Living near the 45th parallel has its advantages—the temperate climate, for one. But our latitude comes with a significant drawback. Daylight dwindles to less than nine hours in December, which means you're likely to spend more time under fluorescent lights at work than the actual sun. And not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to skip town to seek out warmer temperatures when the sun slinks ever lower in the sky.
But a pair of bar owners have now brought the essence of the tropical getaway to you. R&R opened in late October, overhauling a snug storefront that was formerly home to the Belgian-inspired Abbey Bar & Bottle Shop into a faux-beachside retreat.
Mike Reed and Scott McCulloch borrow elements from your Hawaiian vacation Pinterest board—palm fronds, piña coladas, poke—and bring them to life. Tall-backed booths made of shou sugi ban treated wood, a Japanese technique that chars planks to highlight the wavy grain pattern, envelop you, while the tabletops ripple with shades of blue to mimic water. The result is an island-inspired sanctuary whose teals, emeralds and magentas are like therapeutic lighting that elevates your spirits within minutes of basking in their glow.
That high is enhanced by a cocktail menu swimming in citrus and rum. The dark molasses and fresh lime in the mai tai ($10) might almost have you convinced you've ducked into a poolside cabana. The pink-as-punch Ramblin Fever ($10) is sweet and fizzy, and the Golden Hour ($12) is a sticky mixture of pineapple and coconut that goes down fast.
The food menu could've been inspired by any open-air bar boasting a view of Diamond Head, with island classics like plump shrimp ($7) coated in toasty coconut flakes, and musubi rolls ($9) where the fish is swapped out for Spam. But the standout is what may also be your new favorite nacho plate ($12) in town. Pepper jack cheese is generously layered with diced tomatoes and sauteed corn, and the smoke in the drizzle of jalapeño sauce pulls together all of that light sweetness and salt.
And if that's not enough to curb your seasonal affective disorder, an LED sunset repeats every few minutes. It's summer somewhere, right?
DRINK: R&R, 716 NW 21st Ave., randrpdx.com. 4 pm-midnight Tuesday-Sunday.