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Volume 35
Issue 23
 
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OUTBOUND: Portland - Rose City Pride parade, a weekend road trip, always fun
OUTBOUND: Portland - Rose City Pride parade, a weekend road trip, always fun
by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A & E Writer

Portland officially kicks off the Northwest's Gay pride festivities with a sparkly parade and a weekend-packed roster for the GLBT community on June 16-17. The "Rose City" is currently undergoing a makeover, evidenced by a number of closed or ripped up streets in downtown, but this won't affect any Pride events. A second makeover is Portland's move to become more upscale. You'll notice many new hotspots and boutique-style businesses throughout, primarily in the Pearl District. Of Gay interest, Eagle PDX has moved to North Portland, while longtime Gay dives Bricks, Boxxes, CC Slaughters, Embers, Scandals, Darcelle XV, and The Silverado are still going strong in their respective locations. For a list of hipster, Gay-mixed lounges, see the "Drink" section for recommendations. Portland has several Gay-friendly neighborhoods, though overall it's not as liberal-minded as Seattle, so stay near downtown.

`"Keep Portland Queer", a play on words from the city's "Keep Portland Weird" marketing campaign, is the theme for this year's Pride festivities (www.pridenw.com). The parade route is along the waterfront, and begins at 11:15am on Sunday, June 17. If you can't make Pride, but are considering a venture to the Rose City soon, here are suggestions for your trip.

JOURNEY
Most people travel to-from Portland by car, but those without wheels can get there conveniently and affordably on Amtrak (www.amtrak.com). There are five daily departures from Seattle's King Street Station to Portland's Union Station, and four arrivals, with roundtrip fares of $62 (coach) and $88 (business). I recommend business class for more room and less noise, plus you'll receive a $3 food voucher that can be used in the bistro car. Alaska Airlines miles, through July 15, can be traded in for Amtrak coach tickets. An upgrade to business class is $13 each way.

SLEEP
Jupiter Hotel (800 E. Burnside Street, www.jupiterhotel.com)
Five minutes from downtown Portland and just over the Burnside Bridge is the city's funkiest and budget-friendliest place to crash. Jupiter Hotel, a proud host of various GLBT events year-round, is a converted motel-to-hotel with rooms starting barely over $100, sometimes lower during non-peak months. Don't expect four-star accommodations, this isn't a fancy-schmancy property. But it is a hipster hangout, thanks to concert venue Doug Fir Lounge on the premises - meaning you're bound to bump into rock bands wandering around at anytime. The rooms are kitschy-cool with low-rise beds, retro lamps and chairs, old school clock radios, brightly colored condoms, and chalkboards on each door's exterior to write silly, possibly naughty, thoughts. Free Internet service in the lobby, cheery front desk assistants, and close proximity to several great restaurants, including the very happening Chesterfield Club, comes with your stay at the Jupiter Hotel.

DRINK
The Gilt Club (306 NW Broadway, www.giltclub.com)
Ten minutes into my visit at The Gilt Club in Portland, I knew this would become one of my favorite cocktail lounges. From someone who puts The Chapel in Seattle and Vancouver, BC's George on his list of Northwest's coolest drinking spots, I fell hard for this place at first sip. Deep red walls with matching drapes, glitzy chandeliers, and an eye-candy clientele are what you'll first notice at this glamorous-yet-casual space. Even more attractive is the full dinner menu served until close, featuring pork chops, steak, seared halibut, house-made ravioli, and a Dungeness crab risotto. On the lighter side, a wild salmon tartar totally hit the spot when I stopped by.

You'd expect a bar with a swanky-type atmosphere to draw a pretentious crowd, but there's no such thing at The Gilt Club. It's an attitude-free zone. Upscale Gay men and friendly, straight urbanites congregate over original cocktails, such as Tracy's First Love (house-infused cucumber vodka, muddled cucumber, basil, lime), Guest Worker (salted margarita with house-infused strawberry vodka, kiwi, pineapple, tequila), Cosmonot (house-infused cranberry vodka, orange curacao, lemon, lime), and the "Bartenders Mood", varying on who's behind the bar and what kind of night they're having. The Gilt Club is quiet enough to have a conversation with your drinking companions and lively enough to keep you on your toes. For additional entertainment, a flat screen TV behind the bar shows nostalgic gems, like "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner".

