The Spare Room

The Spare Room (NE 42nd and Alberta) used to be a bowling alley, so legend tells us. Far far removed from the kingpin now, this northeast dancehall mecca sports two bars (one active), a fireplace in the pool room, karaoke, and video poker. With its mirrors, and twinkling lights, the Larry and Terri lounge act, and older crowd, I believe that this would be David Lynch’s favorite spot. By no means is that meant to disparage The Spare Room, but instead to highlight just how different it is. The beer selection lacks a bit, they do have a Jager chiller, some whiskies, some liquor concoctions, but who could ask for anything different? Ladies, be aware that on dancing nights, you quite likely will be asked to dance. Also, this is a smoking establishment. And watch your language…the bar manager lurks, and she’ll getcha. I do recommend getting by the Spare Room, and probably soon, because it looks like Larry and Terri are moving on to other endeavors, and I cannot speak to the replacement act. Yet. They play Thursday-Saturday, and either Wednesday (ladies night, I believe) or Sunday or both.

Tuesday is when I tend to find Karaoke there, the first time being last November for the election. What a sad, surreal day that was for me. Anyway, having left Everyday Wine, Kieran and I cruised up to The Spare Toom to drown our sorrows and watch the election coverage, in hopeless want of a change in the events. Half an hour into the same same more more coverage on ABC or whoever, a lady with a US flag came and commandeered our television, apologetically. Karaokee was beginning. While not up for singing myself, nor was Kieran, some stalwort folk busted out some truly memorable Karaokee. Most notable was the sweet older lady sqeaking out The Candyman Can. At a point we laughed, I klnow it sounds terrible and rude, but the absurdity of the situation truly overtook us. We applauded, nearly in tears for sadness and sideways. All had a good time. I was surprised at how sympathetic to our cause the bar denizens were.

The Marathon Taverna

Don’t forget your ID if you’re planning to grab the Marathon’s cheap gyros after a Timber’s game, there’s no getting past the gatekeeper. This divey bar on W Burnside has provided many a good time to me, my friends, and complete strangers. The space is immense, providing room for a sports bar area focused on the big three–football, baseball, and basketball–and generally populated by a different cultural subsection than I tend to run in. Around the corner are tables, then pool tables, and the television is more likely to be showing ‘alternative’ sports like soccer, Aussie rules football, or Formula racing. They try to run a pretty tight ship at the Marathon, but it’s definitely happened that people got a bit rowdy from time to time, though I’ve never seen a brawl there. I recall one time I was helping my buddy Adrian celebrate his birthday, and for some reason it seemed like a good ide to pick him up, causing him to grab the table, and the rest is history. Or at least everything that was on the table is. Good times, for sure.

I mentioned the Gyros earlier. For like $4-5 your drunken self can obtain the wonderful combination of a gyro and fries to fuel further adventures. With bread, thin meat, veggies, tzatziki, and feta, it’s really all you need to conquer the world. Well, you might need a second if you’re that ambitious.

The Marathon is a full bar, so they’ve got liquor and probably crappy wine in addition to their decent beer selection. I’m not thinking of any surprises in the tap selection, but they have a thorough selection of the downtown standbys, like Mirror Pond, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and Widmer Hefeweisen.

Often times, people will play entire albums on the jukebox. The tunes tend towards hard rock, which is well within my realm of acceptable tunes, and a fair amount of what the radio terms alternative music. The Marathon is located at about W Burnside and 18th. Check it out, but don’t wear something you mind getting smoky. Best enjoyed in groups.

The Rialto

Pool tables, beer, vast, smokie. That’s the Rialto I’ve known for years. At the corner of 4th and Morrison in SW Portland, the Rialto has always been a favorite spot for the after work pint, as well as some late night grub and pool (and beer). Some year or so ago they closed the place to do some renovations, and I got to visit again for the first time in ages. Some preliminary thoughts follow. It feels smaller to me, and has fewer tables. I’m probably crazy though. The bar is pushed up to the north edge. There are doors on the stalls in the men’s bathrooms, so I figure they’ve priced out the heroin addicts who would nod or die in there. Or maybe they aren’t afraid of the new meth-head thing dropping needles and dying in the can. Two Golden Tee machines and the EA Sports golf game. GT Live ripped us off $4 the bastard. The pool tables look to be the big sub-regulation size (ie, smaller then real, bigger than bar)….didn’t check the prices. The beer selection is the standard downtown selection. Didn’t try the food cuz it was pretty late and I wasn’t hungry. It felt different…way different. The seediness is gone, it feels more like XV. Not sure how that is. So, those are my impressions. My opinion is that I’ll be back, but I miss the old Rialto. It doesn’t feel like the friendly place it was. Not that it was that friendly, but it kinda felt like it was.

