Nightcap

You’ve just emerged from the theater/movie/dinner/pottery class/Overpartier’s Anonymous meeting. The night is young and you’re feeling frisky. A nightcap is definitely in order. Here’s a list of groovy little spots that serve fine food and fine mead until at least midnight.

Angel Face

angelfacecollageA sultry French mistress for neighboring Navarre restaurant, this beautiful little bar is a sexy spot for late night lingering when making the 28th Avenue Restaurant Row rounds. At first glance you’ll want to compliment the proprietor’s taste in upscale wallpaper, but look closer–all those flowers were laboriously hand-painted right onto the peachy pink walls. The wine list is short and sweet, the spirits list long and serious, and don’t bother asking for a cocktail menu, in the interest of maintaining Portland quirk credentials, there isn’t one, you just tell ace bartenders Kelley Swenson or Tim Davey your drinking whim and they’ll concoct something on the spot. Bites are simple and elegant–start with raw oysters, nibble a flawless salad Niçoise, and most definitely explore the egg meurette, a poached egg swimming in the richest of red wine sauces.

Bar Mingo

barmingoextStrolling NW 21st Avenue on a warm summer evening, it’s easy to spot Bar Mingo. Bright orange chairs surround the sidewalk tables, and every single one of them is full of people chatting, toasting, gossiping, playing footsie, lamenting their mother’s nosiness (that would be me), and of course, sipping wine and eating cheese, among other things. Bar Mingo has an excellent wine list, tasty antipasti like lamb meatballs and oysters on the half shell, a half dozen or so housemade pastas, and hearty mains that include grilled flat iron steak and cioppino. From 4-6pm daily, there are $6 bellini, martini and wine specials, which will fill you so full of happy hour spirit, you’ll soon be calling your Mom right from the restaurant to tell her how much you love her, nosiness and all.

Biwa

biwabourbonLow lights that disguise even the most bloodshot of eyes, the buzz of animated conversation that disguises your slurred speech, the restorative bowls of ramen and the sour wake-up call of kimchi–if only every evening could end at sleek, tasty, friendly little Biwa, the lower Southeast’s sunken late-night izakaya gem. Oh wait, since Biwa is open until midnight daily, you can end every evening there! As an added perk, happy hour falls twice daily, early and late, with discounted skewers, ramen, beer, sake and other afterhours deliciousness.

Cartopia

cartopiaNobody in Portland does late-night dining quite like the Cartopia food cart cluster at SE Hawthorne & SE 12th, where an asphalt-covered lot hosts popular carts like Whiffies Fried Pies–savory and sweet moon-shaped pies filled with everything from pulled pork to peanut butter and chocolate, Potato Champion–heaping cones of piping hot thick cut fries and a variety of exotic dipping sauces, Pyro Pizza–complete with in-cart wood-fired pizza oven, and funky Perierra Creperie. While most food carts around town hit their stride during the noon hour, Cartopia gets interesting around dinnertime, and keeps things hopping until around 3 am. Now that’s an afterhours party.

Church

churchgritssquareEmbracing the philosophy that a bar should be named after some other place you ought to be instead–i.e. the Office, Library, Court Hearing–this crystal decanter and priest portrait-lined house of whiskey worship is feeding and watering the Kerns flock with Fernet-blessed Hang Your Cross cocktails and Southern-style eats like shrimp and grits with corned beef and fried green tomatoes with pickled ramps. So now when someone asks what you did on the Sabbath, you can truthfully say you were filled with soul food and Old World Prayer–nobody has to know the latter is made with Monopolowa and Green Chartreuse.

