In 2021, Local Lounge—the iconic (if nondescript) gay bar at Northeast Martin Luther King and Fremont known for regular karaoke, drag shows, and dance parties—shut its doors, joining the growing list of beloved queer spaces in Portland that have closed in recent years (Embers, Rebel Rebel, and the Roxy, to name a few).
However, just in the nick of time for Pride Month festivities, the new gay bar is set to open on Friday June 30, under the new name of Back 2 Earth. The website promises a “new queer personality, vibe, and aesthetic,” with local DJs and performers.
Back 2 Earth will occupy the same brick and mortar as the now-defunct Local Lounge, though it will now be operated by Dan Henderson, who also owns the Eagle Portland, a bear and leather bar on North Lombard.
With a rainbow-hued astronaut on their new signage, Back 2 Earth looks to be decidedly more space-themed than its former incarnation’s classic dive decor. How the bar’s interior has been remodeled or designed to fit the new galactic mood remains to be seen, but a post on their Instagram boasts a “killer visual and audio sound system, lounge seating, [and] a vertical plant wall….”
Whereas Local Lounge was known for its one dollar tacos, Back 2 Earth’s food menu features more classic bar fare. For larger meals, the site lists a variety of sandwiches, a classic burger, and a “Sukiyaki Steak Plate” served with rice and grilled veggies. Smaller plates include a cheesy dip made with za’atar ricotta and feta and served with ciabatta, fried gyoza, chicken trips, and tots (we concur that tots are essential).
The cocktail menu boasts a watermelon mojito, a variation on a Tom Collins made with Drambuie liqueur, the bright orange cousin to a whiskey sour known as a Paper Plane, and an espresso martini. Beerwise, Back 2 Earth is starting out strong with beers from Pfriem, Boneyard, Ecliptic, and Gigantic, among others, but we (of course) eagerly await the list of tall boys.
Back 2 Earth PDX is located at 3536 Martin Luther King Blvd, opening weekend hours are listed as Fri & Sat 3 pm-2 am, Sun 3 pm-midnight, and Tues-Thurs 3 pm-1 am; $5 cover, 21+