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 Winter 2022/2023 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, 

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