Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Portland pubs

Lucky Lab
Lucky Lab bike rack
photo by vj_pdx
The Lucky Lab is my favorite restaurant in Portland. Their three-cheese meltdown is the thing in Portland that has consistently made me hungry for the near-decade I've known about it. It's basically a cheese sandwich, but it has mushrooms, great salsa and pepperoncini, which remind me of the much-missed sandwich shop I worked at in college. Another thing that has more to do with ambience than food is super-relaxed outdoor seating that almost always has enough space, even on the nicest day in Portland. And it's almost never too crowded indoors, either, making it comfortable to have a table all to yourself, or to invite your eight closest friends. I attended a gathering there of the Lewis and Clark Law School Democrats with my fiance, and we were joined semi-accidentally by some gals who'd come for Drinking Liberally at the overcrowded next table. Finally, Lucky Lab hosts the yearly Worst Day Of The Year bike ride, often the first time my bike spends much time on the pavement after a rainy winter has successfully crushed my spirit and put me on the bus.

Lucky Lab's beer suffers slightly by comparison to the Deschutes and Bridgeport that flow like rivers through the streets of Portland. But it's not too far behind in sheer delectability. Their dark beers are suitably thick and tasty, and their pear cider is absolutely dreamy.

The theme is Labrador dogs (not a fortunate science lab), so dogs are encouraged on the back patio. Sometimes the back patio smells like dogs and/or cigarettes (ew), but that's easily escaped inside.

BridgePort Brewing
I haven't gone out looking for new microbrews for five years or so, but I still suspect BridgePort has the best beer in Portland. The Black Strap Stout puts Guinness to shame. Their IPA rakes in awards.

As for the food and ambience, there are two locations, not at all alike. The downtown(ish) location is roomy and comfy, but the food is stale slices of pizza that probably wasn't great to begin with. The Hawthorne location, on the other hand, offers plate-licking-good ravioli and salmon prepared in many to-die-for configurations. But it's a little fancy-schmancy. You couldn't bring kids here, and I always feel a little frousy among the recently-dyed black-clad yuppie-to-the-max patrons.

The Hedge House [Yelp]
The Hedge House has a frequently-changed menu of delicious beer. A good bet is always the Proletariat Red, but their special selections have never let me down. The food is also fantastic. They have Reuben sandwiches that are repeat orders in both their Gardenburger and corned beef forms. Their pulled pork and portobello burger are also popular with the fiance and me.

Horse Brass [Yelp]
Lucky Lab bike rack
photo by devlyn
This photo almost perfectly captures the essence of Horse Brass. Dark dark dark with disgusting English food. If there were three shiny darts and the beer was glowing deliciously, it would be nailed. I recommend it because I enjoy darts and great beer and this place has both. Meat eaters also seem impressed by the Scotch egg, which is a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage and deep-fried, I think. Gah.

Barley Mill
The Barley Mill is a really comfy place to hang out. It's never crowded, so you can hang out as long as you like, playing some Scrabble or cards. It's strange that this is my favorite of the McMenamin's restaurants, given that it is Grateful Dead-themed and two consecutive jobs spent working with people who only listened to Jerry Garcia killed the Dead for me forever. The food is slightly above average, unlike at other McMenami, where it's slightly below. McMenamin's beer is better than 99% of what you can buy in the rest of the country, but in Portland it almost doesn't measure up. Like the food, it seems a bit watered-down. The beer has devoted fans, though, and if you ever work in Portland, you will go to McMenami for work functions at some point.

Shanghai Tunnel
The Shanghai tunnels were used to kidnap drunk or drugged people to work on ships. Apparently, this restaurant has one such tunnel. I wouldn't know, as I missed the point by staying outside the whole time the only time I went to this pub. And then I got so drunk that I left my bike overnight. And it got stolen. So I haven't been back. But I guess I was made a victim of my own vice at the Shanghai Tunnel, so perhaps I didn't miss the experience entirely. (I've also taken the Shanghai tunnel tour on another occasion, which is interesting, but mostly consists of wandering around in dark, dirty underground rooms.)

