Best Restaurants 2022

At Bar Cala, It’s Summer 365 Days a Year

The pink stucco castle is basically a $14 flight to the tropics.

By Matthew Trueherz Photography by Michael Novak November 22, 2022 Published in the December 2022 issue of Portland Monthly

Image: Michael Novak

Bar Cala is a place to be seen. The millennial-pink stucco building that reads Oaxacan-mansion-turned-nightclub stands out on NE Alberta’s easygoing strip of restaurants and galleries. The ambience leans a little “Portland does Love Island,” but, pink neon and vibey tropical plants aside, this place knows how to put together a warm-weather cocktail 365 days a year.

If decamping to the tropics isn’t in the cards this winter, the Tepache Mode can work as a pint-size respite from the seasonal chill, if only for as long as it takes you to drink it. It mixes cachaça (a rum-like spirit made from sugarcane) with Oaxacan mezcal to punch the summery fermented pineapple sipper up to a boozy, feet-in-the-sand cocktail with transportive properties. 

Despite its aggressively Instagrammable décor, Bar Cala isn’t a hollow selfie backdrop; it’s a place that actually feels as cool as it looks online. Get the fried-to-order tostadas con salsas (the chips come emblazoned with the Bar Cala logo) and sit on a gold stool at the bar, or hang out in a (yes) pink velour booth. Expect loud music and cross your fingers you won’t get caught waiting in line to get in—or maybe that’s part of the draw. 2703 NE Alberta St, barcalapdx.com 

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