The Spicy Bee’s Favorite Portland Bars of 2016

Favorite Bars Portland, OR | The Spicy Bee

Can you believe we are already over halfway through the year? Can you believe that the days are starting to get shorter again? I find it absolutely crazy to think about, and I feel like I only just started getting used to the idea of bright early mornings and the sun setting about 9:30pm (PST). I suppose now is the best time to share my favorite Portland bars for the first half of this year, as I find friends and people I talk with asking me more often, “where should I go?”

“My BFF is coming into town, what should we check out?”

“Where do I find great beer?”

“Whose happy hour is best?”

While I have yet to try every spot Portland, OR has to offer, I have visited some spots that have me wishing I lived above them. It’s time for me to share some of that knowledge with my readers who don’t always frequent my Instagram.

I give you The Spicy Bee’s Favorite Portland Bars of 2016 (so far anyway!)

Home, A Bar

I cannot shut up about this spot, and while part of me wishes to keep it secret to keep it from being overwhelmed with Portlanders, Home, A Bar is a new little dive off SE Morrison and 7th Ave. Its Happy Hour menu will leave you wondering if your stomach could handle seconds, and though I haven’t said anything on social media yet, the mac and cheese sandwich deserves everything awarded to it. The Dirty Burger (pictured above) is the best burger I’ve had so far this year, and if you follow my Instagram, you’ll see I’ve had/made a lot of burgers thus far. This spot replaced the Morrison Hotel Bar in the last year, and it’s got everything an eastsider wants in a bar: dark walls, comfort food, a long happy hour (4pm-7pm daily and 11pm-close sloppy hour), and a solid tap list.

Hale Pele

BOOM-SHAKA-LAKA @halepele #tiki #volcano #drinklocal #drinkpdx #inpdx #boom #drinks #tikibar

A video posted by Bee (@thespicybee) on

Ok, so I had to be convinced on this spot because I’m like, expensive tiki drinks? Why?

I was wrong Rebekah, lol thank you for showing me the light (or the fire?). Hale Pele is NE Broadway at 27th Ave hiding in a nondescript strip mall. Standing outside this bar on a cold winter evening, I remember thinking my good friend was a touch off-base walking us into a “themed bar.” I was met with a cozy little piece of paradise, with a 7+ page menu of colorful bevies rated 1 to 5 in strength. My favorite thing about Hale Pele? It’s definitely a tie between the quality of the drinks and the ambiance, which goes a long way in helping you forget you’re in a strip mall on a cold and rainy winter evening (or perhaps a 100°F day?). I highly suggest the Painkiller, Boo Loo (perfect for a date night), or the Volcano Bowl if you’re introducing friends to the spot. It’s like a 1st class version of my glorious shark bowl days of college.

Teardrop Lounge

 A classy spot in NW Portland (NW 10th and Everett to be precise), Teardrop Lounge is where I go when I want to feel like an adult and not a poor kid just out of school. I originally worried that I was walking into a sister spot to Bartini (also in NW Portland and has it’s place but is not my bag), only to be floored with the menu and level of execution. It’s one of the only places on the west side I feel comfortable telling the bartender to “surprise me.” I’ve been back quite a few times since, enjoying their 4pm-7pm happy hour or a drink catching up with friends.

Ranger Station

The Ranger Station
is the pub every backpacker dreams about while 10 miles into a trip. At SE 42nd Ave and Hawthorne, this spot is good in all weather with outdoor seats on a quiet 42nd Ave to chill with your pup and ample indoor seating during the gross weather months. Another long, lovely happy hour of 4pm-7pm with $1 of drafts and yummy venison burgers and tacos. I highly suggest popping for some extra pickled jalapeños to add to either menu item.

Do you have a favorite Portland bar? Tweet it at me! @TheSpicyBee

Beef Chili with Ancho & Mole

Beef Chili with Ancho and Mole | The Spicy Bee

This post completes the series of recipe throwbacks frim 2014-ish when my friend Aubrie (of PDXFoodPhotos) and I were teaming up on shoots for the online publication Incomplete Magazine. Since then, the magazine has sold off, and I thought our recipes and photos were lost to the web. I found them in my computer’s archive recently and decided it’s time to re-post for all to enjoy. Every cook should have a chili in their arsenal. This beef chili with ancho & mole has a complex flavor and the ability to please any crowd you present it to. I hope you enjoy this recipe even though this week it’s hot in Portland, OR–if anything, stow it away for the first chills of autumn, which shall be here before we know it! Scroll to the bottom of the page if you’d like to see the other recipes that were part of this throwback.


