On this year's cover:
I keep finding myself coming back to
many of the same places again and again, and I wanted to feature a
number of them on the cover. So much attention is often focused on the
latest new thing, but I am favoring the old standbys this year! Many of
the newbies aren’t trying too hard to win fans with their Happy Hour,
but these places have always been big winners in my book.
-- A favorite over the years and highlighted on this year's book cover.
In a nutshell, a most lush and gorgeous space! I was an immediate fan,
mostly for the drinks and swanky vibe in the place, but later for the
food as well. Not only do they make some of the city’s finest crafted
cocktails, they also have delicious food at dinner. And they’ve expanded
their Happy Hour menu!
Mama Mia --
Recently, when I peeked at their Happy Hour menu online, my eyes almost
popped out of my head! They’ve always had a lot of options at Happy
Hour, but now it’s a crazy-huge menu, and all kinds of options at the
low price points of $2.00, $3.00 and $4.00. And they’ve added drink
specials! New owners have taken the food up a level too. Beautiful
private party room available, and surprise! Incredible cheeseburgers!
-- Aw. My very first Happy Hour when I moved to Portland :-) They set a
high bar, and started me on the path... Incredible cocktails, great
patio, and very cool lounge. Plus a nice restaurant next door, the Mint
part of 820 (Latin-American-inspired Northwest menu). Also, FYI, the
owner Lucy Brennan, wrote a bartending guide, “Hip Sips.”
-- A comfortable, serene choice in Happy
Hour (formerly Sungari in the Pearl). Delicious food! A nice & big
Happy Hour menu with a number of healthy options (including organic and
gluten-free items). Excellent cocktails too! For a unique and
outstanding dinner experience, sample their "Hot Pot" menu.
Thirst Wine Bar & Bistro
-- Another favorite on the river, near
the downtown area in the Riverplace Esplanade. Sit at the bartop for a
$3.00 Happy Hour with wine, beer, cocktail of the day, and ten food
items -- all $3.00 or less! They've added a wine tasting room too, with a
focus on NW wine samples.
Also in the Top Ten:
Bluehour -- Top notch in every way. Gorgeous lighting at night and fun patio by day. Big and diverse menu with great food. Stunning interior with showpiece, big-city style. *All of Bruce Carey's restaurants could be on this list (also has
23 Hoyt, Clarklewis and Saucebox), and they can share the spotlight. Big party room available -- very cool and reasonable prices.
Portland City Grill
-- The champion of Portland Happy Hours! Menu features about 20 small plates (including an $8 steak and frites, plus lots of healthy options, most with an Asian spin), they go later until 7:00pm, AND they've added drink specials! All of which all adds up to a knock-down Perfect Ten. Gorgeous 360° views from 30 floors up offers vistas of the mountains and NW hills, the Willamette River, sunsets, and moonrises.
A very-favorite for so many reasons. It's right on the Columbia River,
and views are truly majestic. Best in the summer with outside patio and
beautiful sunsets! Delicious and discounted food and drink. Best
bacon-cheeseburgers in town! And phenomenal clam chowder too. It was
Hour of the Year" for 2012.
-- Surprise! One of the best burgers in the city! Also award-winning spicy rigatoni. And wood-fired pizza. Expanded menu. Great food. Inside, it's a nice, understated place, or sit outside along their sidewalk.
-- Absolutely STUNNING interior! It is so NOT Portland. I love it! Menu hosts farm-fresh NW specialties and there's good drink specials too. An absolute must! And Departure (same building, top floor of The Nines) has a spectacularly wonderful rooftop deck!
And don't miss!
-- Be sure to try their famous beer cocktails! This place is all the rave among beer geeks, and a nice place to go for everyone. It’s a Belgian-style beer bar with 17 craft beers on draft, plus bottles and full bar. Unique brasserie-style food menu. Sharp owner, talented bartenders.
Amalfi's -- For more than 50 years, Amalfi’s has served up some of Portland’s best Italian food, and is still to this day, a much-beloved icon. A somewhat recent renovation updates and fancies up the place, and is comfy yet contemporary, romantic and still social. Table-top fireplaces both inside and out. Great patio! Drink specials are spotty to hit the Tippy-Top Ten, but they're close :-)
-- Seven mini-entrees for $7 bucks, special $7 cocktails, and they go until 7:00pm (Saturdays excluded). This new and upgraded location gives us a wonderful and bright, richly-appointed, fine-dining steakhouse. Enjoy a very affordable, fancy evening out when you go here for their Happy Hour. Big cheers to the good life!
Some favorite newbies of 2012...
Blue Agave -- Rarely do a come across a place that it is true love at first sight, and can tell since I keep talking about how great the food almost the whole time I'm eating. This is one of those places! And their menu has at least 20 items to select from. Great margaritas too :-)
Mextiza -- High-quality and delicious small plates brought to us this year by the restaurateur of Autentica (and brand-new Uno Mas in the Ocean Complex
at 24th & Glisan). Cool space anchoring the growing 'hood on N. Killingsworth.
Paadee -- Award-winning Happy Hour food at a new TOP PDX restaurant! Interior is basically that typical Portland loft-garage-style, but with artful attention to style, incorporating subtle Asian design.
Parish -- New Orleans style spin with spicy creole taster plates and super cute decor. Beautiful design with soft blue-greys, dark woods, and Martha Stewart-worthy signage and slightly churchy room dividers. Typically not crowded at HH, but I loved it!
Streetcar Bistro -- Gourmet spins on a big array of comfort food menu items, about 30 illuminated taps, a couple nice lounge areas with couches and a fireplace, all in a cool, but welcoming new bistro with a sleek modern look.