Departure

departuredeckFifteen stories above downtown Portland,  perched atop the luxurious Nines Hotel, sits space-agey Departure Lounge and its incomparable outdoor terraces. The distinction of being Portland’s highest open rooftop drinking and dining experience comes with a price–during peak times you’ll have to snarl/elbow/ pinch/trip/flat out sprint your way to a table. My advice is to take the afternoon off work, stow away in a service elevator, hide behind the gauzy curtains that line the space shuttle hallway between the restaurant and the west terrace, then pop out at 3:59 pm, one minute before the rabid hordes begin spilling from the three elevators, and leap onto the L-shaped South facing loungers, using your entire body as a human place marker for your hopefully grateful friends. Then order yourself a glass of Veuve Clicquot and order me one too–I’m on my way.

Driftwood Room

driftwoodroomsquareI love the Driftwood Room for many reasons, namely, the glamorous champagne cocktails (especially the $6 happy hour ones), and also because it is very dark in there so I always look good. But one cannot live on champagne cocktails and crab cakes alone, so one must order the Amaretti di Saronno with Two Tarts Bakery’s shortbread cookies for dessert. And then one must have just one more champagne cocktail, and then one must concede that thanks to the superlow lighting, that hot filmmaker across the room probably didn’t see the alluring look one gave him/her, so one will not be starring in his/her next project, so to speak. So sad. Another Springtime in Paris, please!

Hale Pele

halepelesquareStiff drinks, South Pacific swag, and banana sauce-swamped koloko moco—it’s hard to resist the kitschy allure of this revamped NE Broadway tiki bar, where delightfully over the top décor is tempered by some serious cocktails—some so serious they come with tippling restrictions, like the Zombie Punch, a powerful mystery concoction with a two-per-patron limit. Relax in a grenadine-colored booth, contemplate the (genuine) blowfish lamps, and soak up a few 151 Swizzles in Pele’s tempestuous honor.

Hamlet

hamlethamandcreambiscuitsNo need to brush up on your Shakespeare to decipher an evening here, because the star of chef Cathy Whims’ and bartender Ryan Magarian’s comely Ann Sacks tile-lined Pearl District cocktail lounge is not Michael Redgrave or Benedict Cumberbatch, but rather ham—ham by the ounce, ham by the plate, hammity ham ham ham. If you love ham, you’ll be enthralled, if you forbear or are afeard of ham, get the cheese plate, salad, or pickles. Either way, order the glorious cream biscuits. Then toast your date with a sherry cocktail, and pretend to understand what they’re going on and on about, kind of like when you’re at the real Hamlet.

Hop & Vine

Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 11.04.19 AMMismatched thrift store furniture and a relaxed demeanor make this North Portland hipster bar an excellent spot to savor a belly-warming red in the winter, and in the summer, the charmingly tousled garden is just the place to take down the house bacon burger and an absinthe-rinsed Remember The Maine cocktail (you may not, in fact, remember much of anything if you decide to have another and then another). If you need a bottle of beer or wine to go, duck into the adjoining bottle shop—the savvy staff will steer you towards exactly what you need, even if you didn’t even know you needed it.

Interurban

interurbanextsquareIt might take a while to elbow your way through this crowded bar to order the whiskey chicken liver mousse, Murphy’s lamb stew, and Luger burger, but the 14 taps and excellent house cocktails make it worth the effort. If you manage to shake off the effects of last night’s bottled Manhattans and rise early enough, however, weekend brunch is a breeze–come at 10am and have your pick of upstairs tables or a breezy perch on the hidden back patio, then relax with what’s possibly your second Walk of Shame of the day (Interurban’s involves Rainier and a shot of Fighting Cock bourbon), the salted caramel French toast, fried egg-topped Breakfast Burger, and a skillet of steak and eggs-smothered johnnycakes.

Kachka

kachkashotsUnless you just got back from Saint Petersburg, and maybe even if you did, it’s probably been a while since you had a proper Ruskie Zakuski Experience accompanied by nine shots of vodka, Siberian pelmeni in fancy broth, short rib borscht, and Russian ice cream sandwiches dipped in black currant tea milk caramel. So thank goodness for this utterly charming Russian gem in the ever-evolving inner SE, where chef/FOH team Bonnie and Israel Morales dish up buterbrod, blini and beef tongue stroganoff with a side of infallibly gracious service. And vodka, obviously—nearly 70 local, international, and house-infused varities are served.

