1325 NE Fremont St., 503-946-8161, freehousepdx.com. 4 pm-midnight daily. Happy hour 4-5:30 pm daily: $1 off everything.
Established: January 2009, re-established 2012
Northeast Fremont Street's Free House is a place of resolute middlebrow comforts. There are fancy $7 hot dogs made from Olympia Provisions' world-beating frank, shoestring fries, house ketchup and a pleasant, half-covered patio. And there is a reasonably priced $9 burger with an expertly toasted bun, very seasoned meat and mild-spiced sauce, plus a thick slab of Tillamook atop the patty. But mostly, there is a quality hard to come by—a sense of well being that comes from all things in the right proportion, whether the smoke in the smoked mac 'n' cheese ($7), the elegant touch of Turkish Cynar in a No Hassle Night ($9) that's otherwise a tequila-based Manhattan, or a patio that's half covered, half sun porch. Perhaps its midnight closing time seems early, but elegance and balance are virtues that require compromise.
Bar story: Free House is best known in its current incarnation—split between the old Victory Bar chef and one of the owners of Olympia Provisions and Bar Casa Vale—but there was a founding Free House.