Did you eat at past editions of MusicfestNW? It’s hard to remember. Maybe, while scurrying between venues, you were able to stuff a burrito down your gullet. Maybe you waited until the house lights came on at Doug Fir, then grabbed a bite upstairs like a civilized person.
This year, there’s no more hiking from the Hawthorne Theatre up to Belmont Street and praying not to miss the 15 bus so you can sneak into the Crystal Ballroom, provided there’s no line. Instead, everyone’s chilling together in a big, grassy field in the middle of town.
Even better, MusicfestNW is the rare festival to grant in-and-out privileges, meaning you can pop out into the city, then back into the festival. You can buy beer from our boss and eat at some of the city’s best food carts…. Or! You can take a break during Haim (everyone hates Haim, right?) and walk to a nice, air-conditioned drinking establishment with an indoor toilet, an air conditioner and pizza from a proper oven. Or meet friends there after the show. Or pregame there. Here are our top picks for food and drinks near the MusicfestNW gate at Southwest Yamhill Street and Naito Parkway, with walking distances noted.
1 SW 3rd Ave., 234-0114, lonesomespizza.com. 11 am-late. 10-minute walk from MusicfestNW gate at Naito and Yamhill.
Lonesome’s Pizza started with mysterious and zany late-night delivery service on the inner eastside before moving into the northeast corner of Dante’s on West Burnside Street. The slices sold from the shop’s window are usually far more basic than the extravagantly topped delivery pies, but perhaps even tastier when served piping hot from the oven, with enough super-crisp crust to support the best pizza sauce in Portland. You might miss that Ethiopian-spiced leg of lamb, but spicy bologna-sized rounds of pepperoni are the only topping you need.
213 SW Broadway, 295-1004. baileystaproom.com. Noon-midnight. 12-minute walk.
Bailey’s Taproom is arguably the best beer bar in Portland. They don’t serve food, but they’ve installed a bussing station, complete with salsas for Mexican food from across the street at Santeria taqueria, which delivers. The problem is that everyone else knows, too: bird-dogging tables even when someone just gets up to go to the restroom.
711 SW Ankeny St., 226-2508, d2m.com/Tugwebsite. 4 pm-1 am Saturday. Closed Sunday. 12-minute walk.
So yeah, Bailey’s boasts a phenomenal tap list, but if you want to sit down, your chances are better across the street at old-school Tugboat Brewing. The cavernous space is like your rich and crazy uncle’s library gone somewhat to seed, with dust collecting on the stacks of old books and well-loved board games. The Chernobyl Stout, a 13 percent Russian imperial, will get you good and buzzed. And if you’re lucky, you might just be greeted by Oliver Cromwell, a Pembroke Welsh corgi trained to play dead (it’s adorable) and even shut the door after patrons leave. We fear he might be scarcer at the bar these days, but bring a few apple slices just in case.
217 NW 4th Ave., 224-8472, magicgardenpdx.com. 11:45-2:30 am Saturday, 5:45 pm-2:30 am Sunday. 15-minute walk.
This beloved Chinatown strip club is great, even when there’s not actually a dancer working the famously pole-free stage. Instead, people drink and talk on the stools at this tiny bar, which smells and looks like a club where L.A. punks of yore might’ve played, waiting for the no-nonsense bartender, Patty, to bring them a $3 PBR or hand their ticket for clam strips and jojos to the kitchen. Dancers will sometimes end their first song without taking anything off. But then they do, and everyone has just a little more fun.
Old Town Pizza
226 NW Davis St., 222-9999, oldtownpizza.com. 11:30 am-midnight Saturday, 11:30 am-11 pm Sunday. 15-minute walk.
You might not actually need to make your way down to Old Town Pizza, which is known for ghosts, house-brewed beer and puffy pies—the 40-year-old institution will deliver pizza and growlers by bicycle, which means you can order delivery and eat it just outside the MusicfestNW gates. If you do that, maybe hold off on the growler and be ready to share a slice with the house-less persons who congregate by the Burnside Bridge.
232 SW Ankeny St., 248-1600, valentinespdx.com. 5 pm-2:30 am. 10-minute walk.
This cozily twee split-level bar, with a row of patio tables parked in the middle of Portland’s oddest, drunkest and highest weekend alleyway, is as culturally attuned as any nearby to the spirit of the bands playing at MusicfestNW—if not nearly big enough to accommodate the bulk of them. Depending on the night they have planned, you might be the only one without a can of Rainier in hand.
426 SW Washington St., 228-3669, kellysolympian.com. 11-1 am. 7-minute walk.
If the “Motorcycle Only” parking in front of Kelly’s Olympian doesn’t bring you up to speed on this downtown institution (one of the oldest bars in Portland, a speakeasy during Prohibition), maybe the glowing Mobil signs above the bar or the Harleys hanging from the ceiling will. Still, it’s more a bikers-welcome rock-and-punk bar than a biker bar. Sunday, for example, will host Portland’s best indie-rock karaoke, Baby Ketten, should you need somewhere to land after MusicfestNW.
835 SW 2nd Ave., 222-0047, luclackitchen.com. 4 pm-4 am Saturday, closed Sunday. 5-minute walk.
There comes a point in every daylong, drunken music festival when your mind drifts from getting drunker to getting some food. Not just any food: greasy, fatty fried food. Stuff you might talk yourself out of when sober. Luc Lac understands you, but it offers alternatives. Your first sight upon walking in is the entire Vietnamese menu on a set of wood panels: spring rolls, meat skewers, pho, banh mi, jade noodles, the list goes on. And don’t worry, it also understands the part of you that wants to be drunker. The $5 craft brews help the minutes fly by while you wait to be seated. Just try to remember: 4 on their 0-to-4 heat scale is really fucking spicy.
20 NW 3rd Ave., 241-2157. 8 pm-2:30 am. 15-minute walk.
There are no books at Black Book, a thin hallway of a micro-club stuck on Northwest 3rd between Tube and Dixie Tavern. Black is the only theme at the former Yes and No space, and the new resident has higher, artsier aspirations than its forebear or any of its neighbors. Between nights with weekly resident hip-hop and house DJs, Black Book hosts RSVP-only art and fashion events, including one recently where the dress code was simply “grayscale.” Black Book is the long-weekend destination for a modish crowd that doesn’t mind other patrons who, like the black bathroom tiles, occasionally crawl up the walls.