SHE WAS RAISED OUT IN BROOKLYN: The new and very slightly improved Skyline Tavern (8031 NW Skyline Blvd., 286-4788, skytav.com) looks like a bar that would be featured in a movie starring Burt Reynolds.
Nestled deep in them there Northwest hills, the 90-year-old shack has "SALOON" painted front and center above a moss-smothered veranda that looms over neon beer signs. Just across the road from the gravel parking lot is access to Forest Park's hiking trails. Inside, you are treated to classic bar tchotchke décor, set off by an expansive view of the mist-shrouded 2-acre property on which the tavern sits.
Recently purchased and revamped by environmentalist filmmaker Scott Ray Becker, Skyline Tavern isn't the rowdy road bar it appears to be. We arrive to the dulcet sounds of LL Cool J's 1995 hit "Doin' It," and enjoy two free games of pool to a soundtrack of early-2000s club rap classics. We are served bar nuts from a clear, plastic tub labeled, appropriately, "DEEZ NUTS." Our beers come from a tap list of Portland craft classics—Breakside's IPA, Occidental's Hefeweizen, to name a few—backed up by PBR for when times are tough. The food, served on speckled blue enamel camping plates, is an eclectic mix of the greatest hits of pre-made local snacks. Think Ruby Jewel ice-cream sandwiches and Gluten Free Gem cookies, along with grilled cheese sandwiches and housemade hummus served with corn chips. The Taj Mahal, an "Indian turkey Reuben with curry kraut & mango chutney," was a tangy, sweet and rich standout sandwich. Skyline Tavern has an atmosphere that cannot be replicated through decoration, staffing or menu curation.
"When you come in here," the bartender tells us when we ask about the usual clientele, "it's normally millionaire, millionaire, poor person, construction worker, millionaire, all of them just hanging out together." It is effortlessly welcoming, unpretentiously cool and irreplaceably unique—a worn-in baseball glove of a bar. It is primordial Portland brought into the 21st century with Mrs. Meyer's hand soap in the restroom and Hi-Ball energy drink behind the bar.