It's the Interlull! Yay! I mean Boo! So in the interminable space between Arsenal games, we thought we'd write a little bit about Arsenal that doesn't involve kits, player movement, or any of the usual stuff.
All of us writers live in different cities, and we all watch Arsenal. So Phil had the brilliant idea of each of us writing a bit about how we watch Arsenal in our city, in case any one of you find yourself in one of our respective cities and want to watch with a group of like-minded fans without running the risk of ending up in a PBFC or Sounder supporter-filled bar or something else equally heinous. So, like an overamped midfielder with his foot on the ball waiting for the whistle, I'm going to kick off the series with a look at Arsenal supporting and viewing in my current hometown.
ARSENAL WATCHING IN PORTLAND (OR)
To be honest, a lot of the time I watch at home - I have a DVR and I'm a fan of sleep, so for 4AM or 7AM kickoffs I generally just record it and watch when I get up. There are times, however, when a communal viewing experience is a lot of fun, and Portland's a great place to watch games - Portland calls itself Soccer City, USA for a reason.
WHO ARE THEY?
The local Arsenal supporters group is called PDX Gooners, predictably enough. They can be Twittered at @pdxgooners.
WHERE DO THEY WATCH?
Beulahland, at NE 28th and Couch, a block north of Burnside. If you're visiting Portland, remember, "Couch" rhymes with "hooch", not "grouch", because I have no idea the hell why. Couch St. is named after this guy, so it's his fault.
WHAT'S IT LIKE THERE?
It's pretty awesome. 100 inch projector TV to watch the games, and while it's not a separate room, the area with the big screen is on one side of the bar separate enough from the rest of the bar that it feels private. It's got a small but well-curated beer list, decent food (I've never had breakfast there, only lunch/dinner, but they do those pretty well) and pretty cool staff that don't let your pint stay unfilled long.
Unfortunately, it is 21+ at all hours, so if you have kids/are a kid, Beulahland is not the place for you. I haven't been 21 for more than 21 years now, so I don't really know where one could go in that situation - Oregon's liquor laws, while not as restrictive as some in New England, are screwy enough that all ages bars are, if not rare, then definitely not the usual. I'll do some research and post in the comments if I uncover a good all-ages spot to watch a game.
WHAT ELSE CAN I DO IN YOUR TOWN?
This is Portland. You drink good beer, you find some good food, and you go to Powell's. The thing about Portland is that it's not necessarily a place that is immediately apparent to tourists - we don't have a big list of splashy attractions, we only have a few museums, and all in all there's not any one thing that says I MUST GO TO PORTLAND AND EXPERIENCE THIS FOR MYSELF.
Thing is, though, when you get here and dive in, you realize that while it's not a flashy place, it's a fantastic place - every neighborhood is ripe with good places to eat, great places to drink, and cool little shops and parks and stuff. Some of my favorites:
Podnah's Pit. I'm not a BBQ expert by any means, but this is some damn good BBQ.
Esparza. Portland has a whole lot of Mexican food, most of it decidedly mediocre. Esparza is a cut above all of them - it's a great environment, the food is really well done, and the margaritas are good.
Gravy. In Portland, weekend brunch is a competitive sport - you'll wait at the good places for a long time, which normally pisses me off to no end. Gravy is no exception - it's probably my favorite breakfast in town, but I almost never go because the wait on a Sat/Sun is usually at least an hour. But, if you're visiting, I would suggest that it's well worth the wait - their scrambles are amazing, their challah French toast is to die for. Besaw's is also a good breakfast spot, again with long waits but also well worth it.
Oh, where to start. Portland is one of the best beer cities in the US, and there's almost literally no bad choice. Except McMenamins. Some of my current favorite places:
Deschutes. Based in Bend, but their Portland brew house is one of the bigger ones in town - their seasonals are great, their regulars are solid, and the food at the brewpub is pretty good.
Lompoc/5th Quadrant. There's a few of them around town, and they make pretty great beer; the food at the pubs is also really good, a lot of it is a step above your normal deep-fried pub fare. The Sidebar is where they release their more "experimental" beers, which change every week or so.
Breakside. Breakside's signature beer is their Aztec, a strong ale made with habanero and serrano chiles and cacao nibs; it's got a little heat, but it's not crazy hot. It's a wonderful, complex, interesting beer, which they make a lot of. One of the rare brewpubs where I've never had a bad beer.
Cascade. If you're a serious beer nerd, Cascade is for you. They make sour beers, which are definitely an acquired taste, but if you have acquired the taste, Cascade is where you want to be.
This list barely scratches the surface - and if you want more than just Portland beers, there are any number of fantastic beer bars in town, like the Horse Brass, Bailey's, and the Green Dragon, where you'll find dozens of taps from around the country and the world.
STUFF TO DO:
Powell's City Of Books. It is what it says it is. New, used, rare, bestsellers, literally anything you can think of. If you like books, you'll spend a lot of time here.
OMSI: Science museum, complete with a submarine. It's a fun way to spend a rainy day in Portland, which let's face it is a lot of days.
As I mentioned, just dive in to any neighborhood (particularly Hawthorne, Mississippi, and Alberta) and you'll discover all sorts of cool things to see and do.