If the wall of fame at Holy Goat Social Club is to be believed, the tiny bar at the corner of Northeast Fremont Street and 15th Avenue has had more than a few brushes with greatness.
Nat King Cole. The Beatles. James Dean. Barack Obama. Uh, Abraham Lincoln.
All right, maybe none of those folks have ever stepped foot inside this shoebox-sized neighborhood watering hole. Still, they could be considered “the regulars.” Back when the place used to be called Daddy Mojo’s, owner Vilath Oudomphong decorated practically every square inch with his expansive collection of celebrity memorabilia. When ownership changed hands a few years ago, new proprietor Spyros Kourtessis kept a handful of framed photos—a few of them autographed—and added some of his own, including a small portrait of a goat.
Kourtessis bought the bar in 2018, but didn’t get around to doing a full rebrand until late the next year. Then 2020 happened. As such, the replacement vinyl booths barely feel sat in, and the freshly installed bar top is free of scuff marks and water rings.
But it’d be inaccurate to describe Holy Goat as a “new” bar. Other than the name change—a reference to a favorite bar in Kourtessis’ hometown of Athens, Greece—the alterations are in line with the photo gallery: an aesthetic streamline, rather than a makeover.
But if you ever went to Daddy Mojo’s before—and if you’ve lived in Sabin a while, you’ve popped your head in at least once—you’ll still find what you’re looking for: a drink menu consisting of stiff takes on old classics, soul music on the stereo, and soul food in the kitchen. Before the pandemic, the bar also offered Mojo’s solid low-key breakfast. It should be back soon.
If anything, Holy Goat has clarified the bar’s identity. Daddy Mojo’s always seemed a little confused about itself: Was it a cafe? Sports bar? Sushi restaurant? (Don’t worry, the adjoining Mojo’s Sushi is still there, as a separate business.) Now, it’s simply the quiet corner haunt that every neighborhood needs, ideal for an after-work cocktail or quick nightcap.
If Barack, Ringo or Abe actually did come through the door, they would probably feel right at home. It’s hard not to.
DRINK: Holy Goat Social Club, 1501 NE Fremont St., 503-282-0956, holygoatpdx.com. 2-10 pm Monday-Saturday.