Portland City Grill: A Place to Dress Down?

So my wife and I took her visiting sister to Portland City Grill for a nice dinner last night. The women were dressed nicely in dress and I was wearing jeans with a nice button down shirt and brown shoes. We sat at our table and enjoyed a nice meal.

I noticed as I looked around most people were dressed up. I did observe however a few people who were quite dressed down. One woman in particular stood out – she was wearing an unbuttoned flannel shirt with another shirt underneath, what looked to be sweats and very casual sandals. Another gentleman was wearing a casual t-shirt, jeans and sneakers.

I can’t say I was really offended but these observations did make me wonder a few things. Isn’t Portland City Grill a place you dress up? Is Portland such a casual place you can stroll into any high end restaurant wearing whatever? Do Portlanders really even care? Thoughts and insights welcome…

22 Comments so far

  1. Jay (unregistered) on June 29th, 2007 @ 11:42 am

    Show me an eatery in this town that prohibits Birkenstocks, and I’ll show you one on the fast track to closing its doors.

  2. dieselboi (unregistered) on June 29th, 2007 @ 11:47 am

    Great question. My two cents: it is a NW thing. I personally wouldn’t dress up (defined in my mind as slacks or a tie or sportcoat)to go out to any restaurant in Portland unless the circumstances warranted – i.e. Mother’s day, Holiday, Special Occasion. I truly feel that Portland is that casual and is comfortable with it. Granted, I don’t wear ripped up jeans, a dirty t-shirt and flip flops either, so maybe I am ahead of the curve. I was in the Heathman bar the other evening in jeans and a t-shirt to get a beer. I felt completely comfortable amongst an older generation of slacks and sport coats. My money is still good I guess.
    I think the real questions is where wouldn’t you wear jeans? I think the Portland City Grill is nice, but is it top echelon of Portland’s food scene? What about El Gaucho or…. I can’t think of another where a coat may be required etc.
    I really really believe one Portland is just that casual and accepting of all kinds of dress. Is that right? huh. I don’t know.

  3. Miz J (unregistered) on June 29th, 2007 @ 12:12 pm

    I never wear jeans to a really expensive place, but I do to most other places – well, not the symphony, if I ever go. That’s it – I’m going to El Gaucho tonight and will report back Monday on the dress of the other patrons.

  4. Himself (unregistered) on June 29th, 2007 @ 1:00 pm

    Dieselboi’s right… it’s a NW thing. I don’t care so much in the restaurants, but I find it a bit questionable at the opera or symphony.

    As a former musician myself, it seems a bit disrespectful to the artists (who are not just “dressed up”, but in formal attire). Most people I see at the Schnitz for the symphony at least make some effort to look sharp, but there’s a significant sloppy subset.

    Ah well, that’s not how I was raised, but what are you going to do?

  5. Lizzy (unregistered) on June 29th, 2007 @ 1:01 pm

    It’s very rare in Portland to find a place where people DON’T dress down. I’ve gone to Broadway in Portland, the ballet, and the symphony and seen equal numbers of people in t-shirts and jeans and tuxedos and prom dresses. It’s fine with me. It makes it less stressful to choose attire when there is nothing forbidden.

  6. Rusty (unregistered) on June 29th, 2007 @ 1:12 pm

    Was at El Gaucho last night, by the way, and there was a kid there in black short-pants with a studded belt with a skull and crossbones belt buckle. Hideous.

    I’d personally not go to City Grill in any less than a polo shirt and nice jeans and some sort of leather close-toed footwear. For what it’s worth.

  7. Matt Davis (unregistered) on June 29th, 2007 @ 1:15 pm

    If I had my way there would be style police on the door at anywhere worth going, who would critique people’s outfits.

    Dressing up means you value yourself. Dressing down means you don’t.

  8. DR (unregistered) on June 29th, 2007 @ 1:20 pm

    “Dressing up means you value yourself. Dressing down means you don’t.”

    I beg to differ here, sir.

    Dressing up means you value yourself so much that you could care less what other people think about you b/c of what you are wearing. I’ll take my American Express Black card and where my sweats anywhere. You no likey? Throw me out. I’ll take my business elsewhere….

    (ok, I don’t have an AMEX black or even an AMEX, but it was part of making a larger point).

  9. DR (unregistered) on June 29th, 2007 @ 1:24 pm

    Sorry for the multiple posts.

