Pho-A-Palooza: Got Pho?

Got Pho?
Got Pho?

One of the great things about living in Portland is the absolute abundance of fantastic pho restaurants. While Portland gets a lot of attention nationally for places like Pok Pok and Nong’s Khao Man Gai (both of which are excellent), it’s Portland’s pho that can quickly and easily become a weekly ritual.

Pho is the perfect choice for the long rainy days that accompany the end of winter. Pho also works just about as well as Grandma’s chicken soup for squashing those change of season colds.

With so many pho restaurants in Portland, I thought I’d make my way through the major ones in a series of meals I could only call Pho-A-Palooza.

One of my first stops is Got Pho? on NE Sandy Blvd. It’s one block up from where NE Sandy and NE Broadway intersect, and if you weren’t looking for Got Pho? you’d easily miss it. It’s located in a tiny strip mall right across from the I-84 freeway on-ramp.


Float On Portland – The Amazing Impact of Nothing

Float On Portland
Float On Portland (photo: Aaron Cushman)

One of the great things about Portland is the abundance of wellness options available.  Portland has an incredibly high ratio of acupuncturists, massage therapists, and naturopaths per capita than almost any other city. It’s in this wellness-rich enviroment that a business like Float On could not only exist, but thrive.

Float On provides flotation tanks that let you float weightlessly on a high concentration of epsom salt water (more than 3x the density of the Dead Sea) in an environment that is complete dark and silent. As you walk into the lobby of Float On, there are huge piles of epsom salt, stacked almost like sandbags at the edge of a river. Christopher Messer, one of the owners of Float On, points to a large pile and says, “It takes all this salt to fill one tank.”

Flotation tanks aren’t a new concept and there have been a number of them in Portland, but Float On is one of the few places that focus exclusively on these flotation tanks. Float On has been open in its SE Hawthorne location for over a year, and I had been aware of it for some time. But to be quite honest, dark, tight spaces scare the crap out of me, so even though I was curious to give it a try, I was reticent to actually take the plunge.


Louis CK in Portland Review

Louis CK
Louis CK

“I know that things will probably never get better than this and I’m ok with that” – it wasn’t a boastful exclamation from one of the hottest contemporary comedians, but more an admission that Louis CK‘s popularity is unusually strong. With his self titled show a hit on FX and concert film “Louis CK: Hilarious” making the rounds online,  Louis CK has built a very strong following, putting him on par with many of the top stand-up comedians performing today. Selling out two back-to-back shows at the Aladdin Theater in Portland, Louis CK  tickets sold for hundreds of dollars on Craigslist and had people waiting in line around the block from the Aladdin Theater.

Louis CK’s charm is that he simply isn’t charming.  Most comedians want to connect with their audience, compliment their city and make them feel welcome.  Louis CK dispels all this pretense and simply says what he thinks and what he feels.  This naked approach results in a show that is constantly fresh and alive.   I’ve seen much of Louis CK’s work, including his entire series and recent concert film, and the set he did at the Aladdin didn’t repeat a single joke from any of it.  To have an entire show of completely new material is a real delight, and some jokes, including a riff on Sarah Palin, seemed to come right off the cuff during the set.