Anyhoo...back up to Portland...
Blue Moon - There's a chain of pub-style restaurants in Portland called McMenamins, with basically the same menu. Some variation here and there, but if you want good, reliable pub grub, this is the place. Blue Moon is my favorite, if only because it was the closest one to the blessed studio I inhabited at 2151 NW Johnson for six months. A good dark interior, lots of pool tables, floor-to-ceiling windows, and of course, the place smells like beer, like a good pub should. Since it's Portland, you know there's gonna be tons of microbrews on the menu. Oh, and the bonus this time? Tater tots with my burger.
3 Friends - The bohemian coffeehouse (oh, wait...this is Portland, right? All coffeehouses are bohemian here, even the Starbucks...es) where us gay boys would meet before a night on the town, or at least dinner. We'd spend the first half hour just hanging out, then spend the next fracking half hour trying to decide where to eat dinner. Did I say bohemian? Yeah. Barely-running toilets, lots of wacky artwork, couches unafraid to show their inner parts to the world, and a front doorknob that rattled and jiggled like crazy, like it was about to fall off. That was the early 2000s. When I returned, apparently nothing had changed...except for the doorknob, which was now wired onto the rest of the door. I considered contributing some of my well-earned to the "get this damned door a new handle!" fund...and maybe I should have. Oh, and much less gay during the day. Oh well.
Marco's - I didn't go to this umbrella-ceilinged breakfast nook this time, but back in the day, Marco's had THE most awesome omelettes and coffee. And by coffee, I mean espresso-strength. I would have loved to drink more than one cup, but I would have been zooming all day and all of the night if I dared. And by omelettes, I mean gobs of molten cheese and thick black-label bacon with just enough egg to cover the whole thing.
Coffee Time - A personal anecdote: the night before I was to move away from my studio in NW Portland, I spent ALL night packing. So at 7:00 the next morning, I decided I owed it to myself to get some coffee and coffeecake at this place a block away. Very bohemian here...dreads, lip piercings, appropriate '90s noise blasting through the speakers, that sort of thing. Got my goods, downed them, then decided to get just a half hour nap before finishing up packing. I didn't even get that. Only 15 minutes later, I got a call from Mr. Man.
Three weeks prior, we had met for the first time, and he offered me a ticket to see Madonna in LA. He also offered to fly to Portland from Denver, pick me up, and then fly down first class.
But over the phone, with panic in his voice, he told me that we were not going to be flying anywhere anytime soon. Terrorists had just flown two planes into the World Trade Center.
(Incidentally, if you like the bumper sticker up top, pick it up here! Because keeping Portland weird simply isn't enough.)