Eat and Drink Guide Fall 2016
HAPPY HOURS, half-price deals, and more: These are some of the ways to find bargain wine around town.
417 NW 21st
There’s something captivating about this snug bar, especially on a winter’s evening: an otherworldly romanticism is conjured from the intimate space and lit by candles. The happy hour also helps, running from a sociable 6-8 pm, way past when most other places have finished. With $3 off, glass pours are the way to go. The chalkboard menu offers a selection of reasonably priced European reds and whites, alongside a couple of local favorites and a sparkling wine, all to be had for as little as three bucks.
P’s & Q’s Market
1301 NE Dekum
It can be teeming during brunch hours, but later in the day P’s & Q’s evolves into a genial hangout ideal for wine supping. The daily happy hour (3-6 pm) gives a buck off glass pours, but that’s not the best bit. Check out the small but smartly curated bottle selection—they carry a mix of local and European wines at good prices (I’ve seen good stuff for under ten bucks)—and whatever you pull off the shelf is only subject to a $5 corkage fee. For a clean and tangy white, try the Italian Garganega and Chardonnay blend by Scaia ($12.75), or for cozy fall evenings, Owen Roe’s COOP Red, a soothing Rhone blend of Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Syrah ($15—a crazy bargain, as it’s $24 on the Roe website).
2225 E Burnside
World famous for its champagne list (it’s won awards from publications in London), Bar Vivant’s 64-page beverage menu also offers a comprehensive selection of red and white wine, as well as sherry (which you can think of as strong, brown wine). Happy hour on Thursday nights features a free tapas item with each drink, $4 tinto (house red) and Txakoli (an effervescent white), plus 10 percent off bottles. The tapas are legit and the plates are the proper size (small enough to fit onto a bar top)—and for extra authenticity you’re even allowed to throw your crumpled napkin to the bar floor (traditionally, the number on the floor is meant to signify how good the food is).
1611 NE Killingsworth
There’s no happy hour at this bottle shop/bar, but it’s not necessary as there’s no corkage fee on anything anyway (at other places it can be as high as $15 a bottle). The added kicker? Order food from neighboring Thai hot spot Hat Yai or Handsome Pizza, and either place will deliver food to the bar, where you can enjoy it with retail—rather than restaurant—priced wine. The St. Urbans-Hof Riesling ($14) or Mantlerhof Gruner Veltliner ($15 a liter) will cope with the spiciness of the Thai dishes; match the pizza with an earthy Nebbiolo from Piedmont, such as the Cantalupo Agamium ($18), or a small production Tempranillo from Oregon’s Stafford Hill ($15).
5328 N Lombard
This neighborhood restaurant does some of the best fish in town (especially if you stick to the basic cod, salmon, or halibut, which can be either grilled, poached, or blackened). The wine list is by no means fancy and is pretty short, but it covers the bases for seafood pairing and it’s reasonably priced—but the real savings come on Tuesdays, when all bottles are half the price from 4 pm.
1752 SE Hawthorne
Sometimes it’s all about the wine: You want to put your resources into a special bottle without having to spend heavy on the food. That option is available at Cafe Castagna, the unbuttoned sibling to the full-on tasting menu spectacular that is the restaurant. Though they have a comprehensive wine list of their own, you can also dip into the cloth-bound menu that diners next door are having to spend $100-plus to access. There are aged wines that you would be hard pressed to find anywhere else around town, including a selection of Rieslings dating back to 1986, and a bunch of special Piedmont Nebbiolos from the 1990s. Though prices push up into triple digits, it’s not all outrageously priced, with wines from the mid-$30s.
3808 N Williams
There’s no end of restaurants providing a respectable wine-loving happy hour (Nostrana, Quaintrelle, St. Jack, and Noble Rot, to mention just four), but Lincoln edges it. Happy hour runs from 5:30 to 7 pm, civilized hours for those who can’t bail from work to make the usual 6 pm cutoff, and there’s always space at the bar. The wine menu is predominantly European, meaning the house wines (red, white, and bubbly, all five bucks a piece) are more than likely to be something interesting from Spain, France, or Portugal. Plus, there are the garlic and rosemary fries and the famous poutine to try from the food menu—added incentive to order a second glass.