Recently lauded by the Portland Mercury, Record Room invites the vinyl-obsessed and tape-enthused to lounge in its store and peruse the eclectic selection of new and used records and cassettes. Music-lovers can be paired with their favorite efficient producers of eight notes, such as Super Wild Horses, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Mars, Nathaniel Merriweather, and more. Prices range from $1 for used vinyl to $50 for special collectible records, with most records falling into the $10–$20 range, unless they’re signed by all four members of Jimmy Carter’s famed prog-Viking-metal band. Melody mavens can take spins at different listening stations and email poetic music reviews via Record Room's free WiFi.
For rookie puffers, the hookah is a glass water pipe originally from India that is popular for smoking syrup-soaked tobacco. Filtering the smoke through cool water results in a smooth, mellow experience that is on par with the Sultan Hookah Lounge's relaxed atmosphere. While sipping the house Turkish coffee with friends, enjoy more than 100 different flavors of tobacco, including double apple, orange crush, mango, strawberry daiquiri, vanilla, honeydew melon, lemon, mint, rose, apricot, and cappuccino. Tobaccos can be mixed to create custom candy-flavored goodness, such as orange crush daiquiri, vanilla cappuccino, or immortality-bestowing ambrosial nectar. Sultan's also offers outdoor seating for mixing the flavors of hookah with the scent of the open air.
The chefs at Branch Whiskey Bar make everything from scratch—including butchering their own steak, curing their own bacon, and smoking their own poultry—to put their distinctive stamp on traditional dishes. Classic comfort foods take on inventive transformations to result in such unusual plates as Maine lobster dumplings and macaroni 'n' cheese gratin with Oregon black-truffle oil. On their side of the establishment, the bartenders take the same artisanal approach by infusing their bourbon with fresh local fruit and concocting their own whiskey liqueurs. The full bar features an extensive whiskey list with more than 150 whiskeys from around the world available in single glasses, tasting flights, or directly from Sam Elliot’s mustache.
Seeking a home for her one-of-a-kind mixed drinks—including lollipop-rimmed martinis—nationally recognized mixologist Lucy opened Mint restaurant in the spring of 2001. Her acclaimed cocktails’ popularity grew so quickly that in 2003, she opened an adjacent lounge where patrons could focus on drinks such as avocado daiquiris and jalapeño-and-pineapple margaritas. Along with its selection of 40 signature cocktails, the bistro has been luring patrons in with chef Brian McElmeel’s Pan-American-style dishes, which are composed predominantly of local and organic ingredients and influences from the Pacific Northwest, Mediterranean, and Latin America.
Gather Food & Drink boasts the bounty of the seasons with dishes that incorporate fresh, local, and organic ingredients. Eyeball the northwest-inspired seasonal menu items specifically engineered to cool down tepid summer tongues. Lunchmongers can begin with the basil-infused tomato bisque ($4 for a cup, $6 for a bowl), and those with a penchant for pork can bury their incisors into the porter barbecue-pulled-pork sandwich topped with Mt. Townsend jack cheese ($11). Dinner diners can sink a line into the seared halibut served with a potato cake and a hearty lobster-and-shellfish bouillabaisse ($21), and communal eaters can opt for several shareable small plates, which can also be prepared as larger, entree-sized portions. Dabble in the smoked-bacon-enveloped dates served with blue cheese au gratin ($12 for a small plate, $22 for a large plate) or the grilled asparagus injected with truffle oil to ward off ol' timey bouts of chlorophyll lip ($9 for a small plate, $16 for a large plate).
Four nights a week, the notes from live local jazz artists resonate off the high copper ceilings and bronze chandeliers of Wilfs Restaurant & Bar, which has served upscale cuisine within Portland's restored Union Station building since 1975. Head chef Deb Serkoian complements the serenade by crafting seasonal dishes with organic ingredients culled from local and regional farmers, including fresh seafood and meat from sources such as Double 'R' Ranch, Draper Valley, and Carlton Farms. At the bar, mixologists pour classic cocktails and new signature concoctions inspired by the seasons, recalling the annual beauty of a violet bud as it blooms into a glass of cabernet.