McMenamins seems to be succeeding in its goal to rehab every old hotel, pioneer homestead and gay bathhouse (downtown Portland’s Hotel Alma is under construction right now) in Oregon into a beery arts-and-crafts-style wonder. One of the most successful makeovers in the local chain’s history was the 1997 debut of the Kennedy School, which morphed a Northeast Portland grade school into an adult playground complete with hotel rooms, a movie theater, live music, a soaking pool, multiple school-themed bars and a gym rented out for everything from weddings to ’80s-themed proms. It’s been packed with proud locals and gawking out-of-towners ever since. Other local brewers produce more intriguing beers and the Mcfood is unexceptional (except for the addictive Cajun Tots), but there’s no better place in town to drunkenly wander—marveling at the mosaic tiles, colorful murals and other structural works of art, many lovingly created by your own fellow Northwesterners.
What to drink: A pint of Hammerhead, a glass of Edgefield’s Black Rabbit Red.
Happy hour: $3 pints of McMenamins ales, $5 glasses of Black Rabbit Red, $2 Tots; 3-6 pm and 10 pm-close daily.
Entertainment: Watchin’ $3 movies (free if you’ve got a room), playing pool and shuffleboard deep in the steampunky Boiler Room, smoking cigars and sipping single malt bourbon in the Detention Bar.