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Fearless Critic restaurant review

Daily 8:00am–2:30am

Features Outdoor dining
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx


Northwest Portland
937 NW 23rd Ave.
Portland, OR
(503) 274-9616
Nob Hill Bar & Grill
One of Portland’s oldest bars charms with its great burger and vintage sass

Nob Hill Bar & Grill is like a museum of American bar culture. In its turn-of-the-century Victorian house in a historic neighborhood, it looks and feels like a slice of some other time. With wood paneling, a stale smoke smell, and several television sets, this funky dive is a great place to watch sports with a pitcher of beer, or to play Keno (Keno!) while the adorably surly waitstaff move with the unhurried deliberateness of those who’ve seen it all. They might even make you down a glass of water before serving you another drink. It’s very Flo and Mel.

The food here is all pretty standard bar fare, except for one thing: delicious burgers, which are not to be missed. They’re made in the greasy-spoon fashion: a quarter-pound patty done medium-well, charry, juicy, and with melted cheese settling into its little nooks. It’s precious, though, to call Thousand Island dressing “secret sauce.” (Kind of like when McDonald’s named it “special sauce” on the Big Mac.) This burger couldn’t get any more old-timey American than it would if you ate it in a Ford Fairlane. Mealy steak fries, though, taste like they’re of the frozen variety; opt instead for tots (tots!). Breakfast is harmless; again, it’s like anything you’d find in a diner—greasy and better with booze.

For Portland, the beer selection is good but not great. There are only a few taps, and little of it is exciting, but for a dive bar, it does the trick. Don’t even think about getting cute with cocktails here.

While the rest of the city gets hoity-toity with local this and that, daily changing menus, artfully industrial spaces, and artisanal cocktails, it’s nice to know that there’s one place in town keeping it old school.

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