Tell someone you’re going to Portland, and you’ll get two reactions:
“Ugh, why are you going there?” This is usually people from cities like Chicago or New York who can’t fathom that there’s actually cool stuff in other places.
“Powell’s! VooDoo Donuts! Rogue Brewery!” All great, but … all plummeting toward cliché status.
I made my second visit to Portland in July, and I want to share some things you probably don’t hear about outside the Rose City. This is my Overlooked Oregon list.
Living Room Theaters
I rarely go to a movie theater. Most of the movies are absolutely awful. Well, at the big-time megaplex-style of theater, anyway. Portland’s Living Room Theaters is an exception. About 30 seats per theater, all of them comfy. Movies with real character and dialogue and craft. You can get real food and drink with your movie. And a ticket is all of $10. Go see a movie at Living Room Theaters when you visit Portland.
If you watch the Portlandia series, you’ll probably never hear the word “cacao” quite the same again. In this case, though, it’s not a kinky couple’s safe word: Cacao is a small place that specializes in drinking chocolate and other forms of chocolate. Careful – the drinking chocolate is extremely rich. In retrospect, I should’ve gone for the smaller size and come back later for a second. Tackling 5 ounces of drinking chocolate at one shot can be a tall order. Still, delicious and worth a stop.
I can’t shut up about this place, nor stop wishing Phoenix had something that comes even remotely close. But, as Jules from Pulp Fiction said, we ain’t got the same ballpark, league or even sport here. We went twice. We ordered four different sandwiches. And don’t even ask me to try telling you which was best … but the Cubano and pork meatball Banh Mi were particularly memorable. Oh, and Lardo has craft beer on tap.
Fort George Brewery
I’m cheating a bit here. Fort George Brewery is a few hours away on the coast in Astoria. Of course, that should be part of your trip anyway if you’re a proper retro-hipster pop-culture samurai who wants to see the filming location of The Goonies. Fort George Brewery is a cool-looking two-story building … but look for the annex next door, where you’ll find the Tasting Room. You can still get food, but the atmosphere is more cozy and personable (the bartender was particularly cool). They have hard-hitting oak-aged beers, which I absolutely loved. But if you want an unusual standout, try the Spruce Budd Ale. It’s made entirely with spruce tips rather than hops. It packs a ton of flavor for a beer with less the 6 percent ABV. Atmosphere, food and great beer make Fort George Brewery a must-visit place on my Overlooked Oregon list.