DRINKING IS A SERIOUS OCCUPATION, and should be treated as such. So why waste your time sipping a "Sex on the Beach" at T.J. McFuck's, when you can support your local dive? What follows are just a sampling of the fine, downtrodden drinkeries Portland has to offer. For those of you who are bound to scream, "HEY, GODDAMMIT! YOU DIDN'T PUT IN MY FAVORITE BAR! I'M GOING TO CHOKE YOU TO DEATH!" the Mercury has graciously added a fill-in-the-blank dive bar review at the end. Write up your review, send it in, and we'll print them in a future issue.

3237 SE Milwaukie, 239-9208

Some nights this place is a ragged party. I've seen skinny, drunk women stand on chairs and preach the virtues of wearing men's underwear, and swaying dancers outfitted in the shine of halos meant to protect a broken neck. During the day it's a meditative spot; drinkers line the bar quietly sipping. Decorations range from the glory of darts trophies to beer signs, an old suit of armor, a wide angle mirror in the women'sbathroom, and an Escher-esque piece of computer generated art on five feet of glass. If they offer food, I wouldn't eat it. MD

8230 SE 13 Ave, 235-3571

My favorite thing about the Black Cat is how little it changes. Same stained carpet, scattered tables, pool table, and shuffleboard. If you're hungry, stick to nuts and chips and anything pre-packaged. Take over the juke box. Tip well. Wear clothes you don't mind being consumed by smoke. Recognize the long time locals and regulars, and smile at their jokes or stay out of the way. MD

1008 SE Hawthorne, 232-9516

"I've got two things on tap, Bud and water, so which is it going to be," growled Theresa, the barkeep who looks like "mamma" from "Throw Mamma from the Train." Dino's Inn is the nadir of dive bars. Not only does the bartender look frightening with her beard and mustache, but the two-a-night dancers on the foosball table-sized stage might also scare the bejesus out of you. A recent night included a one-eyed, mid-40's woman who stripped down to nothing but her eye patch, and an overweight beast with baloney nipples. Pool is 25¢, but the cue stick will inevitably hit a wall or a video poker patron while you try to play. RV

439 NW Third, 224-8446

Look past the fact that the Dirty Duck Pub has no liquor, serves only domestic beer, Franzia, and sodas. Instead, look at the sculpted, wooden, Dionysian Davy Crockett figures standing shirtless over the bar and entrance. The Duck is "home to the Oregon bears--which are large gay men," says bartender Pete. With $4 pitchers, free popcorn, Addams Family pinball, and a real goddamn bear hanging over the bar, who wouldn't come in for a couple brews with the boys. Stop by Sunday, August 8, for the Duck's debut Sex Toy Party. BG

3276 NE Killingsworth, 282-2411

I don't hold the Etcetera Tavern responsible for the dent in the side of my truck. "Did you hear those squealing tires just now?" one patron asked me. "He just ran into your car." I searched the man's face for compassion or concern, but he was just an indifferent messenger. In spite of this and the man who tried to pick up my girlfriend, I hold the Etcetera in high regard. A solid jukebox, heavy on the pimp daddy music of Curtis Mayfield and Otis Redding. A mixed crowd, young hipsters and the old neighborhood guard--mainly African American men who have lived within a stone's throw for decades. PB

1308 SE Morrison, 232-1259

Ever had one of those days--over-exposed, micro-managed and picked apart? Find yourself a wobbly red bar stool at Hal's Tavern, order a cold Hamm's on tap, and spin around to lose yourself in some gripping shuffleboard action. Rest assured there isn't anyone who needs to know your name or what you're lookin' at. In Hal's world, the kind of day you had doesn't register. SD

112 NW Fourth, 223-8686

Their best drink is the Hung Far LoNG Island: Vodka, Gin, Rum, Tequila, Sweet & Sour, cola, and one cherry, for $5. They're like a time machine: every drink consumed fast-forwards you to a state of drunkenness that would usually require several hours, rather than 25 seconds. But the real value of Hung Far Low is its atmosphere: Lights so dim, one can sit at the wrong table for several hours before realizing it. A few precautions: Beware of tripping over drunks, and never order food unless you are a healthy eight drinks into the night. (Even then, avoid the beef.) KD

