Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Portland Cafe Guide: Northeast


As soon as I started typing up my first post on Portland’s many wonderful cafes, I knew it wouldn’t be my last. It took me over a year to visit all the cafes on that first post, and I knew I had barely scratched the surface. Most of the additional cafes on this list have actually only opened in the time between my last post and now, so I’ve had a lot of catching up to do. I realize this is still not a complete list of all Portland cafes, so I will have to provide a disclaimer again that these are just the ones I find worth mentioning. Onward…

As a recap: 

I compiled this list based on a few factors: 
1) lattes
2) seating
3) atmosphere
4) decor. 

I am also dividing these posts into 4, because there are almost 90 cafes I am documenting and that’s too much for any one post. To break it down, I am focusing on one quadrant of the city at a time. I used to post them in order of favorites, but my tastes are fickle and new cafes are always popping up, so they are in alphabetical order instead. 


Northeast Portland

The Northeast covers a huge territory from Burnside Street to the Columbia River. Within that space there are several hip neighborhoods such as Alberta, Mississippi, Williams, Fremont, and Killingsworth, all named after their major streets, as well as neighborhoods like St. Johns. But unlike the SE or SW, many of these cafes are also in random areas in the NE, that don't correspond with any particularly trendy area. 

Albina Press on Albina
The original Albina Press location, which roasts its own coffee and has a casual ambiance. 

Arbor Lodge
A small café in North Portland with a chill neighborhood vibe. Kids art on the walls. 

Barista on Alberta
One of my favorite Barista locations but also the busiest. Animal heads on the walls, dark wood and wrap-around booth seating make this a special kind of café. 

Bitter Rose
A spacious cafe affixed to the Multnomah County Library in the Hollywood neighborhood. True to its name, I ordered the Rose Latte and was surprised by how bitter it was! The flavor of rose was overwhelming - life perfume, but the coffee was extremely dark and acidic. Too bad, this was a lovely ambiance and I might give it another chance.

Blend Coffee
Bustling family-friend café in north Portland.  

Bushel and Peck
A sweet little café with a delicious selection of baked goods. Ironically, I never order a latte here - the drip coffee is too good and goes well with the baked treats. 

Case Study on NE Alberta
My favorite of the Case Study branches. Two floors with abundant seating and a very good atmosphere for working

Case Study on Sandy
Another Case Study branch with the usual selection of unique latte and drinks. Crowded with tables every close to each other, it's a better place for hang outs than working. 

Cathedral Coffee in St. Johns
A staple of St. Johns, Cathedral Coffee is popular for its atmosphere of mismatched furniture and bookcases. A  quintessential Portland place. 

Cellar Door
Decent shop and roaster which I tried once passing by. 

Coffeehouse Five 
A sweet cafe up on Killingworth with well-designed seating and good pastries. 

Compass Coffee on Williams
Enormous and tastefully decorated café with ample work space. Skip the pastries and enjoy a latte at the circular bar - a unique feature among Portland cafes. 

A café inside a surf shop with decent drinks and one table overlooking the street. 

Cup and Bar
Popular meeting and work space serving toasts and chocolate. An industrial chic space with a roving collection of modern art. 

The new Either/Or outpost is part café, part bar, part Asian-fusion restaurant. Leather booths and a liquor wall make this place feel more like a speakeasy than a coffee shop. 

Lovely little café with a great work atmosphere. 

Fairlane Coffee in Sellwood
A new place in the Sellwood area with an open floor plan and standard café fair. I particularly enjoy the dark interior.

Great North in St. Johns
Rich, creamy latte. My favorite café in St. Johns. Everyone raves about Cathedral, but I much prefer Great North. 

A spacious and modern addition to Fremont street, unlike any place I’ve been to in Portland. More akin to the cafes of Los Angeles, Guilder has a vibe all its own. My latte was on the bitter side, but was paired well with their Sweet Porridge of jam, nuts, and cardamom. 

This tiny coffee bar (literally just a bar counter and a bench) specializes in pour-over coffee and New Orleans cold brew. Pro Tip: if you are in a hurry, go for the cold brew. I loved how it reminded me of the amazing cold brew I had in the actual city of New Orleans, and besides, I got served faster than the dozen or so other people who waited a long time for their pour overs. 

Very cute and stylish little place in a hidden pocket off Sandy Blvd. People come to take photographs of the decorated wall and to sip coffee out of one-of-a-kind cups. 

Kopi Coffee
Southeast Asian inspired café with drinks using all kinds of flavors, like coconut, pandan, and ginger. Also serving small bites of a most Indonesia or Malaysian origin.  

Locale on Mississippi
This quaint Mississippi café can be hard to secure a table, but if you are lucky enough to snag one, it's a lovely 1920s atmosphere. 

Nova café
A new café in the lobby of an apartment complex with a sleek modern design. Unfortunately the tables are either too low or too high to work, and the music is a bit too peppy and distracting. 

Presso in Kenton

A new edition to the Kenton neighborhood gives Prince a run for it's money. This popular place for Instagram photos has more than meets the eye: try their lavender infused activated-charcoal latte for a unique treat. 

