Entertaining Guide

12 More Awesome Ways to Party in Portland

From axe-throwing contests and rooftop get-downs to wine-and-cheese platters and pizza parties, there's really no excuse not to throw an epic party.

By Heather Arndt Anderson, Kelly Clarke, Fiona McCann, Marty Patail, Conner Reed, and Benjamin Tepler August 27, 2019 Published in the September 2019 issue of Portland Monthly

Craft a Room-Size Wine & Cheese Platter at Bar Norman

Did you literally come to the party just for wine and cheese? Cut out the middleman and buy out natural wine den Bar Norman for your next bash—long-engagement celebration to relocation last hurrah. Depending on the season, $1,800–3,000 will snag you the entire light-filled, lofted SE Clinton boîte, which has room for around 45 revelers, plus up to six wild and wondrous natural wines by the glass, personally chosen by bar owner and nationally recognized oenophile Dana Frank. Then, call in the big guns at Cheese Bar for a hypercurated spread culled from owner Steve Jones’s 200-plus list of exceptional nibbles—marbled goat cheese to water buffalo milk rounds, hailing from Croatia or just across the Columbia—served up by ridiculously informed mongers, or ordered from a sushi-style menu ($15–30 a head). Result? The ultimate, palate-pandering, wine-and-cheese blowout. 2615 SE Clinton St, barnorman.com —FM

Division Heights

Image: Michael Novak

Get Down with Your Own Rooftop Dance Party

Looking to SIP Champagne, sigh on a balcony, and listen to house music while you take in a rooftop sunset? No need to hit Manhattan for that Gossip Girl–sized fantasy. Head up to Division Heights ($1,500–3,000 base rental fee, divisionheightspdx.com) for the skyline-kissed dance party of your dreams. Feast on the house’s own plant-based bites (buffalo cauliflower wings, edamame) or hook up with an outside caterer—say, great daiquiris and Cuban empanadas from downstairs neighbor Palomar (pricing and options vary, barpalomar.com)—while you and up to around 200 of your closest friends enjoy 360-degree views of the city from inner Southeast. DJ Timothy Bee ($250/hour or $1,000 flat rate, timothybee.com) is a sure bet for sleek, crowd-pleasing dance music. Don’t trust yourself to decide on talent? Never fear. The folks at Boogie Buffet (boogiebuffet.com) are responsible for some of the best dance parties in town (The Hustle and the Get Down). Harness their expertise for a $300–600 curation and booking fee: they’ll find your perfect music match, schedule and pay them, and you won’t have to lift a finger. You’re welcome. 959 SE Division St #201 —CR

Enlist Nature as Your Party Venue

If you want a vibrant, interactive bash ripped from the pages of Kinfolk, call Tournant, Portland’s legendary, large-format, wilderness-loving catering outfit. Whole salmon smoked by a rushing river? Gigantic seafood boils on a sandy beach? Flaming mussels parties? Hell, if you want a freakin’ Scandinavian winter wonderland, Tournant will set up a table deep in the snowy woods, line it with furs, and serve you rich, belly-warming stews. Instagram pretenders, step aside: this is the real deal. tournantpdx.com —BT

Throw a Beer Bash for a Good Cause

(Editor’s note: On October 23 local beer blog The New School reported the closure of the community room, effective immediately.) Kudos to Petaluma-based Lagunitas Brewing, which has taprooms in four cities, including Portland, that are devoted to hosting nonprofit fundraisers. The rustic, big-windowed Lagunitas Community Room near Portland’s Moda Center is an inviting blank slate for everything from preschool auctions to Free Geek parties and Planned Parenthood fêtes, with a hosted bar and room for 200. Your 501(c)3 nonprofit can apply for a date and, if approved, Lagunitas will “rent” you the space for free. You provide the grub (try Northwest standby Elephants Deli, elephantsdeli.com/catering) and a temporary sales OLCC license ($50, oregon.gov/olcc). Lagunitas, meanwhile, donates all the beer you can sell during your event—and your org keeps the proceeds. lagunitas.com/taprooms/fundraisers —FM

