Visiting Portland, Oregon on a Budget

Author: , July 20th, 2014

Portland, Oregon Skyline

Looking to plan your next vacation but don’t want to spend a fortune? For an enriching getaway that doesn’t break the bank, Portland’s utopia of sustainability, cycling, good eats, and natural beauty has you covered.

Getting Around

Renting a car or taking taxis is unnecessary in Portland, thanks to the excellent public transportation system and bike infrastructure. As far as public transit goes, widely used is the TriMet light rail, which encompasses four lines and 84 stations — connecting commuters to attractions like Washington Park, Lloyd Center, Oregon Convention Center, and the Portland Expo Center. Tickets are $2.50 for a 2-hour ticket, $5 for a day pass, or $25 for 10 tickets. Other options include TriMet bus service, street cars, and commuter rail.

Cycling is also a great option for getting around Portland, considering the city’s 319 miles of bikeways, 15 intersections with bicycle-specific traffic signals, and 5,000 bike racks. If you’re not bringing your own wheels, Cycle Portland Bike Tours offers rentals starting at $5 per day, $20 per day, or $80 per week.

By Jessica Festa – Full Story at Shermans Travel | Portland, Oregon Gay Travel Resources

Gay Portland: The Portland Art Museum

Author: , July 20th, 2014

On our last trip to Portland, Oregon, we visited the Portland Art Museum for the first time.

While we’ve been by there before – there are some great pieces you can see for free in the courtyard outside the building – this was the first time we’ve gone inside.

On the five or six floors of the building, there are several ongoing exhibits, and also some rotating ones – one of these was an exhibit of sculptures and art from a French palace – amazing.

And check out the lifelike naked statue below – the artist rejected the perfected cold sculpture techniques so common with statues of people – opting instead to make something so lifelike it fools the eye.

The museum is well worth a stop the next time you’re in Portland.

Portland, Oregon Gay Travel Resources

Portland Art Museum

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Six Smaller Gay Friendly US Cities

Author: , June 28th, 2014

Las Vegas AerialLast week Lauren Conrad blew up her social media over a flap with a restaurant in Cabo San Lucas. Apparently they wouldn’t let same-sex couples to participate in some bar games that were going on. So Lauren took her bachelorette party and left. This got us in the office thinking about outside of the usual Miami, NY, and San Francisco, what are some of the best smaller cities to visit for the LGBT community? So here ya go:

Las Vegas, NV

You would probably expect the come-one-come all city to welcome the LGBT crowd with open arms, and you would be right. Nowadays, all of the resorts consider themselves gay-friendly and a few years back Rumor even opened as almost gay preferred, but they pull in a great mixed crowd. If you bring Fido, don’t miss their Yappy Hour event. Wynn and Encore now offer a Pride Concierge and same-sex couples massages at resorts are not even given a second thought. There is a decent smattering of gay bars, including the “Fruit Loop” – a gay section of town off of Paradise Rd with clubs and shops. If you are hanging down on Paradise head a little further down to Firefly* (ed. note – don’t go looking for the footnote; the asterisk is part of the name) for the best value on Tapas you will find in Vegas.

Providence, RI

Although there is no gayborhood in Providence, the LGBT community is found thoughout the community. Voted into Travel and Leisure’s Top Five Gay Cities as well as many other top lists of gay-friendly destinations, the eclectic art scene, great restaurants and a youthful downtown keep Providence moving. If you are going to do one thing in the summer, make it Waterfire, an “award-winning fire sculpture installation on the three rivers in downtown Providence.”

By Tom Bastek – Full Story at Travel Pulse | LOCATION Gay Travel Resources

What to Do in Portland, Oregon

Author: , June 25th, 2014

Pioneer Courthouse SquareFrom scenic day trips, to breweries and wineries galore, to cycling and hiking, it would be impossible to experience all that Portland has to offer in a single day — but you can certainly try. Make a mad dash for all of these places, or space them out over a two- or three-day itinerary:

Brunch: Start your day with brunch at Tasty n Alder, open daily from 9 a.m., although you may want to get their earlier, especially on weekends. The menu is American with global touches, inspired by Chef John Gorham’s food memories and travels. The decor is modern industrial, with bare bulbs and exposed wood beams, and large windows let in lots of natural light. The food is served family-style, with each dish brought out at different times to encourage sharing. Drinks like a “Brandy Alexander” (brandy creme de cocoa and chocolate bitters) compliment breakfast nicely. Savor entrees like biscuits with venison and pork sauce; a truffle omelette with beef bacon; and Korean fried chicken with short grain rice. The unobstructed views of the Gothic-style First Presbyterian Church add to the atmosphere.

