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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Roscoe's Delivers

One of the great things that's happened in Portland over the last few years is the proliferation of pubs and taprooms...places that don't make beer, but nonetheless serve up some of the best beers around. This isn't a new idea. The Horse Brass has been doing it for ages. Others have joined in with varying results.

These places run the gamete in terms of sizes, shapes and styles. We've got upscale places and we've got dives. Indeed, the popularity of craft beer in these parts has forced the crappiest dive bars and the highest end restaurants to pour at least a few decent beers. If all you've got is shitty light beer, your brand will be damaged and customers will go elsewhere. True story.

Honestly, not much to look at
Down on the corner of Southeast 81st and Stark sits a little place called Roscoe's. As they themselves say, "Looks can be deceiving." Ain't it the truth! This isn't the best part of town and Roscoe's is pretty unimpressive from the outside. Do not make the mistake of driving by and not stopping.

I stopped in on a recent Friday. They were having an single-blind Imperial IPA tasting...you know which beers you're drinking and your job is to guess which one is which. These were all damn good IPAs...Pliny the Elder and a wood aged IPA from Great Divide were easy to spot. The other two on the plate, from Migration and Oskar Blues, I got backwards. Oh well. No one's perfect.

Cheers to the IIPA tasting plate!
More to the point, Roscoe's tap list is pretty stellar. They have 16 taps (two nitro) and they rotate in some of the finest beers around. Don't bother looking on their website, which is pretty basic and unimpressive...similar to their exterior.

There are plenty of other distractions here. They've got a couple of retro TVs focused on the two sides of the bar. Classic stuff. If you aren't into hazy tube TVs, you can crane your neck and watch on one of the flat screens mounted elsewhere. If TV isn't your thing, they've got pool tables and some video games in another room.

Front side of the bar, tap list and retro TV included
Definitely do not overlook the menu here. They advertise Southern Cuisine. The happy hour menu (2-6 p.m. daily) features hush puppies, pulled pork sliders, Cajun-style chicken strips, Cajun fries and tots, oyster shooters and more. Prices are pleasantly cheap. I ordered hush puppies and pulled pork sliders. There were excellent.

Add some nicely tatted up wait people to the mix and what have you got? Well, basically you've got a place that would nominally be considered a dive bar if not for the great beer list and fantastic comfort food. Looks can obviously be deceiving. 


  1. If I lived closer, Roscoe's would be in my rotation a whole lot more. Always a great tap list and for a sushi lover as well as beer geek, it thrils me to no end to be able to sit in a beer bar and order sushi from next door, delivered to my table.

  2. Thanks for mentioning the sushi connection. I knew about it, but forgot to include it in the post. I've heard the sushi from next door is pretty good.


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