  10. dieselboi (unregistered) on June 29th, 2007 @ 1:33 pm

    Rusty did say something I didn’t – nice jeans. Some view jeans as that which one wears to mow the lawn or trim the bushes. Not my jeans. I have a whole wardrobe of work in the yard clothes.
    I also disagree with Matt a little. I think people do dress to define themselves, but like DR said, defining oneself may dictate sweats since it has been a tough week and it is time to relax.
    Oh, and I do value symphony/opera/play as a category where one would dress nicer, though I wouldn’t get all huffy if someone showed up in a sweatshirt.
    So, I wonder how these people dress for church?

  11. Brandon (unregistered) on June 29th, 2007 @ 2:43 pm

    I’ve always been under the impression that the people who wear sweatpants to these places are wealthy. They have nothing to prove and just want to be comfortable. It’s the “little people” who feel the need to dress up. The worse they’re dressed, the richer they are.

  12. josh (unregistered) on June 29th, 2007 @ 3:25 pm

    Image is everything. Restaurateurs on the high end would have a preference with well dressed cliental so they can invoke more elite to dine at their establishment. Let’s hope the cuising equals the attire, because I do admit one poster had it spot on. It is disrespectful to the artist to dress in trash. Then again I have enjoyed Nobu cuisine dressed in jeans, and Mesa Grill cuisine dressed somewhat casual. I think the liability to the restaurateur is your style.
    Therefore, you may get into these high end establishments but odds are if you are NOT stylish or exude beauty you will be put in part of the box that is in the rear and incoming well dressed, beautiful people will get the best in front, most desirable seating. All part of image.
    This is of coarse for upscale places, those that dress up for burger joints may find they are still seated near the kitchen or bathroom. Isnt that ugly…?

  13. Mr. Viddy (unregistered) on June 29th, 2007 @ 5:59 pm

    Why should I have to dress up to go eat? Does the value of my money decrease if I spend it wearing shorts or jeans? Of all the problems or issues in the world today should anyone really stress out too much about a restaurants dress code? Am I just rambling on or have I made my point?

    Good day to you sir!

  14. RM (unregistered) on June 29th, 2007 @ 9:05 pm

    I’m retired. This is as dressed up as I get.

  15. Matt Davis (unregistered) on June 30th, 2007 @ 12:45 am

    If I were a restaurant owner I’d only let people in who were dressed nice. I’d rather go bankrupt than have my place filled with badly dressed customers.

    I’m joking a little, of course. And yes, people do dress to define themselves, and there’s such a thing as defining oneself as relaxed. I guess I’m just frustrated that there’s nowhere in Portland you can go in nice clothes, be surrounded by similarly dressed people, and feel fleetingly convinced one is better than everyone else. Just for a moment. I must be homesick…

  16. Lady (unregistered) on June 30th, 2007 @ 10:54 am

    Oh, right. I agree. My money’s as good as anyone elses no matter how I dress. Sweats and tee shirts for me. Also wonder why people place so much importance on ambience in restaurants. If the food is good who needs lighting, decor, etc?

  17. jen (unregistered) on June 30th, 2007 @ 11:11 am

    I never dress up to eat. I always end up dropping food on myself. Just can’t take me anywhere respectable, I guess.

  18. Lady (unregistered) on June 30th, 2007 @ 12:02 pm

    Well, of course. Who in their right mind would dress up to eat? It can be a messy affair. My heart goes out to David Hasselhoff who was so vilified by the press for simply trying to eat a hamburger.

  19. chaya (unregistered) on June 30th, 2007 @ 4:06 pm

    What should I wear if I’m going out for Nyataimori?

  20. Lady (unregistered) on June 30th, 2007 @ 4:42 pm

    Underwear. Light cotton nighty, long is best. Solid pale color, no prints. Flannel shirt in case there is a chill. Birks or high-top Converse. Depending on the weather, maybe a baseball cap or fishing hat. Your original teeth, strung into a leather based necklace will make a nice accessory. Don’t wear a watch.

  21. Mick (unregistered) on July 2nd, 2007 @ 4:49 pm

    I personally try to only eat at restaurants where I can go barefoot.


  22. Rob (unregistered) on July 3rd, 2007 @ 2:58 pm

    I wasn’t aware that Portland City Grill was a place you had to dress up to go to. I can’t imagine “dressing up” for a place that has a $2 happy hour menu. I have been guilty of drifting in with shorts and t-shirt with the girl wearing her favorite sweats. I’ve done the same at Ruth Chris and Portland Chop house. Hey, I did see a guy in suit slip the waitress a $20 in a manner that allowed him to touch her inappropriately. Dress does not equal class.

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