Picture this: About three weeks ago, I stumble through the door of my favorite watering hole on a Friday night (which everyone in the world knows is the Sandy Hut), only to have the friendly doorman tell me: "Sorry, we're full to capacity, you've gotta wait for somebody to come out before you can go in."
"What?" I fumed, "DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? I'm KATIE SHIMER. I spend $400 a week here. I practically pay the rent on this place! You have to let me in! I'm KATIEÉ SHIMER!!"
Of course, the doorman was unprepared to argue with my airtight reasoning--but once inside I felt the bitter taste of claustrophobia and the disappointment of seeing my favorite place officially overrun. And while sad about the discovery, I realized this was indeed a sign from God. Yes, God Himself was sending me a message, telling me to broaden my horizons and find not only some new haunts, but some new guys to flirt with. And thus began my epic journey (along with fellow drunk, Marjorie Skinner) to find a NEW place to park my beer-soaked can. Below, you will find the fruits of our labor; SEVEN new liquor drinkin' hangouts where you will be able find me on Friday nights. (Sorry, Sandy Hut. Get somebody else to pay your rent.)
Aura * 1022 W Burnside, 597-2872
No one I know has ever been to Aura. With it's froufy name and ultra-mod design, I think people are scared it'll be jam-packed with amateurs from Beaverton, and even more frightened they'll be dropping $9 a drink. Sure, you'll be paying more for a cocktail here, but Aura's super swanky space is worth it. They offer tons of huge booths that can fit eight people, three floors of tables, two bars, and the trippiest bathroom in Portland. (Sporting a one-way mirror so you can see out into the bar? And a sink that shoots water out of the wall? Whaaaaa??).
Now, at any high-end establishment, you run the risk of what I like the call "the chach factor" (dudes with leather jackets and gelled hair, girls with tight pants and fake tits), but because Aura is so huge, you won't find yourself suffocated by it. Still not convinced? Stick your toe in the water and try Aura's vastly under-crowded happy hour from 4:30-6 pm Wed-Sun, and eat some of their tasty, artsy cuisine (I had two mini-chicken burgers with a stack of hair-thin fries for $3). They offer specialty cocktails for $3 during these times, too. KS
Yur's * 717 NW 16th, 224-0160
Walking into Yur's is like walking into the birth canal of a heavy smoker--and I mean that in the best way. It's long and dark in front, then expands in back to hold pool tables, games, lots of seating, and every barfly's favorite toy: a free jukebox. Imminently womb-like and comforting, Yur's is a place of perpetual darkness, windowless and cozy. (A bonus for graveyard shifters: They open at 7 am daily.) But the best thing about Yur's are the booths, which are huge and perfect for obnoxiously and raunchily making out in public. That's not just a cheesy comment; Yur's is the place to go with the express intention of doing some seriously gross sport necking. However, the bartenders are consistently angelic, and if they ask you to knock it off, you should... but in my experience, they never have. MS
C-Bar * 2880 SE Gladstone, 230-8808
Located within spitting distance of the Pub at the End of the Universe, C-Bar is a good place to go if you're in the neighborhood, but don't feel like getting dirty. It's clean and bright and actually looks a lot like an old-fashioned soda shop. Unfortunately, they don't have liquor, but thankfully, that's a hurdle some of us can overcome. C-Bar has been quietly developing its character, adding DJ nights and shows, despite the fact that it's a relatively small space. Still, nobody I know has ever seen it crowded. So if your posse's been looking for a home base, this has mucho potential. And instead of the usual deep-fried bar menu, you can munch on sushi and edamame. MS
George's Corner Tavern
5501 N Interstate, 289-0307
For North Portlanders, the watering hole selection can be a bit dismal. While the usual suspects are lovable (Billy Ray's, Paragon, Mouse Trap) the scenery occasionally needs a re-wallpapering. Thus, George's Corner Tavern. Staffed with some of the nicest bartenders in Portland serving up some of the cheapest cocktails, a dive lover will undoubtedly find their niche here. Vinyl booths, a giant U-shaped bar, and a back patio can accommodate you and all your friends; and if you don't have any friends there's always video poker, or the action packed gun-wielding arcade game, Turkey Hunter. And if you're an early riser, George's starts pouring breakfast at 7 am!! KS
1033 NW 16th, 223-0099
You may remember this place as Cal-Sport--the charmingly low-down bar next to the freeway. The new incarnation, Slabtown, is orange and stripy, giving it a retro, modish feel. Filled with cute café tables with those little candleholders you find in Italian restaurants, it also has a pool table and three gigantic televisions, usually set to sports or a movie station without audio (minimizing the moth-like distraction caused by oppressive bar TVs, but still giving you an excuse not to talk). This joint is basically a sports bar during the day, but at night the scene changes with DJs (including theme-happy Marantic, who migrated from Tony's), live music, and karaoke. Plus, they do this weird thing called "Mexico Night" every month (this month Thurs, Feb 5) with discounts on Mexican food and drinks, including Corona. They play salsa music on cable radio and the waitstaff dresses "Mexican." And that's not only fun, it's funny. MS
Exit 307 off I-5 North from Portland, follow signs to the Jubitz truck stop
Twin Peaks fans undoubtedly remember The Roadhouse; the huge barn-like building where the Bookhouse Boys hold their meetings, the Log Lady grabs a brewski, and where Jacques Renault used to work before he crossed the border to One-Eyed Jack's. The Ponderosa is as close as Portland gets to having it's own Roadhouse, being just as big as the original, with an eerily lit stage, and a host of trucker cowboys swilling brew. Thanks god, a break from skinny boys wearing fey scarves discussing the merits of the new Unicorns' album. Offering live country music nightly, friendly waitresses, ashtrays on every table, and of course, Coors Light, there's only one way this place could be improved. Say it with me... "mechanical bull." KS
Tony's Tavern 1955 W Burnside, 228-4574
Sure, Tony's has been around for a while--but have you actually been there? For a narrow, dimly lit tavern, Tony's actually feels quite clean (including the bathrooms) and provides better ventilation than most cheap beer-serving dives. A long bar, a host of booths, a pool table, and one of the best jukes in town make it a great backup destination when the Matador is teeming with dirtbags and the Marathon is too goddamn bright. Be warned though, Tony's doesn't serve booze, and there's not exactly a stockpile of hot babes in this joint--better bring your own. KS