Neighborhood Happy Hour Crawl: SE Belmont District
Like many of the major boulevards of SE Portland, Belmont has seen renovations in the last few years, with condominiums being developed up and down the street, and new bars coming in every year, making it an increasingly excellent place for a post-work happy hour drink or three. Most of the bars are concentrated from around 20th to 40th; fortified with alcohol, revelers could easily wander the street and hit up all of our favorite spots listed before dinner time.
Conquistador: Tufted black leather furniture and dark lighting make this a swanky, cozy lounge, which serves Americanized Mexican food that is so good it’s easy to miss the fact that it’s entirely vegetarian. Margaritas are the speciality here, naturally, and they are offered for $5.50 during happy hour, 4-7 PM. Go early: the place tends to fill up and service can get a little slow at times. (2045 SE Belmont St.; 503-232-3227)
The Nest: The original Nest on Alberta was destroyed by a fire in 2012, and has since relocated to Belmont. The place is a charming hodgepodge, with an upstairs lounge that feels more like a living room; a pool table; a beautiful copper bar with boudoir art on the walls; a downstairs with ping-pong, live music, and trivia; and an outdoor patio with umbrellas and heaters for the winter months.
The drink menu at The Nest is unorthodox, but fun, with ingredients such as Emergency and drinks as simple as “Vodka and Sprite”, as well as classics like the Dark n’ Stormy. The bar also has an array of infused spirits. Happy hour is from 3-7 PM, and includes $1 off speciality drinks, and fifty-cents off well and draught, making a well cocktail only $2.50 and pints $3.50. With free pool being offered as well, this is one of the best happy hour deals in town. (2715 SE Belmont St.; 764-9023)
Sweet Hereafter: As the craft cocktail scene has swept up Portland in its craze, there are more than a few bars whose execution fails to meet with their ambitions. This is not the case with Sweet Hereafter—the drinks here are excellent. The bartenders know and obviously love their craft, whipping up classic and novel cocktails with aplomb. Patrons can also order the more affordable Mason Jar drinks, though be careful with how many of those you imbibe, as they pack a punch.
The space itself is lovely, with hardwood and large iron lights, and a beautifully backlit bar. Also excellent is the entirely vegan food menu, which offers inventive fare beyond the usual faux-meat dishes. The Jamaican bowl, with jerk tofu, coconut kale, black beans and brown rice, is especially good, as is the vegan Banh Mi sandwich. All of these food items are $1 off for happy hour, which is offered every day from 4-7 PM. Unfortunately, Hereafter doesn’t offer happy hour specials on their cocktails, though they offer $1 off well drinks, house wine, and select beers. (3326 SE Belmont St)
Aalto Lounge: Named for Finnish Mid-Century designer and architect Alvar Aalto, the Aalto Lounge is a stylish, sleek bar with a fantastic cocktail list that includes a number of Old-Fashioned variations--like a Mezcal version. The bar has local DJs every night of the week after 9, and feature local artists on their walls.
Aalto Lounge is the reason you should travel to Belmont for happy hour. There are three different happy hour cocktails, a cucumber, lavender and gin drink; one with bourbon, rose water and pomegranate; and a spicy vodka-pineapple drink; as well as “grown-up Jello Shots”, all for only $2 apiece. Also available during happy hour are bottles of wine, red or white, for $10. For food you can order a large soft pretzel with cheese-sauce, or a grilled cheese and tomato soup, also for only $2. There’s a reason happy hour at Aalto is generally packed, especially on Fridays and Saturdays. During the summer months there’s no better place in SE to spend a sunny afternoon than Aalto’s back patio. Just remember to tip appropriately: Your bill may only come to $8, but they made four cocktails for you. (3356 SE Belmont St.; 503-235-6041)
Photos by Alex Frane
Tags: Beer, Cocktails, Food, Music, Spirits