Glammy Girls Night

Every now and then, a girl needs an excuse to put on her Jimmy Choo knock offs and a dress that’s probably too short, do her makeup just like the MAC girl did when you bought all that eye stuff you never wear because it looked really good on Scarlett Johanssen in Elle magazine, and kick up the aforementioned killer knockoff heels at a place as dazzling as she. Add a few gal pals, flutes of champagne, and a spritz of sass and you’ve got a recipe for trouble–the fun kind. Here are a few eateries/drinkeries for a psuedo-starlet out on the town–places where your expertly applied eye makeup won’t be taken for granted.

Ava Gene’s

avagenesextsquareGaze into the mirrors suspended over this Division Street stunner’s open kitchen and see your future…meal, that is (along with a LOT of lightbulbs). The latest project from Stumptown sage Duane Sorenson, this upscale hotspot is dazzling discerning diners with chef Joshua McFadden’s sophisticated take on rustic New York-style Italian, like warm chicken livers with raisins and marsala, Delicata squash fritto, housemade ravioli, and pork osso bucco. Finish with a vanilla bean panna cotta in pine cone syrup, then sip one of the bar’s exquisite grappas as you plot your next visit. Prix fixe seekers–opt for the five-course chef’s tasting menu.


clarklewisThe droves of tea lights flickering within this foxy former warehouse turned enchanted glass-walled inner Southeast industrial district dining room serve to adequately illuminate the way to your gin martinis, Viridian farm nasturtium-dotted burrata salads, grilled Cattail Creek lamb leg with watercress and morels, and salted caramel and chocolate profiteroles, while casting only the most flattering of glows on your primped and polished countenances, rendering it an excellent choice for date night–be it your first date, or 2000th.


departuredeckFifteen stories above downtown Portland, perched atop the luxurious Nines Hotel, sits space-agey Departure Lounge and its incomparable east and west-facing outdoor terraces, and there’s no better place to call a meeting of your favorite see-and-be-seen fashionistas. Slip into your favorite LBD, don some stilettos (very useful for fending off the covetous hordes who will want your prime lounger-with-a-view seating), order a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, and make it a girls’ night to remember (or forget).


imperialexteriorsquareThose seeking a classy joint worth getting dolled up for are jazzed about Vitaly Paley and Ben Bettinger’s sensibly swank new Broadway Street eatery in the Hotel Lucia, where seasonally-driven Northwest fare fuels a convivial downtown crowd. And if you end up getting the proverbial room after a few too many of the dangerously affordable signature cocktails, come morning, the Imperial pastrami hash and crab croque-madame are but an elevator ride away—the dining room serves three squares a day, starting at the ungodly hour of 6:30am on weekdays.

Irving Street Kitchen

irvingstreetfloatsquareThe sort of place you can take almost anyone—dates, colleagues, family, friends, tipsy girls’ night out expeditions—and have an excellent time, this Pearl District restaurant’s creative Southern-influenced New American cuisine feels both sophisticated and hearty, with dishes like creamed white corn soup with chanterelles, maple-smoked brook trout and arugula salad, grilled duck sausage over gingersnap basmati rice, and divine desserts like the pecan skillet pie, strawberry soda floats, and legendary butterscotch pudding. Service is friendly and accommodating, and little curtained booths offer you sanctuary from the merry melee–if you’re a recluse, want to get romantic or just need a nap after downing the blackberry crème fraiche-smothered cornmeal waffle during brunch, you can close the curtains and hide/smooch/nap, whilst plotting how to nick the milk-bottle chandeliers. Read full write-up>>

Mediterranean Exploration Company

mecpitaandshugEvery neighborhood needs a stylish supperish social hub, and MEC has the Pearl District covered—you’ll hear the buzz of conversation emanating off the open air window bar from blocks away. Inside is a lively hive of hip, well-dressed sorts sipping cocktails and sharing eclectic small plates like lamb tartare, Tunisian couscous with rose petal harissa, Oregon albacore with beet olive salsa, and cardamom ice cream affogato. Like its sister restaurant Toro Bravo, MEC will lead you by the fork through the long list of mezza via a chef’s choice tasting menu that’s well worth the $40, especially if you’ve already burnt out your decision-making abilities agonizing between the Spanish Diplomat and Retsina Spritz.


nostranaextPortland’s east side is a food lover’s haven, but isn’t always a dolled-up damsel’s first thought when pondering how best to paint the town San Marzano red. Fortunately, Buckman’s sultry Nostrana is an excellent choice for a group of hungry hotties, sporting sexy cocktails like the Fresh Kicks, Rhubarbarella, and classic Campari and soda, a pretty L-shaped bar that could easily claim your attention long into the evening, and delicious upscale Italian fare. I’d recommend wearing your little red dress this time around, because even a glamourpuss is expected to cut their own pizza at Nostrana and marinara splatters can be murder on a white frock.

