Yesterday my dad and I went out to lunch and since it was my first meal out in Portland I had a big decision to make on where to go. A couple favorites I knew I’d be getting later in my visit so I settled on an old favorite that my dad and I went to a lot- McMenamin’s. McMenamin’s is in fact a “chain” with tons of locations around Oregon and some in southern Washington, but all the locations are pretty individual. There are several close to my family’s house and we picked the Tavern and Pool location on NW 23rd Ave. I also wanted to go there because I know they serve hard cider and I read that McMenamin’s now serves gluten-free buns for their burgers!
For those visiting Oregon McMenamin’s in general can be a great place to grab food and Oregon beer since the food and beer is pretty standard across locations, but many locations are very unique destinations within themselves. McMenamin’s has a history of finding historic or interesting places/sights and developing them into brewpubs, restaurants, and/or hotels. Some examples are Edgefield, which used to be the county poor farm and is now a hotel, Kennedy School, which is a converted elementary school that also has a movie theatre, and even a former-funeral parlor- the Little Chapel of Chimes.
The Tavern and Pool location is pretty normal relative to a lot of those but still is somewhat unique. Several decades ago (after in it’s earliest days being a working-class neighborhood bar) it took on a Western-theme of sorts and it’s retained that to a degree in the decor, but it’s pretty subtle. It has also expanded since I was last there (or maybe I haven’t noticed in my infrequent visits since high school) and has a lot of seating now and pool tables.
To start we ordered an order of their Cajun tots! Literally next door to my senior year house in college there was a McMenamin’s location and they had a decent Happy Hour, including $1 Cajun tots (tater tots with Cajun seasoning on them) so I wanted to get an order for the memories and they’re good. I then ordered a Wilbur burger on a gluten-free bun, which comes with cheese, bacon, and fried egg. You get a choice of sides (french fries, tots, salad, soup) and I got some of their French fries. The natural-cut fries were thicker than I remember them being, but it could also vary by the day/location. My dad got a turkey sandwich and a salad as his side.
For drinks I got one of their hard ciders and my dad got their Hammerhead, which is their most popular beer. If you’re unfamiliar with Portland/Oregon’s microbrew tradition and beers then McMenamin’s could be a good place to try stuff out. For those from Portland or more familiar with microbrew then it still can be a great place to go to drink beer, but I know a lot of my friends prefer the smaller microbreweries for a Portland microbrew representation (but I say that of course not being able to drink beer).
In general McMenamin’s are pretty easy places to get burgers, sandwiches, and salads plus specials that vary by location (different entree dishes and pizzas) and the microbrews. If you have a location near you it’s a good bet for simple pub food and beer. Check out their website to find a location near to you if you’re in the Oregon/SW Washington area. Most locations are in the Portland-metro area with locations also elsewhere in the Willamette Valley and Bend.
McMenamins- locations vary all over Oregon/SW Washington