Our top five bars of 2016 tend to reflect a common theme: We miss the basics. Portland's liquor licensing laws require bars to serve food during opening hours. With food comes some kind of shtick, and with shtick comes, inexplicably but inevitably, either a cowboy Western or library theme. Being fully fed up with horses and reading, we were very impressed by these five bars, most of which played off tried and true themes like "community," "relaxation" and "drinking."
8031 NW Skyline Blvd.
Something like a summer camp for adults, complete with outdoor grill, horseshoe pit and views of the Willamette Valley, this 70-year-old, recently refurbished roadhouse is a truly special place well worth the trip.
1200 SW Morrison St.
A roomy, minimalist space that functions as a living tribute to the service industry, Shift Drinks is the modern, no-nonsense cocktail bar that the inner westside has long deserved.
1801 NE Alberta St., 503-206-8338, solaeslounge.com. Live music Wednesday-Sunday.
Our third-favorite bar of 2016, Solae's is a relaxed, multichambered homage to the great jazz bars of New Orleans, many of which co-owner Yosief Embaye visited during the creation of his no-frills locale. It's a place where virtuosic local musicians have an opportunity to bare their souls five nights a week.
McMenamins 23rd Avenue Bottle Shop
2290 NW Thurman St.
This quaint little box of a bottle shop is a wonderland of comfortable cheapness, and may now hold the crown for cheapest tallboys, with $1.10 PBRs all day.
No Fun Bar
1709 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
We called it a bar-themed bar. You might think of it as a post-dive. Either way, it's cheap, the sandwiches from the attached Devil's Dill are our favorite in Portland, and…it's a lot of fun.