A Night on Clinton Street

My friend Terry and his wife are building a second house on their property, an ADU that they plan to rent out. Don’t worry, I’ve already guilted him about how shitty landlords are, about how bad gentrification is in Portland and issues around housing and rent-seeking. He’s aware. But we’ve known each other for a long time, and he’s a good friend in different ways, and so we agree to disagree.

Where was I? Oh, right. 

This week, the construction crew was connecting the new property up to power, and it was going to disrupt power to their house, so they decided to rent an Airbnb to live in while construction was going on. They got a beautiful place over on SE Clinton and 20th, and Terry invited me over after work to chill out, maybe play some board games, drink, just a nice post-work hang. OK, you had me at “drink,” Terry. I’m there.

I had to commute from… from where I work, which is 30-40 minutes away from Inner Southeast, and I couldn’t leave work until my standard quitting time. On my way there, Terry kept texting me, wondering if I was going to make it in time for Happy Hour. I didn’t speed, but I tried to make good time. I arrived and parked in front of the rental at 5:52 PM. Technically in time for Happy Hour, but not enough time to get a drink ordered. At least, not at the Night Light, the closest bar, and the one Terry was most looking forward to visiting.

We poked our head in there, but it was crowded, and there was a long line for the bar (there’s no waitstaff). So we wandered off.

Luckily that area of Clinton and Division had plenty of bars. After walking around a bit, we landed at Dot’s, across from the infamous Clinton Street Theater, where the Rocky Horror Picture Show has been playing, every Saturday night, since forever, continuously. 

Dot’s is terrific, a Portland legend. Dark, with funky decor, and plenty of booths and tables. We hunkered down over our sandwiches and drinks and caught up on things. I related my encounter at Bertie Lou’s recently, and he let me know how the construction was going.

I had the Chile Verde Pulled Pork Sando (that’s short for “sandwich”) and a fantastic tomato bisque soup that tasted like the soup version of a Bloody Mary. My beverage of choice: a stout. I don’t remember the brand.

Terry ordered their last slice of coconut chocolate pie that, and I swear I am not making this up, the waitress said had been made by a little old lady who lived near there. 

We decided to bar hop from there, rather than go back to the rental and hang out, so we bounced around to several stops around the theater, none of whose bar names I recall. Each one was busy, packed, and we didn’t stay long enough even to order. Terry and I were each feeling restless tonight.

Our second drink was quite a ways west on Division, a pub that had a bazillion things on tap (they had four kegs on nitro!) and usually catered to cyclists; in the rain, not many cyclists were present, although one die-hard rolled in while we were working our way to the bottoms of our respective glasses. I again had a stout—this one aged in Wild Turkey bourbon barrels, and I could smell and feel the bourbon in the beer. Terry opted for a chocolate porter. 

We kicked around the idea of going to a strip club or seeing a movie, or more bar hopping. However, when we drained our glasses and left, our feet took us back to the Airbnb. Terry’s wife was up in the loft watching TV, so we sat down… and watched the latest episode of Stumptown. I’m all caught up now.

By then, it was 10:30 PM, and I realized I still had to write tonight, so I excused myself and drove the long stretch of Division out to my little Tosche Station on the far edge of nowhere.

Happy Friday, y’all.