Portland, a fun West Coast adventure

Sat. April 9, 2016 12:00 AM
by Ross Forman

Portland had the second-highest percentage of LGBT residents in the U.S. in 2015, second only to San Francisco

His home these days is here at the Hob Nob Grille, a pub on the Southeast side of the city.

Bryce Botelho, 39, has been working there for just over a year and his business-card could say: "bartender, host, friend and, well, your everything," he said, laughing. "Working here is like (the old TV show) Cheers 'because everyone knows your name; and it's the place to go where you'll always see a familiar face."

And the food at the Hob Nob Grille is great, or "comfort food," as Botelho said. There are large, tasty burgers – even one called the Peanut Budder Bacon, Pickle Burger, which is a burger topped with warm peanut butter, pepper bacon, dill pickle chips and mayonnaise. The menu also features delicious, cleverly presented salads, as well as Frickles, which are fried pickles wedges with ranch dip.

Everything is made from scratch in-house and there are 12 rotating local beers on tap, along with hand-crafted cocktails, House infusions, and a full bar. The interior décor also has a Chicago flavor, with signs/banners for the Bears and Cubs, as the owner has ties to the Windy City. Kudos to the Hob Nob crew of Megan Holmes, Jason Heller and chef Ben Francka, among others

"It's pure heaven," Botelho said with pride of the Hob Nob – and he's one to know about paradise, too.

Botelho was born on Maui and most recently spent 15 years working at Hula's Bar & Lei Stand in Honolulu, where he primarily was a bartender, but also helped in promotions and as a DJ.

Yep, Botelho's alter ego is DJ Honu, who made his debut in Hawaii in 2001.

"DJ Honu found his heartbeat and home when he started DJing at Hula's, (which showcased my) love and passion for music," Botelho said. "Throughout his career, DJ Honu has brought a raw, amazing talent that can be heard with his mainstream style of Classic Circuit, EDM, Progressive House, mashing old with new. He will take you on an emotional journey of the mind and senses, to tell a story that everyone can relate to, he said.

"Feel the beat, feel the rhythm, feel the music from within," Botelho said.

DJ Honu has spun for several charity events, including ones to benefit the Life Foundation, the Honolulu AIDS Walk, and more. He also has worked alongside such talent as

Michael Fong, KSM, RACERx, Maxxx, Michael Decero, Chris Cox, Joe Bermudez, Drew G(dirty Pop) , Nick Bertossi, Chris Wren, Derek Daniels, Paulo, Phil B, Hex Hector, Eddie Baez, Tony Moran and others.

DJ Honu has worked limitedly so far in Portland, though he still does regular podcasts.

Botelho said Portland residents, for the most part, are "laid back and just nice, drama free." He said the local LGBT scene is very liberal and very helpful. "Everyone is here to help one another; it's what equality should be everywhere," Botelho said.

Portland is "how the world should be in the sense of, if your gay, straight, bisexual, or whatever, this is the city where everyone is just themselves, (with) no judgements or labels."

And with plenty of donuts.

Yep, Portland is the home to Voodoo Doughnut, an independent doughnut shop known for its unusual doughnuts, eclectic decor, and iconic pink boxes featuring the company logo and illustrations of voodoo priests. The company has two shops and a cart in Portland, plus shops in Eugene, Denver, Austin and Taipei. USA TODAY tagged Voodoo Doughnut as "probably the most famous donut shop in the country."

Expect a wait for Voodoo's delights as there always is a line, yet customers are rewarded with some of the most outlandish donut creations ever. Their roster of treats includes the Gay Bar doughnut, described as a "raised yeast doughnut chocked full of luscious cream and all the colors of the rainbow."

"Voodoo Doughnuts is the place to go, (yet) the line goes on forever around the corner. Then you see people all over town clenching their big pink boxes, with a smile of joy on their face," Botelho said. "They have the craziest concoctions you can only imagine, (which) come to life.

"I indulge in this at least once or twice a week."

The Rainbow Flag

Portland might not have a gay neighborhood like Boystown in Chicago, but the city certainly is welcoming to the LGBT community.

