hungry so we ordered the karaage (Japanese-style fried chicken bites) to share and Brooke had the shiitake mushroom skewer. The chicken was delicious, and too much for us to eat. We had a fridge in our room so we took it with us for later.

Biwa masu trout Portland (4)
Masu (BBQ trout) at Biwa
Biwa pork belly clam rice cake soup Portland (5)
Miso soup and pork belly/clam/rice cake soup at Biwa
Biwa karaage fried chicken and shiitake skewer Portland (6)
Karaage fried chicken bites and shiitake mushroom skewer at Biwa

 

After dinner, we headed to a coffee shop in Buckman that I’ve been wanting to check out for a long time: Rimksy-Korsakoffee. On my last trip to Portland I’d made the mistake of assuming that since it was a coffee shop, it would be open in the day time and attempted to visit in the afternoon. It is open evenings only, from 7:00 PM to midnight. No alcohol is served, just coffee and dessert.

Rimsky-Korsakoffee inhabits a converted Victorian house. We walked in and took two menus from the table by the door, as instructed by the sign on the table and found a spot in the back room. It was busy, and the atmosphere was cozy. A woman played piano in the front room for tips. We ordered coffee, tea, and shared an ice cream sundae. Our waiter was peppy and flamboyant, calling us names like “sugar cookie.” He was very entertaining.

Rimsky-Korsakoffee-Portland (3)
Rimsky-Korsakoffee
Rimsky-Korsakoffee-Portland (2)
Rimsky-Korsakoffee
Rimsky-Korsakoffee-Portland (4)
Rimsky-Korsakoffee
Rimsky-Korsakoffee-Portland
Rimsky-Korsakoffee

One of the things Rimsky-Korsakoffee is most famous for is its bathroom, so naturally I had to check it out. It is located upstairs, which had 5 different doors. The doors were labeled “no not here,” “no no not here,” “not here either, silly,” “don’t even think about going in here,” and “bathroom.” I was really curious about what was behind doors number 2-5. I guess I’ll never know.

The bathroom lived up to its legacy. When I walked in I was momentarily startled by a life-sized doll with a receding hairline sitting in a kayak on the bathroom floor. The entire bathroom is painted like an underwater world, with mannequin feet dangling off of a dock on the ceiling, and a mermaid holding your toilet paper. I think the kayak man is supposed to be a corpse, and he is missing part of his arm (shark attack?). There is a story here, maybe someday I’ll figure out what it is.

Rimsky-Korsakoffee-Portland (7)
In the hallway of Rimsky-Korsakoffee
Rimsky-Korsakoffee bathroom
Rimsky-Korsakoffee bathroom
Rimsky-Korsakoffee bathroom
Rimsky-Korsakoffee bathroom
Rimsky Korsakoffee bathroom Portland
Rimsky Korsakoffee bathroom Portland
Rimsky-Korsakoffee bathroom
Rimsky-Korsakoffee bathroom
Rimsky-Korsakoffee bathroom
Rimsky-Korsakoffee bathroom
Rimsky-Korsakoffee bathroom
Rimsky-Korsakoffee bathroom

I think if I was in high school or didn’t drink and lived in Portland, Rimsky-Korsakoffee would be my regular evening spot to socialize.

Rimsky Korsakoffee Portland

We settled up with our fabulous waiter and headed on to our next destination, the Lovecraft Bar. The Lovecraft is a horror-themed bar named after the turn of the century horror author H.P. Lovecraft. It was early, and the bar only had a few people in it. We ordered some beers and snagged the last available booth.  A dirty old biker guy sat on a bar stool nearby obnoxiously attempting to flirt with some girls sitting behind us. Fortunately, he left us alone.

Lovecraft-Bar-Portland
Lovecraft Bar
Lovecraft-Bar-Portland (3)
Lovecraft Bar
Lovecraft-Bar-Portland (2)
Lovecraft Bar

Shortly after we got our drinks, the fog machine turned on, and an electronic singer/performer started some entertainment on the dance floor. We stayed a little while longer, and then moved on.

No night out in Portland is complete without a visit to one of the numerous strip clubs in town. My favorite (and the only one I’ve been to, actually) is Mary’s downtown. Tonight we thought we’d check out Union Jack’s, which was directly across the street from our hotel.

