Clinton Street by bike

If you’re gonna lug out your bike for the first time since the snow, it’s gonna be for a damned good reason, right? Well, try this on for size: alcohol. Now that I’ve got your attention, let me tell you about one of the best little bike-friendly neighborhoods to get your drink on.

Clinton Street is a main bike thoroughfare and host to numerous critically acclaimed bars and restaurants. Clinton Street also offers ample public bike parking, meaning that your ride will be safe while you venture out into the night. The compact nature of Clinton means that, when all is said and done, you won’t have to blearily scour your mind palace for where you left your bike.

No bones about it, good spaetzle is hard to find in Portland. That’s why Victory Bar absolutely needs to be one of the first places you visit on your way through Clinton Street. This World War II themed bar serves macaroni and cheese spaetzle, mushroom spaetzle, chorizo spaetzle, sausage spaetzle and pork belly spaetzle. As for their drinks, if you like gin and bourbon then this is the place for you, because those two things are in, like, everything. Victory Bar is a proper place to begin your campaign on Clinton, but that might just be the propaganda talking.

Perhaps you’re craving something a little more exotic on your bicycle journey. Not sure exactly what Midwestern food is, or even if it’s something you would want to try? Pop one of Savoy Tavern’s molten fried cheese curds into your mouth and all the secrets of our Midwestern brethren will be revealed to you, don’t cha know? Savoy also offers one of the most robust happy hours in Portland, with food and drink options that land right within that college budget safe zone. Drink specials that change nightly help to seal the deal. And if you don’t mind doling out a little more cash, the kindly folks at the Savoy can mix up seemingly any variation on the Moscow Mule ever conceived.

From dinner, an adventurous Clinton Street visiter needs to head to Dots Café. Dots is a trip, man. There’s really no other way to put it. It’s hard to say that Dots is the place for you unless you somehow fall into the strange Venn diagram overlap of “likes alcohol, bar food and most everything involving vinyl and velvet.” New management took over Dots a couple of years ago and the reaction seems to be positive. The food is more consistent, the service seems to have tightened up and there’s still a judgmental cat painting on the wall.

After some eats, maybe try moseying over to the Clinton Street Theater, which has a long history of befuddling first-time visitors to Portland who, glancing out the window of one of the cafes opposite the theater, find themselves wondering why groups of scantily-clad young people have congregated around the doors, singing and sizing up each other’s rice. This is, of course, because the theater hosts showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show every Saturday night at midnight (doors open at 11:30 p.m.). The theater encourages patrons to dress up and bring their own props, such as the aforementioned rice. The Clinton Street Theater also plays independent and second-run movies on a nightly basis, but they might look at you weird if you wear little more than garters to those shows.

If luck smiles upon you and you find yourself romantically entangled with your own sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania, you might find that you begin your next day on Clinton with some traditional Swedish fare at Café Broder. This tiny cafe offers up some known breakfast fare, like baked eggs and potatoes, but also offers more exotic cuisine like lefse, a Norwegian crepe, and aebleskiver, Danish pancakes.

Bar List

Victory Bar
3652 S.E. Division St.

Savoy Tavern
2500 S.E. Clinton St.

Dots CafÉ
2521 S.E. Clinton St.

Clinton Street Theater
2522 S.E. Clinton St.

CafÉ Broder
2508 S.E. Clinton St.