Le Happy

lehappyextLe Happy just might be the perfect place to end a promising date. Open until midnight during the week, and 1:30 am on the weekends, this darling little NW creperie has everything you need to stage your final seduction scene–flickery candelight, a silvery disco ball throwing glimmery spots of light on the rich red walls, little wood tables perfect for holding hands across, a couple of glasses of Nocello and an order of flaming Crepes Suzette for a dash of danger to quicken the pulses; it can only go well for you after all this. Hope you remembered to slip le rubbers into your handbag.

Little Bird Bistro

littlebirddiningroomLate hours, a central location, and trés delicious dishes make this younger sibling of renowned Le Pigeon an inviting downtown destination regardless of the hour (they’re open until midnight) or your craving—stop in for a glass of wine and a charcuterie board or reserve a dark red leather banquette for a leisurely supper. The kitchen is helmed by longtime Le Pigeon sous chef Erik Van Kley, who orchestrates a simple French menu that zeroes in on beloved, expertly-executed bistro classics like steak frites, coq au vin, and marrow bones (and the iconic Le Pigeon burger), while pastry chef Lauren Fortgang spins sweet fantasies like strawberry elderflower floats, apricot givré with a corn financier, and her housemade chocolate plate. Depending on your mood, sit at the gleaming copper bar, see and be seen in the main dining room, or, provided you don’t suffer from acrophobia, opt for my favorite perch—the tiny upstairs table hugging the balcony corner.

Luc Lac

luclacIt’s 3am on Saturday night, last call has come and gone, you’re wandering around downtown Portland, and all you want, besides some hot action, is some hot eats. Well, Luc Lac can help with at least one of those needs, since they are considerate enough to feed the post last call-crowds until the unheard of hour of 4am on weekends. As if that weren’t enough to instantly endear them to you, they also have every kind of pho and vermicelli bowl you could ask for (all $10 and under no less), plus a generous three-hour daily happy hour with a $6 Dealer’s Choice cocktail and nearly 20 $2 small plates like the pork and shrimp spring rolls, sugar cane shrimp, and mussels in lemongrass-tamarind broth. So they’ve got the hot eats covered, but as for the hot action part, you’re on your own.

Noraneko

noranekoIf you’ve ever rolled up to Biwa at 12:05am, then upon finding the doors locked, collapsed sobbing on the sidewalk, then this one’s for you—Biwa’s sister restaurant is slinging nourishing late night noodles, karaage and cocktails in the Hawthorne Bridge’s dark underbelly until 2am. Not that early birds are excluded from the fun— stop into the daily 4-6pm happy hour, and you’ll get highballs for $5 and bar snacks like curry pickled eggs and kimchi and cheese croquettes for a mere dollar.

North 45

north45squareBig bowls of steaming hot mussels, a Chimay Grand Réserve, and a seat at the bar makes for a pretty good game day at this popular Alphabet District “travel pub.” The internationally-influenced menu runs the gamut from raw oysters on the half shell and spicy oyster sambal glazed green beans, to seven kinds of mussels, to robust pub grub like the smoked gouda burger, accompanied by an exceptional selection of Belgian beers, and a lot of whiskys. And since they are open every night until at least midnight, you’ll have plenty of time in which to sample them all.