Several years ago, I’d heard Union Jack’s was cool. Girls with tattoos stripping to punk music and ironically gyrating to 80’s metal hits. Very Portland chic. Unfortunately, this was not the case. It was pretty much your standard sleezy strip bar. The girls were working the room like party guests in g-strings to get the overwhelmingly male crowd into the back rooms for a private dance (or whatever).

We bought some beers and took a seat right at the back stage, armed with $1.00 bills to tip with. A few of the girls had some pretty amazing pole moves, some others were more mediocre–less acrobatic and more wrapping legs around gentlemens’ necks on the edge of the stage.

Union Jacks Portland
Image of Union Jack’s by Leah Nash http://www.wweek.com/portland/article-22104-strip-club-guide-2014-our-favorite-clubs-from-a-to-z.html

After a few dances, we moved back a bit to some lounge chairs and watched a while longer. Being the only two non-working women in the strip club (aside from two women who were there with their boyfriends), we found ourselves to be delightfully invisible. The girls were nice to us–complimenting Brooke on her dress, telling us we looked cute, but we pretty much safely avoided the hustle for the back rooms.

There was a lesbian bachelorette party that showed up at one point, and the guest of honor was invited up on stage for a public lap dance–all in good fun.

It wasn’t a bad experience, but I probably wouldn’t go back to Union Jack’s intentionally. There are far better strip clubs in Portland that offer classier and more unique stage shows without the sleezy hustle. I’ve got no problem with lap dances, but that type of club isn’t my scene. Mary’s is way better–if you are into a more of a casual bar with a stage show thing. Just make sure to bring singles to tip with.

 

Day 3: 

We checked out of the hotel and took the bus back across the Burnside bridge to the Pearl District downtown, and got our name on the wait list for the Byways Cafe for breakfast.

Byways Cafe Portland
Byways Cafe

There were three little tiny tables on the sidewalk, so we took one that opened up rather than wait for one inside. We never actually saw inside the place. The food was fantastic. Brooke had Meg’s veggie mountain with vegetables, potatoes, and egg, and I had the three day weekend (biscuit and gravy with scrambled egg). It was the best biscuit and gravy I’ve ever had (seriously). The biscuit was fresh and crisp on the outside, soft on the inside. It was a pretty hearty breakfast, I was glad I opted for fruit instead of hash browns.

Meg's veggie mountain Byways-Cafe-Portland (3)
Meg’s Veggie Mountain
Byways-Cafe-Portland
“Three Day Weekend” at The Byways Cafe

After breakfast we walked down to the train station and took the Amtrak train back to Seattle (a four hour trip). We shared a train car with a gaggle of noisy girl scouts, much to the chagrin of the men in the seats behind us. Fortunately I had my ipod to tune them out.

Train-Portland (2)
Portland train station

Train-Portland

It was another short and sweet trip to Portland. I am looking forward to a longer stay sometime in the future with Paddy. There are still many places on my Portland list to check out. Stay tuned.

 

Portland Oregon 2014

A Weekend in Portland OR 2014: Books, Beer, Doughnuts, Strippers, Vintage Stores, Creepy Clown Rooms, and The Golden Girls.

Ah, Portland. Seattle’s hippie party-girl sister who is always up to something ridiculous. I love Portland. I don’t get down there from Seattle as much as I’d like to, but when I do, it always leaves me wanting more. I still have a long list of things I’d like to see and do in Portland, so stay tuned for more posts on Portlandia.

My good friend Keith from New York was at a business conference in Portland, and decided to stay through the weekend. I took the Bolt Bus down to visit, along with his friend Danielle who flew up from San Diego to visit.

Day 1:

If you’re a single passenger traveling from Seattle, the Bolt Bus is the best way to go. It’s $15-$20 each way (sometimes they have last minute sales for $1.00!) and include wifi, free movies and music, and outlets for charging electronics. The ride is about 3.5-4 hours depending on traffic. It’s cheaper than the train, and drops you off right in downtown Portland. It also has a bathroom, which is very important in my opinion.

Bolt Bus to Portland
Bolt Bus
Bolt Bus to Portland
Bolt Bus seat outlets

On the ride down, the wifi was down on the bus (AT&T dropped their 4G was the report from the bus driver). I get car sick anyway, so it wasn’t an issue for me. My outlet didn’t seem to work at my seat either. I saw others with stuff plugged in though, so it may have just been me. Other than that, the ride was mostly on time, and pretty comfortable. I was seated next to a girl sewing sequins on a burlesque octopus costume for some rave party next weekend, which is about as Portland as it gets.

