A green zine/small book with an illustration of a cyclist relaxing on a grassy hill, looking over the city of Portland and Hawthorne Bridge

Zinester's Guide to Portland: A Low/No Budget Guide to the Rose City

by Shawn Granton Author

Billed as a "low/no budget guide to visiting and living in Portland, Oregon, the Zinester's Guide to Portland breaks down the PDX grid by neighborhood with descriptions of good restaurants, thrift stores, bars, bridges, places to loiter, etc. (lots of etc.). The newly overhauled and illustrated sixth edition gets shoulder-deep into the history and local lore, providing a well-rounded argument as to why (fill in the blank) deserves your time. It also demystifies the TriMet public transportation system, bike events and culture, outdoorsy stuff, the public libraries—basically anything you need to know as the new kid in town. (Of which there seems to be tons; the Zinester's Guide has been on Powell's Books' top 20 since 2006.) To the wrong eyes the book's title might imply a guide to Portland zine culture, and indeed it originated in 2001 as a hand-stapled zine. But as editor Shawn Granton says in the introduction, the Zinester's Guide is not just for zinesters, that "It's always been about sharing the interesting and unique things that make Stumptown great, and also helping people get by that aren't swimming in scads of money." For those of us that can't so much as dog-paddle most days, this is community at its mightiest.

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Comments & Reviews


"...This guide is focused on making the travel experience a pleasant journey...Highly recommended."


"Learn the best low-budget bars, restaurants, shops and clubs while also figuring out how to bike and take the MAX. This guide is for the explorer in all of us."


"Comprehensive in scope, pages boast contributions and illustrations by many of Portland’s premier zine artists, and are loaded with suggestions on the city’s best parks, theaters, records stores and pizzerias, among other can’t-miss sights."



Feels like a classic—now in its fifth edition...profiles genuine gems and secret neighborhood spots.


What's best about the book is its utility and unpretentiousness. It's written by and for people who ride their bikes and take Tri-Met and don't have a lot of money to spend on fancy restaurants.


" ... the Zinester's Guide is perfectly positioned to capitalize on Portland's white-hot popularity, while also serving as a valuable educational tool by turning on readers (especially those on shoestring budgets) about city highlights that won't be covered in travel magazines or websites. And it's locally written, instead of by professional travel writers given to fits of fabulism, so there's plenty of civic pride and boosterism, and even more overlooked hotspots. Let's put it this way, you're not going to snooze through it, like you would a Frommer's Guide. The book is broken up into easily digestible chunks by neighborhood divisions, with each chapter devoted to an area of the city and pointing out choice finds for books, records, clothes, food (all types), parks, and nightlife. Following that are sections on city sightseeing (parks, bridges, etc.), bike culture in Portland, the library (zing!), museums, and skateboarding. And a generous helping of "locals only" knowledge that will give you an edge on all the other tourists."


"This book is cute and full of great illustrations. It will definitely provide the zinester with plenty of things to do in Portland, Oregon. It definitely serves as a hip, cool, Portland version of a Lonely Planet guide."


"I have never been to Portland. I know for a hipster like myself that is a sin of some kind. I do intend on going sometime, I just haven't gotten there yet, but when I go I will definately take this book with me. It makes me feel like I have already been there. "


The Zinester’s Guide to Portland is an informative guide to the top things to do and see in Portland, Oregon. It also provides transportation information and an honest history of the “City of Roses.”

The authors did a great job on this. The guide is an easy read, highly informative, and doesn’t drown you in all the glamour and hoopla that most travel guides dish out. In fact, I found this guide refreshingly honest.

For example, I actually lived in Portland for six months, and prior to making this trip I did a lot of research. In every travel guide I flipped through, I was given an array of lovely images of progress and scenery.

One book described one neighborhood in particular: Old Town/Chinatown. It was portrayed as a “classic” part of the city, full of night clubs, music venues, art galleries and the ever-famous Saturday Market (basically a very large flea market, held on weekends). It seemed to be a lovely spot, full of culture and activities.

When curious little me ventured into Old Town, I was in absolute shock at my discovery. The Asian population is few, and they’re buried behind blocks upon blocks of homeless men and women, lining the sidewalks. The bars and night clubs were horrible and sleazy (I was offered Meth six times on one trip to the restroom). The buildings are crumbling and worn, and the only liveliness is from the ambitious prostitutes working the bus stations.

The Zinester’s Guide actually tells it like it is. It got deep into the actual grittiness of Old Town; it was brutally honest and to the point.

The Guide also doesn’t get into the things not worth seeing, but gives you a rundown of what you’ll inevitably see if passing through certain districts. The transportation info is very clear and easy to follow (I was totally bewildered by their transit system, upon arrival). The Guide defined accurately the attitudes, vibes, and social settings of particular neighborhoods, as well as listed a decent assortment of local and inexpensive cafes and restaurants. This is definitely worth getting if you’re planning a trip to Portland.


