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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.