Cycling: Portland is known from its enthusiastic biking culture. In fact, according to the Portland Bureau of Transportation six percent of residents commute by bike (more than any other large American city) and the city features 319 miles of bike lanes. With that in mind, what better way to work off those Wagyu fat-soaked fries from brunch than with an active cultural experience?

By Jessica Festa – Full Story at Shermans Travel | Portland, Oregon Gay Travel Resources

Portland Gay Pride Photos

Author: , June 16th, 2014

Mark and I traveled up to Portland for our first Portland gay pride – we’d heard it was small and boring, but nothing could have been further from the truth.

Portland Pride is as eclectic as the city it marches through, and although it rained about half the time (in the middle of June, no less – it is Portland, after all), we had a great time.

Here are some of our favorite sights from the parade. Enjoy!

Portland Gay Pride

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Our Five Favorite Portland Snack Places

Author: , November 21st, 2013

Alotta Gelato PortlandOur final post in our mini series of our favorite places to eat in Portland, Oregon – this time – snacks.

#1 Alotto Gelato (http://www.alottogelato.biz)

On 23rd, Alotto Gelato has the best flavor selection and very friendly service. The peach-raspberry combo I had there was amazing.

The Tea Zone Portland#2 Tea Zone (http://www.teazone.com)

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that bubble tea (usually tea, milk, a sweetener, and tapioca bubbles that you suck up through a big straw) is one of my favorite things. The Tea Zone, in the heart of the Pearl, serves bubble tea, and has a great one – the “Obama Honey” bubble tea. Get it frozen – a delectable slushy with bubbles.

Cacao Portland#3 Cacao (http://cacaodrinkchocolate.com)

Owned by a gay couple, this chocolate shop has two locations in downtown, and serves homemade chocolate and chocolate from around the world. But where they excel is the drinking chocolate – rich, delicious, and even available in a spicy pepper version. And cute employees, too.

#4 Cupcake Jones (http://www.cupcakejones.net/)

Another dessert place, for folks with a real sweet tooth, is Cupcake Jones, on the eastern end of The Pearl – with different, decadent cupcakes served daily. Very gay friendly – our Portland spies say they show up at almost all the gay related events.

#5 via Delizia (http://www.viadelizia.com)

At Marshall and 11th next to Tanner Springs Park, with decent gelato that was a little too soft and melted really fast, as well as a less-than-friendly server.

Our Seven Favorite Portland Dinner Places

Author: , November 20th, 2013

Here’s the third in our series on Portland, Oregon’s great places to eat in or close to downtown.

Andina#1 Andina (http://www.andinarestaurant.com)

This Peruvian powerhouse is owned by Peter de Platt and his wife Doris Rodiguez de Platt – and Doris makes a point of coming around to visit her guests and make them feel comfortable. Andina has a warm, almost fiery decor that suits its cuisine – flavorful, colorful and always top-notch.

This trip, we started with some bread and three sauces – one was mild and peanut-based, one had a little kick and was a mango-based, lick your plate clean salsa, and the last was something green that was hot enough to strip the skin off your tongue. We followed that up with the cheese plate, with a blue cheese, a soft goats milk cheese, and a hard, parmesan-style cheese, surrounded by homemade cornnuts. The main course was an amazing petit filet, served with fresh veggies and an amazing corn masa – like a tamale but flavored more like a delicate cornbread, but with a pepper kick in the middle.

At the end of the meal, Doris sent over a little desert – two powdered-sugar-covered cookies with a sweet caramel center. One note about Andina – they are always packed, so they can be a bit strict about putting you at a smaller two person table if you’re a couple. If you have a friend or two in town, take them and get there early – you’ll be much more likely to snag a nice booth for four by the window, anbd your friends will thank you for bringing them.

Oba!#2 Oba! (http://www.obarestaurant.com)

A spanish tapas place with a warm, friendly atmosphere and staff. Funny story – we wanted to try Piazza Antica just up the street, but when we walked in, we were ignored for ten minutes, and finally offered a lousy table that’s given to people who don’t make reservations. We were literally told that by the rude host. So we left, and went to Oba!, where they found us a wonderful corner table by the window,and served us some fantastic beef skewers and a wonderful tortilla soup. Everything was fantastic.

