Portland isn't big on religion, but it sure seems to enjoy Church, the ironically religion-themed bar on Northeast Sandy Boulevard. Now, co-owner Steven Cook is expanding his flock out to Southeast Hawthorne with Chapel Hill (4380 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 971-255-0157, chapelwhillpdx.com). Occupying the first floor of a modern apartment complex, it'd qualify as a hidden gem if it weren't for the glowing neon sign in one of the front floor-to-ceiling windows, which reads "Saves/Saved" underneath the bar's cross-shaped logo.
Chapel Hill looks and feels much different from Church. On the brushed concrete floor is an inviting U-shaped bar stocked with a stunning selection of liquors displayed in metal hanging racks just above quilted leather barstools, along with beer taps directly situated on top of white marble countertops. The forward-facing design is intentional, aligning with the communal values Cook and co-owner Craig Ericson envisioned for their space—their ultimate goal "is to be a part of a larger cultural shift towards one that celebrates individual agency and expression of self in community."
The aspect of individuality comes across on their pan-Asian-influenced menu created in collaboration with chefs Uilanikuulei Vele and Jake Gross, who offer both vegan and gluten-free versions of every dish and drink. If you're a vegan, I recommend the bao ($10). And if your idea of heaven is something close to a piña colada, chase it down with a Divine Ascent ($10)
Beyond an individualistic food and drinks menu, Chapel Hill will continue to elicit your devotion with a dance floor nestled between a DJ booth adorned by a neon depiction of the Last Supper and, as at Church, a photo booth disguised as a confessional. Next to that, you'll find garage-style doors that open to a beautiful outdoor patio where the only décor is an array of stylish Portlanders dispersed on comparatively humble patio furniture.