A darling among Portland's many hip music clubs, the retro-chic and gay-popular (though predominantly hetero) Doug Fir Lounge and Restaurant (830 E. Burnside St., 503-231-WOOD) is attached to the similarly hipster-frequented Jupiter Hotel, several blocks east of Burnside Bridge. The dark and sexy basement lounge presents many of the nation's top alternative acts, including quite a few queer favorites (Bob Mould, Bitch & The Exciting Conclusion, Ferron, and plenty of others). Upstairs, the restaurant serves extremely tasty mod-American fare.
Up in North Portland, and conveniently just off of the Lombard Street exit of the I-5 Freeway, the raffish Eagle (835 N. Lombard St., 503-283-9734) is not only the northernmost gay hangout in the city, it's the region's favorite gay bear bar, the official home of the Oregon Bears. It's also a pretty raucous and sexy spot, with porn on the video screens, and cheeky parties like Jock Strap Twister, L.U.R.E. (Leather, Uniforms, Rubber, Etc.), Bearly Naked Billiards, and so on. Whatever your particular style of dress, unless there's a theme party, the Eagle is pretty much "come as you are", and very welcoming of all ages and looks. The Sunday late-afternoon barbecues are great fun.
13. Embers - gay bar
Back in the day, this Old Town/Chinatown dance club was one of Portland's must-do gay clubbing venues. Embers (110 N.W. Broadway, 503-222-3082) is somewhat less exclusively gay than it used to be, and more idiosyncratic than trendy, welcoming a quite diverse bunch. Because it's a short walk from several other downtown gay bars, it's a fun stop as part of a bar crawl. There's fun, often retro dance music, the drinks are fairly cheap, the crowd is more mixed among women, transgenders, and men than some others in the area, and the drag shows are a blast.
Portland's main dance club for the under-legal-drinking-age set, Escape (333 S.W. Park Ave., 503-227-0830) caters to all ages, meaning 16 and up, but you'll see very few patrons in here older than 25 (and the older guys who do frequent this place tend to be a bit on the creepy side). Right in the heart of downtown and close to the gay bars in Old Town and on Stark Street, Escape has great music and dancing and is open only on Fridays and Saturdays (till 4 am on Saturdays, which is by far the night for the best and largest crowds). There's an $8 to $12 cover charge, depending on the night, and although LGBT teens and 20-somethings make up much of the crowd, all persuasions party here. There's no booze served here, which is why all ages are permitted - just energy drinks, soda, and snack foods.
Handsomely renovated a few years ago, the Fox & Hounds (217 N.W. 2nd Ave., 503-243-5530) has been a favorite Old Town neighborhood gay lounge for eons. It's a laid-back spot just around the corner from CC Slaughters, Hobo's, and Darcelle XV, and a nice spot with a manageable decibel level for conversation. Open daily from 11 am until 2 am, it's also a reliable gay brunch option.
One of the best restaurants in the Old Town/Chinatown district, Gilt Club (306 N.W. Broadway, 503-222-4458) serves food until 2 am, making it a favorite hangout with folks who have been partying at nearby gay clubs like CC Slaughters, Embers, and Casey's. It's a casually glam place to drink or eat - the duck-fat fries, bison tartare, meatball sliders, and fried oysters are all delicious options from the early-evening happy hour menu. Savory cocktails are a specialty here - consider the BLT, made with house-made Roma tomato vodka, basil-lemon olive oil, and fresh lemon, served up with bacon salt. The list of cocktails and artisan liquor is impressive by any standard, and especially so in craft-cocktail-crazy Portland. You may recognize this spot from the "Colin the Chicken" bit on TV's irreverent
A cross between a gay supper club and a laid-back neighborhood tavern, Hobo's (120 N.W. 3rd Ave., 503-224-3285) has been a fixture in Old Town/Chinatown since the 1980s, and over this entire period, it's drawn a colorful parade of community members, including plenty of straight allies. On warmer days, you can dine or drink in the peaceful courtyard, and from Wednesday through Sunday, there's piano cabaret in the lounge. Other draws here include a pair of pool tables, and a long bar that's often packed for weekday happy hours.
Always an interesting venue for anything from album-release parties to dance parties to happy hours with great food, Holocene (1001 S.E. Morrison St., 503-239-7639) attracts a diverse bunch nightly and glows an especially radiant shade of pink for the monthly Gaycation parties (held on Fridays). These queerilicious, lesbian-centric events led by DJ Chelsea Starr have great dancing, live performances, and an unpredictable - yet consistently inspired - vibe. The space is in the Central Industrial East Side, just across the river from downtown, and near other homo-hipster hangouts like Rotture, Dig a Pony, and Doug Fir Lounge.
A low-keyed neighborhood that's in the Northeast Portland neighborhood of Sullivan's Gulch, Joq's (2512 N.E. Broadway, 503-287-4210) is the closest gay hangout to several popular East Side neighborhoods, including Hollywood, Fremont, and Lloyd Center. It's a relaxed video bar, with affordable booze, a fun juke box, pool, and decent bar food.
The Local Lounge (3536 N.E. MLK Blvd., 503-282-1833) is just what the name implies: a relaxed and friendly hangout that's geared especially toward neighborhood folks but quite welcoming of all, whether gay or straight. It's in the heart of Northeast Portland, close to the hip and inviting restaurant strips along North Williams, the Mississippi Avenue District, and the Alberta Arts District - a perfect location for drinks before dinner or dancing after. There's an extensive menu of sandwiches and bar food, along with an interesting mix of cocktails, and beers on draft.