My partner Sarah's mom got me this for the holidays and its fabulous! Even though I have lived in PDX for 5+ years, this is an excellent resource with fantastic illustrations! We were able to show Sarah's mom some of the places we go to frequently, and since she can't visit, it was a great way to spread the PDX love!


i snatched this up because i'm planning to visit my friend in portland over thanksgiving. the book is fun to read, informative, and is packed with tons of cool ideas of places to eat at/ see/ windowshop at/ buy things/ sleep at (what have you... but something i would have liked to see would be an inclusion of tattoo parlors in there. i hear portland is an excellent place to get tattoos.

overall, i love it!


Longtime residents and visitors alike will love The Zinester's Guide to Portland. The once 16-page pamphlet is now a 128-page book on its fourth edition, loaded with gems on how to have a cheap and amusing time in the Rose City (a.k.a. Bridge City or Stumptown). After a brief history of the city's founding (it involves two men in canoe), you'll find helpful transportation advice and a breakdown of the city's offerings by location. Its exhaustive listings boast everything from arboretums to sex shops, vegan doughnuts to free museum passes, and dollar Pabst to the Mudeye Puppet Company. My favorite entry was for The Vern/Hanigan's, which directs visitors to "look for the TAVERN sign with the 'T' and the 'A' burnt out." The subtle charm and nuances will leave you wishing there were guides like this for every city.


I would like to get my hands on this since I have been friends with Alicia Justus since I was 10. Xfiles@sbcglobal.net

Don't forget about our interactive website to the Zinester's Guide to Portland, where you can post listings and comments:

Shawn is intending to work intently on the 2005 edition of this book when he gets back to town in April. It should be out sometime this summer before the Zine Symposium.

Microcosm strikes again! This time it is a exactly what the title states. Having been, and to a degree, still am, a zinester (as in, one who creates fanzines) I really don't know what this entails. But according to these authors, it seems to mean a cheap nerdy bastard whose only means of transportation is a bicycle, and who wish to avoid actually seeing friends around town. Yet this is intended (at least I assume so) as a travel guide, which would mean out-of-towners should check it out when visiting the Rose City. Luckily, I tended to follow these statutes the last time I visited Portland, but it wasn't because I read this guide. I also Didn't ride a bike to get there because its 3,000 miles away from where I live. It seems as though this is a book written by residents there for residents there (or at least how out-of-towners can be as cool as residents there). Basically, I love Portland. Its a great city and I encourage everyone to take a trip there someday because its filled with great food, great record stores, excellent bookstores, some really scenic bridges, surrounding natural beauty, a mostly flat cityscape perfect for riding bikes, nice climate (it barely ever snows), cheap living, and not a trace of major corporate influence within city limits (save for Nike, who sponsor a lot of public basketball courts). Either way, this book succeeds at giving you the run-down of hip places to eat and drink and walk around in each of the five quadrants in the city, but fails to deliver on any sort of nightlife (there are live music venues, of which I've been to a few and they rule) save for Voodoo Donuts and a few bars listed. There is an inordinate amount of information on bicycling, which is nice, though a little too thorough I guess. Some outlying suburb information rounds it out. Hey, wheres Billy Galaxy Toys?!

Thinking back, I remember the lost days more than anything—driving from Southeast Portland to Downtown, up into the hills, out to St. John’s looking for something to stake claim to… a good bar, a decent place to find food, somewhere to buy records that didn’t make me feel like a cretin. I’m speaking here of a universal lostness, the heavy and discombobulating displacement in moving to a strange new town and thinking “I’m glad I’m here but… it’s just so big.” Unless you’ve lived in the same place all your life (and if you have, move; go see the country), we’ve all been Axl in the “Welcome to the Jungle” video, stepping off the bus in our hicky clothes and cowboy boots, staring into shop windows, hustled at from alleys—just ridiculously rudderless and confused. A new city—any city—can be daunting.
A huge help for people new to Portland comes as Microcosm Publishing’s The Zinester’s Guide to Portland. Billed as a “low/no budget guide to visiting and living in Portland, Oregon,” it works fine for the former, but it’s new Portlanders that it truly helps. Now in its 4th edition (it started as a 16-page photocopied pamphlet) its 128 pages break down the Portland grid by neighborhood with descriptions of good restaurants, thrift stores, bars, places to loiter, etc.
Says the entry for my favorite cemetery: “Old cemetery filled with pioneers, lumberjacks, beloved mothers, and soldiers. A bit of Portland history in this small cemetery that has some beautiful tombstones, statues, and lots of shady trees. Fun to hang out in day or night.”
An entry on the park by my house reads, “This 643 foot high hill was formed by volcanic activity. In fact, it is an extinct volcano, the only extinct volcano to be found within city limits in the US!” A favorite restaurant of mine gets a mini review: “They make a fine ’n’ dandy bean and cheese burrito that’s only $3.25, but Laughing Planet excels in the art of making ‘fancy burritos,’ using feta cheese, broccoli, jicama, and even SPAM as ingredients (even cactus occasionally!) Tofu, soy cheese, and vegan sour cream are also available.” A local vegan grocery gets some nice words: “Food Fight is a wonderful and brilliant thing.” (These, of course, are all excerpts from longer descriptions.)
It’s conversational, non-exclusive, friendly, and—above all—easy to use. Which is not to say the Zinester’s Guide is like Citysearch. Instead, it gets shoulder-deep into history and local lore, reaching into the guts of its subject and pulling out a hot, wriggling, well-rounded argument as to why (fill in the blank) deserves your time. It also demystifies (the very mystical) Tri-Met public transportation, Northwest bike culture, the public library system—basically anything you need to know as the new kid in town. All cities deserve the same.
To the wrong eyes the book’s title might imply a guide to Portland ’zine culture, but as says editor Shawn Granton in his introduction, “the Zinester’s Guide has never been strictly for ’zinesters. It’s always been about sharing the interesting and unique things that make Stumptown great, and also helping people get by that aren’t swimming in scads of money.” For those of us that can’t so much as dogpaddle most days, this is “community” at its mightiest.