Keith was staying at the Embassy Suites downtown, easy walking distance from the bus drop off on 5th Ave and SW Salmon St. The hotel was nice, with a king size bed in the bedroom, and a living room with a pull out couch.

Embassy Suites Portland
Embassy Suites Portland
Embassy Suites Portland
Embassy Suites Portland
Embassy Suites Portland
Bedroom–sorry for the blurry photo

We hopped in a taxi and headed to Mississippi Ave in North Portland for some dinner. While walking up Mississippi Ave, we stopped and admired the Sunlan Lightbulb’s current display of a Star Wars lego collection. Last time I was here it was an impressive collection of stuffed toy tigers.

Sunlan Lighting Portland
Sunlan Lighting
Sunlan Lighting Portland
Sunlan Lighting
Sunlan Lighting Portland
Sunlan Lighting

Mississippi Ave appears to be an up and coming neighborhood, with a lot of new apartments and condos coming in, and a young, hip crowd. You’ll see twentysomethings with tattoos tending their backyard gardens and chicken coops in shared rental houses. A lot of restaurants in the area seem to have gone with the southern “Mississippi” theme as we saw quite a few southern restaurants and food carts.

I was interested in the food truck court Mississippi Marketplace. There were some enticing food options, but only half of them were open, which was kind of strange for a Friday night. Maybe some open later for the late night crowd?

I am curious to try a sandwich sometime from Big Ass Sandwiches, but alas, they were closed. Next time.

Big Ass Sandwiches Portland

Big Ass Sandwiches Portland

We decided on dinner at Miss Delta, a southern food restaurant a couple blocks down. I’ve been there before for brunch, which was excellent as well.

Miss Delta Portland

Miss Delta Portland
Miss Delta art. Someone’s Mom chugging Jack Daniels?

Danielle and Keith chose some beers from their plentiful local beer selection, and I went with a Bloody Mary. There was a choice of pepper vodka or regular, I chose pepper. It was delicious.

Miss Delta Portland bloody mary

We started with an order of hush puppies, which came with a chipotle aoili. They were some of the best I’ve ever had. I’m a big fan of hush puppies.

For dinner Keith had the smoked andouille sausage with red beans and rice, Danielle had the Miss Delta Meats sampler that included smoked spare ribs, pulled pork, and brisket. I had the blackened catfish. The entrees came with two sides each, I had collard greens and a cup of the crawfish chowder, and Danielle had the fried okra and mac and cheese.

Hush Puppies Miss Delta Portland
Hush Puppies
Smoked andouille sausage with red beans and rice
Smoked andouille sausage with red beans and rice
Blackened catfish with collard greens and crawfish chowder
Blackened catfish with collard greens and crawfish chowder
Miss Delta Meats platter with mac and cheese and fried okra
Miss Delta Meats platter with mac and cheese and fried okra

My catfish was a little salty, but the crawfish chowder needed a bit of salt, so I worked it out by mixing the catfish into the chowder. It was so much food that none of us could finish our plates. I feel terrible wasting food.

**Note: If you come here, come HUNGRY.

On my previous trip to Mississippi Ave, I visited the Amnesia Brewery, which had a huge open outdoor beer garden and old-timey southern blues blaring from the bar stereo, and we really enjoyed it. It has since been replaced by Stormbreaker Brewing, and I have yet to check it out. We walked by though, and the set up with the giant outdoor beer garden is the same. Also up the street next to the Mississippi Marketplace is Prost! German Pub, which also has a great outdoor beer garden.

Down the Avenue is another little gem that you shouldn’t miss: Ruby Scoop. There is always a line on weekend evenings, and the hand-crafted ice cream is some of the best I’ve ever had. Last time I enjoyed a tasty sugar cone with honey lavender.

Too full to think about ice cream or heavy craft beer, we waddled over to The Alibi, a tiki bar a couple blocks away on N. Interstate Ave. When we turned the corner, there was no mistake that we’d found the right place.

The Alibi tiki bar Portland

The Alibi tiki bar Portland

There was about every disco hit ever to make it onto any “best of disco” CD ever made playing, and an enthusiastic bartender singing along whenever he had someone’s attention. The cocktails were fruity, and always came with an umbrella.