Oven & Shaker

ovenandshakerJames Beard-award nominated chef Cathy Whims (Nostrana, Genoa) and Aviation Gin co-founder Ryan Magarian joined their culinarily complimentary forces to open this sleek Pearl District hangout, where the white hot wood-burning pizza oven bakes and blisters a steady stream of thin crust Neopolitan style pies while hot bartenders shake up icy Anejo Manhattans and Pineapple Trainwrecks for a trendy crowd. Lovers of the widely-worshipped Nostrana radicchio salad, it’s on the menu, along with three other pretty young leafy things, and a handful of “finger and fork” small plates. On weekends, go off the beaten pizza path with the inventive brunch dishes like broiled grapefruit with brown sugar caramel, duck Eggs in Purgatory, and the prosciutto plate with pimento cheese and a biscuit. Weather permitting, have your wood-fired meal and White Lady cocktail outdoors on the beautiful sidewalk patio–you’re smack dab in the middle of some of the Pearl’s prime people-watching terrain.

Pépe le Moko

pepelemokosparklyOpen until 2am each evening, this sultry subterranean speakeasy hidden deep in the Ace Hotel building’s catacombs is just the place for a top notch cocktail and a bite to eat with your favorite night owl who isn’t claustrophobic. Choose from a half dozen cocktails like the Hotel Nacional Special, Espresso Martini, and Grasshopper–essentially a Fernet milkshake with fresh mint, then explore the succinct menu of oysters, drinking snacks, and $5 bocadillos. Stuffed with everything from Olympic Provisions’ Chorizo Rioja and Mahón cheese, to sardines and pickled fennel, to Nutella and Jacobsen sea salt, they arrive warm, crispy, and wrapped in butcher paper, so you won’t drip on your best date night pants…although thanks to the sexytime lighting, nobody will notice if you do.

Ringside Steakhouse

ringsidePerhaps Portland’s most all-around popular steakhouse, the esteemed Ringside is stodgy enough to please the classic steakhouse afficionado and friendly enough to please anyone else who might happen in, even if they are wearing khaki shorts and a slightly sweaty lavender t-shirt. Late night happy hour is the great equalizer, with prices so outlandishly reasonable you’ll think you’ve been handed an old menu, like maybe one from 1944, when Ringside opened. The $2.75 steak bites with creamy horseradish sauce are a meal in themselves, and the $4.75 prime rib dip won’t leave much room for the $2.75 burger and $2.75 Caesar salad. Your grandparents, who probably did eat here in 1944, would approve.

Sapphire Hotel

sapphirehotelsquareMaybe it’s the restaurant’s slogan: Eat, Drink, Kiss, maybe it’s the strong pours.  The crimson-lit, swagged out interior is quite a turn-on and the drinks are pretty sexy too–sip an Apricot Blonde (spicy lemondrop made with pepper vodka and apricot puree), a Trophy Wife (pear ginger martini with pineapple infused vodka and fresh lemon), or a Belly Dancer (jasmine-infused gin with saffron honey and kiwi puree), then feed each other bacon-wrapped dates or honey mix (almonds roasted with apricots, figs & pancetta) until last call. In the interest of setting the mood, you may want to avoid the 15-Bean Flautas. Just a suggestion.

Saucebox

sauceboxcocktailGlossy, saucy downtown hotspot Saucebox has everything you and your sequin-splashed crew could possibly want–the prime downtown location, a creative cocktail list that seems miles long, trendy decor and a club-like feel, live DJs on Friday and Saturday evenings, late owl hours, exotic bites, and a waitstaff that is never hard on the eyes.

Southpark

southparkexteriorsquareYou can practically touch the back balcony of the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall from a patio table at Southpark Seafood Grill and Wine Bar, which makes it a logical spot to enjoy a pre-event glass of sparkly with a dozen Pacific oysters before the John Tesh Diana Krall concert. Or, sip a selection from Southpark’s impressive wine list and sample the sauteed crab cakes with citrus saffron or a bowl of manila clams with salsa verde in the restaurant’s comely little wine bar.

Teardrop Lounge

teardroploungeGet glammed up and meet your posse at seductive Teardrop Lounge, a favorite among the beautiful Pearl people and serious craft cocktail afficionados alike. Sip Finishing School, Love in the Afternoon, and Hibiki Hi-Balls and nibble on a house cheese or charcuterie plate, salt cod arancini, or nettle and mushroom crostini whilst admiring the chiseled jaws laboring behind the undulating bar, and steadfastly ignoring the not-so-chiseled jaws laboring to get your phone numbers.