Compiled by Portland veterans Nate Beaty and Shawn Granton, this easy-to-navigate 130-page book tells it like it is. It cuts through the chaff you're likely to find in other tourist guides and doesn't play anything up, providing a straight-forward, non-glossy account of all that is Portland, what to look out for and, often more importantly, what to avoid wasting your time and hard earned dough on ... this is exactly what a travelling punk rocker would dream of ... an invaluable resource.

One good thing about fest-type events is that they usually force people to make little DIY maps and guides to their town for all the visitors. This started in 2001 as a 16 page pamphlet for the Zine Symposium and now, in the 4th edition, it has grown into a fancy paperback book. This is ideal for people moving to Portland or visiting for a week, but I could see it being a good resource for the locals too. There's a ton of great information and it's coming from a perspective I can relate to. And it looks classy and fits in your pocket.

"This little guide is almost perfect. Really. As someone who has lived in and around Portland her whole life, I think the creators of this guidebook have got their shit together. Put together by a collective of writers and artists, this guide would make a perfect gift for someone new to town or even someone who has lived here for a while ... Often DIY guidebooks are haphazard, a mish-mash of different styles, and redundant. The Zinester's guide to Portland is none of these things. Its organization is logical and you can tell they really did their homework."

Portland, Oregon is one of my favorite cities. First of all, it’s hipper than anywhere, and that includes San Francisco and Paris, France. Trust me, Portland is hipper than both. It’s got more cool anarcho-purple haired mellow stoner smash-the-state people running their own companies out of their bedrooms than any berg in the Universe. Sure, it can get a little self-righteous at times, but when people are right, they’re right. Even if they’re so right that they’re left. (Or something like that….)

I love Portland. The airport even has free high-speed wireless Internet access. FREE!

And Portland is very accepting of anyone who ain’t bothering anyone. It’s the place in the world you’re most likely to see hippies, punkers, lumberjacks, lesbians and businessmen in the same coffee shop, and they’re not at loggerheads.

I feel bittersweet about Portland. It was the last place I ever saw my daughter Amelia alive before she passed away.

I’ve been to Portland many times, and I’ll probably go there a lot again. I’d probably move there if it weren’t so damn damp. Stuff gets moldy quick in Portland. But even so, it’s a great place to visit.

Microcosm Publishing has released a great book for Portland visitors called The Zinester’s Guide To Portland. It’s kind of Fodor’s if Fodor’s didn’t suck. It’s like “Let’s Go (Riot in) Portland!”

The Zinester’s Guide To Portland, 4th edition, (written by, and credited to, Microcosm Publishing, rather than any one person) kicks butt on most travel guides. It’s all the truly hip places, not the places that square people think are “edgy.”

This pocket-sized book tells you where the good places to skate are, where to buy underground comix, where to get cheap cheap cheap computer access, buy vegan food, find a wonderful thrift store, and much more. And it explains how to not end up stuck on the side of the bridge that isn’t where you’re going. (I wish I’d known THAT ten years ago.) And of course it’s got the Clinton Street Theater, a great repertory / art house theater that showed my movie DIY or DIE.

My only complaint is that the book doesn’t include American Dream Pizza, which is my fave Pizza place in the US. And I practically live in a worn-out T-shirt from that yummy dive.

But all in all, I’d say The Zinester’s Guide is required reading if you’re gonna spend any time at all in Portland, the hippest place on earth.