Cafe Nell

 
 

nell4Cafe Nell is located on the corner of NW Kearney and 20th. Its location, away from the main arteries of bustling NW 21st. and 23rd Street, makes it all the more charming and intimate. As one of my favorite places in Northwest to catch up with friends and unwind at the end of the day, read on to learn more about this sweet spot-Cafe Nell-and connect the seen with the unseen.

 

Q. Vanessa, the vibrant and gracious owner of Cafe Nell, can always be seen interacting with her guests morning, noon and night. Cafe Nell is a neighborhood gem many locals consider their second family room. A place where family and friends gather to unwind or to celebrate! Tell us about the Nell it is named after. Cafe Nell

 

A. Cafe Nell represents: classic, elegant, simple. Nell was my mother’s name. She was an amazing lady. In her entire life, I never heard her utter a negative word about another person. She was an incredible mother…and a great cook. When I was in the first grade, lunch period was 11 am. At 10:45, she would show up at my school room with hot fried chicken (that she had just made), and place it in my lunch box. EVERY DAY! 

It was going to be called just NELL, but I didn’t want people to call it Nell’s (although it happens anyway LOL), so it became Cafe Nell.

Q. I’ve spent my fair share of billable hours at Nell. It never fails, I go in for a drink and a bite to eat and I end up staying all night! What is it about Cafe Nell that makes it so addicting? Cafe Nell Lounge Area

 

A. It’s the people of course. The interaction of guests and customers. ( In addition to great food & drinks) There’s always someone to visit with! When the restaurant first opened, several people asked “where’s the artwork?”

At Cafe Nell, the people (both patrons and staff) are the ever-changing artwork.

Q.You can always find “characters” at Cafe Nell. I have meet some of the wittiest people while winding down my day at Nell. What’s the connection between Cafe Nell and Paramount Pictures? 

 

A. It was actually MGM Studios (although both Paramount and Universal also had screening rooms on the same block). The building itself was built in 1947, as a distribution facility for MGM Studio…One tale is that it was a film processing facility. Another is that it was a studio poster distribution center. Don’t you think it would have been more fun if there had been a casting couch somewhere?

Q. Aside from having a “paramount” past, I’ve also heard the building has a bit of a naughty history to it as well. Do tell … 

 

A. Well, I was perplexed when 3 layers of carpeting and linoleum tile were pulled up during renovation, as to why there were grids of nail holes all over the place, as if the space had been cut up into a dozen little cubicles. Then one evening, a gentleman and his wife were dining in the restaurant, and he shed light on that. He was a retired lawyer, who had represented employees of a brothel (he called it a “massage parlor”), called the Kozy Kitten, that had inhabited the space during the 70’s. I have yet to determine how long it was here. It would have been fun to find an old neon sign somewhere, wouldn’t it?

Q. Last year Cafe Nell clinched the title, Best Bloody Mary in Oregon, as voted by the viewers of Thrillist! Congrats and I think that well-loved drink aptly embodies Cafe Nell’s vibe as: spicy, vibrant, full of surprises and leaves you feeling giddy. What leaves you feeling giddy, aside from the entire cocktail menu! Cafe Nell, Mary Nell

A. Well….it’s always fun to run into people all over town that I’ve met through the restaurant; but my favorite one is, sitting at another bar in town a while back, and a young lady sitting next to me asked “don’t you work at Cafe Nell?”, and the gentleman sitting between us turned to her and replied: “She IS Cafe Nell”. That made me laugh.

Q. Throughout the week Cafe Nell has some great, money saving deals that dominate that day. Let’s tell everyone what they are! 

