3939 N Mississippi Ave., 503-288-3895, mississippistudios.com/bar-bar, 11 am-2 am daily. Happy hour 4-6 pm daily: $1 off most drinks and $2 Pabst. Margaritas and Bloody Marys $1 off 11 am-4 pm.

Established: July 2010

Bar Bar and adjoining venue Mississippi Studios are North Mississippi Avenue's living room, dining room, game room and sun porch. You smoke cigarettes by the fire and try to meet strangers, or you huddle up on a table with one of Portland's most classic burgers, or you show up early when no one's there and guzzle one of the cheapest, stiffest margaritas in town.

(Emily Joan Greene)
(Emily Joan Greene)
(Emily Joan Greene)
(Emily Joan Greene)

That Bar Bar classic burger is a somewhat ugly, wadded up and strangely wonderful thing, shrouded in a squishy potato bun from old-school Italian bakery Alessio. It contains shredded lettuce for perfect sauce delivery, Painted Hills beef and a combination of special sauce and housemade ketchup that comes off like spiced molasses. It is like fast food, but better: There's just enough lettuce crunch to counteract the overall mushiness, and a sneakily beautiful balance of acid, fat and salt. Perhaps this burger is not as ambitious or pedigreed as some—but neither is your mom, and you maybe still love her.

Bar story: Who among you remembers that to get to a show at Mississippi Studios, you used to have to walk through the hallway of a bar called Mississippi Station, then walk along a funny garden path past a camper with bar seats that you could smoke in, and then come into the venue through a funny garden door? Seems crazy, but that's what was up.

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