The Alibi tiki bar Portland

The Alibi tiki bar Portland

The Alibi tiki bar Portland

The Alibi tiki bar Portland

The Alibi tiki bar Portland

After enough foo foo drinks and disco hits to last us a lifetime, we had the bartender call us a cab back downtown. It was time to visit Mary’s, the oldest strip club in Portland.

Now, I’ve never been to a strip club in Seattle. This is because Seattle doesn’t allow alcohol and nudity in the same establishment. So basically, the only people who go to Seattle strip clubs are bachelor parties, and pervy men who just want to see boobies.

While boobies may be the main purpose of a strip club, Portland has many strip clubs that provide great entertainment, full bars, mixed crowd (men and women), and a low sleaze factor. Mary’s is one of the best of those. No lap dances, no “private rooms,” just good old stage entertainment. For me, a night out in Portland isn’t right without capping it off at Mary’s.

Marys Club Portland

Marys Club Portland

Marys Club Portland
Photo from www.Marysclub.com

 

The other great thing about Mary’s is that the bar is totally run by women. The only men I ever see are the door bouncers outside collecting your $2.00 entrance fee.

The club was packed, almost equally full of men and women. I saw the girl who I sat next to on the bus who was sewing the sequins on her octopus costume. The drinks are cheap and there is a wholesome mural of people harvesting bananas on the back wall.

There were three strippers taking turns on the stage: A curvy girl in knee-high black leather boot roller skates with Frankenstein-like autopsy scar tattoos, a skinny girl in a string bikini with big hoop earrings and some great pole moves, and Bettie. I’m sure her name wasn’t Bettie, but she was definitely channeling Bettie Page with her 1950’s style high-waist leopard print granny panties and wavy black hair with Bettie bangs. She was mesmerizing. Her entire back was covered in stunning tattoos and she definitely had the sultry “wink and a smile” burlesque face that really makes a good strip tease.

We sat through several rounds of strip teases. An old salty man in a safari hat on the edge of the stage was caught trying to take a cell phone photo of Frankenskates. She took his phone, rubbed it into a couple crevices no one wants one’s phone to be rubbed in, and refused to give it back to him until he forked over a large wad of cash. She did take a photo of her nipple for him though, so he got that.

We capped off the night with a trip to Voodoo Doughnut, another Portland tradition.

Voodoo Doughnut Portland

Voodoo Doughnut Portland

The doughnuts are expensive (most are $3.50-$5.00 each) but worth it. My favorites are the ones that involve peanut butter, but the bacon maple bars are a big hit.

Voodoo Doughnut Portland

Voodoo Doughnut Portland bacon maple bar
Voodoo’s infamous bacon maple bar

Voodoo Doughnut Portland

Voodoo Doughnut Portland

Danielle got a Memphis Mafia (banana fritter with peanut butter and chocolate chips), Keith got a Gay Bar (cream filled bar with fruit loops), and I got a Dirty Snowball (self explanatory).

**Note: Voodoo Doughnut is cash only.

Voodoo Doughnut Portland Memphis Mafia, Gay Bar, Dirty Snowball

Portland has another doughnut shop making headlines for it’s “high-end” organic doughnuts called Blue Star Donuts. They use locally sourced ingredients and a French brioche recipe for the dough. Danielle tried some while in Portland, but I didn’t get to check them out. She said they were good–very light and airy. Next time. They have a location at 3549 SE Hawthorne in the Hawthorne neighborhood.

Day 2:

Breakfast is complimentary at The Embassy Suites, so we went downstairs and took advantage. They have a hot buffet with sausage, bacon, pancakes, potatoes, and scrambled eggs, a made-to-order omelet bar, and all the continental fare you would expect. It was good, even the coffee.

Our first stop of the day was the Portland Saturday Market, which was just a couple blocks from the hotel on the riverfront. There were a lot of artisan craft stalls to see, unique Portland T-shirts and art/photo prints, clothing, and food.

Portland Saturday Market
Portland Saturday Market
Portland Saturday Market
Portland Saturday Market
Portland Saturday Market
Portland Saturday Market

I was in love with this jellyfish coat. If it had been in my size, my bank account may be suffering a bit more than I planned.