Oven & Shaker

ovenandshakerJames Beard-award nominated chef Cathy Whims (Nostrana, Genoa) and Aviation Gin co-founder Ryan Magarian joined their culinarily complimentary forces to open this sleek Pearl District hangout, where the white hot wood-burning pizza oven bakes and blisters a steady stream of thin crust Neopolitan style pies while hot bartenders shake up icy Anejo Manhattans and Pineapple Trainwrecks for a trendy crowd. Lovers of the widely-worshipped Nostrana radicchio salad, it’s on the menu, along with three other pretty young leafy things, and a handful of “finger and fork” small plates. On weekends, go off the beaten pizza path with the inventive brunch dishes like broiled grapefruit with brown sugar caramel, duck Eggs in Purgatory, and the prosciutto plate with pimento cheese and a biscuit. Weather permitting, have your wood-fired meal and White Lady cocktail outdoors on the beautiful sidewalk patio–you’re smack dab in the middle of some of the Pearl’s prime people-watching terrain.

Portland City Grill

portlandcitygrillSpritz on the Chanel No. 5 and spray on the sleazy investment banker-repellant–you and your girls are headed to the top of downtown’s Big Pink, because there’s no view like a Portland City Grill view. Grab a window booth, order a bottle of bubbly, clink to your comraderie, share a few small plates, and entreat the piano player to play a rousing rendition of Madonna’s Material Girl…twice.

St. Jack

stjackfishermansstewIf two heads are better than one, then two restaurants must be better than one, and if the two restaurants are attached and one of them is actually a bakery, that must be better than a private Living Room Theater showing of Amélie, a bottle of Cristal Rosé, and a bucket of bacon fat croutons. Enter St. Jack, Portland’s very own bistro-bakery dream team, part darling Clinton Street corner bistro, part patisserie, the latter which opens daily at 8am to supply the neighborhood with pastry chef Alissa Rozos’ divine housemade éclairs, flaky croissants, and feather-light mini-madeleines. The bistro menu reflects chef Aaron Barnett’s affection for rustic French cuisine (think tureens of puff pastry-capped escargot, oyster and scallop-studded fisherman’s stew, and whole roasted trout over creamy French lentils), while Rozos’ dessert menu reflects…well, my dreams, actually (think chocolate crème brûlée with beignets and strawberries and créme chiboust with pistachio financier). If you find it hard to choose, just remember—two dinner entrees are always better than one, and two desserts are better than the aforementioned Amelie and bacon fat croutons screening.

Teardrop Lounge

teardroploungeGet glammed up and meet your posse at seductive Teardrop Lounge, a favorite among the beautiful Pearl people and serious craft cocktail afficionados alike. Sip Finishing School, Love in the Afternoon, and Hibiki Hi-Balls and nibble on a house cheese or charcuterie plate, salt cod arancini, or nettle and mushroom crostini whilst admiring the chiseled jaws laboring behind the undulating bar, and steadfastly ignoring the not-so-chiseled jaws laboring to get your phone numbers.


xicointeriorGet your capsaicin fix at this airy, elegant, fresh flower-filled Division Street cantina, where chiles reign supreme and the mezcal mingles freely amongst the merry crowds that populate the sleek marble bar and hidden back patio. Chef Kelly Myers incorporates seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients as she puts her own unique stamp on Mexican classics (definitely try the trout pozole), and specializes in eye-openingly (and sometimes eye-wateringly) inventive salsas. A small but mighty lunch menu is served most days via the kitchen window, and the smoky molé-drenched rotisserie chicken dinner can be ordered daily by noon for evening takeout. And as far as dessert is concerned, missing out on the Woodblock chocolate cake with passion fruit chile ganache is no bueno.