Recipes with ingredients you have never used can be daunting, but in many cases it’s each ingredient that lends a new depth of flavor to the recipe, so cutting corners can detract from the final product. The idea of using corn masa for a thickening agent in today’s recipe is refreshing. I enjoy using Bob’s Red Mill’s Corn Masa, which can be found in some bulk sections of specialty grocery stores. Leftover masa can also be used in other capacities, like homemade tortillas, cornbread, or tamales. The mole paste may be subbed for a homemade version of mole if on hand. Otherwise, store-bought mole paste is most easily found in Mexican grocery stores or the “world food” aisle at most grocery stores.

I love that this recipe is gluten and dairy free (if the sour cream garnish is ignored). It makes for an amazing, crowd-pleasing recipe that transports and serves well and can be customized with the array of garnishing options. Conversely, chili is extremely hard to photograph, as the finished product can look a bit murky depending on the color of the mole paste. Professional photographer, Aubrie LeGault, did a spectacular job in rendering a traditional, stick-to-your-bones style of beef chili.

Beef Chili with Ancho & Mole

Beef Chili with Ancho and Mole | The Spicy Bee

It’s the time of year where kitchens are filled with the aroma of slow cooking, hearty soups and stews. In our home, a chili is the prerequisite for an afternoon of football. While this recipe can be garnished for days, I also like to serve it with either a homemade cornbread (useful to use up the leftover corn masa) or some of our favorite corn chips and guacamole.  The important lesson with this recipe is to watch your salt—add it in small amounts toward the end of the recipe and remember that the added broth will also lend some salt to the dish.



  • 6 bacon slices, cooked, then crumbled
  • 2 t salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 t fresh pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 4-pound boneless chuck roast, trimmed, cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 large white onion, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 5-6 large garlic cloves, diced
  • 3 ½ c beef broth, divided
  • ¼ c ancho chile powder
  • 1 T cumin  (optional)
  • ¼ c chili powder
  • 2 T mole paste
  • 2 t apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ½ t dried oregano
  • 1 to 2 T masa harina
  • ¼ t cayenne pepper


  • Pinto or black beans, drained and cooked 
  • White, red, or green onion, diced
  • Cheese, grated (sharp cheddar, goat, or queso fresco)
  • Pickled jalapeños, sliced
  • Avocado, sliced
  • Sour cream
  • Tortilla chips
  • Hot sauce


  • 6.5 Q French oven
  • Large spoon or spatula
  • Cutting board
  • Sharp vegetable knife
  • Paper towel-lined plate
  • Large bowl
  • Sieve (optional – for cleaning beans)
  • Grater (for cheese)


First, cook up the bacon in a large French oven, and remove to paper towel-lined plate to crisp and soak up excess grease. Meanwhile, rub beef cubes with salt and pepper and cook in the bacon grease in batches until evenly browned.  Reserve meat alongside bacon and drippings in a separate bowl, and add garlic and onion to the French oven. Cook over medium heat until onion becomes translucent. Add ½ cup broth to the pot, and allow it to come to a boil, deglazing the pot as it heats. Return the meat mixture to the pot, and add the mole paste, vinegar, chili powders (ancho and regular), cumin, and oregano. Add to the pot 3 more cups of broth and boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer until the beef is tender. Feel free to add more broth to keep the chili from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Simmer 2 ½ hours. Add salt to taste.

Stir in the masa, and then switch between adding more masa (thickener) or broth (thinner) until desired thickness is reached. Cool the chili at least 30 minutes before serving. Garnish with cheese, onion, beans, jalapeños, sour cream, avocado or chips! Chili can be made up to 3 days in advance and keeps up to a week in the fridge.

Mole Lava Cakes

Maple Habanero Cocktail


BBQ Blackberry Chicken Flatbread Pizza

BBQ Blackberry Chicken Flatbread Pizza | The Spicy Bee

Summer is coming. In Portland, OR, we’ve already clocked more than a dozen days above 80 (which, if you’re a Portlander, you know is out of character. It’s supposed to be cold and rain until the 4th of July). With the good weather comes grilling season, and for a surprise I snagged us a new (used) grill off a neighbor who was upgrading to maximize our grilling potential for the summer. What did I end up with you ask? A combo grill/smoker that has more space for things like GRILLED PIZZA. Could I do a pizza on my old grill? Yes, but not a nice big pizza, it would have had to have been little dinky things. I decided to celebrate by creating a fun summery spread in partnership with the Oregon Berry Commission, who challenged me to make a savory berry recipe to share.