Holman's Restaurant [Yelp]
Holman's has a great garden Reuben and a good jukebox. Well drinks are cheap, and the french fries are popular. That said, it's grimy enough that I feel a little funny recommending it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Portland hotels

Here are some hotel recommendations for Portland visitors.

Where I'd like to stay if I were visiting
Bluebird Guesthouse, $55-$85, 5/5 stars
This is in walking distance to my house, which is in a great neighborhood. The rooms look great, and they're inexpensive.
3517 SE Division St.
Portland, OR 97202
12 people

McMenamin's Edgefield, $55, 4/5 stars
portland's rock and roll hotel

photo by dvanhorn
I stayed in a different McMenamin's hotel about an hour west of Portland once and really enjoyed it. The bathrooms were shared, and the wall above the bed was painted with a dark mural of an old Mason lady reminiscent of something a grade-schooler would paint. But the old converted buildings of the McMenami have lots of charm, as well as plenty of activities on the premises. The Edgefield has a theater pub, a regular pub, and a wine tasting room, among other things.
2126 SW Halsey
Troutdale, OR 97060

Jupiter Hotel (link plays an annoying "Groove"), $104, 3/5 stars
portland's rock and roll hotel

photo by kandyjaxx
I'm intrigued by this place in spite of reviews suggesting they're charging double what they should for IKEA furniture, bad service, and lots of noise (it's on the premises of one of the cool music venues in Portland, the Doug Fir). I like the location and the style from the outside. But a lot of online reviewers hate it. Not recommended for guests over forty or under sixteen.
800 E. Burnside
Portland, OR 97214

McMenamin's Kennedy School, $114, 4.5/5 stars

photo by KeelyE
I stayed in a different McMenamin's hotel about an hour west of Portland once and really enjoyed it. The bathrooms were shared, and the wall above the bed was painted with a dark mural of an old Mason lady reminiscent of something a grade-schooler would paint. But the old converted buildings of the McMenami have lots of charm, as well as plenty of activities on the premises. The Kennedy School has a lovely theater pub, a lot of other pubs, and a soaking pool (the highlight of the McMenamin's I stayed at).
5736 NE 33rd Avenue
Portland, OR 97211

Portland's White House B&B, $125-$225, 4.5/5 stars
1914 NE 22nd Avenue
Portland, OR 97212

Lion and the Rose Victorian B&B, $134-$224
The Lion and the Rose - 1
photo by misternaxal
1810 NE 15th Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97212

The Heathman Hotel, $135-$469, 4.5/5 stars
1001 SW Broadway
Portland, OR 97205

Benson Hotel, $204, 3.5/5 stars
Benson Hotel
photo by rainboweyes
309 Southwest Broadway
Portland Oregon 97205

Hotel Monaco, $219-$375, 4.5/5 stars
506 S.W. Washington
Portland, Oregon 97204

Hotel deLuxe, If you have to ask, you can't afford it? 4.5/5 stars
729 SW 15th Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97205

Other options close-in
Banfield Value Inn, $65
1525 NE 37th Avenue
Portland, OR 97232

Motel 6, $66
3104 SE Powell Blvd
Portland, OR 97202

Thriftlodge, $73, 4/5 stars
949 E Burnside Street
Portland, OR 97214

Red Lion Hotel - Convention Center, $130, 3/5 stars
Hotel deLuxe
photo by ahockley
1021 NE Grand Ave
Portland, OR 97232
(503) 235-2100

Doubletree Hotel, $144-$590, 3/5
1000 NE Multnomah St
Portland, OR 97232
(503) 281-6111

Residence Inn - Downtown/Lloyd Center, $169, 4/5 stars
I've been in the room of someone who's been a repeat customer here, and it looks comfortable.
1710 NE Multnomah Street
Portland, OR 97232
(503) 288-1400

Inexpensive options further away
Econo Lodge Expo Center, $45-$48
405 NE Columbia Blvd.
Portland, OR, 97211-1421

Quality Inn Portland Airport, $55-$70
8247 N.E. Sandy Blvd.
Portland, OR, US, 97220