The Vault (226 NW 12th Avenue, www.vault-martini.com)
My bartender did the robot to Styx's "Mr. Roboto" and memories of a fun-filled childhood floated in as Madonna's "Like A Virgin" played overhead. No, this wasn't 80s night at a karaoke joint. It was a standard Saturday evening at The Vault, a Gay-owned lounge in the busy Pearl District of Portland. Two thirtysomething non-heteros enjoyed pre-dinner cocktails behind me, while a pair of circuit boy-types gossiped over beers to my left at this basement-level lounge popular for its distinct martinis. For those with bent halos, The Vault's "7 Deadly Sins" is the perfect method to ensure your night ends on a disorderly bang. Bar food (pizzas, salads, and paninis) are dished up until last call. Late-night sweet tooths might want to partake of the scrumptious dessert menu.

EAT
Andina (1314 NW Glisan Street, www.andinarestaurant.com)
Fellow SGN writer Richard Kennedy raved about Andina when he visited Portland last year, and he was right. This place is an absolute godsend. Traditional Peruvian dishes, such as pimiento piquillo relleno (peppers stuffed with cheese and quinoa), aji de gallina (pulled chicken in a cream sauce with yellow potatoes), and alfajores (shortbread cookies) are not only melt-in-your-mouth delicious, they're also made with love and care by the Platt-Rodriguez family, who often mingle with guests in the restaurant and share their own recipes and stories from Peru with them. The wine list features lots of bottles from South America, the ambience is open with neutral colored walls, service is impeccable, and live music from local artists is played nightly. This is such a lovely restaurant that if I should ever move to the Rose City, I might just apply to work here.

Masu (406 SW 13th Avenue, www.masusushi.com)
Great sushi in a chic ambience is what makes Masu a standout within trendsetter circles in Portland. Located on the second level of a non-descript building, blocks from the Gay bars, Masu is where to go for nice-portioned specialty rolls, like Death by Sushi (unagi, avocado, cream cheese, tempura fried crab, eel, fantasy sauce), St. Helen's Volcano (tempura fried whitefish, crab, shrimp), Japanther (spicy crab, cucumber, tuna, avocado), and the Buddha (shitake, asparagus, cucumber, gobo, pickled gourd and radish). Masu's dimmed ambience, lounge music and roomy bar area keeps the locals coming, this aside from two happy hours, irresistible sushi and a rather interesting cocktail menu.

Voodoo Doughnut (22 SW 3rd Avenue, www.voodoodoughnut.com)
Doughnuts, with attitude. That's what you get at Portland's uber popular and downright cheap Voodoo Doughnut. The circular snack transcends into a star dessert when topped with unusual suspects like fruit loops, peanut butter, bananas, cocoa puffs, Oreo cookies, and grape powder (yep, grape powder). My favorite is the Butter Fingering, a chocolate cake doughnut dipped in vanilla frosting and sprinkled with Butterfinger crumbs. Umm, umm good. There's no place to sit and weekend lines can be half a block deep, but it's worth it. Doughnuts average $1.50, and a dozen is a mere $8. Bachlorettes and gutter-minded Gay boys might prefer the "cock 'n'balls", a triple cream-filled doughnut that goes for $4.95 and must be pre-ordered.

SHOP
Under U 4 Men (507 SW Broadway, www.underu4men.com)
Let's face it, underwear is sexy. At least it should be. And every Gay or straight, or somewhere in between, guy should invest in a fresh pair of briefs at the start of each season. Portland boys are strutting to Gay-owned skivvies boutique Under U 4 Men, featuring live models on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons. The store, with selections by Ginch Gonch, Aussie Bum, and DKNY, to name a few, recently opened its second shop at Bridgeport Village and rumor has it a Seattle locale is in the works. So say goodbye to Hanes and give a warm howdy-doody to designer underwear, the fashionable way to show off your firm assets.

Counter Media (927 SW Oak Street, (503) 226-8141)
Not your average bookstore. Not your average books. At Gay-owned Counter Media, obscure comics and hard-to-find dirty mags fill the shelves - items you won't find at nearby over-stocked, and somewhat overrated, Powell's. For Gay eyes only, a feast of nudie male publications is located near the back-end of the store, including non-hetero anime. Coffee table books, autobiographies, naughty joke collections, exotica, and an assortment of looky-loo items for the open-minded are packed into Counter Media's modest digs.



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