The Independent (225 SW Broadway, No. 100, 503-206-6745, independentpdx.com) is a huge downtown sports bar in a space previously occupied by two other sports bars, but the fact the owners dedicated the bar to the original Battered Bastards of Baseball—with blow-up Mavericks wall art alongside Timbers, Thorns and Blazers memorabilia—points to why it might succeed where others failed. It's a simple matter of sweating the small stuff. Although the walls' sports mementos—including a bat signed by disgraced legend Barry Bonds—approach theme-park density and the bar's got more screens than some casinos, the cavernous wraparound-bar and pool-tabled spot feels like Planet Portland rather than Planet Hollywood, devoted to small-bore local legends like Steve Prefontaine.
Owned by the same local history buffs who own Circa 33 and the Station, the Independent has a whiskey selection that is admirably deep and weird, and—wonder of wonders in a sports bar—a considered 20-tap beer list featuring the Commons Farmhouse, Breakside IPA and the underrated Lompoc Pamplemousse, not to mention rotating beers that include Pfriem and Firestone Walker. The bar is priced for the hotel district, with a $15 Blanton's Old Fashioned and $6 crafts.
But it's a rare sports bar that makes a damn good Old Fashioned, not to mention a Chicago-style red hot that tastes much like my memories of them, right down to the poppy-seed bun. At happy hour (3-6 pm Monday-Friday), the drafts are a buck off, alongside a $5 burger and $6 nachos, making the Independent a more reasonable after-work stop. And hell, you might meet a Maverick. Apparently a few have stopped by.