Where Are America's Corner Pubs? Portland.


A reader writes:

Portland, Oregon has more breweries (36) than any city in the US, and they all have their own brewpubs. Oregon law requires bars to serve food, and a lot of them serve stunningly good fare. 

The Stone is my local drinkery. It's quaint, rustic, and they have about a half-dozen regulars there regardless of what time or day it is.  I like to call it The Winchester.  This is just the pub that happens to be closest to my house; there are countless more on every corner, and a new one seems to open every day.  The County Cork is another awesome pub. We watched the World Cup there with some pretty fervent soccer fans, who were all drinking and cheering and blowing into mock-up vuvuzelas while families with children dined around them.

Another writes:

Steinglass is simply incorrect in his claim that brewpubs are illegal in the US. Here in Oregon, breweries ARE permitted to operate bars, and many do. One of the best-known chains in the Northwest is McMenamins, many of whose establishments are similar to the typical British corner pub. 

McMenamins brews its own beer (which is only available in their establishments; they do not bottle and sell it elsewhere), they have a halfway-decent food menu, and minors are permitted in many establishments until late in the evening.  They also specialize in renovating old buildings and converting them into brewpubs, nightclubs, and hotels - and even run a few converted movie theaters which show second-run films to patrons as they drink.  And McMenamins is far from the only game in town.

What is true in New York or Washington is not necessarily true elsewhere in the country.


In a significant number of neighborhoods in Portland there are corner pubs, or at least corner restaurants that serve beer, wine, and liquor.  Within a 3/4 mile walk of my house, which is a pretty nice urban neighborhood, there are roughly 14 such spots (11 of which are decent-to-fantastic, and of those, about half could be considered pubs or pub-like - the rest restaurants). Not all neighborhoods here are like that, but plenty are, especially on the east side of the Willamette River (the west side is more suburban in feel, so it has far fewer walkable corner pubs). And every single establishment near my house is independently owned.

(Photo by Flickrite John Carleton. Caption: "My parents took the kids and we headed down the street to McMenamin's Kennedy School for dinner and a movie. We love McMenamin's because we can do both at the same time! Plus the couches are comfy and the beer is good. Much better than those mall theaters.")