 

Monday: I Love Beer: $2 rotating MicroBrews

Tuesday: Bottle Shock Tuesdays: Half Off all Bottled Wines

Wednesday: All Night Happy Hour

Thursday: DATE NIGHT:for two people, 1 shared appetizer, 2 entrees + a bottle of wine $45

Saturday: Bottomless Bubbles $10 6 pm – 10 pm

And we have a few new fun things that we’re going to be rolling out soon. Including Sunday happy hour, and Sunday Suppers.Cafe Nell

 

Q. Also I’d like to mention that March is Dining Month here in Portland. Restaurants around Portland are offering 3 courses for $29 during the month of March. What’s on the menu for Cafe Nell during dining month? 

A. First course: salad of green beans, mustard vinaigrette, grilled red onion, minced hard boiled egg, crispy shallots

Second course: osso bucco of oxtail, braised mirepoix vegetables with red wine reduction over creamy mashed potatoes

Third course: peanut butter cream cheese mousse studded with chocolate brownie chunks topped with fresh whipped cream and salted peppery crushed peanuts

 

Roadside Attraction

Roadside Attraction

Roadside Attraction is a local bar that has succeeded in living up to its name. As you drive by, you can’t help but gawk at all the odds and ends that overflow onto the sidewalk and bait you to explore beyond its wood fence. If your curiosity’s been peaked, and you manage to find parking, your inner adventurer will be pleased.  Not only will you find the large patio with fire pit, flowering vines and exotic flower arrangements meticulously well kept, most will find the massive collection of mismatched attractions curiously captivating.

Cozy little nooks can be found throughout this bar, which makes this roadside attraction a very attractive place to cozy up with a date. If you’ve come with buds instead of a beau, you’ll also find picnic tables large enough for the gang to gather around and personally share their “status updates” with one another, while the fire crackles and pops nearby.

After hosting many a party in their living room, Alf Evers and Peggy Barr decided to turn their house into a uniquely homey bar in SE Portland. Alf jubilantly explained that he had “the bar and booze installed way before they ever opened their doors as a business.” Clearly the essence of Roadside Attraction was embedded in this dwelling’s foundation long before its doors were open to the public.

An ornate Chinese archway frames the entrance to the pool room. The piece was specifically commissioned for the space and creates a bold, exotic statement when you walk up to the bar. The interior walls are painted a warm red and adorned with vibrant and intriguing art the owner has collected over the years. Although many styles, eras and cultures are represented within Roadside Attraction, it strangely flows seamlessly, giving the space a comfortably disheveled, homey feeling.

An avid collector of all things, especially paintings from newly discovered artists, Alf is constantly adding, adjusting and affixing something new to the walls, after receiving final approval from Peggy.

The crowd is local and low-key, and the service is friendly. It’s a place the regulars consider their living room. It’s cash only and the cuisine leans towards comfort food with menu items like meatloaf and mac-n-cheese (think chili-mac) and a variety of grilled meats and veggies. The jukebox is free and loaded with classic rock, vintage tunes and smooth grooves. With summer having just arrived for us Oregonians, this urban oasis will absolutely be at the top of my list.

Roadside Attraction
1000 SE 12th Ave
Portland, OR 97214
503-233-0743
Open daily at 3pm

Good Food, Ghosts and Hideaways!

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While collecting content for Portland’s Funky & Fabulous Bathrooms book, I uncover some really fascinating insights into many of our well-known and well-loved establishments, like NorthWest Public (NWPH) House on Kearney and 23rd.

If you haven’t been yet, he’s a brief description to help you visualize. The house is a two-level craftsman home built in 1906. In 2011 the house opened as a gastropub / sports lounge. Three outdoor decks and 12 HDTV’s, can you say great place to soak up some sun or take in a game! [Read more...]

Friendly Food Cart Competition Anyone?

If you feel you are well versed in your food cart knowledge, love to eat, can think quick on your feet and move effortlessly on Tri-Met – then you should call your friends, gather a team, begin training and sign up for the 2nd PDX Cartathlon!

March 3, 2012, 10am rain or shine, hungry or not, tennis shoes or those crazy barefoot running socks – Game On!

Let me know in the comments if you are up for a little “friendly” competition.

