Like many historic Portland neighborhoods, the Hollywood District is looking a little less “historic” these days. But for an increasingly modern part of town, this Northeast Portland district is home to an unusually high number of Old Portland gems that continue to stand the test of time. With a transit hub at its center, Hollywood is an ideal stop in any Portland adventure.
What to Do in Hollywood
There’s no better place to start than at the neighborhood’s namesake: the Hollywood Theatre. Opened in 1926, it boasts a landmark flashing red sign and unmistakable Spanish Colonial-inspired exterior. The nonprofit screens flicks that you’d never be able to see at any other theater in town. Check the calendar for 70 mm projection screenings of cinema classics, indie film festivals and recurring film series like Queer Horror and B-Movie Bingo.
Thirsty for a pre-movie drink? Look no further than The Magnolia, a beer and wine bar right across the street. There you’ll find a large, regularly rotating selection of drinks from across the state and abroad. There are even racks of vintage clothes to peruse, if the place’s retro aesthetic has you feeling inspired.
If you prefer a less “classy” vibe, Sam’s Billiards, just a block north, is your spot. With 15 pool tables to choose from, you’ll rarely have to wait long to play (but their five-page menu of dive bar food staples and 10 rotating beers on tap are sure to keep you occupied).
In the same vein, check out Moon & Sixpence, a dive-esque British bar with a huge selection of imported beers and drafts. The menu touts British staples like cottage pie and bread pudding that are out of this world (or country, at least). The back patio is a neighborhood favorite.
For a slightly more competitive type of entertainment, head to Wedgehead, a pinball arcade and bar opened in 2018. You’ll find 25 different pinball machines, including relics from the early sixties and high-tech modern games, along with everything in between. Bring all your quarters!
Where to Eat in Hollywood
If bar-hopping has you craving a good meal, order a smorgasbord of Northern Chinese food at Shandong. Daily happy hour from 4–6 p.m. cuts the prices on all the appetizers you wanted to order anyway, including spring rolls, wontons and dumplings galore.
More delicious Chinese cuisine can be devoured at Chin’s Kitchen, one of the oldest (and most highly recommended) Chinese restaurants in Portland. Dig into eight variations of handmade dumplings, along with freshly-pulled noodles and spicy cumin beef.
Indonesian food and unique beverages (like a frozen “avocado coffee”) await at Gado Gado. Named after a traditional salad topped with fried potatoes, hard-boiled eggs and peanut sauce dressing, this colorful eatery offers a rotating menu of aromatic, flavor-packed dishes.
When a soul food craving strikes, head to Reo’s Ribs, where Mississippi-style barbecue is made fresh daily. Tuck in to fried catfish, oxtails over rice and smoked pork spare ribs, then finish it off with an order of gooey banana pudding.
For those with a sweet tooth, plant-based Doe Donuts hits the spot. This women-owned shop makes their colorful vegan doughnuts, ice cream and soft serve from scratch using local ingredients. (Don’t expect the usual suspects; doughnut flavors include french toast, brûléed grapefruit and rosemary, and even macaroni-and-cheese-filled.)
Where to Shop in Hollywood
Once you’ve feasted to your heart’s content, flip through crates of eclectic vinyl (and even cassettes!) at Little Axe Records, a local label specializing in obscure folk, experimental and world music. Rather go for a swim? Find the perfect Portland-made bathing suit at Popina, the largest women’s swimwear shop on the west coast.
Last but not least is the most hidden gem of them all (as in literally hidden from street view): Antique Alley. Located in the Hollywood 42nd Street Station, you might wonder if you’re in the wrong place when you walk in to see a post office and upholstery shop. But head downstairs and you’ll find yourself wandering through a seemingly endless thrift shopping dreamscape. With furniture, clothes, records, toys and everything else you could hope to find in an antique shop, there are few better places in Portland to get lost in for hours on end.
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