As I write this, I'm lying on my living room floor. I'm afraid to stand up—the last time I did, something bad happened (I'll spare you the details, but it was gross). This is about an 8.7 on the Hangover Scale, but thanks to an unforgiving memory that never offers the sweet relief of a blackout, I remember everything.

My night began at the 21st Avenue Bar and Grill (721 NW 21st), an initially unlovable establishment that somewhat won me over. This haven for the popped-collar crowd, unbeknownst to anyone, has a spectacular, huge-ass patio out back. I had no idea it was even there, but this patio is a little slice of paradise (it has a waterfall, for Christ's sake). Entertainment was provided by cute, sassy servers, who took no shit from their douchebag customers. Also, my drink was by far the stiffest I had all night.

Despite being arguably the "hippest" bar on the street, I've never really taken a shine to Muu-Muu's (612 NW 21st). It's dark, the music is loud, there are some inventive cocktails on the menu, and the food is pretty good—but somehow, the ambiance is just unsettling. Maybe I'll swing by the next time I'm on coke, and see if I feel more at home.

Back across the street at the Gypsy (625 NW 21st), the party was thumping: To my left, a couple made out by the pool tables; to my right, a girl weaved across the dance floor, sipping from a luminous blue fishbowl that was bigger than her head. Another girl danced barefoot, a piece of toilet paper stuck to her heel. This was a party, all right—but not our party. We left immediately.

At the weird little junk table on NW 21st and Hoyt, my friend bought me some noisemakers, which we rattled obnoxiously as we cased out Wimpy's (519 NW 21st). Wimpy's is very dark, and very red, and vodka drinks are $2.50 all the time. Nice bartenders and a chill clientele make Wimpy's and its sister bar, O'Brien's (519 NW 21st) a welcome respite from the freakshow that is NW 21st.

If the night had ended there, I would've made it to work this morning, and I wouldn't have slept on the floor. But for better or worse, I always seem to end up across the river, at the Hungry Tiger (2800 E Burnside)—and after seeing how NW rolls, I've never been so glad to be back in my own neighborhood. ALISON HALLETT