Fill your mouth with Sunshine: PDX Cartathlon II

  

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The Portland Mobile Restaurant Group and Willamette Week, present “Fill your mouth with Sunshine: PDX Cartathlon II”! This mobile-eatery-themed combination of a scavenger hunt, eating competition and urban footrace celebrates Portlanders’ love of food carts, defiance of winter weather, and affinity for oddball competition.

Working in teams, participants will decipher riddles, eat, ride Tri-Met, find Portlandian items, take photos and compete in an egg toss for tickets to Cirque du Soleil’s production of OVO. The route will encompass Southeast, Southwest, Northeast and North Portland as contestants race between some of Portland’s most popular food carts, completing fun challenges and eating tasty food. 

Participation fee for contestants is $50 for a five-person team, and will include a commemorative shirt, free food along the route, and admission into an afterparty hosted by Willamette Week. 

Founding carts include: Big-Ass SandwichesFlavourSpotGrilled Cheese GrillKoi FusionPotato Champion, and Whiffie’s Fried Pies

Top team will win free food cart food for a year!

Saturday, Feb. 25 
Saturday, March 3 
(date changed)

10 am

$50, All ages

Call 445-2764 to sign up!

http://wweek.com/portland/article-18726-fill_your_mouth_with_sunshine_pdx_cartathlon_ii.html

 

We Can Pickle That!

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The line made famous from season 2 of Portlandia has a pretty decent amount of truth to it here in Portland. The 2nd Annual Perfect Pickle Competition, will take place Monday Feb.6th at Holocene from 6-12pm. Pickle Tasting is from 7-8 only. Tickets are $10 and all proceeds go to The Dill Pickle Club, a non-profit organization who’s goal is to broaden people’s knowledge about Portland’s past, present and future.

Last September, 12 of Portland’s top chefs were given 10lbs of organic pickling cucumbers with the challenge to create the perfect pickle! Chop won the briney title of Best Pickler last year, will they be able to hold on to that title, or will it slide right out of their hands like a watermelon greased with vaseline!  [Read more...]

BBQ At It’s Best

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Smokehouse 21

If you’re not headed to Smokehouse 21 already – you will be once you catch a whiff of the savory smells that begin to permeate the air as you walk down 21st right around Flanders and well past Glisan. The restaurant takes over the small space that was once Tanuki on 21st. The intimate space seats 22 and is painted a mossy green. The decor can be classified as: tasteful BBQ. A mounted Boar’s head adds character to the walls, an ironing board serves as a wait station, the warm wood tables and chairs make the dining room feel comfortable and exactly the type of space where you can get your fingers sticky with sweet tasty BBQ sauce.The voices of Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, and the likes, add to the authentic vibe you feel when you take two steps down into this new cozy and comforting dining destination.  [Read more...]

The Woodsman Tavern

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The Woodsman Tavern has a warm and comfortable feeling with sumptuous smells that entice the nose and tempt the tummy. Upon walking in the front door your first sight is a U shaped beautifully crafted dark wood bar. Fresh flowers, candles and a raw bar station dress the space. To your left their is a wall decorated with landscape paintings framed in mismatched but complimentary frames; traditional 2 and 4 top tables with antique desk chairs that swivel make up this more traditional side of the dining space. To your right the space is anchored by a cozy looking brick wall with an elongated wall mirror with a mantle is the perfect for adding seasonal touches, a mixture of high tops and traditional tables fill this space. Large windows at the front of the restaurant allow in plenty of light so the space doesn’t feel closed.

[Read more...]

Salud!

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Wine carries the same emotions I have towards shoes. Less is never more. Each one distinctive to your mood at the moment and each one evokes fond memories of monumental or playfully petty snapshots from your past.

So when I see a wine shop, just as a new shoe display, I am drawn in to take a peek. That’s exactly what happened the other evening as I was walking with a friend down 23rd.  We both had commented about the opening of the new wine shop and decided to seize the moment, put our other plans aside, and relax with a glass of vino. [Read more...]