401 NE 28th Ave., 503-206-7983, stammtischpdx.com. 3 pm-1:30 am Monday-Friday, 11 am-1:30 am Saturday-Sunday.
Established: May 2014
Poised at the razor edge of Laurelhurst and Kerns, yellow-lit and wood-grained Stammtisch is an Alpine mountain cabin filled with both gemütlichkeit and German suds you can't get anywhere else, like Augustiner export or Aecht Schlenkerla smoked beer. If you're smart, you'll get it with a side of the best Berliner-style currywurst we've ever tried in this country, or a gigantic schweinshaxen—a Flintstones-big, bone-wielding pork shoulder whose fatty, tender meat is flash-fried until the skin turns to pork rind. The essence of this Teutonic beer hall can be found in that uncompromising schweinshaxen ($23).
Just as every every intricate chandelier and authentic beer glass is custom-built or brought from Germany by owner Dan Hart, that massive pork shoulder is brined for five days and slow-roasted for most of another until the meat's flavor is near-herbal in its intensity. What makes the dish great is also what makes Stammtisch great: There are no half-steps, no shortcuts. The pork-and-veal currywurst ($6) is a meticulously crafted portal to Berlin, and that echt-German beer list is updated regularly with new imports previously unseen in this country, whether rebel brewers Freigeist or seasonals from centuries-old Ayinger. Previous German-style spots in town have been glorified theme parks. Stammtisch is both Portland's best German restaurant and its best German bar by a mile.
Bar story: Hart had to wait in line for two spots to fail—first Cafe 401 from notorious former Clarklewis chef Morgan Brownlow, then an atrocious German bar called Spints—before finally getting to open Stammtisch here. It was the original spot Hart had wanted for his first German beer bar, Prost.