"Portland is an extremely open-minded, progressive and welcoming city to everyone regardless of sexual preferences," said Marcus Hibdon, National Communications & Public Relations Manager for Travel Portland. "We are a city without gay neighborhoods because the LGBT community is welcome and can be found throughout Portland. It's a place where everyone can feel free to be themselves and where individuals are appreciated for what makes them different. It's a great destination for LGBT travelers with our amazing culinary scene, nightlife, outdoor activities and arts and culture, (thus) there is something for everyone."

Hibdon said LGBT travelers definitely are an important demographic for Travel Portland because, "we believe the city has a lot to offer the numerous types of LGBT travelers that exist, whether it's married couples looking for a romantic getaway, an LGBT family interested in our family-friendly activities, or a group of friends who want to experience the city's nightlife. Of course, our award-winning restaurants; numerous craft breweries, distilleries and urban wineries; and endless activities offer a lot for any traveler."

Travel Portland maintains a dedicated page on its website to connect LGBT visitors with the local community.

"Pride Northwest is the city's biggest (annual) event for the LGBT community, but it's definitely not the only one worth (attending)," Hibdon said. "We have a whole list of LGBT festivals and events on our website, so it is easy to find them. Favorites of these include the annual Red Dress Party in May, a soiree that raises money for local LGBT support groups; and the Portland Queer Film Festival, to name a couple."

Portland is home to many gay-owned businesses, located all over the city that includes everything from hotels to restaurants, shops to activities, Hibdon confirmed. "We're a very gay-friendly city and you can see the influence of gay culture and the LGBT community everywhere. It's embraced by Portlanders," he said.

Take, for instance, The Society Hotel in downtown Portland, literally steps from some of the city's gay bars. (Think of the 7-Eleven in Chicago's Boystown neighborhood being a hotel; that is how close The Society Hotel is to Portland's gay bars.) The Society Hotel is resurrected from the ruins of a 19th century lodging house for sailors. Now renovated and restored, the mementos of yesteryear have influenced the birth of this establishment and still inhabit the hotel. The Society Hotel bridges the gap between hotel and hostel, providing both private and bunk accommodations to foster an inviting, adventurous atmosphere and community. And the hotel is gay-run.

Nifty Nine:

So what else is there to do in Portland? With Botelho's input, here's a look at 9 must-visit spots:

Portland Art Museum: There are rotating exhibitions and it hosts regular events. The museum "never disappoints (and has) some wacky collections to boot," Botelho said.

Portland Japanese Gardens: A beautiful, green, serene place to meditate.

Portland Saturday market: "(Is) great for people-watching, wacky art, food," and more, and it sits on the waterfront.

Tillamook Cheese Factory: "Watching how cheese and other dairy products are made, including the fresh off the line into your belly, 'cheese curds.' Need I say more?"

Food carts: Portland is a foodie town where you can get anything your heart desires. The carts offer "some of the best 'grinds' I've ever eaten," Botelho said.

Drive to the Coast: "It's hard to put into words how amazing it is there (and en route) to the coast you pass farms galore and National forests."

Powell's Book Store: "If you love books, Powell's is for you get lost in the world of literature ...and probably get lost in the store as well. It's huge."

Breweries and tap-rooms: Some of the best hand-crafted beers – with berries, nuts, you name it.

Anything outdoors: "Portland has a reputation for being a republic of tree huggers, and understandably so. As soon as you walk outside, the trees are right there, arms stretched out, waiting to pull you in. There is so much to see in any direction, just step outside," Botelho said.


Check out Travel Portland's LGBT website: www.travelportland.com/plan-your-trip/lgbt-portland/

Hob Nob Grille is located at 3350 SE Morrison St., and its phone is 503-445-3665.

For your fix of Voodoo Doughnuts (open 24/7), go to 22 SW 3rd Avenue, and the phone is 503-241-4704.

The Society Hotel is located at 203 NW 3rd Avenue, and the phone number is: (503) 445-0444.

For more about Bryce Botelho, go to www.mixcloud.com/djhonu/ or via Facebook at www.facebook.com/djhonu.