Mount a Retro Roller Disco at Mt Scott Community Center

Re-create your very own 1970s-style roller boogie and rent the basement roller rink at Mt Scott Community Center. Rates vary ($75/hour and up, minimum 2 hours, reduced rates for nonprofits, higher prices for large groups), but you can fit up to 50 Hollywood Swingers of all ages on the floor. Hire a DJ well-versed in soul, funk, and disco (like, say, the Rose City Rollers’ own DJ, Agent Meow), and rock and literally roll the night away. The community center boasts its own skate rentals, but that’s about it for on-site amenities. The sound system is charmingly old-school, and you’re in charge of your own drinks (no alcohol, sorry) and eats. Luckily, that’s nothing a preorder of Venezuelan arepas or Tierra del Sol tlayuda Mexican pizzas from Portland Mercado’s nearby carts can’t fix. The only other caveat? The facility closes at 9:30 p.m. on Friday nights (7 p.m. on weekends!), so budget extra funds if you need an after-hours rental. Psst: you can also rent Mt Scott’s giant pool, complete with waterslide and hot tub, on weekend evenings. 5530 SE 72nd Ave, portlandoregon.gov/parks/60409 —HAA

Party like a Lumberjack at Feckin Brewery

Tucked away between the railroad tracks and busy McLoughlin Boulevard in Oregon City, Feckin Brewery welcomes rougher-edged revelers in search of suds, big meat, and an excuse to throw sharp objects. You can reserve a corner of the no-frills Irish-style brewery at no charge for groups up to 70 (they also have a tent for party spillover, or just rent the whole damn place on Monday or Tuesday), with a dedicated server on hand to plunk down pints of house Dublin Pale Ale and fruity-tart cranberry-pomegranate cider. Call ahead to preorder platters of respectable barbecue for your mob, including juicy, smoky, almost immorally large whole turkey legs. Feckin’s main attraction is right on target: Celtic Axe Throwing. You and four to 20 of your closest buds can reserve a cage for a Paul Bunyan cosplay sesh most afternoons and early evenings ($25 per person per hour, with special rates for more than 15 people). If that isn’t lumbersexual enough for you, Feckin also occasionally hosts arm wrestling tournaments. 415 S McLoughlin Blvd, Oregon City, feckinbrew.com —HAA

Take Over a Wine Country Farm for Your Milestone Birthday

Make the Parks & Recreation TV mantra “Treat yo’self” a real-life goal on the occasion of your blessed birth and ante up for a rustic-luxe sleepover party at Abbey Road Farm. The co-owners of Portland’s Quaintrelle recently turned a former equestrian arena and farm outside of Carlton into a chic B&B wonderland of mini donkeys and blooming nasturtiums—complete with five rooms built inside a former grain silo and stellar views of surrounding wine country.

Dream bash? Gather up to 15 of your nearest and dearest and rent out the entire B&B and adjacent ranch house. (Treat yo’self!) Wander the property like landed gentry with glasses of Abbey Road’s own vintage, feed the dwarf goats some collard greens, and retire to your chamber to soak off the farm in your jetted tub. (Treat yo’self!!) Gather your loved ones in the charming Toolshed (filled with rope chandeliers and cushy couches) for nibbles from innkeepers Eric Bartle and Sara Kundelius, followed by an epic coursed meal from the avid chef-foragers in the adjacent Silo Garden, capped off by more wine and heartfelt toasts around the big fire pit. (Treat! Yo! Self!) Wake up to the cluck of chickens and meet Eric and Sara for breakfast—perfect Benedicts to duck egg canelés (from Abbey’s own ducks). Final tab? Around $3,600 and up, beds to extremely good biscuits.

Got a bigger invite list? Abbey can handle fancy farm to-dos for 40 to 80 in the Toolshed/Silo Garden, tricked out with menus from Portland catering fave Crave or wine country food carts. (Abbey event manager Kristen Baxter loves McMinnville’s The Farmer’s Lunchbox, known for feeding winery workers during crush, and Instagram-bait Airstream cocktail cart Silver Julep.) Or up the guest list to 200 and take over the soaring-ceilinged Arena, rebuilt with boards saved from the horse arena that once stood in this space. (Local firm Richard Brown Architect AIA masterminded the design of the refreshed farm, tasting room to Arena to Toolshed.) Self, treated. 10501 NE Abbey Rd, Carlton, abbeyroadfarm.com —KC

Kick Out the Jams at Your Next House Party (or Host a Silent Disco!)

Pete Krebs has been strumming the local music scene since the late 1980s—good luck finding a musician here who hasn’t been in one of his bands over the years. These days, his Portland Playboys are our homegrown western-swing staple, bringing easy, folksy Bob Wills and Smokey Wood numbers to the party with Stetson-clad panache. 

The sprawling lineup of local talent and high energy of POPgoji will convert your mopey shindig into a serious samba jam. Brazilian beats meet pop/soul sensibilities here—hire the entire band for your big dance-party extravaganza, or one of their smaller musical offshoots (members play in a host of other outfits under different names), for your living room soirée. 

