With a cool new hotel and amazing multi-restaurant market now open, it's a better time than ever to visit this Portland 'hood.

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It’s still gritty, but Portland’s Old Town Chinatown neighborhood is starting to pull in cool new businesses, and expand its old favorites.

It makes sense. It’s an easy walk from the downtown core, but it has room to grow. Here are five reasons to leave the bustle of downtown or the Pearl, and head east to hang with the cool crowd.

The Society Hotel

The Ace is in a great spot, but you pay for the location. If you’re looking for the next cool hotel, where you can still stay for under $150 a night, check out The Society Hotel. In fact, you can stay on the cheap, hostel-style, in the hotel’s Bunk Room if you’re willing to share space with strangers.

The hotel, which opened at the end of 2015, has been in high demand, with a location right in the heart of the neighborhood’s nightlife scene. There’s also a fantastic rooftop deck with sweeping views, where you can take a drink from the lobby’s café. People not staying at the hotel are welcome, too, so at the least stop by for a drink or coffee.

Note that there are no TVs in the rooms, but there is free Wi-Fi.

Pine Street Market

A sundae from Wiz Bang Bar in Pine Street Market. (Sara Kennedy)
A sundae from Wiz Bang Bar in Pine Street Market. (Sara Kennedy)

Portland has so many culinary treasures, it can be hard to decide where to eat. Consider your problem solved. Pine Street Market, which opened in May, is an open-floor-plan building filled with counters from the best of the city’s restaurants.

Grab tapas and a gin and tonic from Pollo Bravo (from the great Tasty N Sons owners), ramen from Marukin (one of just a few U.S. locations of the small Japanese chain), and finish up with an over-the-top sundae or dipped cone from Wiz Bang Bar, Salt & Straw’s soft-serve spin-off. Please don’t miss it.

Drinking establishments

As in all of Portland, it’s easy to grab a drink in Old Town Chinatown. On a rainy day, spend a couple (few) hours at Ground Kontrol, which recently expanded to add even more old-school video games into its tight quarters. There’s a full bar after 5 p.m.; kids are welcome until 4:30 p.m.

Classic arcade Ground Kontrol is open to all ages during the day, and has more of a bar vibe in the evening. (Sara Kennedy)
Classic arcade Ground Kontrol is open to all ages during the day, and has more of a bar vibe in the evening. (Sara Kennedy)

After a late dinner, hit a bar, such as Fortune, a hipster lounge with good food and rotating DJs, or friendly gay bar The Fox and Hounds. If you’re in the mood, classic strip club Mary’s has a decidedly Portland, everyone-is-welcome vibe, and is on the way back downtown.

Niche shopping

If you’re visiting this fall or winter, be sure to start your holiday shopping in this tax-free, local-maker wonderland.

Visit Orox Leather, where heirloom-quality bags and wallets are handcrafted on site. Then pop into Kiriko Made’s new storefront for its traditional Japanese textile patterns made in Portland into the coolest ties, scarves and clothing.

And what would a trip to Portland be without some Pendleton? The Pendleton Home Store carries the classic Oregon firm’s wool blankets, some clothing and small décor items.

Find peace at the stunning Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland’s Old Town Chinatown. (Sara Kennedy)
Find peace at the stunning Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland’s Old Town Chinatown. (Sara Kennedy)

A place to chill

Shopped out? Hung over? Find some peace and calm at the exquisite Lan Su Chinese Garden. A refuge within the city, it features a compact but powerful mix of botanical gardens and classic architecture based on the courtyard a wealthy 16th-century family might have had at its home. Move around the large central pond, through soothing, wood-laden rooms, and then stop at the Teahouse for a pick-me-up. You’ll be inspired and reinvigorated, but you may not want to leave.