Food and Spirits


The Pagoda Chinese Restaurant, Poncho's Mexican Restaurant

and Sylvia's Class Act Dinner Theater


Scott Taylor

Since the 1940s, the Hollywood district has been a Mecca for Portlanders wanting to experience the taste of international cuisine. From Chinese to German, Italian and Mexican, there have been many ethnic favorites on the Hollywood taste of fame. Three restaurants in particular that have had long-standing ties with the Hollywood community are The Pagoda Chinese Restaurant, Poncho's Mexican Restaurant and Sylvia's Class Act Dinner Theater.

The Pagoda was built in 1940, and was considered one of the most modern Chinese restaurants in the western United States. Original owners Mr. Leland H. Chin and Mr. Chin Luck sold the restaurant to Mr. Louis Lee and his partners in 1946. Mr. Lee owned and managed the restaurant for over 50 years!

While the original menu consisted of Americanized Chinese classics such as Chop Suey and Chow Mien, it went through a dramatic change after World War II, when American GI's came home from the Pacific with a better appreciation of Asian cuisine. Since then the Pagoda has offered many unique Chinese specialties such as "War Shu Duck" and "Pierced Shrimp with Ham," which have become local favorites.

Like the Pagoda, Poncho's Mexican restaurant has also been one of the Hollywood districts classic eateries. Noted for being the first Mexican restaurant in Portland, it was founded in 1947 by Allen Edmunds after he acquired a love of Mexican food while in the Air Force in Lubbock, Texas. After moving back to Portland, Allen and his mother Lorena Edmunds opened their small restaurant on Sandy Blvd, and it became an instant success.

After Allen and his mother both passed away in the early 1960s, Allen's former wife, Joan Edmunds, managed the restaurant. At a time when there were very few women business owners, Joan Edmunds expanded the business and also offered progressive employee benefits. When Joan passed away in the late 1990s, her daughter, Tina Edmunds, took the reigns.

When in the Hollywood District and you are craving Italian specialties such as Lasagna or Rosemary Chicken, there is no place like Sylvia's Class Act Dinner Theater. Original owner Sylvia Posedel got her start in the restaurant field after making pizza for friends and family from her basement. When more and more requests kept piling up, she started freezing her delectable pies and selling them to local groceries. Seeing that his wife had the Midas touch, her husband Robert encouraged her to open a restaurant in the popular Hollywood district, and in the fall of 1957, "Sylvia's Pizza" opened its doors. The restaurant eventually expanded its menu as well as the building and even opened a sister location in downtown Portland.

Always having a great love of theater, and being an actress herself, Sylvia opened a dinner theater in1985 adjacent to the restaurant. After Sylvia passed away in 1992, her daughters Patti Gosser and Roberta Berger continued on in their mother's tradition.


  • The original Poncho’s location courtesy of Tina Edmunds circa 1947
  • Pagoda Billboard Ad courtesy of the Lee Family
  • The founder of Sylvia’s / Sylvia Posedel courtesy of Patti Gosser and Roberta Barger

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