It doesn’t take long to become a veteran Portlander, and as one, I can remember a time when the Bonfire was inhabited by troublemakers, roustabouts and arty fuckers. You’d hear the Minutemen on the stereo and see guys who looked like Gary Numan brooding at the bar. But on my most recent visit, I actually heard the line “What was up with that fucking quarterback, did you fucking see how he was fucking passing?” (There are no televisions at Bonfire, so it seemed a strange place to talk sports.) At that moment, I knew Bonfire must have jumped the shark for the roustabouts (you may call them “hipsters”; I am searching for more humane terminology) who once called it home. As for me, I keep coming back. See, aside from the fact that the bar staff is as friendly as ever, Bonfire has the best bar food in Portland: the rich $7 vegan curry burrito (make it a meaty one for $9) and the insanely spicy Bonfire Prawns ($11 with salad and jasmine coconut rice). It’s hard to beat the Bonfire’s cheap canned beer prices, but the dimly lit bar gets pretty generous during its extended happy hour, offering a nice selection of $3 micros and $3.50 margaritas, alongside other treats (don’t sleep on the $3.50 burgers). CASEY JARMAN.
What to drink: A tallboy of Hamm’s always does the trick for me.
Happy hour: Drink and food specials 2-7 pm daily (see above).
Entertainment: Pinball, video games, pool.