2788 NW Thurman St., 503-222-9069. 11 am-midnight daily. Happy hour 3-6 pm daily: $2 domestics, $3 wells.
Slabtown is losing its dives. With the closure of blue-collar stripper dive Nicolai Street Clubhouse, the once working-class westside neighborhood now has just Joe's Cellar and this spot on Northwest Thurman Street, which is under new management. Crackerjacks has been revitalized since the new owners took over last year.
The dim, wood-paneled pub still looks like a small-town bar, but food and the energy are much improved. They now have some of the better bar pizza in town and fancy Jell-O shots that come in a flight, topped with whipped cream and Pop Rocks. Given all the changes to the neighborhood, it's a little surprising to see such an exceptional, frill-free neighborhood bar come into existence here. Score one for Old Portland: Crackerjacks is run by veteran service-industry folks who've lived in the neighborhood for decades, and made the place they wanted.
Bar story: New manager Lizzy Spanbauer worked here a decade ago, under an owner "who was kinda notorious for being an asshole." The owner yelled at her in front of her new boyfriend, who stood up for her and got 86'ed for life. "If you leave right now, I'll take care of you," he said, and she did. He made her another promise, too: "I'm going to buy you that bar someday." And so he has.