When I’ve got long days during the TBA festival, I’ll usually carry snacks and a flask to keep my energy up between lectures, performances, and the Works. The downside is that carrying so much crap (add a laptop, a camera, notebooks, etc) can make one feel weighed down. Sometimes it’s better to leave the extra provisions at home and hit the streets unencumbered.
Whether you’re running from show to show in full-bore TBA mode, or just catching an evening of contemporary art, you’ll need to know where to fuel-up on booze and food. What follows is a list of bars and restaurants in walking distance to the venues. The places listed range from pricey ($$$) to cheap ($), but all can be trusted for a good meal and a drink.
Near The Works (531 SE 14th)
Beaker and Flask, 720 SE Sandy Blvd, four blocks away ($$$)
One of the city's newest bars has a great view, fine cocktails, and some wonderful plates coming out of the kitchen. The booths are comfy for groups and the high-octane drinks will get you ready for the party at TBA's interim art club.
The Maiden, 639 SE Morrison St, six blocks away ($$)
The Maiden is often overlooked, but with an affordable small-plate tapas-style menu and a decent cocktail list it’s actually a good place to stop. Not to mention the strange nautical interior is both slightly disorienting and aesthetically pleasing, especially after a day spent in the wild dreams of TBA.
Rimsky-Korsakoffee House, 707 SE 12th Ave, one block away, ($)
One of Portland’s better kept secrets; this coffee house is long on personality, quirk and eccentricities. There is little information to guide you there, but once in the cozy confines, you’ll find ample food, excellent coffee, and a clientele ready to discuss Miguel Gutierrez and James Dean [Mon. Sept 7th, 8:30 pm].
Red and Black Café, 400 SE 12th Ave, one block away, ($)
An option for the meat-free festivalgoers, Red and Black is said to have one of the best vegan Ruebens in all of PDX. The cooperative business is big on subversion and community, holding true to their anarchistic roots. A great place to get the radical juices flowing before checking out Daniel Barrow's Community Access TV Tapes [Thur. Sept 10th, 10:30 pm].
Nostrana, 1401 SE Morrison St, one block away, ($$$)
James Beard award finalist Kathy Whims helms this much loved neighborhood spot. A wood-fired oven is put to excellent use making pizzas and an ever-shifting menu of seasonal delights. Nostrana is perfect for out-of-town foodies who’d like to experience the best of Portland food along with the best of Portland art.
Sassy’s, 927 SE Morrison, five blocks away, ($ depending on how you’re tipping)
One of the top strip-clubs in the city, Sassy’s was once a hangout for past Trailblazers (you know, before they got all sensitive). The demographic is diverse as is the on-stage talent. Sassy’s is a great spot for an after-Works nightcap—especially after getting all hot and bothered with DJ Beyonda and the Hole In My Soul dance night [Tue. Sept 8th, 11 pm].
UPDATE: Meat Cheese Bread, 1406 SE Stark, 1/4 block away, ($)
After a day of taking in visual art at the Works, its time for an extremely short jaunt to Meat Cheese Bread to experience the art of the sandwich. It would serve them well to fling open their door a bit later in the night for the duration of the festival, but no matter what time of day, the food being passed across the counter of the shop is consistently amazing.
Near Portland Center Stage (128 NW 11th) ;& PDX Contemporary Art (925 NW Flanders)
Kenny & Zuke’s Delicatessen, two & seven blocks away, ($$)
This big deli serves some serious grub, including an enormous Rueben that’s fit to share. The only downside is that some of the heavy meals might put you in the mood for a nap. Good thing Young Jean Lee [Fri. Sept 4th, 6:30 pm] is too engaging to sleep through. But if you’ve only been feeding your brain with delicious art, K &Z’s is a great place to fill up your belly.
Eleni’s Philoxeria, 112 NW 9th, two blocks away from both locations, ($$)
This great little Greek restaurant has an extensive list of appetizers to share with your TBA companions before the show. It’s also a nice place to sip wine and talk about the Ethan Rose, Laura Gibson, and Jeffery Ryan Collaboration [Sun. sept 6th, 6:30 pm] you just witnessed at PDX Contemporary Art.
Clyde Common, 1014 SW Stark, two & seven blocks away, ($$$)
If you're planning to stop for a drink after the show, the Clyde is definitely one of the hottest restaurants in town and the place to see some of the up and coming talent of Portland’s food scene. If you’re in the mood to rub elbows with the trendy, moneyed, hip set, the Clyde is the place to be.
Teardrop Lounge, 1015 NW Everett, two blocks away from both locations, ($$)
The teardrop is by far one of the better cocktail lounges in the city, shaking and stirring some of the more interesting offerings in the city. There is certainly a sense of austerity around the tear shaped bar, but if you’d like to get loaded in peace between bouts of art, this is your scene.
Low Brow Lounge, 1036 NW Hoyt St, four blocks away from both locations, ($)
Is there anything better than a Low Brow lounge before seeing high-brow art? Not in my book. The Low Brow offers that shot-and-a-beer experience that is sure to keep you grounded after an hour of meditation on identity politics. Plus, the totchos will keep your belly filled as you wait to hit the Works.
Crowsenberg’s Half and Half, 923 SW Oak, four & five blocks away, ($)
This little café has some excellent sandwiches and an atmosphere that is part twee and part Paris. Two years ago during TBA, I once had the pleasure of embarrassing myself at one of the outside tables after running into the Nature Theater of Oklahoma. Who knows, maybe you’ll get a chance to embarrass yourself too.
