600 E Burnside St., 503-236-4536, rontoms.net. 11 am-2:30 am Monday-Friday, 2 pm-2:30 am Saturday-Sunday. Happy hour 3-6:30 pm: $1 off well drinks. $4.50 food specials.
Established: November 2006
When MTV sent seven strangers to live in the Pearl four years ago, The Real World: Portland cast's sole excursion outside their tight NW orbit was an unmarked destination lounge in the heart of LoBu, which suggests two things: Producers thought Rontoms represented a tipping point of PDX hipsterdom—contestants, after walking straight past the entrance, bitched about the lack of signage—but they also assumed their fratty show ponies wouldn't feel too out of place.
Above all else, the lounge serves an excellent array of $4.50 happy hour bites (large salads, pork tacos, french dip) and pours from an intriguing list of craft cocktails costing twice the price and worth every penny. Nevertheless, the bar's signal draw remain the impeccably decorated vintage interiors and spacious back patio featuring outdoor fireplace and pingpong table. Twinning a bar's appeal to largely visual delights allows for vastly differing crowds. Locals might easily hit the bar four consecutive nights (arrive with a date on a lazy Thursday evening, invade the patio with work friends after work Friday, stop by with the gang midst-Saturday night prowl, check out a favored band Sunday) yet never realize.
Aside from the folks waiting on Tinder swipes, just about nobody comes alone nor without clear purpose, and it's hard to imagine what regulars would even look like. For all its manifold blessings, Rontoms so often seems less a bar than well-appointed quad or, indeed, fantastical loft packed with beautiful extroverts. It's heavily edited, perhaps, but such wonderful production values.
Bar story: For all the grand musings over bar nomenclature—anagram of Mr. Snoot, favored Cats character, Croatian for "buzzed"—the actual derivation seems both simplest and least plausible. Rontoms is owned by Ron Toms.