Portland Saturday Market
Portland Saturday Market

After the market, we walked up Burnside to the legendary Powell’s Books. Powell’s isn’t just a book store. It’s a book mecca. New and used books on the shelves, together in harmony. It is so big that you need a map (don’t worry, they hand them out near the cash register area). There are multiple wings that are color coded, and many discount shelves and Portland-themed shelves throughout the store. It’s also a great place to buy a gift for someone. I made myself say no to the unicorn knee socks, but bought Keith a purse that looks like a taco. I think everyone needs one.

Keith and his taco purse that I bought him at Powell's.
Keith and his taco purse that I bought him at Powell’s.

We forced ourselves out of Powell’s, and caught the bus over to the Hawthorne neighborhood. Hawthorne is considered a “hipster” neighborhood by many, and if you are into vintage shopping, it’s a great place to go.

As seen from the bus window: The saddest 4th of July display we've ever seen.
As seen from the bus window: The saddest 4th of July display we’ve ever seen.

We were starving, so we decided on the Bread and Ink Cafe on Hawthorne and 36th. It’s a cute, sizeable place that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It was a nice day, so we sat outside by the sidewalk. Keith and Danielle had burgers and fries, and I had the grilled shrimp sandwich with the house salad, which came with chipoltle mayo and mango salsa.

Bread and Ink Cafe Portland
Bread and Ink Cafe
Pepper Bacon Bleu Burger Bread and Ink Cafe Portland
Pepper Bacon Bleu Burger
Grilled Shrimp Sandwich with house salad Bread and Ink Cafe Portland
Grilled Shrimp Sandwich with house salad

Bread and Ink Cafe Portland

I did notice that the restaurant had a “Waffle Window” next to it, which I don’t think was affiliated. I want to come back for that. Doesn’t every neighborhood need a waffle window?

Waffle Window Portland
Waffle Window

Moving on, it was time to do some shopping. Red Light Vintage is right next to Bread and Ink, so we checked that out. I’ve been there before, and there are also two locations in Seattle. There’s always different clothes though, so it’s always interesting.

Red Light Vintage Clothing Exchange Portland
Red Light Vintage Clothing Exchange

We also couldn’t resist the Classic Collection hat store, which has every type of hat you can think of. The hats are expensive, but quality. If you fancy yourself a cowboy or going to a royal event in London, this is the place to go.

Classic Collection hats Portland

Classic Collection Hats Portland
Classic Collection Hats
Classic Collection Hats Portland
Classic Collection Hats
Classic Collection Hats Portland
Classic Collection Hats

I split up from Danielle and Keith for a few minutes to check out Savvy Plus, a consignment clothing store for women sizes 12 and up. Being plus size, finding cute clothing (especially in vintage stores) can be hard. Their selection wasn’t huge, and I didn’t find anything I liked. It is a consignment store, however, so new stuff is always coming in. If you are a lady of the curvier persuasion, this place is worth a stop.

Our last stop on Hawthorne was the House of Vintage. This place is huge, and the layout is all nooks-and-crannies, full of randomness. Don’t come here unless you have some time to spend. There is so much to see and it was a little overwhelming. A great place to look for treasures, however. I’d like to go back when I have more time to kill.

House of Vintage Portland
House of Vintage Portland

One of the last times I was in Hawthorne I was visiting some friends who lived in the neighborhood and we went to see Twilight at the Bagdad Theater, which is an old theater that serves beer and is 21+ after 8:00 PM. It was pretty fun to see a tween movie in a theater full of adults drinking beer (it was also only $3.00, but I think shows are usually $8.50). If you have an evening to kill in the area and a good movie is playing, The Bagdad is a real gem–especially for childfree folks.

Sylvia Plath quote from The Bell Jar on Hawthorne
Sylvia Plath quote from The Bell Jar on Hawthorne

Significantly overstimulated by the House of Vintage, we called a taxi over to the Buckman neighborhood to Cascade Brewing Barrel House, which specializes in sour beers. Danielle’s priority on this trip was beer tasting Portland‘s craft brews.

