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Hopworks and Vino Vixens June 11, 2010

Posted by stacyb17 in Bars, Restaurants.
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Hopworks Beer

Hopworks Beer

I had some friends in town to show around this week. Wednesday we hit Bridgeport, Bailey’s, and Tugboat. But I’ve already written about those places. Last night we headed over to the SE for some food and drinks.

We started the evening at McMenamin’s Market Street for happy hour drinks ($3 pints and wells). The plan was to go to the free wine tasting at Thirst and check it out, but when we got there at 5:45, we were told there was a 45 minute wait to be seated if you did not have a reservation. I have heard that Thirst is a more pretentious establishment than the Portland norm, and this reinforced that. I’ll give it another chance someday though.

Then it was on to Hopworks for dinner. There was a 20 minute wait for tables so we had a beer in the bar while we waited. As normally happens when I am at Hopworks, a table in the car area opened up before our pager went off. Hopworks is quickly becoming my favorite Portland brewery. I have been fighting this because I feel like it is the “in” brewery in town, but their beer is just really really good. I stuck with the IPA all night. It goes down so smoothly and has just the right amount of hops. I’m thirsty just thinking about it.

For dinner we started with the pretzel sticks. The sticks themselves were a little harder than I would prefer, but the ESB beer mustard was terrific. I split the BBQ chicken pizza with one of my friends and the others had salads. The pizza is good. Nothing spectacular, but certainly a decent pizza.

After dinner we walked across Powell to Vino Vixens. It was my first visit to the wine bar. The guys behind the counter were super friendly and knowledgeable about wine. I liked that if there was something they did not know, they said so. You can do tasting flights at Vino Vixens or buy by the pour or the glass. They let you sample wines for free before you commit to having a glass. I’m a big fan of this policy. I ended up going with a Cabernet/Sangiovese blend from California. It was tasty. My friends went with a Riesling and a Pinot Noir. We stayed at the bar in the front room with the wine store. There is also a back room and last night there was a belly dancing show that was well attended. I expect I’ll be back at this wine bar again in the near future.

The World Cup started today. I’ll definitely be going out and checking out bars to watch the matches at. Today it’ll just be the Cheerful Tortoise, but I’ll branch out more next week. Tomorrow I am running the Helvetia Half Marathon so I’ll report about that as well. I’m excited for sun and warmer weather starting this weekend. Maybe it is finally summer in PDX??

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Summer Preview Day! June 6, 2010

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Rose Festival

Christina intrigued by Giant Sausage (photo Annie Smith)

Saturday in Portland was a little sneak peek of summer. And man did we all need it! Today is the usual grey with intermittent rain but it looks like more summer type weather is on the horizon (I say hopefully). After this nasty May, Saturday reminded us all why we put up with this crap. Sweet, sweet summer in Portland.

My friend Annie came in from Seattle on Saturday for a quick visit. She arrived at 11 AM and we headed over to Bridgeport Brewery to sit outside and have some lunch and beers. I had heard that Bridgeport has great burgers, but we were planning to go to the BBQ and Brews fest later in the day so I went with the tofu and veggie wrap. It was pretty good, but I did have a little burger envy when Annie went for the burger. Next time for sure!

Annie got the sampler tray so I got to try all of the Bridgeport beers. My faves are still the IPA, Blue Heron and the ESB. She was more a fan of the Porter, the Extra Pale and the seasonal fruity beer (which you can tell how much I liked since I can’t remember the name of it). We both got some color and eventually had to move to a table in the shade because we were too hot.

After Bridgeport we walked down to Powell’s for some book shopping. I am only allowed to spend short periods of time in Powell’s or else I end up buying 20 books so I met another friend for a beer at Ringler’s Annex. My friend had the bourbon flight which was a cool thing I didn’t realize that McMenamins did and the bartender also gave us a taste of McMenamin’s whiskey.

After a quick stop to drop off the books, we headed down to BBQ and Brews and the Rose Festival. To be honest, I was disappointed in the festival. Many of the BBQ places were out of meat (and it was only 5:30 PM). You could not have beer outside of the BBQ and Brews area even though there was another area that was roped off as part of the festival. And the crowd seemed to be very… not Portland, to put it nicely.

