Friday, April 08, 2005

Seven Eastside Happy Hours

I like cheap food and cheap drinks and quitting work a bit early on Fridays. If you add all these together you get Happy Hour. A like-minded friend and I have been “researching” the Happy Hours on offer here in Portland for a couple of months now. We throw in a good healthy walk beforehand, just so we can feel slightly less like cheapskate booze hounds and can snarf onion rings with abandon. Here are the places we recommend so far and what you should eat and/or drink while there.

Doug Fir: 830 E. Burnside
If the Jetsons lived in a log cabin, it would look like the Doug Fir. Get there early (before 5:00) and order what are possibly the world’s best onion rings and certainly the most generous portion ever served up for $2. Cheaper than Burgerville! In fact, and--I can’t believe I’m saying this--you should really split them with a friend if you value the size of your thighs/ass/tummy. Or you could just get the Fir Burger (heh, heh), a bargain at $3. Anyway, it’s a damn good burger, all juvenile snickering regarding its name aside. Oh yeah, $3 well drinks, too. Be sure to drink enough so that you'll have to use the hall-of-mirrors restroom while there. You may never find your way out.

Crush: 1412 SE Morrison
Go here for the martinis, which are excellent and about the cheapest we’ve found: $3, if memory serves. The food menu is very limited, but I did enjoy the sunflower hummus and olives. What it lacks in food is made up for by dim, atmospheric lighting and a TV in the restroom that was tuned to, I believe, a rerun of Hee Haw. Class and kitsch!

Pambiche: 2811 NE Glisan
They don’t have a Happy Hour they have La Hora de los Amigos (or something like that). Must be a Cuban thing. Anyway, I like it very much. They have two different versions of fried plantains. Have both and don’t stint on the banana ketchup. The empanadas and croquettes should also be sampled. I’m always surprised at how much I end up eating here. Their sangria is good, but I can make better.

Bernie’s Southern Bistro: 2904 NE Alberta
Sit on the lush, secluded patio. Once seated, order any or all of the following $3 items: blackened salmon po’ boy; fried green tomatoes; hush puppies; or sweet potato fries. Avoid the spendy mint julep, which has so many wadded-up mint leaves in it you’ll end up chewing your drink. Have a pint of microbrew instead. Beer goes better with all that fried stuff anyway.

Echo 2225 NE Martin Luther King Blvd.
Upscale but without attitude. This is a place where it’s worth shelling out $6 or $7 for a fancy-ass drink. My fave is the Dark and Stormy. I don’t really even know what’s in it other than fresh ginger and some kind of booze. Boy, oh boy, is it tasty. The food is more expensive than, say, the Doug Fir, but it’s also much more sophisticated. The $5 pizza with spinach, goat cheese, garlic, and fresh tomatoes was excellent, and I actually took about half of it home with me—so the portions are ample.

Imbibe: 2229 SE Hawthorne
Like having a drink in someone’s living room—only you have to pay for the drinks. I’m not actually sure of the particulars of their Happy Hour specials, but I recommend the macaroni and cheese. It’s made with sharp white cheddar, and they’ll add in caramelized onions, bacon, and other stuff for a small fee. Darn tasty. One of my favorite places to have a quiet drink and some conversation.

820: 820 N Russell
This place is on the brink of being too upscale for the likes of me, i.e., my friend told me I couldn’t show up in jeans. It has a sort of spruced-up dungeon look to it—black walls and sinister corksrewesque wall sconces. Still. They have buckets of fried calamari served with three different sauces—all of which are fabulous and different. They have a double-sided scroll of fancy drinks (not discounted). Sadly--lightweight that I am--I can only handle one drink, and what I had wasn’t memorable.

Our bender research continues. Other Happy Hours for which either data are still being compiled or testing has yet to be carried out include:

Brazen Bean
Slow Bar
Sweet Basil
The Italian Joint
Tin Shed

Stay tuned.


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