Tasty & Alder#3 Tasty and Alder (http://tastyntasty.com/alder/)

This is one of our favorite new restaurants on the Portland scene – Sandwiched between Downtown and Goose Hollow – the perfect place for dinner before a show at the Artists Reparatory Theatre. This cute little restaurant has a nice modern, with open pipes and distressed wood lending it an industrial vibe. Fifties music played over the restaurant speakers.

We really liked the cheese tray here, filled out with candied walnuts, figs and cherry jam (really good, by the way), and a wonderfully crisp salad in a frosty bowl. For our main course, we had a divine potato dumpling dish in a tomato sauce. Everything was beautiful and (as promised) tasty. We also noticed a number of other gay couples here.

On beautiful summer nights, they open up the windows to the street, and you can people watch and enjoy the beautiful stone church across the street – spoiler alert – it lights up at night.

Speaking of the Artists Reparatory Theatre, it’s a beautiful new community theatre – we saw the play “The Big Meal” there, a frenetic family drama set in a restaurant with a cast of six playing a huge batch of characters. And, surprise, Queer as Folk’s Scott Lowell (Teddy) plaid one of the main roles.

Serratto#4 Serratto (http://www.serratto.com)

This restaurant, just up 21st from Cinema 21, is one of our favorite finds. It’s a large restaurant on a corner, with a warm and welcoming decor.

We started here with a beautiful charcuterie and cheese tray, with choriso prosciuto, salsmi, soft cheese, almonds, pickled onions mustard and mustard seeds – I don’t even like mustard, but the mustard seeds were delicious.

The bread served with the meal was divine – a soft, holey bread with a nice, crispy crust. For my main meal, I had the scallops with quinoa pasta, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, and basil pesto. mark ordered the empanadas with manchego cheese and cilantro. We both paired fries with our meals – fries go with everything. The black tea is also really good here.

The restaurant offers a mixed mediterranean menu in a warm, airy dining room with a bar sandwiched in-between the two main wings.

Cha Taqueria#5 Cha Taqueria (http://chapdx.com)

A new favorite over on 21st, just three blocks from the Cinema 21 movie theater, where they host the annual Portland Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. This place has a great covered patio on the corner, as well as indoor dining. They were very friendly, and the atmosphere is casual and fun.

We shared the steak and chicken fajitas – they were really good, and one plate was enough for two, unless you’re really hungry. The fajitas are served on a skillet with bell peppers, onions, guacamole, salsa and sour cream, along with corn tortillas (flour also available). The guacamole and chips were good, too, and the prices very reasonable.

#6 Pastini Pastaria (http://www.pastini.com)

Just a couple blocks west of Pioneer Courthouse Square, this place offers an engaging atmosphere, some great parmesan bread with a killer marinara dipping sauce, and some really good cheese-filled pasta shells.

Pink Rose#7 Pink Rose (http://www.pinkrosepdx.com)

Located on the north end of The Pearl, this restaurant has two parts – an upstairs deck open when the weather is good, and a downstairs basement space that feels like a jazz lounge. We had the baked brie here, which was served in a small skillet with thick slices of buttered, toasted bread and grilled vegetables – delicious. Then we split the chicken and basil sandwich – with grilled Draper Valley Chicken,a basil vinaigrette, pickled red onions, mixed greens, bacon and swiss cheese. The food here was good, but it was cold out so we ended up downstairs – I’d rather come back on a sunny day when we could sit outside.

Our Four Favorite Portland Lunch Places

Author: , November 18th, 2013

We continue our tour of Portland cuisine with our four favorite lunch places in the downtown area.

Supa! Portland#1 Súpa! (http://www.supasoup.com)

This fun little hole-in-the-wall in the heart of the Pearl serves fast, easy to eat “melties” (melted cheese sandwiches) and hearty, hot soups. We chose the thick minestrone, with a nice smoky flavor, and the classic bordo sandwich, presented on a wooden serving board. This place opened in June, and has limited seating, but it’s well worth the visit. The atmosphere is casual-cozy, and their shirts say it all – “fresh fast fabulous”.

