At Northern Lights Theatre Pub, audience members sip riesling and sink forks into chicken breasts as movie families sit down to dinner on the silver screen. Cinema-goers order their meals before sitting down to watch second-run flicks, letting waiters ferry their pulled-pork burritos or Angus burgers right to their seats so they don’t miss a screen couple’s passionate first kiss, tender final embrace, or heartwarming jump from an exploding helicopter. In addition to finger foods, the chefs take their fare up a notch by layering personal pizzas with housemade sauce, sprinkling parmesan cheese and squeezing lemon juice over chicken breasts, and piling pineapple atop their banana splits. Before evening films light up the theaters, Northern Lights’ full-service bar kicks into gear, leading to age restrictions so that moviegoers can freely sip on-tap beers such as Blue Moon and Gilgamesh Mamba or wash down bites with chardonnay and shiraz. In addition to screening blockbuster movies, the theater pub’s three auditoriums occasionally show sports or host live shows such as standup comedy.
Capitol City Theater draws on deep local talent pools to provide a dynamic display of on-the-spot comedy for the smile-deprived masses. Each show lasts 90 minutes and features a family-friendly revue of improvised performance games. Acts draw on the suggestions of audience members, provided they promise not to suggest Millard Fillmore or seahorse mating rituals, the only two subjects scientifically proven to have no inherent comedic value. Though Capitol City comedy shows are always all-ages, beverages and alcohol-enhancing snacks are available. Today’s Groupon is also good for two adult drinks (up to $8 value); choose from beer, wine, soda, or surprisingly mature bottled water. There is one intermission during the hour-and-a-half show, so you’ll still be able to check stock quotes for your plucky cryogenics start-up.
West Fest 2011, an outdoor music festival nestled in Wallace Marine Park, entertains concertgoers with a brimming lineup of classic and contemporary rock performers. Headlining musician Chuck Prophet—known for recording alongside Warren Zevon, sharing stage space with Lucinda Williams, and living up to his last name by predicting future events—takes the stage at 8 p.m. with his band The Mission Express. Session guitarist Jeff Pevar from David Crosby side-project CPR opens the night at 6:30 p.m. with a solo performance and three-handed ventriloquist-dummy quartet.
Barkeeps dispense 21 rotating drafts and pour out more than 500 microbrews and imported beers at Birra Pub, which derives its name from the Italian word for beer. Soups, salads, and hot and cold sandwiches concocted from local ingredients complement each hop- or malt-heavy libation. Amid a colorful interior of neon beer signs, arcade games, and a flat-screen television, the Pub hosts regular beer tastings where customers can win unique prizes, such as cryogenic freezing chambers that keep beers chilled for up to 100 years. In addition to brews in the eatery, visitors can bring home sudsy treats in bottles, cases, or kegs in a variety of brands and sizes.
The chefs at Lucky Bistro cull fresh ingredients to form an extensive menu of Chinese meat, seafood, and vegetarian favorites, including 38 varieties of dim sum. Diners sink into cushy booths or circle around group tables as tabletop hot pots simmer meat and noodles in curries and other flavorful broths. They also sauté fried rice with chicken and salted fish, heat savory porridges to just-right temperatures, and gussy up tofu and eggplant with sampan and other regional spices.
Before it mutated into a weaponized haze of reality shows, MTV aired a novelty known as the music video. These bite-sized works of art, which married pop songs to striking imagery, revolutionized the entertainment industry and ushered in an era of music known as “new wave.” For the task of curating and introducing these fresh sounds and flamboyant sights to audiences, MTV even created its own version of the disc jockey—the VJ.
Though MTV has sent its stable of video jockeys out to pasture, VJ Kittyrox carries the pastel, shoulder-padded torch of Adam Curry and Nina Blackwood as she masterminds the 80s Video Dance Attack. For the last seven years, this popular shindig has united generations of Portlandians with its five-hour feast of '80s-centric sensation. Across 10-foot screens, VJ Kittyrox projects classic videos from artists such as Duran Duran and Michael Jackson as audiences of Breakfast Clubbers and Pretty in Pinkers perfect their cabbage patch, running man, and Pat Benatar shimmies. A bombastic, thumping sound system and a dazzling light show accentuate the time warp as audiences deck themselves in '80s garb and shake away memories of unsolved rubik’s cubes.