Straddling Sandy Boulevard between 37th and 47th Avenues, squeezed between the Banfield and Northeast Tillamook Street, and crowned by its iconic theater, the Hollywood commercial district boasts a fabled past and a vibrant present. The theater, a 1,500-seat combination vaudeville house and movie palace, cost a princely half million to build in 1926, when admission was 25 cents. Now on the National Register, the 18th century Italian style facade and interior have been lovingly restored and technologically updated thanks to the nonprofit Hollywood Theatre. Innovative film series, classics and first runs, 70mm projection on a 50-foot screen, and support for local filmmakers have earned the theater a national reputation and loyal following.
Today a short stroll through the neighborhood reveals standbys such as Paulsen’s Pharmacy, where you can savor a hand-crafted chocolate malt a la Lana Turner, alongside exciting newcomers like Pono Farm Soul Kitchen, a Japanese inspired fine dining/comfort food experience featuring beef and pork raised naturally on their own farm in central Oregon.
Pamela “Lulu” Levenson explains why she brought her swimwear business, Popina’s, to Hollywood in 2013: “Living within walking distance of the shop, we love being a part of Hollywood and watching it grow. We want our clientele to feel like they are on vacation when they walk in the shop, and to feel like they’ve found the perfect suit when they leave.” A mood-inducing handcrafted Tiki bar featuring Kona beer on tap anchors the space, and there is a design studio onsite where Popina’s signature swimwear line is literally “made in Oregon.”
A similar multifunction vibe is in play across 42nd Street at Velo Cult, which owner Sky Boyer describes as a “combination bike shop, bar, and venue,” where you can have your bike serviced, grab a sandwich and one of 12 local beers on tap, and dance to live music. Sky has been busy “evolving” his shop, building furniture himself, for the past five years. “Our deejay platform is a re-purposed castle drawbridge,” Boyer says, “and it can be lifted up against the wall to make more room. That’s the old bridgehead door from the USS Oregon [now the Oregon Maritime Museum on the waterfront],” he says, pointing to a large wooden sign near the bar. “Velo Cult is consistently rated one of the top ten bike shops in the world by national cycling magazines. We have tourists seeking us out now,” he says.
Any number of services, from medical clinics to spas, banks, groceries and a library, are also clustered in Hollywood. In addition, the neighborhood has attracted some businesses in recent years whose owners are fleeing the escalating rents found downtown. Among these are Ray’s Ragtime and Avalon, two vintage clothing shops now situated synergistically across Sandy from one another. Saturdays in summer bring throngs to the Hollywood Farmers Market at Tillamook and 43rd.
Today’s Hollywood is a destination for the intrepid urban explorer. Take your pick:
Eat + Drink
Vivienne Kitchen and Pantry
Owner Robin Wheelright chose her Sandy Blvd. location “because we fell in love with the architectural details of the space and the accessibility, diversity, and density of the neighborhood.” Open since April 2016, this breakfast and lunch cafe specializes in simple, classic dishes and local seasonal ingredients in a beautiful light filled space, with special details like an open kitchen, all female staff, minimalist design, vintage china, linen napkins and silver cutlery.
Address: 4128 N.E. Sandy Blvd. Phone: 503-384-2473. Web: viviennepdx.com. Don’t miss: The local Extracto coffee served in porcelain cups.
Fleur de Lis Bakery and Cafe
Specializing in artisan French breads and pastries, handcrafted breakfast and lunch entrees, with seasonal offerings and a special brunch on Saturday and Sunday in addition to the daily menu. Baker Greg Mistell uses only quality flour and “butter from cows that I could drive out to see if I had the time.”
Address: 3930 N.E. Hancock St. Phone: 503-459-4887. Web: fleurdelisbakery.com. Don’t miss: The quiches, beet and goat cheese salad, or any of the pastries, especially the croissants.
Pono Farm Soul Kitchen
“The ultimate in farm-to-table dining,” Pono Farm is a restaurant, butcher shop, and farmers market fixture. Wagyu and Red Angus beef and Heritage pork are raised on their farm in central Oregon without antibiotics, growth hormones or steroids, butchered using the entire carcass, then served up as Japanese influenced comfort food. Fresh local seafood is sourced for the excellent sushi.
Address: 4110 N.E. Sandy Blvd. Phone: 503-496-7060. Web: ponofarm.com. Don’t miss: The Omasake meal experience.
Ray’s Ragtime and Avalon Antiques & Vintage Clothing
Two vintage clothing shops relocated from downtown. Ray’s, long a fixture at Southwest Tenth and Morrison, moved to Hollywood last year under new owner Lisa Meyer, although you may still find the original Ray (Tillotson) behind the counter. Besides clothes, the shop features costume jewelry, antiques and collectibles. Across the street, owners Wendy and Simon Cheeseman offer “high end designer vintage” with “a bit of the best from every decade.” Wendy says, “We like to dress people for parties and events, and we also like finding our things a good home.”
Address: 4059 N.E. Sandy Blvd. Phone: 503-226-2616. Don’t miss: The drool-worthy costume jewelry.
Avalon Antiques and Vintage Clothing
Address: 4042 N.E. Sandy Blvd. Phone: 503-224-7156. Don’t miss: The perfect outfit for that retro high school reunion, as long as you graduated before 1990.
The Wet Spot Tropical Fish
Row after row of beautiful display tanks showcase the largest selection of freshwater tropical fish on the west coast. Friendly, knowledgeable staff promote the aquarium hobby for the novice and hard-core collector alike.
Address: 4310 N.E. Hancock St. Phone: 503-287-3339. Web: wetspottropicalfish.com. Don’t miss: The 500-gallon Lake Malawi microenvironment, Snuffers the Fire Eel
The largest selection of women’s swimwear on the west coast, featuring Popina’s own line produced in-house plus 30 other brands, children’s area with fish tank.
Address: 2030 N.E. 42nd Ave. Phone: 503-282-5159. Web: popinaswim.com. Don’t miss: The fabulous tiki bar with complimentary Kona beer on tap while you wait for the woman in your life to find the perfect swimsuit.
Velo Cult Bike Shop and Tavern
A combination “bike shop, bar and venue” hosting frequent live music shows after dark, available for private parties. Twelve local beers on rotating tap.
Address: 1969 N.E. 42nd Ave. Phone: 503-922-2012. Web: velocult.com. Don’t miss: The bicycle “museum” on the ceiling.
Beauty for the Beast Pet Launderette
Portland’s premiere do-it-yourself dog and cat wash has been in Hollywood since 1993, and also offers full-service grooming which includes bathing, ear cleaning and nail trimming. By appointment only.
Address: 3832 N.E. Sandy Blvd. Phone: 503.288.5280 (for grooming appointments, call 503.288.4414). Web: beautyforthebeast.com.
River City Eye Care
Providing premium eyecare in a comfortable environment, Drs. Brett Provost and Carrie Breeden perform comprehensive eye exams, contact lens evaluations and eye disease management. Their optical showrooms are stocked with the latest eyewear from independent designers.
Address: 4000 N.E. Sandy Blvd. Phone: 503.477.4074. Web: rivercityeye.com.