New Years Eve 2016, marks the end of a Portland institution, Der Rheinlander on NE Sandy Boulevard. Growing up in NE Portland, the Der Rheinlander Castle was always a special restaurant that invokes memories of celebrations, lederhosen, German food and beer. The building itself, an actual German castle, will be missed dearly as it is torn down and made into a medical clinic.
Fear not, if you look closely as you drive down Sandy, there are many castles that adorn the boulevard. These may not be the bars that make the best of Portland lists, but they are worthy of visiting, while they still exist. As a way to commemorate the closing of Der Rheinlander, Brewpublic set out to give some love to the castles and visit some bars with a nod to old Portland. TriMet makes it easy to do the castle crawl safely by taking the #12 bus line along the boulevard, with the purchase of an all day ticket for only $5.00.
Club 21 2035 NE Glisan St (off 20th and Sandy) – Portland, OR 97232 11:30am – 2:30am
Originally built as a Russian Orthodox Church in the 1930’s, inside this castle, you will find a dimly lit dive bar serving burgers, cocktails, and a variety of canned and draft beers. The walls are decorated with vintage beer signs, deer taxidermy, and pinball machines. There is a variety of bar food available at Club 21, but the burger is their specialty and you can build your own with a wide variety of options for toppings/sauces. The Portland Mercury has reported that Club 21 will be developed once their lease is up in a couple of years, but the owners are working to save the castle and move it to another location.
The Raven 3100 NE Sandy Blvd – Portland, OR 97232
Many will be surprised that the Raven is a castle, but if you look closely, there is a turret on the corner of 31st and Sandy Blvd. Long known as the Tonic Lounge in Portland, the Raven has had a bit of an identity crisis in recent years. It was the subject of Jon Taffer’s Bar Rescue, which rebranded it as the Panic Room. The staff and owners were quite vocal in the media about their dislike of Taffer’s cheesy changes, and have rebranded once again as The Raven. The website shares a late night line-up of music which seems to focus on jazz, hip-hop, and funk. The hours of The Raven are not easy to find, as they are not listed online, nor available by phone recording, although it looks like most of the music begins around 9:00pm with doors usually open around 7:00pm.
The Ambassador Restaurant & Lounge 4744 NE Sandy Blvd – Portland, OR 97213 11:00am – 2:30am
This hybrid is part castle part pagoda, which promotes itself as “Portland’s oldest and most elaborate Karaoke Lounge.” The Ambassador has long been a gathering place for larger groups and birthday parties. Aside from karaoke, The Ambassador serves Chinese food in the restaurant, in addition to a full service bar and billiards.
5035 NE Sandy Blvd – Portland, OR 97213 Closing NYE 2016
The much beloved Der Rheinlander, opened by celebrity chef Horst Mager, is closing on New Years Eve, 2016. They are throwing a big party to say good-bye to this Portland institution, for $49 per person. At the time of this writing, there were still limited reservations available, but call ahead, to be sure(503-288-5503). Other Gustav’s locations in the Portland area will remain open, so you can still get that fondue craving filled!
Clyde’s Prime Rib 5474 NE Sandy Blvd – Portland, OR 97213 11:30am – 1:00am
Clyde’s Prime Rib might just be one of Portland’s best kept castle secrets. Initially, this building was steeped in racism, as the location of the Coon Chicken Inn, a chain of restaurants, which were known for their entrance, a giant blackface porter head. Ironically, in more recent years, Clyde’s has become quite popular as a gathering place to hear live jazz and R & B music, with the parking lot overflowing on Friday and Saturday nights. Walking in, you are greeted by a knight in shining armor, and transported to the era of Mad Men. This is an old school prime rib joint, complete with rounded red booths, a faint hint of cigarette smoke from decades past, and a piano man playing back in the bar. Order prime rib, drink a martini, enjoy the music, and be transported back in time!
Be sure to enjoy the castles and share your pictures of your own #CastleCrawl with Brewpublic!
Cat is a native of the Rose City. Her love of craft beer and more especially whiskeys keeps her searching for her next favorite drink. She is also an inspiring photographer and her work is seen here on the pages of Brewpublic.