We needed some more food as we’d only had a few tastes of BBQ at the festival so we wandered down to Chinatown. I had seen the House of Louie many times and found the name amusing and wanted to try it. I wish I had not. Even with a pretty good buzz, the food was disappointing. I had lo mein and the noodles were overcooked to the point of crispiness. Christina’s chow fun was a bit better and Annie’s beef with broccoli was not bad. I hear that 82nd is now the area to go for authentic Asian cuisine in town. I’m going to have to give that a shot in the future.

We caught a little of the Starlight parade but the streets were fairly packed so we just watched from a distance. Annie was tired so I dropped her off and headed across the river to the Jolly Roger to meet some friends. The Jolly Roger is a cool little dive bar with a pool table and a great name. We drank cheap PBR tall boys and watched a fairly decent Sublime cover band. The chick drummer has a seriously good voice (she deviated from the Sublime theme a bit but that was a nice change).

Going back in time, Friday night I went to Beulahland for drinks before catching a movie at Laurelhurst Theater. Beulahland is a nice dive bar with a decent selection of local beers (rotating). They have a very smoky smoker’s patio in the back. Not a good place to hang if you don’t like smelling of smoke later. We saw the movie The Runaways which I was very surprised to actually kind of like. Yeah they played up the drugs and sex to make it sell but you gotta love Joan Jett and Kristen Stewart did a good job in the role. Outside of the annoying Twilight movies, she actually is a decent actress. Dakota Fanning is annoying, but we all knew that.

After the movie I decided to go and have “one more drink” at the Sandy Hut. But Sandy Hut is one of my favorite bars in Portland and the conversation and company was good and the next thing I knew, it was many $2 Rainer tall boys later and they were having last call. So much for my chill movie night.

This week I am going to a presentation  about the brewery business put on by the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network on Wednesday. I’ll definitely write about that. I think the World Cup is getting ready to start so I need to figure out which bars will be worthy of my patronage for that. Any suggestions?

Early start at Santa Fe Taqueria June 3, 2010

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Big ass margarita

Flaming Margarita (Christina Denkinger)

Today I am helping two friends move. So tomorrow I will likely be sore as hell. The first move was actually quite quick and easy and it happened early in the day so my moving friend decided to take us out for instant gratification at Santa Fe Taqueria in NW.

I almost went here for Cinco de Mayo as I know they have a big bash for it. I am kind of glad that I passed as the place is a little smaller than I anticipated and I am sure that getting a drink on the most famous Americanized Mexican holiday of the year would be quite difficult. But it has a nice, chill vibe and was quite empty at noon on a Thursday.

We sat in the bar because drinks were our priority. We did end up getting some nachos which were quite good. For the first round I got a Pacifico and my friends drank margaritas (rocks). Consensus was that the margaritas were quite nice.

For the second round, one of the guys remembered he’d once had a huge, flaming margarita for his birthday at Santa Fe and wanted to duplicate the experience. The bartender said they were not a regular menu item but agreed to make one for us. She had to find the giant margarita glasses on the top shelf of the bar and made the drink for us in a pitcher. She then doused a lime in 151 and set it on fire to complete the work of art in a glass.

Four of us shared the drink and I think it is safe to say we all felt it. This is not a drink for the light of liver or wallet (it cost over $26!) but for a special occasion or a novelty, the giant flaming margarita is certainly something worth a try.

I think there will be another post party today after move number two so I’ll have to fill you in tomorrow.

An Evening Out on Clinton May 1, 2010

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Last night I met some friends in the Clinton neighborhood for dinner and drinks. It was nice to check out an area of town that I am not as familiar with.

We met up at the Clinton Street Pub. It is a small place that is easy to miss because there is no sign. Or at least I did not see a sign. Inside is your typical grungy dive bar, so, of course, I loved it. They have a couple of pinball machines and some tables and old school booths and about eight beers on tap. The beers tended toward the smaller, local breweries, which was another plus in my book. Many of the other customers were drinking PBR tallboys.

After a drink at Clinton Street, we headed down the road to  the Night Light Lounge for dinner. The ambience was more upscale than Clinton Street, but still very laid back. The place was crowded and kind of noisy but we did not have a problem getting a table. The food was delicious and very reasonably priced. I had the Korean Short Ribs and they were excellent for $11. My friend had the buffalo stew and was also pleased with his meal. Like Clinton Street Pub, the draft beers were smaller local brews.

There walking around Clinton Street, I saw quite a few other places I would like to check out. I have a feeling I’ll be heading back soon. Today is Derby Day so I am off to a Derby themed house party. My buddy in Louisville made my bet for me. Go Dublin Go!