2430 SE Division St., 503-231-3880. 10 am-midnight Sunday-Friday, 10 am-1 am Saturday.
Established: June 1994
Reel M Inn operates at three speeds exactly. First, there's the bartender, who is fast as fuck, takes no shit and wastes no unnecessary effort, because she must be efficient enough to serve the simultaneous needs of a long line of customers who drink their beer both quickly and cheap, and a chicken broaster that's relentless and always occupied. Second, there is the speed of the chicken itself: The chicken will always be ready "in an hour and a half," even if it was going to be ready "in an hour and a half" an hour and a half ago.
Watched chicken never broasts, and your job is to wait for it. It will always be worth it—crisp on the outside, ridiculously moist on the inside. And then there is the speed of the bar itself, which, despite its location on fast-gentrifying Southeast Division Street, accumulates change at the approximate speed of a highway road-cut and according to much of the same geologic principles: What's here today will be here tomorrow, but there might be some extra shit on top of it—an extra song in the jukebox, an extra Sharpie scrawl on the wall declaring Tyler a D-bag, a wistful portrait of a man who died too soon. The owners have told us that Reel M Inn might be forced to close in 2018, when the lease runs out, but if there's one thing I've learned, it's that you can't rush the Reel M Inn to do anything. As the graffiti in the bathroom says: New Year, Same old chicken.
Bar story: Did you hear the one about the most famous fried chicken guy in South Carolina, Sean Brock of Husk, saying he was inspired by the Reel M Inn to make his famous chicken? Yeah, us too.