Portlandia bound!
February 24, 2012 9:16 AM   Subscribe

We're coming out to Portland, OR in early may for the HP Lovecraft film festival. We have been before, but I'm wondering (a) where to stay and (b) what's new in the past 3 years.

The past two times we've gone, we've stayed in a Marriott Courtyard and a Marriott residence Inn...both were fine, and we may very well stay there again, but I'm wondering if there's something more interesting we're missing. The neighborhood close to the Hollywood theater always seemed a bit...sketchy around the edges, so we're thinking of staying downtown and taking the tram.

Mr. Arkham is a Kimpton member so we're looking at their 3 properties, but I've seen mixed reviews of the Vintage which is the most affordable one.

Any tips on good places for food and drink (especially anything new-ish) are welcome as well!
posted by JoanArkham to Travel & Transportation around Portland, OR (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I have no idea how new or old Branch is, but if you like whiskey you must go. they've got a selection of whiskey/beer pairing suggestions that are great. and the duckfat french fries omg drool.....
posted by supermedusa at 9:26 AM on February 24, 2012

The trip from downtown to the Hollywood stop on the MAX is about 25 minutes, starting at Pioneer Courthouse Square. The trains run very frequently, you can take the Red, Blue or Green line and get there, as well as the #12 bus. The walk from the transit center is very short.

Personally, I'd opt for a downtown hotel (SW Portland) over the convention center area (NE). The convention center area seems really sterile and non-Portland-y. Hell, there's an Applebee's nearby. Downtown is pretty much awesome. The Vintage Hotel is close to some of the better things in Portland, like funky bars and loads of food carts (two blocks to one of the best food cart pods at SW 5th and Stark)
posted by Mister Fabulous at 9:44 AM on February 24, 2012

I live near the Hollywood Theater. It's not a sketchy neighborhood in terms of safety--it's pretty much residential and quiet. But it's true that the commercial area on Sandy is a little bedraggled and hasn't gotten the attention that other parts of town have. Certainly the hotels and food carts are better downtown, and I second staying away from the convention center area -- it's just boring.
posted by xil at 10:22 AM on February 24, 2012

The convention center area DOES have a Burgerville, though.

It IS sterile, boring and not pedestrian-friendly unless you wish to walk to and across the Steel Bridge.

We have stayed at the Inn part of the Park Lane Suites and Inn up in NW and found it simple, clean and comfortable. A step down from the Kimpton stuff, though.
posted by Danf at 10:39 AM on February 24, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks, all! I think the Convention Area is where we stayed the first time, and it was kind of in the middle of nowhere.

I see where one of our favorite bands (X!) is playing the first night we're there so we may try to catch the show. It looks like the Crystal Hotel is owned by the same people as the venue, and right across the street. Anyone know anything about it?
posted by JoanArkham at 10:44 AM on February 24, 2012

I always stay with my sister when I visit Portland so I got nothing on hotels, but for food:
Gotta recommend Tasty n Sons, especially for lunch, when it'll be less crowded. I also hear good things about their sister restaurant, Toro Bravo, which is newer, and probably fancier/more dinner-oriented.
And Screendoor for Southern food.

Neither is ultra-new, but they may be new to you, and are both awesome.

(I'll give a shout-out to a new bookshop too: Mother Foucault's. Small, quirky selection, impeccably organized. Obviously a labor of love. And you can probably cruise the whole store in half an hour, so it's not like committing to an afternoon at Powell's or anything.)
posted by snoe at 10:52 AM on February 24, 2012

People who live in Portland (myself included) bitch about McMenamins: there are so damn many of them, the food is crappy, the beer sucks, etc., but even I thought the Crystal Hotel was kinda neat. It's a good example of what they do best--take an old building that didn't have much going for it and give it a whimsical makeover. Each room has a different musical theme. I've even eaten some snacks in the Zeus Cafe (the attached restaurant) and it was loads better than usual McMenamins fare.

You should still go elsewhere for food, though. Near the Crystal Hotel, Gruner is supposed to be great, and I like Clyde Common though it may have been there when you visited before. Further away from where you'll likely stay, but also fabulous, is Toro Bravo (seconding snoe). It's my favorite restaurant. I wandered into the Woodsman Tavern the other day, it's brand new and the drinks and apps were really good. it's also spendy. Biwa has been around for a few years but the food is fantastic. Also, St. Jack is newish, never been myself but I've heard great things.
posted by janerica at 11:33 AM on February 24, 2012

There's also the McMenamin's Kennedy School up in NE Portland. The #73 bus stops right in front and will get you pretty close to Hollywood (10 minute walk to the theater from the Grant High School stop). It's close to lots of good restaurants and coffee shops around the Alberta area.
posted by perhapses at 11:41 AM on February 24, 2012

Beaker & Flask and Rum Club are on SE Stark & Washington, and share some ownership. Rum Club is pretty brand-new, B&F is new since you've been here. Both have fantastic drinks and great food, though Rum Club is more snack-level than dinner.

Other new-in-the-last-few-years places in SE: Bunk Sandwiches (SE Morrison) or Bunk Bar (SE Water), Boke Bowl (SE Water nearish OMSI), Sunshine Tavern (SE Division) WaFu (SE Division next to Sunshine Tavern, my favorite ramen), Mi Mero Mole (farther out SE Divison, amazing tacos), Meat Cheese Bread (SE Stark).

It's kind of silly and can be loud, but the Jupiter Hotel is okay (it's silly-over-trendy, but not uncomfortable based on my sole experience sleeping there), and it's close to a lot of the NE/SE stuff, which is, to my mind, vastly preferable to the Convention Center area.

The Spirit of 77 is close to the Convention Center, though, and is about the only tolerable food close around there. Though if you walk a bit, the Mississippi district has lots of neat stuff, and, apparently, a website.
posted by Kpele at 2:25 PM on February 24, 2012

We love staying at the Mark Spencer which is just two blocks from the Crystal Ballroom.

Try the cheese fries at Kenny and Zuke's Delicatessen.
posted by humboldt32 at 3:29 PM on February 24, 2012

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