The Road to Hades Town: Portlandia by Night

On Monday, Erica and I slept in, probably due to how exhausted we were from waking up at 10a after 4-5 hours of sleep on Sunday. We were a bit disappointed in ourselves to have missed the opportunity to see Portland in the daytime, but weren’t about to let that bring us down. After briefly booking our ride for the Canada portion through Vancouver’s Enterprise, we made our way towards an area of town my friend Gabriella said had a good selection of food. Or at least, towards the bar we had attempted the night before.

Erica and I found parking a couple blocks away, and had initially had a hankering for this Aztec-inspired restaurant, but if there were servers they didn’t come to greet us, and if it was just a bar thing, we weren’t into it. Plus, I had seen a sign for noodles, so we both decided we’d make our way towards Blackwater, the bar we’d initially aimed at, and stop in and check out the menus for the places along the way. We stopped in Blackwater, which looked like a great place to hang out, but we weren’t really feeling the burger & bar food menu, so we hopped across the street to the noodle house and then the Umi Sushi place. The noodle house seemed like a safe bet, with a very clearly laid out vegetarian menu, but the Umi Sushi place had a korean menu and we were both excited by the idea of soon tofu. She ended up ordering the spicy ramen, and I got the vegetarian soon tofu. It was very nice to – after our soured experience with the thai food place – have adequate asian food. The spicy soups hit just the right spot in this brisk northwestern weather. We also got some sushi selections – Erica something with fish that she said was silky and fell apart on her spoon, and I got a cucumber roll and veggie tempura. Their tempura sauce was unlike what I’d eaten before – I believe it was a teriyaki or something – the flavor had an almost cinammon-like quality to it. I dug it. The kimchi they served lacked the sparkly bite of well-made kimchi, but I wasn’t expecting to have kimchi at all so I didn’t mind the loss. If I wanted kimchi, I had a jar I brought with me that I’d made. Overly stuffed, we left the sushi/korean restaurant, and hopped in my car to go to Voodoo Doughnut, because if we needed anything it was to stuff ourselves further.

Voodoo Doughnut, the one we went to, at least, is in downtown Portland right next to the Kit Kat Club – a burlesque club our friend had greatly considered taking us to the night before. Voodoo Doughnut is such a strange design inside – a mottled pink decorated with an array of posters and spinning displays of their doughnut selection. They were also cash only, and luckily Erica had some. She had the regular voodoo doughnut, and I opted for the vegan one. They were both delicious.

We then didn’t quite know where to go so I pulled up a google search for late night fun in Portland. Obviously a lot of bars showed up, but a couple of themed bars caught our eyes. The one we had to check out though, was the TARDIS room – or rather the Fish & Chips Shop that had the room, considering that Erica is a huge Doctor Who fan and, you know, I dabble in my fandom.

Once we arrived, we were a little amused, a little confused. A life-sized, cardboard cutout of Peter Capaldi awaited us at the door, hovering behind a sign that requested “Please Wait to Be Seated.” We waited for a few minutes, admiring the splendorous display of Doctor Who paraphernalia in the next room, and the Star Trek decor in the first, before I started inching towards the back trying to find life. Eventually a man in a maroon shirt spotted me, shouted “Mick!” and a man came to the front, flipped the sign to “Proceed to the Bar” and invited us into the back. He asked us where we were from, and what brought us here, while showing off the TARDIS room and its details. We followed him into the back, where the main part of the bar had been decorated with Star Wars bits, a poster of Stan Lee as Spider-Stan, and flags of the United Kingdom. Erica went for some alcohol, and I asked for a cuppa. They had two types of english black teas, as well as Numi brand flavors.

Mick, the owner, pointed us towards the Bad Wolf room where a league competition of billiards was taking place, and the back room where a Ms. Pacman was stuffed along an ancient Doctor Who pinball machine. We couldn’t resist trying our hand at the pinball machine. Erica stored somewhere in the 6 million, and my try after her made it to 12 million. We took a look at the Bad Wolf room where a duet of women were waiting outside – perhaps squeezed out by the number of league competitors. They chatted with us about the weather, about California, the colleges in Portland. A slender man slid into the conversation as well, and shared that he used to be stationed at Camp Pendleton in San Diego. One of the women shared that her son was stationed there once upon a time as well. Truth be told, Erica and I lost track of time talking to these people (mostly the 50+ crowd besides the man and his partner). At some point, we withdrew into ourselves a bit more and hung towards the back and chatted to the owner, Mick, about what brought him to the US and wherever that conversation led. I felt the pull of the pinball machine and played a good 10 more games, my highest score making it to 64 million. At 78 million, you get a replay. I was fairly addicted to it, having figured out how to pretty quickly spark the time expander and fight the daleks. Eventually, we needed to pick up Gabriella, so we bid adieu to the crowd and picked her up from her friend’s house.

The three of us being less than tired, we decided to hit up a tiki bar that Mick had recommended down the street – the Alibi. The Alibi was a gaudy and beautiful tiki mess. The bartender was a hipster kind of friendly and I got easily distracted by the karaoke. Though I initially seated us too close to the karaoke (we’d have to talk louder than were comfortable with), the others moved us a bit further away from the display so we could chat. I will admit, I did want to karaoke, but when do I not want to? There were a couple of really talented singers, but all in all, it wasn’t a bad time and everyone seemed to have a lot of fun. I ordered us a plate of grilled green beans and they were pretty delicious. Eventually, I had a hankering for something sweet, so we parted ways with the delightfully cozy and ridiculous tiki bar.

The next stop was Shari’s, which was pretty close to our home destination. Shari’s is a 24-hour pie place. I suppose it’s a diner? Their main draw is their pies – and their pie shakes – which are a shake with blended up bits of pie in it. We ordered a plate of meatless nachos and I opted for the smores pie shake. The nachos were sufficient, although definitely too much food after all that we’d eaten. The shake was as close as I could get to an oreo cookie shake on the menu, and fit the bill. Once we’d finally engorged ourselves to a final point, we left for Gabriella’s house and settled in for the night.

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