Cascade Brewing Barrel House Portland
Cascade Brewing Barrel House

Cascade Brewing Barrel House Portland

Cascade Brewing Barrel House Portland

The sour beers are mixed with fruits and other flavors and then aged in barrels to create a tart, sour beer. We tried a lot of the $2.00 tasters: Champagne Mango, Honey Ginger Lime, Strawberry, Blueberry, The Vine, Apricot, and some of the non sours. They were interesting, quite a puckering assault on your taste buds. I don’t think I could drink a full glass of one though. It was very unique, and if you’re a beer enthusiast, you should check this place out. Food is also served.

Cascade Brewing Barrel House Portland

Cascade Brewing Barrel House Portland

Moving on, we hit Danielle’s next priority brewery, The Hair of the Dog.

Hair of the Dog Brewery Portland
Hair of the Dog Brewery

Hair of the Dog was a little more up my alley. The beers had quite a varied flavor range. Be warned–many of them are really strong–like 10%-11%. I enjoyed the Fred and the Adam best. The description of Adam was spot on: “chocolate, leather, and smoke.”

Hair of the Dog Brewery Portland

Hair of the Dog Brewery Portland

We got a bit hungry so I ordered the pickle sampler, which included house-made pickled beets, okra, cauliflower, broccoli, and brussel sprouts. It was very good. I also ordered the Chuck Norris duck wings, which said they had a “solid punch and a nice kick.” I didn’t gather from that description that they would melt my face off, which is what they did. I ordered some bread and butter to attempt to put out the fire. I consider myself to have a moderately high spice tolerance, so be warned.

Pickle sampler Hair of the Dog Brewery Portland
Pickle sampler
Chuck Norris duck wings Hair of the Dog Brewery Portland
Chuck Norris duck wings–watch out, they’re HOT

Prior to coming to Portland, I had been googling weird bars in Portland, and came across The Funhouse Lounge. Also in the Buckman/Southeast Portland neighborhood, The Funhouse is a carnival themed bar with a “clown room” and comedy shows. Upon visiting their website, I saw that during the month of June they were running a live action production of two episodes of The Golden Girls, done by men in drag.

Golden Girls Live Funhouse Portland

Now, Keith being a huge Golden Girls fan, and this being the most amazing thing we’d ever heard of, we had our night set.

They had two shows, one at 7:00 (which we missed) and one at 9:30, that was a “late night” version. We went to the 9:30 show, in which they went off script and said a few things you can’t say on TV.

Funhouse Lounge Portland

When we got to the Funhouse, the early show was still wrapping up, but we were welcome to sit in the Clown Room with drinks and wait.

This is the Clown Room:

The Clown Room at The Funhouse Lounge
The Clown Room at The Funhouse Lounge

Yeah. And an empty clown room….even creepier.

The collection of clown paintings was pretty impressive. Down the hall, past the flickering blue and purple light, was another smaller room with a red light and a velvet Elvis painting that was even creepier.

Funhouse Lounge Portland

Funhouse Lounge Portland

Funhouse Lounge Portland

Naturally, we busied ourselves by doing a photo shoot.

Funhouse Lounge Portland

Funhouse Lounge Portland

Funhouse Lounge Portland

Funhouse Lounge Portland

Funhouse Lounge Portland

Funhouse Lounge Portland

Finally, we were let into the main bar to get our seats for the show.

Funhouse Lounge Portland

Funhouse Lounge Portland

Funhouse Lounge Portland

Golden Girls Live Funhouse Portland

Keith “auditioned” with two women to sing the Golden Girls theme song, but lost out to a woman who auditioned by singing the Canadian National Anthem in a really low husky voice. Oh well.

The first episode was hilarious, and during set changes they showed retro 80’s commercials on the TVs by the bar. After the intermission, the actors announced that they had decided to do the second episode “Tennessee Williams” style (very dramatic and very Southern). It was even better.

Golden Girls Live Funhouse Portland

Golden Girls Live Funhouse Portland

Golden Girls Live Funhouse Portland

Golden Girls Live Funhouse Portland

Golden Girls Live Funhouse Portland

Golden Girls Live Funhouse Portland

There were posters advertising next month’s show–a live action production of American Psycho. I can only imagine what that would entail.

We said goodbye to The Funhouse and called it a night, stopping for some late night tacos at a taco truck on 3rd and Oak near the hotel.

Funhouse Lounge Portland

There are so many things to see and do in Portland, I still have a two page list of things for the next trip. Paddy and I are hoping to go to Portland again later this year or next, so stay tuned and hit us up for  ideas if you’re planning on going.