Prince on NE Killingworth
The newest branch of Prince does not disappoint. A sparse white space and sleek interior make it the perfect place to focus on work. 

Prince in Kenton
A small quaint shop in the north Kenton neighborhood, which, despite all my years in Portland, I had never visited until seeking out Prince. I was impressed with the coffee and cozy ambiance of Prince. 

Proud Mary on NE Alberta
Australia cafe Proud Mary makes its Portland debut on NE Alberta. This huge space showcases their roasted beans as well as a full lunch/brunch menu. I absolutely loved the ambiance and exquisite desserts. 

Red E
One of the best places to work from. I love the vibe in this café which is both industrial and artsy. 

Ristretto on Williams
My favorite Ristretto location of all. Spacious, airy, gorgeous location with an open floor plan. The perfect workspace. 

Ristretto on NE Couch
A smaller Ristretto outpost still serves it's purpose well: good seating and great coffee. 

Saint Simon
My favorite Mocha in the city can be found here. A small bar with only a few seat and fewer tables, this place it best to visit on the go - and get the Mocha.

A motorcycle-themed café with expert baristas. This wildly popular joint gets busy fast, but has interesting seating options around the bar counter, and of course, plenty of motorcycle merchandise for sale. 

The Arrow
Matcha lavender latte and great interior with natural lighting in an up-in-coming area not overly saturated with cafes. 

TwentySix Cafe
A European style café – also serving a matcha lavender latte. Spacious outdoor seating and French brasserie style seating indoors. I love the deep red cushioned couches. In the middle of the summer, there was natural light, and just a sly bit of AC. 

Two Stroke Coffee in St. Johns
A second motorcycle-themed café with a body shop and motorcycle goods store.  Fine for a quick stop, but not quite a place for working. 

Friday, November 23, 2018

Clubbing in Tijuana

Bar counter at La Mezcalera

If speakeasies are more your thing, check out this article

Clubbing is one of the main attractions in Tijuana and I had my fair share of that. Disclaimer: there are many bars and nightclubs in TJ which are more famous the than ones I attended. I wasn’t interested in mingling with a typical crowd. I wanted to follow my friend to his usual haunts and see how more local people partied. 

Gay Bars : Latinos, El Racherno, Colibri, Hawaii

The gay bars are open every night of the week. My friend prefers Sunday nights because he says it's a more local crowd. Fridays are busy but Saturdays I always have the most fun. A couple interesting observations about gays bars:

Everyone drinks Tecate, and most people drink Tecate from bucket. That means they order a bucket of ice wth 12 beers inside and drink those with their friends. There are glass beer bottles everywhere. I don’t drink beer so for me this is frustrating. There are even bartenders who can’t make cocktails because all they serve is bottled beer. 

beer boxes

There is no need to order at the counter – all clubs have staff who roam the crowds and ask patrons if they want drinks. Tell them your order and they will go to the counter for you and order it. You will hand them cash. It’s so easy and convenient and there are never any lines to order even on the busiest nights. Tijuana has this figured out.

For clubs like Ranchers that attract a primarily male audience, there are stripper shows every hour. The strippers are men in thongs who dance on the bar. That’s all. They don’t actually “strip” but if you give them some cash they will come down from the bar counter and dance with you.

Every gay club also has drag shows that run throughout the night. Latinos is the best where the drag stage takes up most of the bar and people actually come to watch the show. 

drag show at Latinos

Another beautiful thing about Latinos is its homage to Frieda Kahlo. The shirts say “Ama a quien te mire como si fueras magia” - "love the one who looks at you like you're magic" with pictures of Frieda and Chevela Vargas on the walls.

The music is the best part about the gay bars. I love Latin music and Cumbia. I discovered many of my favorite songs from the dance floor’s of Tijuana’s gay bars.

Hipster Bars: La Mezcalera, La Justina, Moustache Bar, Dandy del Sur

Hipsters bars are almost the opposite from gay bars in may ways. They are often not open every night – only Friday and Saturday. You have to order at the bar. Everyone is drinking cocktails. Amazing, gorgeous, elaborate cocktails. More tourists than locals abound, whereas in gay bars, it was primarily a Mexican crowd.

I’ve decided to describe each bar individually since they all have some unique differences.

La Mezcalera
Amazing cocktails abound in this Mezcal-themed nightclub. Go too late and it’s so crowded you can’t move. I went early and was able to sample a flight of Mezcal with fruit and a flight with cream.

This club has multiple rooms with very different. Starts off with the tradition tables and bar counter, then moves to a dance floor, the an open outdoor space for mingling and dancing. The problem is that they are always playing, House music, which I hate. 

La Justina
Another favorite of mine for cocktails, this is a place to come sit at the bar and watch the bartenders work their magic. Of course, you could get a booth and order food, but I prefer the more interesting experience of mingling. Come early because they close around 1:00 or 2:00am, which is early by Tijuana bar standards. 

