Favorite Photos of a Barfly
Miraculously, I’ve landed a few freelancing writing gigs while I’ve been here, and one of them has been quite fun: I get assigned to bars all around the city while writing them up and taking lots of pictures. Being a total newbie to nearly everything, means I’m learning volumes. Such as, Oh, there actually is a HUGE nightclub scene here. And when I say “club” and “scene,” that means limos, bottle service, velvet ropes, guest lists and cover charges akin to my freelancing rate. These details typically don’t make there way into the vernacular of Portland, Oregon’s bar culture. Sure, maybe a scant few venues would try and pull that stuff off but they’d be scoffed at quickly and loudly. They run in a school of their own here and lucky me, I’ve gone to quite a few of them.
But Rosewood isn’t one of them.
Rosewood quietly sticks its wood door out along Broadway, just between the strip bar circuit and the tourist ridden Columbus Street. The bar manager was such a pleasure – she was so nice, so helpful and showed me the back patio which is typically only open for private parties. The tall bamboo mini forest back there definitely secludes you from the madness outside – I’m into it. The drinks? Meh. Nothing to write home about but if I’m in the area and need a sip of somethin’ I wouldn’t think twice about going there. (Rosewood: 732 Broadway)
800 Larkin was one of those bars I walked passed many, many times and finally went in. Man, that place is awkward. Did they get all their furniture from a leather factory close out sale? Their bottle wall still turned out okay in a photo though. (800 Larkin: 800 Larkin – shockingly)
Sugar Lounge was what introduced me to Hayes Valley. I like it over there, in fact, I’m going there in a few hours for dinner with my 10th out-of-town visitor in the past few weeks. Anyway, Sugar Lounge knows how to mix sugar and alcohol – it’s a glittery bar and has glittery drinks. (Sugar Lounge: 377 Hayes St.)
If Hotel Biron were to change its name to reflect its true nature, it would be, Fine Wine Cave with Dark Art. It’s a wine/beer/sake bar with well-curated art. The wines by the glass are killer and it’s just so cozy in there with the brick walls and couches. It’s small – like lots of things here, but if you need a little cheese, little glass of wine and have a little group with you (party of four or less), head there. (Hotel Biron: 45 Rose St.)
Shine is a decent hole-in-the-wall dance floor in a random part of town… not quite SoMa, not quiet Civic Center… it’s not that close to any other good bars that I’m aware, so that in itself makes it unique. It’s kind of a “club” without all of the clubby baggage I ranted about earlier. Yeah, there’s house music and cocktails, but no lines or massive cover charges. The final thing I’ll say about Shine is, they could be a little nicer. Attitude exists and when you work in the food/drink media, it makes your job harder. (Shine: 1337 Mission St.)
When I started following the opening of Jones, the word “club” got thrown around a lot in its marketing, which had me concerned (go ahead and call me a club-hater. You’re probably right). But, well, considering they opened a stone-throw away, I had to check ’em out. Wow. It’s freaking huge up in there. I asked the owners (who are the nicest guys ever) what the capacity and square footage was, but I forgot. Whatever, it’s big – two bars, a massive patio, dance space… the design is pretty minimal but lovely. What kind of crowd hangs there still remains to be seen, although, I’m guessing it’ll be the designer-label loving hip-hop esque dude. (Jones: is located at, wait for it, 620 Jones)