The Baowry

baowrybunssquareThis St. Johns bungalow is yet another Portland food cart rags to brick-n-mortar riches heart warmer. After laboriously renovating a dilapidated North Portland bungalow to its former glory, Ross Skomsvold and Molly Scott were able to move their mobile bao operation into a real kitchen, where they dream up Asian-inspired culinary innovations like confit duck buns, bacon black bean mussels, and miso butter noodles with shaved shiitakes, served with unique house cocktails best sipped in the tiki torch-lined garden. Hungry night owls and insomniac whiskey enthusiasts rejoice–the bourbon ‘n bun fun goes until 2:30am every night of the week.

The Tannery Bar

tannerybarmontecristosquareSometimes we all wish we could change identities, but having learned from Jason Bourne that it’s no piece of cake, few actually do. Under ‘exceptions,’ enter chef Caleb McBee’s Tannery Bar, which shed its old Skin & Bones bistro concept last autumn and transformed into a snug candlelit tavern where exceptional craft cocktails reign, and bar food is exiled to the menu’s back page. It manages to enchant nonetheless, particularly the unforgettable Monte Cristo built with airy slices of Fleur de Lis’ Pullman loaf, and served with marionberry preserves.

Urban Farmer

urbanfarmerloungeThat Isabel Marant dress you ordered fresh off the runway has arrived, you’ve squeezed all 11 toes into your new Rag & Bone ankle boots, and you’re itching for a pretty cocktail and some stylish ambiance to match your own stunning aura. Meet your girls downtown at the Nines Hotel’s Urban Farmer steakhouse for a Kitty Kat cocktail (be sure to buy your man-eating 40-something bestie an Eye of the Cougar) and a few dozen raw oysters with champagne mignonette. You’ll feel quite at home amongst the fashionably-attired mannequins, white leather furniture, attractive crowd, and luxurious glass rooms you can claim as your very own glammy see-through VIP lounge. Psst: Late night happy hour runs from 10pm to close, with $5 cocktails du jour and all sorts of liquor-absorbing small plates.

Veritable Quandary

veritablequandaryIt’s one of those dreamy womb-warm summer evenings in Portland, and even though you should be heading to bed because you have to go to work early tomorrow, you eschew that in favor of doing something fun, like sitting on Veritable Quandary’s beautiful flora and fauna-lined garden patio sipping Hendrick’s G&T’s and sharing an order of duck confit spring rolls off  VQ’s bar menu, which is served daily until midnight. Conversely, if the weather is proving frigid and precipitous, sit in the cozy old-fashioned saloon drinking hot toddies and eating bacon-wrapped dates and discussing the merits of the Jerome Robbins ballet piece you just saw, bashing the boss who made you work until 8:45pm tonight and is making you come in tomorrow morning at 7am, or  just sitting and eavesdropping on the regulars who cling to the barstools like merry-making limpets.

Victory Bar

victorybarsquareOpen until midnight on Sundays and 1am every other night, snug slow-paced Victory Bar on SE Division is the perfect place to wind down after a long day or night. Named one of the 100 Best Places to Drink Beer in America by Imbibe magazine, the beer list is eye-popping, the cocktails are peerless, and the Scotch selection would captivate even Sean Connery. Forget warm milk and cookies before bed and snack on Victory’s cheese plate, spaetzle, and hushpuppies, or, if you’re a heavy pre-slumber grubber, go for the hearty venison burger. Craving dessert? The pot de creme with green chartreuse ensures wonderfully strange dreams, or if you’ve been suffering from insomnia, cure it with the Chimney Sweep–housemade vanilla ice cream drenched in Islay single malt scotch.