Challenge Accepted.

I decided on a grilled blackberry BBQ chicken pizza flatbread because it captures the essence of summer and utilizes a recipe style I’m always hungry for: grilled pizza!

This is not a recipe for a beginner–sorry about that. I liked making this recipe in 2 major steps. The first is the day prior to your grill fest; I suggest starting with the BBQ Blackberry sauce (this will refrigerate for up to 5 days), and pizza dough start (I’ve linked below to the one we use, which involves a bit of quick prep, overnight gestation, and next day processing), but you can always go with your go-to crust recipe or even pre-made. I’m no got going to judge. For the berries, I use frozen for the sauce and fresh for on top, but you could easily use fresh for both portions, simply add an extra 3/4 cup water when cooking the sauce.

When it comes time to build your pizza, heat up the grill and take the temperature to ensure you’re good to go (magic number is 450°F by the way). You can choose to make your pizza on a stone, a cast iron, or directly on the grill, if you like to be a risk taker. The point of this recipe is to have some fun with it–the result will be delicious and the rewards sweet–especially with berries in season!

BBQ Blackberry Chicken Flatbread PizzaBBQ Blackberry Chicken Flatbread Pizza | Sponsored by Oregon Berry Commission


The below portions are to make two 12-inch pizzas

Blackberry BBQ Sauce

  • 1 c Ketchup
  • 1 T Apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 c Molasses
  • 10 oz Frozen blackberries, thawed
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 3-4 Chipotle chilis en adobo sauce (start with 3, add a 4th if you can handle heat), chopped
  • 1/4 t salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 t cornstarch


The recipe I used was Alton Brown’s overnight pizza dough–why re-invent the wheel, am I right?


  • 1/2-1 c BBQ sauce
  • 1 c Smoked Gouda, grated
  • 1 c Goat cheese, broken up
  • 1.5 lb chicken thighs, grilled, chopped, and tossed with a few tablespoons of the Blackberry BBQ Sauce
  • 1 White onion, chopped
  • 1 c fresh blackberries, cut in half 
  • 1/2 c Fresh basil, chopped
  • Additional basil may be cut up and reserved for topping once the pizza comes off the grill


Start by making the sauce–this will be best spooned on to your crust after it’s had some time to acquaint itself with your fridge. in a medium sized pot, combine thawed  berries (if fresh, chop berries and add with 3/4 c water), ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire, molasses, and chilis. bring to a boil then simmer for 20 min, allowing the sauce to thicken but don’t let it burn! Once simmering is complete, taste, salt and pepper, and maybe throw in another chopped chili, or if you’re nervous, just another teaspoon of the adobo sauce. This sauce is all about your comfort with the taste. It should be a little vinegary, but now it’s time to balance the acidity–prep the cornstarch by combining with 2 t ice water to form a paste. Add the mixture to the sauce, it’s going to bubble! keep stirring and the heat will activate the cornstarch and thicken it up. Taste it again, the vinegar will have mellowed and the sweetness will be more forward, heat on the back end.

Prep your dough if you’re doing Alton’s recipe, if you’re planning on making some day of dough, he’s got a great grill dough recipe I’m a fan of as well, but it’s going to end up with a different texture than the overnight dough I linked to above. Roll out the dough to the desired pizza size. The crust should be evenly rolled out and thin– prep it on a cutting board that you’ll be transferring straight to the grill.

Prep the pizza toppings and have them ready to build.

When you’re ready to combine and cook, get the fire on the grill going–Preheat your stone, cast iron pan, or whatever you’d like to put the pizza on. Check the temperature before you put the crust down, then toss it on– FOR 2 MINUTES. Pull it from the grill, flip, and dress the cooked side with your sauce (don’t go overboard, just a thin layer), cheese, onion, berries, and chicken. If you want to level up the grill flavor, wide cut your onions and grill them when you do the chicken. You may prefer to leave the basil off to the end–that is just fine.

Once the pizza is dressed, place it back on the grill and cover–cook for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to set for about 10 minutes–then top with your basil (if you’ve kept it off to this point), and enjoy!

BBQ Blackberry Chicken Flatbread Pizza | Sponsored by Oregon Berry Commission

BBQ Blackberry Chicken Flatbread Pizza | Sponsored by Oregon Berry Commission

This post was sponsored by the Oregon Berry Commission. Love blackberries? Check out my recipe for a Lemon Cake with Blackberry Glaze. If you would like to check out more recipes head over to their recipe archive.