Portland, Oregon (Photo: Thinkstock)
From its diverse food carts to its wild collection of strip clubs that would overwhelm much larger cities, Portland, Oregon, knows how to keep things funky and fresh.
This is a city where an indie rock scene isn’t just a memory from decades past, where happy hour can start right after lunch, where you can order deep-fried everything at a food-cart pod with its own beer garden, and where pole dancing is about artfully tattooed gals and cheap beer more than wannabe porn stars and bottle service.
Having a great time here is easy and wallet-friendly, so why not start Thursday night early?
The meat sign at Olympic Provisions (Photo: Robyn Lee/Flickr)
Olympic Provisions is our go-to for excellent cured meats, from chorizo to bacon to mortadella, that are sold in fancy food shops all over the country. While in Portland, you will want to visit the mother ship. At Olympic Provisions’ Northwest Portland restaurant (the sister of the original Southeast salumeria location), the 3 to 5 p.m. happy-hour deals include a $7 chef’s choice of three charcuterie items and a $5 pork frankfurter that might make it hard for you to enjoy any and all future hot dogs. The $2 oysters, $4 seasonal draft beers, and $5 aperitifs, like Perruchi Vermouth with soda, also make this an easy place to linger.
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Another delicious happy-hour option is Tasty n Sons, an all-over-the-map restaurant that alternates 2:30 to 5 p.m. specials like $5 polenta with sausage ragu and $6 fried cauliflower and olives with harissa cream. The $1 Old German beer and $7 cocktails like the Tasty Mary, a kicked-up bloody Mary with sriracha and house pickles, are easy ways to get your Thursday buzz going.
Devils Point (Photo: Jim Ottewill/Flickr)
Portland has no shortage of rock ’n’ roll-themed strip clubs, but Devils Point excels at mashing together crowd-pleasing DJs, dive-bar prices, and jiggle-joint shenanigans. With $2 pints of PBR, this is a place where a wad of dollar bills could last you for hours. Like many of Portland’s strip clubs, Devils Point, which features happy hour until 7 p.m., video poker, outdoor picnic tables for smoke breaks, and a famous Sunday karaoke night, is more chill and female-friendly than you might expect a strip club to be. But that’s Portland, which is all about being inclusive, relaxed, and budget-conscious.
If skin isn’t your thing, Portland’s food-cart pods offer a different kind of sizzle. The Cartlandia superpod, which has a family-friendly beer garden and the Blue Room Bar, with craft beers on tap and free live music, features 28 carts serving everything from Maine lobster rolls and Middle Eastern vegetarian specialties to Yucatan pork sandwiches and Laotian sausages.
Billy Bragg performing at the Aladdin Theater (Photo: sean dreilinger/Flickr)
Grab your flannel. Indie rock still thrives in Portland. So if you want to see a live band and be part of a crowd that really loves seeing live bands, check the calendar at spots like the Aladdin Theater and the Crystal Ballroom. If you want electronic music to fuel your sweaty dance parties, Holocene is your spot, complete with 25-foot ceilings, two main rooms with stellar sound systems, and performances that weave together genre-bending DJs and art.
VooDoo Doughnut (Photo: Henry Alva/Flickr)
Wherever you party in Portland, there’s nothing better to offset the effects of a long night out than fried dough. Voodoo Doughnut (which has a new limited-hours outpost at Cartlandia) is a 24-hour shop that serves ridiculous options like the Grape Ape, with vanilla frosting, grape dust, and lavender sprinkles.
Depending on how your night has gone, you might think that it’s a good idea to try the gargantuan Tex-Ass Challenge doughnut, the size of six regular doughnuts. If you can eat it in 80 seconds, the doughnut is free. Don’t expect to succeed, but this is one of those situations where there are no losers.