Keep Cool In the Hollywood District

This week in Portland we will have a legit heat wave on our hands—the predicted forecast as of the writing of this article is three days in the triple digits preceded by a day in the upper 90s (image via Weather Underground).

Now, I don’t have air conditioning in my apartment so there will be times during the day when it will be roasting inside, to put it mildly. But the good news is this—dew points in the 40s and low 50s mean it won’t seem overly humid, especially compared to past summers back east. And there are plenty of ways to keep cool here in the Hollywood District—here’s my roundup of options.

Hollywood Theatre. This is the big dog of available choices, and spending the evening in their air conditioned theater sounds like a great way to stay cool. Critically-acclaimed Dunkirk is playing in magnificent 70mm each day at 6:30pm and 9pm, and on Friday An Inconvenient Sequel, part of the Portland EcoFilm Festival, screens at 7pm and 9:15pm. Amp up the chill factor with a serving of Salt & Straw ice cream or a cold bottle of kombucha, both sold at the concessions stand. 4122 NE Sandy Blvd, hollywoodtheatre.org

The Magnolia. Across the street from the Hollywood Theatre is The Magnolia, a beer and wine bar that serves primarily vegan food (though there are a few deviations from that—the tuna salad is particularly tasty). Recently on Facebook they posted, “The Magnolia has (pretty much the best) Air Conditioning,” so you can expect a comfortable time in their friendly and welcoming space. Open from 4-11pm except for Friday when it’s 4pm-midnight (closed Sunday and Monday). Happy hour is 4-6pm and starts again at 10pm ($4 drafts, $5 house wine, and $4 Garlic Cheesy Bread). 4075 NE Sandy Blvd, themagnoliabar.com

Atomic Pizza. Next door to the Hollywood Theatre they serve tasty pizza, but more importantly for this article they also sell scoops of Ruby Jewel ice cream. It’s particularly exciting when they have the salted chocolate caramel flavor, but you pretty much can’t lose with any choice. On top of that, they sell bottles of chilled Virgil’s Root Beer and have rotating taps of craft beer. Because of the proximity of pizza ovens to the dining area the A/C may not seem as effective as it could be, but it’s manageable. Open until 10pm. 4144 NE Sandy Blvd, atomic-pizza.com

Laughing Planet. Besides serving high quality healthy food (the Harvest Bowl is a favorite) in a family-friendly atmosphere filled with plastic dinosaurs, they also offer cool drinks like aguas frescas, Arnold Palmers (and the respective iced tea and lemonade on their own), and fruit smoothies. The Mango-Peach-Lemon smoothie is my favorite, made with mango, peaches, banana, fresh lemon juice, and apple juice. A/C has been solid in the past. They are open until 9pm each night. 1914 NE 42nd Avenue, laughingplanetcafe.com

Nectar Cafe. On the subject of fruit smoothies, Nectar Cafe is another solid option. The Joni—made with mango, pineapple, banana, and coconut milk—is a good choice, and it’s also vegan, as are most of the offerings at Nectar. They also prepare fresh juices and juice blends. I would recommend getting your juices and smoothies to go, as the air conditioning there has been haphazard in the past. They are open until 8pm each night. 1925 NE 42nd Avenue, nectarcoffeebar.com

Shandong. They recently posted on their Facebook page, “What could be better than a cold beer, potstickers and some A/C???” Sounds like a plan—their potstickers are fantastic. As for the rest of the food, the jury is out; my initial visit did not yield mind-blowing food, except for those potstickers. Note that they have split hours—a time for lunch and a time for dinner. Lunch is from 11am-2:30pm, dinner from 4pm-9:30pm, and happy hour is from 4-6pm. 3724 NE Broadway, shandongportland.com

Sam’s Billiards. I love this local pool hall + restaurant. How better to keep out of the heat than to play a few rounds of pool with a cold beer or cocktail and solid American eats? Happy hour is from 4-7pm, and the place closes at 1am Monday to Thursday, and 2am Friday and Saturday. A/C is solid. 1845 NE 41st Avenue, portlandpoolhall.com

Columbia River Brewing Company. This is a nice big space with plenty of seating, a brewery on the premises, a place to throw darts, and food that can be hit or miss (though the quesadilla, sausage and pepperoni pizza, battered fries, and BLTA have been consistently good); the beer is very good. The A/C is reliable, which makes eating, drinking, watching the game, and playing a round of Scrabble or Darts a good, cool time. Ask about their ice cream sundae for dessert. They’re open 11am-10pm except Friday and Saturday when they are open 11am-midnight. 1728 NE 40th Avenue, columbiariverbrewpub.com

The Know. This performance space and bar relocated to the Hollywood District in 2017 and offers live music, food and drinks. They recently posted on their Facebook page, “A/C is so nice right now,” so if you’re in the mood for music and a meal in a cool space, this is the place for you (on Tuesday they are showing a double feature of Kontroll and Night of the Hunter). They’re open 11:30am-2am daily, and happy hour is from 3-7pm. 3728 NE Sandy Blvd, theknowpdx.com

The Moon & Sixpence. This is a comfortable, dark bar with great beer and good English pub food. Sounds like the perfect place to hide out in during a heat wave. Open 3pm-2:30am daily. 2014 NE 42nd Avenue

Baskin-Robbins. For years this ice cream chain has offered scoops, sundaes, and shakes for affordable prices. Recent favorites include the chocolate hazelnut, mint chip, and amped up Oreo cookie ice cream. Not fancy but hits the spot; I grew up with it and still enjoy getting a scoop there from time to time (well, perhaps more often than that). The young staff is awesome by the way, and always happy to give you recommendations on what they’re liking these days. 1815 NE 39th Avenue

My Canh. I have eaten here many times but for the purpose of this article, it’s important to know that their air conditioning can be somewhat inconsistent, and I’ve walked in at times where it feels a little too warm. But their Thai iced tea with boba (AKA tapioca balls) is delightfully sweet and milky and they also make fresh limeade and icy fruit shakes (you can get boba in them, too). Open from 11am-9pm (closed Sundays). 1801 NE 39th Avenue

Rust Coffee Lounge. Catch them before their 6pm closing time (they’re also open at 6am most days) for excellent iced espresso drinks, cold brew coffee, iced chai and the intense “Chocoholics.” Next door to them is the Hollywood Library, which closes at 8pm Tuesday to Thursday and 6pm on Friday. And yes, there is plenty of air conditioning there, good books and other media, and friendly staff. 2035 NE 41st Avenue, rustcoffeelounge.com, library website

Also note: the Hollywood Senior Center (1820 NE 40 Avenue) serves as an official Multnomah Cooling Center; see other centers in this interactive map. The Grant Park Pool (2300 NE 33rd Avenue) also will be open into the evening and there is a splash pad there, too; for more information on the pool, go here.

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Bridgetown Bites is written by Meg Cotner, a food loving freelance writer, editor and published author in Portland, OR.
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