Conditions are favorable at hostel-style hotel Lolo Pass.
Opening earlier this summer, Lolo follows in the steps of other affordable yet IKEA-stylish lodgings that have popped up in our city within the past few years. The sister owners, Lauren and Lee Gonzalez, wagered that visitors coming to Portland would spend more time out of their rooms than in them yet also appreciate the finer things in life—like a rooftop bar and a bright, open lobby with a coffee stand right next to check-in.
That bet seems well-placed.
Lolo’s cafe drafted a barista from the deft yet unfortunately still closed Khora Coffeehouse, so it isn’t surprising that the lattes there hit like a sneaker wave—a trait we also found in the rooftop cocktails later that evening.
Without barrier walls, the lobby feels, at times, like a cavernous food court. But such a lovely food court. Coffee drinkers and diners find themselves surrounded by light woods, tropical plants, cork-topped stools, and earth-tone hues—the ambience of which lends itself a little more toward morning or early afternoon than evening.
It’s still a fine place to start or end a longer night, but the main attraction is obviously the fifth-floor rooftop—featuring a fire pit, a communal guitar, its own bar, and no shortage of socially distant seating arrangements.
The vantage offers a unique view of downtown and the Central Eastside. Before smog from the Bootleg Fire rolled in last week, everything from Big Pink to Buckman Field was on the scenic smorgasbord.
Lolo’s house cocktails trend toward sweet and fruity, as evidenced in the pineapple-infused old fashioned, the unmuddled schnapps in the Teaches of Peaches Sex on the Beach, and the pamplemousse and aperol of the metropolitan but off-cycle Gemini SZN.
Meanwhile, the dining menu favors herbal and savory flavors and rotates daily. The house salad’s mustard vinaigrette didn’t overwhelm the fresh, earthy greens. The chilled burrata plate was accented and balanced by juicy apricots, marinated radicchio, and a dash of salt.
The house fries take the form of thick yellow and purple potato chunks, topped by shredded Parmesan and fried capers—but they desperately need more than the allotted dish of mild anchovy aioli.
At our dessert peak, we found the mille-feuille’s flaky crust dry on its own, but loved that its ‘Gram-worthy presentation with strawberries, pistachio crumbs, and yogurt cream passes for gourmand sushi at first glance.
Lolo Pass also has an art gallery, which will present regular visual art shows. However, hovering above the foliage, it’s hard to imagine what kind of visual could outdo East Burnside’s tree-lined, urban pastoral scene.
DRINK: 1616 E Burnside St., 503-908-3074, lolopasspdx.com, coffee 7 am-2 pm daily, cocktails 4-10 pm daily.