Indoor disco dance floor
House music DJ in the outside space

Moustache Bar
Moustache Bar is a beer-only bar with live bands that play on the weekends.
interior of Moustache

live band playing

Dandy del Sur
Dandy is the oldest bar in Tijauna and still attracts a local crowd. Hipsters love it because the furnishing are largely unchanged and it is frequented by people of all ages, which makes it feel less “discovered” than places like La Mezcalera, which draw many younger clientele from across the border. 

Dandy del Sur on a Saturday night

General Tips and advice:
  • Start your night at 10:00 or 11:00pm and plan to stay out until 4:00 or 5:00. Things won’t even get interesting until midnight or 1:00am 
  • Take a break to eat some greasy street tacos to balance the amount of alcohol you’ll be imbibing 
  • You’ll want to visit at least 3-4 places in one night (if not more). Everyone bar hops and all bars are within walking distance so take advantage of the cool night air and roam from place to place throughout the night
  • Groups provide safety on many levels, so always stick with your friends 
  • Americans: bring cash. You will not be pulling out a credit card anywhere. 
  • I’ve carried my ID every time but never had to show it 
  • Don’t keep you valuables on you in a place where they can be easily stolen (like a back pocket) 
  • Where comfortable shoes that you won’t mind getting dirty – the streets and bar floors are filthy and will ruin your footwear.

Monday, November 19, 2018

NaNoWriMo 2018 Progress Report

After getting off to a bang on November 1st and plunging into my goal of writing 50,000 words this month, the enthusiasm has tapered off and now I have hit the halfway mark – November 15th – short of my goal.  I am only a measly 1,235 words behind schedule, which I could write in a half hour if I really focused, but these last few days have been so tough. I thought I would breeze through this year’s Nano attempt since I am officially self-employed, but while I am the master of my schedule, I am not the master of my body, and being 8-months pregnant has taken its toll energy levels and attention span.

So far my writing environment has consisted of:
-       Starbucks (trying to sample all the holiday drinks before the christmas music kicks in and working there becomes unbearable)
-       My house: dining room table and, surprisingly, my office (which is supposed to be a sanctuary for my business)
-       Cafes of Astoria, Or. This year’s “writer’s retreat”  was a little underwhelming, but at least served as a nice escape from the city.

-       I don’t have any collaborators this time around. With all the collaboration I'm doing for my consultancy (meeting with other consultants and prospective clients), and all the collaboration I'm doing for my baby  (meeting with other new moms), I don’t feel like investing the energy in meeting new people for Nano right now. I wish I had current friends that are participating but sadly I do not.
-       Pregnancy fatigue is real. While my second trimester was the best I’ve felt in my life, entering the third trimester has made me feel lazy, tired, sluggish, and unmotivated. My mind and body are so synched that when I feel tired, I can’t get up the mental strength to force the create process.
-       I discovered I HATE writing in the midday. Even though  I work for myself and enjoy taking long breaks in the afternoon to read or do housework, it is impossible to write for my novel. I  have to switch gears majorly and can’t get back on focusing to work. Alternatively, if I'm too wrapped up into work, I never get to writing for my novel, it always gets pushed to the evening.
-       Mornings are not working for me either– I cannot wake up that early and when I get up at my regular time, I need to get right to work. People are waiting for my response and I need to be active during business house.
-       Nights were working well but not working this past week. I had two evening events which completely wiped me out, and on the other days, somehow I also didn’t manage to get anything done at night.

-       I got started right away on day 1 and made good progress. I almost didn’t write that day but I forced myself to because I knew if I couldn’t get this off the ground on the first day, then I would set a sluggish pace for the entire month.
-       I had a conference on November 2nd and didn’t think I would write on that day but I did. In fact, it was a fruitful time for me. The conference was so intense that I welcomed the mental retreat into my novel.
-       I am writing much faster this time around, clocking in more words per minute than I ever had before. I think this is due to having a good outline for my novel already, so I don’t have to get stuck on plot points, as well as just growing more efficient as a writing professional.
-       I kept on track with my word count and wrote almost every day through the 11th of the month.
-       I wrote more on the weekends than I thought, owing to some particularly crucial scenes that needed to be written out all in one sitting.
-       Not too far behind my word count….1,235

-       My novel is structured really well and I’ve been developing a lot of fresh content.

You might notice the word count broken up into segments over the course of the same day. This has to do with the corresponding scenes or chapters, which is helpful for me to track on the more-detailed spreadsheet I keep but don't publish online. 

Day Date Comments  Goal Words   Actual Words 
Thursday 1    1,000  705
Friday 2 Conference    618
Saturday 3 Writers retreat  4,000  666
Sunday 4 Writers retreat  4,000  1,072
Monday 5    1,000  -  
Tuesday 6    1,000  489
Wednesday 7    1,000  76
Thursday 8    1,000  158
Friday 9    1,000  3,343
Saturday 10    4,000  1,386
Sunday 11    4,000  1,461
Monday 12 Marketing event  1,000    
Tuesday 13    1,000  -  
Wednesday 14    1,000  -  
Thursday 15 Workshop evening  1,000  -  



Libre Day

 Met up with a friend for happy hour and wore this new dress I bought at a vintage store in Tokyo from my trip in April. It is quite volumin...