The Portland Dive Bar Preservation Society
DURING A RECENT Portland snowstorm, everything outside was fucked, cars were surreally sliding their way up SE Grand, and I was sitting at the bar at My Father's Place eating breakfast. (You get this bar-tray hook-on table so you don't have to reach super far over the padded armrests, because isn't life hard enough?) The bartender picked up the phone and said, "Of course we're open. Stop calling and just get here." It's My Father's Place. They're open.
It's easier to remember when MFP is closed—2:30 am to 6 am, theoretically for cleaning? But every day of the year, you can sidle in for a plate of pancakes and a boozed-up Spanish coffee. The amount of eye contact is up to you.
There's always some reason for cheap PBR tallboys at My Father's Place, and during Blazers games, well drinks are a dangerously low $2.50. At breakfast (or in the afternoon—whatever), the Bloody Marys come with infused house liquor. It varies, but generally there's something along the lines of bacon, habanero, black pepper, or cilantro and garlic.
The customer service is Portland standard—like an immediate karmic reward. They're sweethearts who remember your name (doing that sneaky trick where they glance at your credit card) when they offer you a refill, but if you cross them, you'll need to find a new place. Waitpeople have long memories and MFP's staff tend to hang around for a long time. It seems like a place people like to work at. One night the bartender and a regular were reminiscing about the time they went to Cirque du Soleil together. Another customer asked the bartender to make her something special and then whistled appreciatively. "What was in that?" she asked.
"Vodka, gin, rum... it's like a Long Island but stronger. And blue curaçao. That's what makes it blue."
Like most places, you can order lunch after 11 am, but I'm not sure why you would. Breakfast is clearly the situation at MFP. The food is best described as "fine" and "cheap," and if you stray outside the boundaries of two eggs, hash browns, and toast for $5.75, then you probably just got greedy. (And not the good kind of greedy where you choose pancakes instead of toast and they show up as big as your face.) I can also recommend the bacon, the sausage, and the chicken-fried steak. But in all gravy situations, put that gravy on the side—it's 90 percent corn starch. Mnemonic tip: When you're in a dive, gravy goes to the side.
The bar part of My Father's Place seems to have the best service, but you can bring your minors to the restaurant area until 10 pm. That's also where they host comedy shows and Wednesday's Game Night. I've been there when Game Night pretty much shuts the whole place down. Another separate, huge room is dedicated to pool, lotto machines, and LOTS of pinball.
My Father's Place officially counts its rings back to 1978, but the location has been a bar, in one fashion or another, for more than 100 years. There's a regular who looks like a wizard (he shows up right at midnight—like a wizard) who claims MFP was once a piano bar and that he used to drink at that piano bar.
He also claims that he's not a wizard. Yeah, right.