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A Walk on the Weird Side

Welcome to the first edition of A Walk On the Weird Side – An Exploration of the Weird and Wonderful Fabric of Portland. – By Anna Alexander

This adventure starts with my friends Rick and Janet. As transplants to the area, they have embraced the weird and unusual sights and neighborhoods in Portland and take newcomers on a tour called The Rick and Janet Alternative Tour. Their goal (and mine) is to go beyond the hipster attractions and donut shops and show visitors a different side of Portland’s history and businesses not often seen in the glossy travel magazines or online travel guides. When I was offered an opportunity to write for Weird Portland United, I immediately thought of Rick and Janet and modeled this piece after their tour.

For my first entry to into A Walk on the Weird Side – we’re visiting Portland’s Roseway Neighborhood. Nestled in NE Portland, Roseway Neighborhood is approximately 0.81 square miles and borders on Cully Neighborhood. Roseway was one of those neighborhoods I’ve driven through many times to get somewhere else, but after doing a little research, I decided it was time for me to park the car and walk around. 

We begin at the neighborhood’s most iconic attraction – Pirate’s Cove. Located on Sandy Blvd, this Portland landmark has hosted a variety of business during its 80 years of existence including a popular luncheonette and auto repair shop. But in true Portland fashion, the building is now home to a pirate-themed strip club. The club wasn’t open when I was in the neighborhood, but it’s worth checking out – especially on May 4th for their Star Wars party. Online reviews talk about the cramped quarters and fully stocked bar and the novelty of a strip club inside a large jug. 

If strip clubs aren’t your thing – no problem because the historic Roseway Theater is just a short walk away. This locally-owned, single screen theater has been in operation since 1924 and tickets are only $8! I first visited the Roseway Theater when I moved to the area over 20 years ago and fell in love with the small theater. The popcorn is excellent and the lobby has an old-time Hollywood feel to it with stained glass windows. Libations are limited, but there are other places in the neighborhood you can visit to get a drink at after the movie.

Which brings us to our next stop – Mom and Pop Wine Shop. I found Mom and Pop by accident when I was researching Roseway Neighborhood (Thanks Google Maps!). Owners Talia and Dan got the idea for this small and welcoming shop when they moved to the Roseway Neighborhood years ago and found the neighborhood lacking in shopping choices for affordable, food-friendly wines. So they opened their own shop. This gem of a wine shop blew me away with the selection of interesting and tasty wines, sake and ciders from produces all over the world. You won’t find these bottles on the shelves of your local mega-mart and that feature alone will have me coming back. I picked up a bottle of hard-to-find Prunus after I insisted I needed one of everything in the store. Mom and Pop Wine Shop hosts Friday night tastings featuring four new wines for only $5 and a rotating selection of wine, cider and sake you can enjoy by the glass.

My next stop in the Roseway Neighborhood was another accidental business I stumbled upon (literally) as it’s about 20 steps away from Mom and Pop Wine Shop. The colorful facade and vintage furniture outside of ReRun 2 draws you in to a store stocked with unique and interesting vintage finds for your home. The furniture, art, dishes, record players, maps and anything else that might have been in your eccentric Great Aunt Marg’s house are drool-worthy and in good condition without the been-in-the-attic too long smell. My husband noted the store was expertly laid out and not overwhelming as some antique shops can be. Perhaps the best part of my visit to ReRun 2 was the music playing as we browsed the antique dishes. My heart swelled as the store employees treated us to a fine selection of Bananarama, Bauhaus and Dead or Alive. This gem of a neighborhood consignment shop, is, in my opinion, heads above many of the other junk shops in town and the prices are affordable for everyone’s budget.

After you’ve picked up your vintage finds, save some room in your budget for Hongs Inc. Restaurant Equipment and Supplies. This unassuming business started as a mom and pop-owned business and has been family operated for 15 years. I realized I had driven by Hongs way too many times and needed to stop and check it out. I’m not into mega-stores that sell everything for your kitchen and bath so Hongs appealed to my inner foodie nerd with quality restaurant and kitchen supplies in wide, uncluttered aisles. Hongs is the perfect store for people who like to entertain with aisles of beautiful plates and dishes, chaffing dishes, appliances, stock pots you can take a nap in, and quality kitchen tools you absolutely HAVE to have. While I was there, I picked up up a mini whisk and a garlic press and slicer. I live on the edge. But I will be back – but not at the same location. A sign on the register as I checked out noted it is moving to the SE Insley Street on the corner of Foster and 82nd.

Roseway Neighborhood is not a huge neighborhood, but it can be easily navigated by foot or bike. It’s full of interesting and hidden gems I hope you check out and visit frequently. Did I miss anything? Shoot me a line and let me know.

Next month, we’re taking a short walk from the Roseway Neighborhood to visit a cemetery, Laotian sports bar and a garage that makes me cry every time I pass by it.

About Anna Alexander:

Anna Alexander has a degree in Journalism and has written for many publications that no longer exist. She works a corporate marketing job by day and reads fortunes to the masses in her spare time. Anna has lived in the Portland Metro area for over 20 years with her husband and cat who lets them pay the mortgage on his house. 

Anna will continue to develop the Walk on the Weird Side series, with new neighborhoods featured each month. In addition, Weird Portland United will also be producing audio recordings of this series so you can listen to it on-the-go! Stay tuned for more info. 

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