SINCE THE DAY it opened in 1954, the Lutz Tavern on SE Woodstock Boulevard was a workingman’s bar, a place where neighborhood residents could unwind with a cold pint and a warm smile from the staff. When the Delta Cafe came along in the ’90s, the family-owned bar became a holding area for the Southern restaurant’s wait-listed patrons. In fact, in the days before cell phones, the Lutz even took calls from the Delta and hollered out diners’ names. The Delta has since built its own bar (though there’s still some spillover), but a whole new generation of symbiotic bar-restaurant relationships has grown out of Portland’s intimate, no-reservation restaurants. (The long wait times at Pok Pok even inspired the owners to open up their own bar—the Whiskey Soda Lounge—across the street.) After all, if you have to wait, why not drink? Here’s a look at what you can expect at some of the city’s most popular pairings.
Any near NE 28th avenue’s restaurant row (Tabla, Navarre, Pambiche, Ken’s Artisan Pizza, Laurelhurst Market)
401 NE 28th Ave
Graduates of the worn environs at Beulahland and Chin Yen will be thrilled with the stylish, tasteful maturity of Spints. Divided into two sides—a lively, dark-paneled bar and a more subdued dining space—Spints absorbs 28th Avenue’s overflow with ease, turning many passers-through into devotees.
The cocktail menu, developed by the folks who brought us Teardrop Lounge, is certainly impressive, but the real draw here is the selection of hard-to-find German and Belgian beers.
One to two drinks, depending on where you’ve set your sights for dinner.
Delta Cafe and Bar
4607 SE Woodstock Blvd
4639 SE Woodstock Blvd
If Moe’s Tavern existed outside of Matt Groening’s imagination, this would be it. Illuminated by a single overhead light, myriad neon signs, and the glow from six lottery poker machines, the Lutz hosts a crop of bearded, flannel-clad regulars sporting trucker hats—and not ironically. Fortunately, they, like the big-haired bartenders, are a friendly bunch.
There’s no hard liquor served here, so you’ll have to stick with what’s on tap. Our favorite: Fish Tail Organic IPA.
Even at peak dinner hours (7 to 8:30 p.m.), you probably won’t have time for more than one drink. Bring cash or hit the US Bank out back; like the Delta, the Lutz doesn’t take plastic.
2337 E Burnside St
14 NE 22nd Ave
Once you find the Standard’s front door (we walked right by it twice), you’ll be greeted by corrugated metal walls, a tattered American flag, and the aroma of cigarettes long past. “Dive bar” doesn’t really do the Standard justice; “aggro-hipster purgatory” gets closer. Huddled near the giant Hamm’s bear (cool) and the wall of pinball machines (very cool), you’ll find young Pete Wentz wannabes wearing extreme comb-overs and ripe-smelling, ironic T-shirts. Don’t be frightened by the sneers. Just smile—it throws them.
Your best bet lies to the right of the giant cracked-mirror mosaic: the taps.
One to two beers, and a session in the photo booth ($3).
Yoko’s Japanese Restaurant & Sushi bar
2878 SE Gladstone St
2880 SE Gladstone St
C Bar is one of the rare watering holes that unite Portland’s urban tribes, from pinball-and-Pabst hipsters to wine-sipping fashionistas and the ponytailed neighborhood hippie. The Danish mod décor fosters a scene that is both casual and hip, and—refreshingly—not “sceney” at all. Relax under the dim red lights—which, let’s face it, make everyone look better—as the indie rock flows as steadily as the drinks.
Prep for your sushi feast with one of six sakes, including Momokawa Pearl Nigori from Forest Grove.
At supper time, you’re looking at 30 to 60 minutes—time to swallow at least one drink and, if you’re starving, a catfish corndog.