Guilt Club, 306 NW Broadway, six & five blocks away, ($$)
If you’re making TBA the occasion for a date night, you could do worse than taking your love interest to the Gilt Club before or after the show. The place is romantic with a capital R. Also, if you’re a cheapskate, the happy hour pizza specials and bartenders choice drink specials are very worth the price.
Near Pacific Northwest College of Art (1241 NW Johnson)
Piazza Italia, 1129 NW Johnson, one block away ($$)
By far the closest place to eat near PNCA, it’s likely also the most expensive. But if you’re ready for some antipasti, or simple pasta after a TBA lecture, this might just be the place for you. A big bonus is their wine selection, which I know I’ve wanted to avail myself of after more than one cantankerous paneled discussion.
Daily Café, 902 NW 13th, one block away, ($)
A good place for a pre-talk cup of coffee, the Daily Café also has a selection of simple sandwiches and soup to take the edge off those noontime chat munchies. Nothing worse than having your stomach growl in the silence after some thoughtful and profound statement from the likes of Kalup Linzy [w/ Neal Medlyn, Thur. Sept 10, 12:30 pm].
Urban Grind, 911 NW 14th, two blocks away, ($)
A refuge from the often stuffy, uptight ambiance of the Pearl; the Urban Grind is a laid back place to plug in and write that blog post about how blown away you were at the Danielle Goldman lecture [Sat. Sept 5, 2:30 pm]. Then sit back and sip your cappuccino with a burgeoning sense of self-satisfaction.
Bridgeport Brewery and Pub, 1313 NW Marshall, three blocks away, ($$)
You may need a beer or two after listening to A. L. Steiner discuss how artists should be paid and his efforts with Working Artists and the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E) to help make those payments fair and equitable [Sun. Sept 6, 2:30 pm]. But then again, if you’re a working artist, you may not be able to afford one of Bridgeport’s fine brews. Either way, I bet you’ll be able to find someone to buy you a pint at the lecture. Just look for the gray haired ladies with the Patron passes.
Near Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College, (3203 SE Woodstock)
Otto’s Sausage Kitchen, 4138 SE Woodstock, 1/2 mile away, ($)
Though sausage may not be the first food you’d think of eating after walking through an exhibit that blends meditations on the human body with psychoactive drug experiences [Psychedelic Soul, on view until Dec 5], Ottto’s sausage kitchen is in the “don’t miss” category for Portland food. It’ll be a great place to fill up on superb house-made hotdogs before hitting the gallery.
Delta Café, 4607 SE Woodstock, .7 miles away, ($)
The best thing about stopping into the Delta Café after seeing the psychedelic re-enactments of Brody Condon’s Without Sun [Sun. Sept 6, 6:30 pm], is that there have probably been countless people who’ve stopped into the Delta in the midst of their own psychedelic journey. I’m sure you’ll be able to understand why once you’ve entered this fine fairyland of kitsch.
Near Portland Center for the Performing Arts’ Winningstad and Newmark Theaters (1111 SW Broadway) ;& Northwest Film Center Whitsell Auditorium (1219 SW Park) — all distances are approximately the same for these locations
Superdog, 1438 SW Park, three blocks away, ($)
Superdog is a perfect quick-stop before any early evening performance. They are fast, affordable, and have beer on tap. Scarfing down one of their fine encased meats with all the fixins is a great way to stay fed and on budget during the TBA madness. After all you need to save up for this year’s festival hoodie.
Higgins, 1239 SW Broadway, two blocks away, ($$$)
If you’re heading out to see any of the shows with your favorite arts patron, and they offer to buy, then Higgins is the place to have a bite. The restaurant is one of the most lauded of the older Portland dinner spots and was very influential in the local farm to table movement. Prices get more affordable during late night hours, so if you’re missing your rich patron, consider stopping in for a bite before hitting the Works.
Pastini Pastaria, 911 SW Taylor, two blocks away, ($ - $$)
Yeah, Pastini is a chain. But it’s also local. And it’s the best, and most affordable pasta you’ll be able to get your hands on within walking to the cultural district locations. Seriously. Skip Southpark and have a seat outside Pastini instead. You’ll save yourself some money, have some fine Americanized Italian dishes, and remain satisfied.
Momo Bar Maximo, 725 SW 10th, five blocks away, ($)
I dig Momo for the extensive patio out back and the family of raccoons that used to make the patio home. I haven’t seen them for a while, but Momo’s is still worth a stop for a no-nonsense cocktail before or after the show. You may need a couple of drinks here before you experience the madness of Crock: the Motion Picture [Witshell, Sat. Sept 5, 4:30 pm].
Dragonfish, 909 SW Park, two blocks away, ($$)
I’m not sure why I’m including Dragonfish in this list. I guess it’s because they have decent happy hour sushi, and once when I was drunk there I played an amazing game of “see-how-many-people-wearing-black-you-can-touch.” I came away with about five, but a friend of mine bagged something like twelve. He also was nearly punched and got someone’s phone number, so it all evened out.
Virginia Café, 820 SW 10th, four blocks away, ($)
The thrice-moved VC has been a common stop for me and my TBA buddies. It’s consistent, the food isn’t half bad, and these ALWAYS some kind of drink special. Plus, as I know many artists are working in the service industry to make ends meet, the VC has Service Industry Night every night. Show your OLCC or Food Handlers card and you’ll get employee pricing.
East India Co., 821 SW 11th, six blocks away, ($$$)
East India Co. may be a bit pricey, but they serve some of the best Indian food I’ve had in Portland that wasn’t out of a cart or off a buffet. The food here has enough heat to clear your thoughts and leave you an empty vessel ready for anything the likes of Pan Pan Theatre [Winnigstad, Sat. Sept 12th, 6:30 pm] might be ready to throw into it. You must try the Gosht Vindaloo.
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