Want something different that’ll have guests bonding over shared beats and yelling song lyrics? Cue Heartbeat Silent Disco, a local outfit that hands everybody headphones, and then simultaneously plays different songs on three channels (you can make your own playlist, or hire a DJ). The outcome? Hilariously off-kilter, raucous-yet-whisper-quiet dance parties. —FM

Host a Better Game-Day Party

Just because you want to throw a watch party for a Blazers game or Timbers match doesn’t mean you have to stoop to the keg-in-a-trash-can approach. Instead, book the upstairs VIP Suite at elevated sports haven Century Bar. The swanky, dark-wooded lounge features two private bathrooms, a kitchen area, and a 90-inch TV, not to mention its own outdoor deck for celebratory cigars. —MP

Enoteca Alto

Host a Going-Away Party at Enoteca Alto

Your longtime coworker is headed off to greener pastures. You could bring in some sad cupcakes and send a company-wide email ... or you could eat stunning pasta at an Italian futurist wine bar to show your appreciation for years of hard work. Enoteca’s upstairs mezzanine, Enoteca Alto, serves a “best of” from neighboring Italian institution Nostrana. At $65 per person, that includes four big courses with choices like the radicchio Insalata Nostrana, house-extruded pasta in Marcella’s buttery tomato sauce, a 2¼ pound, bone-in bistecca alla Costata, and Mozza’s famous butterscotch budino. Basically, everything you could ever want short of the restaurant’s wood-fired pizza. The sleek turquoise and blond-wood space has room for 26 of your most tolerable officemates, a view of the bar’s two-story glass wine cellar, and even a 75-inch screen for happy-sad slide shows. 1401 SE Morrison St, enotecanostrana.com —BT

White Pepper's party room

Celebrate the Circle of (Party) Life

If you can’t stop life’s unending march of milestones—from folks getting hitched and reproducing to retiring—you might as well embrace it. Portland’s boutique event spaces can help you celebrate with more creativity and less stress. Consider an engagement party at FunctionPDX; toasts are far less awkward inside this ever-morphing private bar on NW 23rd Avenue, which rents at $750–1,000 for a three-hour, choose-your-own-adventure party. The staff will work with any food outfit (co-owner Casey Armstrong loves SeaSweets Poke), stock the bar with a fave wine or whiskey, or, for an extra fee, handle everything from “concept to fruition.” The moody chamber fits around 40 partiers, whether toasting in its cushy leather booths or dancing on the patio out back.

To fête an expectant breeder, head to Opal 28, a converted turn-of-the-century home with a pretty, secret patio on NE Glisan Street. Sunday-morning baby showers are so popular that Opal created a brunch package: $52/person for five hours of hosted mimosas, coffee, and a full breakfast, bacon and eggs to pastries. The brick-and-concrete space, which has hosted Sri Lankan coming-of-age ceremonies and end-of-life parties, has room for up to 125 minglers or a custom, sit-down meal for 55.

Maybe you still like your partner?  Enlist catering ace White Pepper to celebrate that fact in its plant-filled private tasting room and bar in outer Northeast Portland. The crew will throw you a warm, friendly anniversary dinner packed with flower-strewn farm-to-table eats for up to 40 loved ones. Or opt for a rustic cocktail party for up to 75, featuring lavish displays of charcuterie and custom cocktails. Room rental is $500 for three hours, and that money goes toward your final catering tab. —KC

Tastebud's pizzamobile

Invite Your Besties to an Adult Pizza Party in the Park

If you’ve ever been to the Portland Farmers Market at Portland State University, you already know the plein air joy of eating a fire-singed slice of pizza from Tastebud while lolling around the park. The farmers market icon and wood-fire pro also happens to own an impressive, retrofitted Sterling catering truck ... with a 3,500 lb stone Mugnaini oven mounted to the back. That means Tastebud’s pizzamobile can motor over to any park of your choosing, for, say, a Rose Garden picnic or a family bash at one of Mount Tabor’s rustic shelters ($1,200 for cart, crew, and pizza for 50 for three hours, tastebudpdx.com/catering). Seasonality rules the menu, with summertime hits like apricot, sausage, and basil. It’s a much improved, veggie-laden version of a kids’ pizza party, but with more rosé. The catch? You’ve gotta reserve your space with a picnic permit from Portland Parks & Rec. Fees range from $50 to $200, depending on the site. Book at least 15 days in advance to avoid extra fees, and call to get the scoop on your chosen venue, including whether your permit covers alcohol (503-823-2525, portlandoregon.gov/parks/38301). Note: caterers can’t actually drive into parks, but there are plenty of great access points at most of Portland’s public greenspaces. —BT

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