The Moon via Google

thx anners for sending me this sweet link from google–it’s the moon!. The first manned lunar landing (remember that game) was 36 years ago today – Apollo 11. Make sure to zoom all the way in, the surface detail is remarkable!

Disaster Strikes

Today had been going pretty well until Fritz sent me this. Let’s just hope that we never face something like this again. The shattered dreams, broken souls, where are they now?

Beer Disaster

Fire on the Mountain

I totally dig Fire on the Mountain. It’s a smallish hotwings joint down on Interstate just south of Skidmore (and a bit north of the Alibi on the other side of the street) that serves up some honest friggin food. Honest because it’s good. Honest because it’s fried. And honest because it’s hot. Sara and Jordan deliver some 12 plus flavors of wings, ranging for sweet BBQ to jerk to El Jefe, with spicy peanut, mild and medium, and raspberry habanero in between. In addition, they offer some fun fried twists…twinkies, bananas, fantastic friest, and more. If you travel with the vegetarian crowd, they’ve got some Portland wings, but I’m not going there. Just so you know. There’re also some great salads (did I just say that?).

But, back on a more serious note, whether you’re slammin down a dozen wings or twenty (personal best: 22. I think I can do better) you’re gonna need to grease the wheels with a yummy barley soda, and they’ve done a great job at selecting good, local brews to compliment they’re food. Sip on a Caldera, Sierra Nevada, Roots, or Amnesia brew to the lush sounds of Widespread Panic (methinks somebody’s a fan) while trying to determine what flavor hotwing Jimi Hendrix is eating in your Jefe high…and believe me, the Jefe does elevate…tearing the succulent flesh off of a jerk chicken wing is satisfying unlike anything else on Interstate (under $20).

So, if you’re into hot food, beer, Panic, or chicken, get your ass down to FotM cuz it rocks hardcore. Ricks recommended flavors: jerk, x-hot, and raspberry habanero with a side of jefe, and a satisfying pale ale or IPA to send it skyward. cheers!

Everyday Wine

The first wine bar to be featured on beerdrinker, Beth’s sweet little shop just east of the light at 15th and Alberta is quite possibly the ideal wine bar. In the back are comfy chairs to recline while on whilst sipping your favorite Spanish wine (or whatever) if you can convince Porter (the sweet lab) to share. The chair, not the wine. Everyday Wine focuses on quality affordable wines…very few bottles are over $30, with many fine choices under ten bucks! Of course there’s a nominal corkage/glassware/whatever fee, but it is like $5 so it’s lower than anywhere I’ve heard of. And sometimes there are PMS nights (Porter’s Monthly Special), and you might be lucky enough to have no corkage fee. Get on her list for that.

On the way to Everyday Wine, I recommend stopping by Bella Facia to pick up a coupla slices, or Halibut’s for some fish and chips (is fish n’ chips legal to have with wine?), or EZ Grill for some tasty bento. Get it to go, Everyday Wine does not serve food, so bring your own.

I’ve celebrated highs and lows at Everyday Wine. Beth hosted an elections viewing night. That was a bummer, but the wine helped to soften the blow. Then I had my birthday there, and that was huge fun! But you can just go and hang out, and scratch Porter’s ears and listen to the sweet tunes blaring out of the tiny Bose.

Tortilleria Y Tienda De Leon’s

My buddy Mark brought this fantastic taqueria experience to my attention. Nestled in the back of the Tortilleria Y Tienda De Leon’s are a few tables and a lunch counter displaying a wonderful selection of Mexican specialties. I stopped by there (not the first time by any means) the other day after hitting some balls at the driving range with my German buddy and his small child. One of the things that he wanted to do while visiting was hit up some good Mexican food, and the Taco Del Mar experience from the day before simply didn’t cut it in my book.

