When Peter Mahr bought 4-4-2 on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard last June, his professed goal was to turn the place from a hardcore soccer bar into a neighborhood bar friendly to soccer fans and the footy-averse alike.
On non-game days, it’s possible that Mahr, a former amateur player himself, has fulfilled that promise. Make no mistake, though: When the Timbers are on at Gol, as he rechristened it, this is still very much a soccer bar.
Even during a relatively low-stakes Sunday matchup between Portland and Nashville SC, every seat was filled, and new arrivals had to crowdsource chairs for any shot at a comfortable viewing experience. (Granted, the chair-to-flat screen ratio is about 6 to 1, so game-watching is going to happen no matter what.) Jerseys and flags line the perimeter of the space, just like at its predecessor, and the beer menu remains modest, stocked with familiar names like Swift Cider, pFriem and Fort George, plus Rainier, should you ask for it.
The biggest change might be the food menu, which has shifted from Bosnian to Peruvian cuisine. The small plates now feature fish ceviche ($14), panko-crusted jumbo shrimp ($13.50) and “salchipapas” ($7)—a bowl of potato fries and pan-fried beef sausages smothered in “Gol sauce.”
It’s the tastier alternative to the American tradition of dousing thick-cut fries in ketchup and mayonnaise—the queso fresco is rich and mild, matched in heaviness by the creamy ají amarillo sauce, a staple in Peruvian cooking. It’s an appetizer that can easily pass as a meal for two.
Portland might have secured its victory within the first 15 minutes of Sunday’s game, courtesy of midfielder Diego Valeri. But watching Mahr as he buzzed from table to table in his custom Timbers jersey, checking that both spirits and pours remained high, you got the sense he would’ve been happy no matter the outcome.
DRINK: Gol, 1739 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 503-206-5664, golsoccerbar.com. 11 am-midnight Tuesday-Friday, 7 am-midnight Saturday, 7 am-8 pm Sunday. Closed Mondays except for some Premier League games. See website for schedule.