Episode 8: The Glory of Chips on a Clip | Lariat Lounge and Rumpus Room (Sept. 22, 2018)

When our history bar playoff bracket was set for episode 8, the Lariat Lounge caught our eye right away. If victorious it would be, by far, the furthest into DEEEP SE PDX we were going to go in pursuit of our "required drinking" (History by the Glass if you haven't quite picked up on that yet) bars.

And, of course, a few idiotic minutes later, the Lariat had indeed triumphed and our die was cast. We were headed to SE 174th and Division -- a drinking location so far from our usual westside haunts that only Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong could relate to the epic adventure that lay before us.

Lariat Lounge | DEEP SE Portland | Centennial 

Established: Unsubstantiated. (Half-ass internet research indicated anytime between 1946 and '83.)

First Drinks: Coors Banquet (Fredo)...Busch Tall-Boy (Nate)

Interesting Food: Fried Chicken and Chips on a Clip
Heartily recommended by the bartender and cooked by a guy who looked like he stepped right out of the dressing room of a Goodwill (our perch at the bar looked right into the kitchen), but damn if it didn't get Nate's hearty endorsement! I had the Polish dog special because I was a cheap bastard, but it was solid and all the other food that came out looked legit as well. Fuck chef whites, the dude with the ratty t-shirt and pleather bomber jacket hanging on the door earned our culinary vote! 

ALSO, allow me to wax philosophical and gush in appreciation for the dwindling number bars that are still offering their drinking customers a choice of Frito Lay company chips. Sometimes you're not menu hungry, but you want a little something to satiate you. Used to be that you'd always be able to peruse the metal tree of chips reliably hanging behind the bar -- maybe Fritos, possibly Lays, Cheetos are always a win, hell, maybe you go balls to the wall and grab some Doritos. You didn't HAVE to order the $6 side of potato skins. Drop a buck, point, chip bag comes down and all your problems were solved. This should be standard in every bar.

Men's Room: 2/5 urinal pucks
Double door/martian air lock entrance into a totally unremarkable interior...but both were propped open rendering the space-age technology worthless...+0.5 points for zero locks on the door

WPR (Would Pintarich Recognize) Rating (NEW!!): Without a doubt (see below)

While Paul Pintarich actually gave this a very half-ass review in his (much less enthusiastic) second edition of HBTG, the Lariat Lounge lived up to its modern billing and it was goddamn glorious. You're longing for "Old Portland?" This was Old Portland -- working class (in attitude if not occupation), salty, loud, lively, tight-knit, and with big ol' chip on its shoulder.

Yes, it would've been quicker to drive to Salem and go to a bar, but we enjoyed the hell out of our trip to the lovely Centennial neighborhood (Nate particularly loved the matter of fact "Your Way to Work" neighborhood slogan) and its ball busting, story telling Lariat Lounge. We loved how the Oregon State loving bartender served up tall cold pints of schadenfreude to every miserable Duck fan in the bar watching their team's improbable loss to Stanford...the nonsensical "CLEVELAND BROWNS SUCK!!" response one old timer kept bellowing in response to an NFL question directed at another patron...and the gregariously weird story one guy told us about his neighbors, while chuckling. ("I got a cult living next to me...174th will be the next David Koresh compound!")

Yeah, I'm partial as hell, but it's places like this that make Portland tavern culture so special. Comfortable food, cold beer, stiff pours, sports, shit talking, compassion, and a welcome respite from the cult next door.

Rumpus Room (BONUS BAR!) | Deep SE Portland | Powelhurst/Mill Park

Established: 1972

First Drinks: Hamms tall boys (compelled by the street-facing neon sign)

Interesting Food: Chips on a muthafuckin' rack! (see bizarre commentary in Lariat recap)

Men's Room: 3/5 urinal pucks
My recollection isn't the most clear about why I gave this score, but I'm pretty sure it had a lot to do with the industrial lead pipe that served as the toilet paper roll. 

WPR (Would Pintarich Recognize) Rating: n/a Because, for one reason or another, Paul Pintarich never wrote about this venerable place in either of his books. In fact, for largely philosophical reasons, it was the first "extra credit drinking" bar we've gone to (though we have many on our list). Primarily because there wasn't anything on our required drinking list anywhere near the Lariat Lounge, but also because we both did a double take as we drove past this joint just off the freeway at SE 105th and Division. It looked old. It looked weird. It looked fun. We had to go. 

Musings: Being that this was extra credit and a super spontaneous selection, we had no official history to base our experience off of. We did certify that the Rumpus Room was over 40 years old and while much more youthful (featuring young optimistic kids getting ready for karaoke night led by a KJ with a way-too-polished voice) than the salty ass Lariat Lounge, it still had its fair share of old timers.

Oh and did I mention that it's a SHUFFLEBOARD BAR?! Like a legit, regulation size, long tournament grade tables, World Shuffleboard Championship t-shirts hanging from the walls, dudes playing who brought their OWN shuffleboard pucks in little black briefcases, vintage scoreboard SHUFFLEBOARD BAR! 

I was clearly too paralyzed with joy to take any photos, but it was a little bit of heaven for a guy like me who grew up learning the subtleties of that sport of kings from my father while drinking Roy Rogers mocktails in dark bars no grade schoolers should've been at in El Paso, Texas. 

It immediately made me long to find a legit shuffleboard bar near my house while also loathing the all too common pool bars near me. 

Anywho, a worth stop for sure and another vintage establishment we hope will fend off the icy hand of "progress" for a little bit longer in its uncool enclave of beyond the I205 SE Portland. 


  1. Outstanding review and writing as always... Would love to be a guest some time! Cheers, Fredo!

    1. By virtue of being the first person EVER to comment publicly on this humble blog, you've got a drink on us next go-round Liz! I'll keep you posted.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Great job! Can we get pictures of the urinal pucks? Asking for a friend.

    4. Shhhh... Don't ruin your Christmas surprise!!

  2. I rate this 5 Cheeto Packs off the rack! (Waiting to hear about the first PDX bar with a gallon jar of pickled eggs or pigs feet on the bar)

    1. Not holding out much hope for that here in PDX...but I'd do a cartwheel for a bag of chicharrones somewhere


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Episode 5: Steinhaus (June 8, 2018)...For Tony...

Gone Drinkin'