There is no menu at Portlandâs newest vegan strip club. Sure, you can get animal-free nachos or cleaned-up Sloppy Joe's, but youâll have to get your dining options read out loud by a topless bartender whoâaccording to a sign by the barâis also available for private dances. And when she tells you thereâs some soy-beef stroganoff and she really likes the âsparkle chips,â it all just seems normal by now. Dusk âTil Dawn: Casa Diablo II (8445 SE McLoughlin Blvd., 222-6610, dusktildawn.club) is the third in a meatless strip-club empire thatâs been the opening line of every crappy comicâs Portland-sure-is-weird monologue since 2008. And despite being owner Johnny Diabloâs most unassuming locationâpretty much just a box on the side of Route 99EâDusk got a yearâs worth of protest from a group set on preserving the sanctity of a âneighborhoodâ that otherwise consists of two other strip clubs, a weed dispensary, a dead-end gravel road and the Oregon Music Hall of Fame. But Diablo just quietly waited them out.
And so now Dusk âTil Dawn is a sordidly intimate, soy-curled neighbor to spectacle-filled nudie steakhouse the Acropolis. All seats at Dusk are tightly arranged around a central stage, putting everyone in the room on close terms with either the small coterie of dancers or the mostly naked servers, whose change belts look like suggestive chastity guards. You will be asked, again and again, if you need more $2 billsâthe sole bills they offer in change. The only correct answer is âyes,â and thereâs nowhere to hide. Really the moodâs a bit like the place in that Robert Rodriguez movieâall red light, tattooed skin and velvet-laced forebodingâand although the club was mostly empty on a recent weeknight at 10 pm, it already felt like Portland might get plenty weird later in the night.