It's a spring evening, and Chicagoans are sucking down Vienna Beef hot dogs plopped in a thick, soggy bun and slathered with the weird, neon-green relish you can only get from a cart near Wrigleyville. Wayne's Chicago Red Hots is packed with all sorts of Chicago fans swilling Old Style, screaming at flat-screens and praying—probably in vain—for their team's century-long curse to end with a World Series title.
When the game ends, you step outside and realize you're nowhere near the Windy City—you're smack dab in Portland, a city where the only big-shit sports team is the Trail Blazers.
With people flocking to PDX from all over the country—and the world—they're bringing more than just weird accents and luggage. They're bringing their undying love for their hometown sports teams. Droves of like-minded fans flock to Portland's sports bars to cheer their teams, some even turning places into veritable embassies—or satellite stadiums—for their teams.
Who needs a pro football team? Here you can root for pretty much any team you want by simply entering the team's designated PDX sports bar.
With balls on the mind, WW has compiled a sampling of places to watch your favorite teams, as well as a few places where you might run into the unsung heroes of local teams. Don't see the place where you cheer for the New York Yankees or hang your head in shame because of the Detroit Lions?
Chicago Cubs/White Sox
Wayne's Chicago Red Hots (3901 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 493-4537) has the heart of Chicago—cholesterol problems and all. Serving up the Chi-town's Vienna Beef dogs and tall boys of Old Style (Rainier's Midwestern cousin; they go for two bucks when the Cubs are playing), Wayne's is like a little Wrigley Field. So why does co-owner Jim Ray rock Sox gear? Turns out, this is only three-quarters a Cubbies bar. "There are southsiders and people who pretend to be southsiders," he says, dissing fellow co-owner Randy Sanders' Cubs. "The difference is, we have three titles." But if you ask Sanders, he says it's a "Cubs bar, period."
Critical fan accessory: A gut.
Boston Red Sox
Any other day it's a regular Portland brewpub, but during Red Sox games, the New Old Lompoc (1616 NW 23rd Ave., 225-1855) turns into Southie. Boston fans have been multiplying in numbers ever since their team went from underdogs to powerhouse World Series champs in '04 and '07, and the place to watch these fans in all their glory is the Lompoc, nursing a pint of Portland's finest beers and shouting obscenities at corner-mounted TVs as only a Bostonian can.Critical fan accessory:
Portland Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers are certainly working their way up Broadway. While the team was once associated with playing hooky at Mary's Club, rumor has it they're now more likely to be spotted at El Gaucho (319 SW Broadway, 227-8794), the ultra-swanky steakhouse. It makes sense—with tuxedo-clad waiters with expensive beef—it's likely most Blazers fans can't afford to hang out there and the clientele is less likely to recognize them.
Critical fan accessory: Hope.
To paraphrase a friend from L.A., Lakers fans go to "whatever fucking bar we want and don't give a shit what you say." Makes sense. Prisons have bars and television. Snap!Critical fan accessory: A shank.
Those jonesing to watch the Wings, the Avalanche or the Canucks do battle call the cavernous Claudia's (3006 SE Hawthorne Blvd, 232-1744) home. It's big and comfortable (with Captain Kirk-style thrones at the bar), the food is appropriately pub-ish, the beer selection is endless, there are enough TVs to cover a league's worth of games at once, and nobody even blinks when you body-check your friend into the wall.
Critical fan accessory: A bunch of octopi, the hurling object of choice for Red Wings fans.
It's big. It's cavelike. It's covered in Budweiser racing flags and nicotine stains. The A&L Sports Pub (5933 NE Glisan St., 234-7607) is a Pittsburgh Steelers bar through and through. "About 12 years ago, people from the Steelers came in and asked if this could be a Pittsburgh bar," says one of the bartenders on a quiet night (basketball doesn't get the same love). For Steelers games, upward of 100 fans wreak havoc on the bar's 30-plus taps. For non-Steelers fans, there are plenty of dartboards and video games.
Critical fan accessory: A clean shirt—apparently the Steelers have one of the largest female-fan contingents in the NFL.
After a rough-and-tumble match, the Timbers can often be spotted at The Thirsty Lion (71 SW 2nd Ave., 222-2155), covered in bruises and doing what soccer players do best—drinking and schmoozing the ladies. The pints are imperial, and the bar is huge enough to contain several soccer riots.
Critical fan accessory:
Rose City Rollers
They skate hard and they party hard. After bouts, the Rose City Rollers host after-parties at Plan B (1305 SE 8th Ave., 230-9020) and Mount Tabor Legacy (4811 SE Hawthorne, 232-0450). The parties, free for those who attended the bout, include DJs, bands and, of course, the toughest broads in Portland. "It's like a continuance of the bout," says team member "Roller Rocket Mean" (a.k.a. Kim Stegeman).
Critical fan accessory: Bruises.
The On Deck Sports Bar and Grill (910 NW 14th Ave., 227-7020) hosts pre- and post-game parties for PDX's own LumberJax crew (and broadcasts away games). Once the balls stop flying, players from both teams hit the scene. "It's good mingling," says Jax marketing master Steven Masters. "They've played with each other, some are even brothers." Take heed—this might just be the best opportunity to see if the Jax really know how to handle their sticks.
Critical fan accessory:
Like a true Irish soccer fan, Kells owner Gerard McAleese likes his bouts live. That's why P-town's "Lil' Dublin," Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub (112 SW 2nd Ave., 227-4057), broadcasts European soccer live—even if that means opening the doors at 4:30 am (sorry, no Guinness until 7 am). Often, there's a pre-dawn line down the street for big teams such as Liverpool. Kell's does the same for rugby.
Critical fan accessory:A smooth Guinness.
It's not just a restaurant name! Bowlers can get bat-deep in sticky wickets at the Bombay Cricket Club (1925 SE Hawthorne Blvd, 231-0740). It makes sense for the Cricket Club to show the sport—Bombay, India is a mecca for this more complex and less sedate form of baseball.
Critical fan accessory:A wad of Euros.
Insert Your Team Here
The mark of a good sports bar is the clientele. If they look athletic, you're probably not in a real sports bar. George's Corner Sports Bar (5501 N Interstate Ave., 289-0307) packs enough TVs that you can watch damn near any game you want while digging into fried chicken and cheap beer. And the company is great. Waiting for Michigan State to get taken apart by Memphis in the Sweet 16, I asked a lady, "Who's your team?" "Trouble," she said, chugging a Pabst.
Critical fan accessory:
A spark of life.