In the display counter are a number of unlabeled pots with meaty stews in them. These seem to change some, but tend to include carne con nopalitos, chile verde, carnitas (not a stew…duh), pork ribs in chile sauce, some beefy things, some chicken things, some porky things, black and pinto beans, and rice. The carnitas there are absolutely out of this world.

The nice older hispanic lady will likely offer up some samples for you of the other items…I recommend that on your first go round you get the carnitas if you’re into that sorta thing. They are lightly spiced, tender as all get-out, and just work perfectly. I’ve also enjoyed the beefy nopalitos and the pork ribs a lot as well. The meat is amazingly tender, but still textured, flavorful and well-spiced, while enhancing the meaty character. Food served in this manner often seems to be heavily salted, but at De Leon’s I do not find myself parched an hour later…perhaps that’s related to the 2 gallons of horchata that I pull down with my combination meal, but they seem to go light on the spices, and heavy on the flavors inherent in the meats and vegetables in the stews.

Try the combo meal. De Leon’s is not the most inexpensive taqueria in town…it’s two bucks for a taco, and the combo runs about $6.50. However, the rich culinary experience is well worth the high price…get the combo if you’re hungry enough, or share it. You’ll find De Leon’s at 16225 NE Glisan St in Portland, so it’s a ways out there. Grab some buddies and make a road trip of it.

Windsurfing with the Aliens

My German buddies were in town the last week. It’s always a pleasure to hang out with them, they’re such fun fold. This time they brought along their small child as well…wow, what a sweet little handful. Flo and Nina got into town last Thursday, direct from Germany so they were a bit tired, otherwise I would’ve taken them by last Thursday on Alberta, my hood. I took Flo to see the Timbers tie Vancouver (ugh…what a bummer of a lame-ass red card in the 24th) and we hung out with the Timbers Army. We invited a few friends over for 4th of July BBQ, and that was a blast…I slow cooked four racks of ribs with a ginger-honey marinade, and made two jerk pork tenderloins that I have to say were friggin fantastic. People brought a bunch of food, including some grubbin brats and a ton of beans (I’d made some too…cheers to coordinating!).

I was pretty well tethered to my computer this weekend (which is why I didn’t come to your BBQs, Buck and Scott!), so after working Tuesday I took off Wed-Fri. Wednesday I took Flo, Nina, and Dana up to Hood River for some windsurfing. Now, that sport is a blast. After grabbing some decent tacos at Taco Del Mar, we cruised over to Brian’s Windsurfing for rentals. Nina had been some sorta Hamburg windsurfing amateur awhile ago, so we tried to get her a short board, but the rest of us were beginners (my second, Dana’s first) and needed the picnic boards. Unfortunately, they didn’t have both available at the same spot, so she had to share with us. But the wind was great (in that it moved us! yay!) and the sun was shining, though sometimes only on the backs of clouds. This being my second time, I did far better than before, even accomplishing the goal set out from the first time—to loop around a buoy and come back—several times.

Alberta Public House

so the Alberta Public House isn’t new. Not like the Concordia. It also doesn’t have the beer selection of the Concordia. But I still like the place. It’s totally chill, a geographical mess (on the inside), and full of pigs. The pink cartoon kind. They have some fun music, a good patio, and pretty alright food. Their happy hour (OLCC, can I say that?) last until 8pm on weekdays, which means that even after driving back in from the ‘tron I can still have time to get my happy swerve on for a discount.

The Alberta Public House has been a regular stop for the Cocks in the Henhouse lately, and that’s not a bad thing because they’re a pretty fun show, I’ve now caught them at Amnesia, Alberta PH, and some party full of med students that my buddy made a crapload of hotwings at (inspired by the ones from FotM the day before, but totally different, and friggin grubbin).

The Alberta PH has a good mix of beers on tap, not the downtown standards. The people there are quite friendly, and that lends to its nice, chill atmosphere. Another nice thing about it is that you don’t have to listen to the music. The building is solidly divided into two sides, in fact…here’s a tip—want a beer or the can upon entering? Go left. The patio is covered, and ultrabright heat lamps can be utilized as well. The Alberta Public House is at 1036 NE Alberta Street in Portland, OR. Definitely worth checking out. Oh, and they have a decent selection of whiskies as well as other liquors for a-mixin.