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Best of Belmont

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Belmont Street has it all. With everything from vegan breakfast to drag queen bingo, falafel waffle to wiffleball, Belmont is the over-looked yet hipper little sister to neighboring Hawthorne Boulevard. Eclectic and accessible, here are six attractions not to miss on Belmont:

~1~

The Tao of Tea at 3430 Southeast Belmont is housed next to the artsy playhouse Theater! Theater! With a relaxing atmosphere of their soothing rock waterfall and gentle music, this fair-trade tea shop is an oasis from the everyday. Their menu offers everything from bubble to tea to shared tea pots, and includes affordable savory and sweet snacks.

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Crush is a wine/mac and cheese/drag queen/bingo/gay/dance club/brunch bar. Pique your interest? There’s a solid cocktail selection—including the intriguing “Champagne Margarita” that is so potent it comes with a warning. Sundays are Gay Trivia night, Wednesdays are Drag Queen Bingo, and the weekends house a kick-ass brunch. Crush is vegan-friendly, gay-friendly, and dance-friendly; it’s the perfect Portland destination, whether you’re looking for breakfast, dinner, drinks, or doms.

And okay, Crush isn’t really on Belmont. But at SE 14thand Morrison, it’s in the Belmont area, and that’s close enough. If a champagne margarita is a mere block away from Belmont, it’s close enough.

~3~

Colonel Sumners Park at 20th and Belmont

Q. What can you do here?

A. Everything.

Would you like to play basketball, soccer, softball, tennis, volleyball, kickball, wiffleball or racketball? Do it here. It’s also a popular spot for picnics, festivals, impromptu gatherings, Frisbee-playing, napping, reading, and people watching.  There are community gardens and public restrooms.  In short, if there is anything worth doing at a park, it’s done—and done well—at Colonel Sumners Park.

~4~

Paradox Palace Café is a vegan-friendly diner located at 3439 SE Belmont.  Under new ownership since 2006, Paradox expanded its space just last year. It’s diner-style food and if the tables aren’t Formica, it seems like they should be. This is not a place for a fancy meal or a special occasion. This is the place for a greasy breakfast that just happens to be sustainable and mostly vegetarian.

With a menu focusing on locally-sourced food, there’s everything from vegan french toast to beef or veggie burgers to nachos to breakfast scrambles. There is something for everyone, including your picky 12-year old or grumpy grandpa.

~5.~

Conveniently located next door to Paradox at 3451 SE Belmont is the classic Avalon Theater.  Packed with arcade games, prize wheels, cheap movies and skee ball, this is Portland’s beloved nickel arcade.

Avalon Theatre makes you feel like a kid again. A kid with an hour of possibilities and a hot handful of nickels.  Admission is only $2.50. Looking for an ever cheap date? Rumor has it that those who sign up for the newsletter get coupons for free admission and free nickels.

~6~

2009 sponsor of the Belmont Street Fair, Tiger’s Café recently took over the space formerly known as Jáce Gáce. Tiger’s, on SE 21st and Belmont, kept some of the waffle recipes from that previous incarnation, and now serves the famous Falafel Waffle. Curious? A falafel waffle is simply falafel batter cooked in a waffle iron. Truly worth going for that experience alone.

There is a sweet outdoor patio and a fabulous menu that marries sweet breakfast waffles with traditional Lebanese food. The owners also placed a Pepsi machine inside the door for all those hot and thirsty kickball players at Colonel Sumners.

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Even for those who may think a champagne margarita sounds somewhat odd or have never heard of skee ball, Belmont is a welcoming destination. Give it a go; everyone finds something to love on Belmont Street.