AOL PICK from our Editors
Portland’s nightlife scene is diverse, with flashy dance clubs, fabulous music venues, sophisticated bars and quality brew pubs, as well as excellent performing arts. The city has a worldwide reputation for its handcrafted beer, produced at the city’s 32 brewpubs (a per capita world record). The McMenamins empire, which renovates historic structures, often installing brewpubs, is responsible for more than a few. Much of the city’s nightlife centers on the Pearl District, which hums in the evenings, with locals and visitors alike flocking to its brewpubs and other nightspots. The city is particularly well known for its indie rock, with countless homegrown independent music groups, and blues—it’s the home of Robert Cray. Lovers of jazz or folk music can also find clubs throughout the city, and performing arts patrons enjoy everything from ballet to symphony to opera in the city’s Cultural District.
Neighborhood: Central Eastside
With a retro ski-cabin ambiance, Doug Fir is one of Portland’s quintessential music venues. Owned by long-time rock promoter Mike Quinn and two partners, Doug Fir offers a wildly diverse mix that might include indie-alt, hip-hop or avant-garde. The onsite restaurant serves Americana fare until the wee hours.
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Neighborhood: Pearl District
Portland’s showcase jazz club, Jimmy Mak’s is a luscious lounge with jewel-tone pendant lights, tabletop candles and black-and-white photos. This sleek, dark space is the perfect backdrop to local and national jazz acts, which play to packed crowds throughout the week. Greek- and Middle-Eastern-inspired dishes add another sensory layer to the experience.
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Beginning with the classic box office, the Aladdin plays up its old movie-theater vibe, with great sound and sightlines from its 620 seats. A vaudeville venue in the late 1920s, today the Aladdin reels in national acts in jazz, blues, pop and world music. Luminaries like Emmylou Harris, the Indigo Girls and Brian Wilson have all graced its stage.
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The city’s historic Crystal Ballroom was built in 1914 as a dance pavilion. With high ceilings, immense chandeliers and murals, it lives up to the grandeur of its name. Renovated by McMenamins, the Crystal Ballroom today books a wide variety of music acts, from family-friendly mainstream artists to hard-driving rock. The acoustics may be the best in the city. One floor down, Lola’s Room hosts DJ dances and homegrown rock bands.
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Neighborhood: Pearl District
A historic landmark brick warehouse in the Pearl District is the home of BridgePort Brewing Co., Oregon’s oldest craft brewery. In a city spilling over with brewpubs, BridgePort stands out for its cavernous, weathered brick-and-timber building, its high quality, innovative brews and top-notch wood-fired pizzas. Long wooden tables create a convivial atmosphere, especially when throngs pack in during the Pearl’s First Thursday gallery walk.
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