Econo Lodge, $55-$85
18323 SE Stark St
Portland, OR, US, 97233

Friday, November 9, 2007

Stars of Track and Field at Doug Fir

Stars of Track and Field will play tonight at 9:30 at Doug Fir, 830 East Burnside. Tickets are $13. Doug Fir describes Stars of Track and Field as "epic dreamcore." Me, I call them hot guys singing love songs that also rock. Perhaps that's why Doug Fir makes the big bucks loving music, and I lose money that way.
photo by hummanna
Here are links to get some mp3's:
Stars of Track and Field - With You [YouTube]
Stars of Track and Field - Fantastic

And here's an interview with lead singer Kevin Calaba.

Jeff Klein will open the show. I'm a sucker for a Guns of Brixton cover, and his is a good one.
Jeff Klein - Guns of Brixton

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Jens Lekman and Throw Me The Statue

Jens Lekman and Throw Me the Statue will play Wednesday, November 7 at Portland's Someday Lounge, 125 NW 5th Avenue.

Jens Lekman - Washing Machine
Jens Lekman - Black Cab [YouTube][Buy mp3!!!]
Jens Lekman - Your Beat Kicks Back Like Death
Jens Lekman - Julie (Remixed) [Buy mp3!!!]
Jens Lekman - You Are The Light [YouTube][Buy mp3!!!]
Jens Lekman - Opposite of Hallelujah [Buy mp3!!!]
Jens Lekman - Friday Night At The Drive-In Bingo [Buy mp3!!!]
Jens Lekman - Maple Leaves [Buy mp3!!!]
Jens Lekman - A Sweet Summer's Night On Hammer Hill [Buy mp3!!!]
Jens Lekman - Your Arms Around Me [YouTube][Buy mp3!!!]
Jens Lekman - A Postcard To Nina [Buy mp3!!!]

Throw Me The Statue - Lolita
Throw Me the Statue - Yucatan Gold
Throw Me the Statue - Young Sensualists
Throw Me the Statue - Conquering Kids
Throw Me the Statue - About To Walk

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Southern Mexico needs help

Compras de Panico
Compras de Panico,
originally uploaded by 8zil.
A city in southern Mexico called Villahermosa has suffered flooding that looks possibly worse than that suffered by New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Possibly much, much worse. Tens of thousands of people are stranded on rooftops amid rushing flood waters, and grocery stores are empty. They need help. I don't know what one can do, but I'll update this post as I get more information.

For now, all I can think to do is contact your Senators, Representative, and Governor and ask them to send help to Villahermosa.

Update: According to this article, the Cruz Roja (Red Cross) is providing food aid. It appears that you can donate only through the mail or by wire.

Update: There's no drinking water. People in Mexico City can bring bottled water and other non-perishables to:
Casa de la Cultura del Gobierno de Tabasco
Berlin 33, esquina Marsella
Colonia Juarez, Mexico City

Update: Lady K has information about other donation sites in Mexico City.

Update: This has finally reached the front page of Google News.

Sending donations is a real pain, but for those concerned enough, who have Bank of America accounts, you go to a branch and sign up for "Safe Send." Then you can send money for free to several accounts set up for disaster victims.

Update: A mere four days after the flooding started, the American Red Cross sent some chump change and is "evaluating" sending relief workers. But they'll sure take your money! It's online and convenient!

Whatever. I'm so disappointed in my country. When New Orleans flooded, Mexico sent aid workers, and a lot of water, food, and money, possibly before Bush even stopped clowning around with country music singers. Bush has not said a word about the flooding in Tabasco. Maybe he needs a few more days to veto bills to (drum roll) prevent flooding in the United States.

Update: Ireland has offered a million euros (like a kajillion dollars).

Update: Food and water is running out. Officials estimate 80,000 people are still in the flooded areas.

The U.S. silence is deafening. The best news story, not very good, is an article in the New York Times with some personal stories of the disaster. Where is George W. Bush? Is this how Texans treat their neighbors?

Update: Finally, the Washington Post has captured the utter urgency of the situation.