1001 N Killingsworth, 283-2592

Much like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, The Jockey Club doesn't look like much. Once you open the door however, you're surrounded by tantalizing surpriseslickable wall paper, table-top Ms. Pac Man, interracial drinking, an ever-flowing river of PBR, and of course, the occasional oompa-loompa (or someone just as entertainingly freakish). The jukebox is loaded with Nick Cave/Sonic Youth/Cat Power/Johnny Cash/Pavement/ Prince etc. and is just as hardcore and delicious as the bartenders. KS

1332 NW 21, 223-8825

Veteran livers unite! Circa 1973: Creedence to Rolling Stones on the jukebox; wood paneling, pool tables, and dark, cushy booths; an Alice bartender and corresponding clientele. This is a bartender's hangout with true liver-damaging potency. You can't help but wonder how many affairs happen here. Looking around, there are four exits, including a back door; no windows in the lounge; and a bar that wraps around. Oh yeah, there's also a restaurant attached, with fried egg sandwiches to full dinners for under 10 bucks. AR

440 NE 28, 233-6937

Owned by ca-razy ass metal/cycle dude Rooster--you never need worry about getting too drunk or loud. There are plenty of regulars and only a few bartenders, so you know everyone after three visits. The outdoor deck is a great escape from dark-bar syndrome and large enough to accommodate you, plus 25. The juke is metal/punk influenced by Nate the bartender who is quite a punk himself. KS

4639 SE Woodstock Blvd, 774-0353

The Lutz is a bar where you'll always find $1 Pabst Blue Ribbon, and servers eager to get you away from the counter. Build pyramids with your cans while waiting for the South Park pinball machine. Wait still longer to play a game on the tiniest pool table in the universe. Wait a little bit more for your songs to play on the jukebox. But don't wait too long, because the Lutz' official clock is 15 minutes fast, and those same friendly servers will take your beers away like they're dead babies. BG

1967 W Burnside, 222-5822

A dive for hipsters, yes, but the Matador is nearly perfect. It's got exactly the right amount of trash (slutty vermilion booths, grody bathrooms with cloth pull-towel dispensers), class (red-tinted darkness, etched mirrors) and sass (Disc Jockey Gregarious on Sundays). It's the best place to be a sexy meow-kitty while you sip cheap scotch and chain-smoke. JS

2400 NW 21, 222-3385

Gotta love a place that used to be a whorehouse. Molly's located over one of the original "Shanghai tunnels," and was a working brothel up until the early '50s. Unfortunately karaoke sluts have replaced the whores, with tone-deaf rank amateurs who belt out the worst tunes they can find. A hangout for local factory folk, scooterists, and regulars who stop by for stiff drinks and dose of grease (7 of 10 snack items are deep fat-fried.) RV

5028 NE 42, 284-9333

Schwartzkopf's possesses two of my personal dive criteria (wood paneling and Dirty Harry pinball), but also has other treats, including a purchasable $9 t-shirt of the week (the last one depicted a gun and "9-1-1" in a red "no" symbolrandom, yet politically conscious!); a sign warning customers they may only enter and leave ONCE per day; and several emaciated guys asking the bartender if he'd seen "Shorty." If it was darker and smokier, it'd be a little like Twin Peaks' One-Eyed Jack's, but you know what happened there: prom queens were slipped roofies and ended up in threesomes with fellow high schoolers. JS

5819 SE Milwaukie, 235-6352

The Yukon is a cheery, bloody red: red shag carpets, red wallpaper, red ceilings and red vinyl seats (what's left of them). Even the pool tables are covered in red felt. But! No matter how drunk you are, you should never, ever eat a Yukon pickled egg, even when your friends promise to pay you $20. Having eaten many pickled eggs in Portland bars, I can safely say that the Yukon has the most disgusting pickled eggs in town. But, as long as you steer clear of that danger, the Yukon is a shining treasure. KD

The following writers suffered massive liver damage to complete this report: Phil Busse, Sara Daley, Monica Drake, Katia Dunn, Brian Griffey, Anabel Ramirez, Julianne Shepherd, Katie Shimer, Robert Votz.


Address, Phone:

Send to "My Favorite Dive," c/o Portland Mercury, 1524 NW 23 Ave., Suite 2, Portland, OR 97210. And if you're not too drunk, e-mail us at lovenotes@portlandmercury.com