Hotlips Pizza Portland#2 Hotlips Pizza (http://hotlipspizza.com)

Our favorite Pizza, hands-down, is at Hotlips Pizza across the street from Jamison Park at the Ecotrust Building. Old standbys like hawaiian, cheese, and pepperoni mix with new creations like the mozzarella and butternut squash sauce pizza I had there this time. Grab a slice or two and head over to the park for some great people watching.

Cafe Theobroma#3 Cafe Theobroma (http://www.cafetheobroma.com)

For a quick lunch or a snack after dinner (or even a pick-me-up for breakfast), stop by the Pearl’s Caffe Thepbroma – theobromide is the chemical in chocolate that gives you that pleasant buzz. The staff here is really nice, including a waitress probably 20 years younger than me who called us “honey” and “sweetie”. 🙂

The vegetable soup for lunch was very good and hearty (if in need of a little salt). They also serve a peach desert that looks like a sugar-coated peach. The waitress swore it was a real peach, but I think it was actually a cake cunningly disguised as a peach. Either way, it was delicious (but very sweet). Mark reports that their cappuccinos are also very good.

Deschutes Brrewery - Portland#4 Deschutes Brewery (http://www.deschutesbrewery.com/Splash/default.aspx)

For some good, basic fare for lunch or dinner – beer, burgers and fries – try Deschutes Brewery below – a raucous place in the heart of the pearl, with fantastically carved wooden pillars and a lively, warm atmosphere. They also serve gluten-free beer. Who knew?

Our Four Favorite Portland Breakfast Places

Author: , November 17th, 2013

We’ve been to Portland, oregon a couple times this year, and are compiling a few lists for you of our favorite places to eat.

First up, Breakfast. Here are our top four places for the first meal of the day.

Isabel - Portland#1 Isabel (http://www.isabelscantina.com)

A small chain in Oregon and California,and has a unique, fun and funky atmosphere complete with three glass garage-style doors that open up during warm weather to let the fresh air in. Isabel is in the shadow of The Elizabeth, one of the newer condo buildings in The Pearl, and sits next to an open courtyard where you’ll find two of the Lovejoy columns which originally held up part of a freeway offramp and were decorated by an engineer in the 40′s – preserved as art here for all of Portland.

Isabel has an eclectic cuisine, from pancakes and french toast to spicy bowls of brown rice, tofu, and veggies. We actually ate here three times this trip, because they’re also very good about offering gluten-free options, and can modify their dishes to meet many other dietary restrictions. We have a friend who came to see us with her wife, and who had a number of restrictions, and she had a wonderful couple of meals at Isabel.

Lovejoy Bakers Portland#2 Lovejoy Bakers (http://lovejoybakers.com)

Just up the street from Jamison Park on 10th. The vanilla custard pastry was good – subtle but flavorful, and the homemade granola with fruit and yogurt was also good, though the greek yogurt was a bit tart for my tastes. Mark loved it.

Pearl Bakery#3 Pearl Bakery (http://www.pearlbakery.com)

The Pearl Bakery, on the eastern edge of the Pearl, serves up some simply divine pastries, coupled with the work of an outstanding Barista who fashions cappuccinos to die for. The only reason they’re not higher on the list? Lack of selection – it’s pastries and hot drinks only. But what they do, they do well.

#4 The Original Dinerant (http://originaldinerant.com)

Located at the Courtyard Portland City Center, this is a good, solid restaurant with some great breakfast food – notably the yogurt, granola and fruit I enjoyed whole we were there. Cute story – we met a lesbian couple there (at the next booth) one morning, who saw our Marriage Equality USA shirts and were so excited because they had just gotten married in Seattle. They were so cute together – we bought them breakfast in congratulations.

Portland, Oregon – Go for the Food

Author: , October 2nd, 2013

Portland ArchitectureGetting a great meal in Portland is harder than you’d think. Not for lack of talented chefs creating world-class food. Rather, too many of them. Deciding where to dine among the many contenders can quickly leave you overwhelmed.

I know. First-world problem.

But it’s true. Portland’s dining scene has such a delicious glut of talented, creative chefs, you may find yourself calculating how many dinners – if one started early – could be jammed into a single evening. Gluttonous, perhaps, but nonetheless the best way to make the most of a short visit.

And if you were to attempt said gluttony, consider starting the evening at Gabriel Rucker’s Le Pigeon, where the rustic French-inspired food – including a jerked take on the namesake bird – simply astounds.

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