Covering 180 miles of Oregon coast travel: Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Waldport, Yachats & Florence.
Rock Stars of Oregon Coast Bars
(Oregon Coast) – Nightlife on the Oregon coast is going through a bit of a renaissance as of late, with business people becoming increasingly aware that the entertainment needs of tourists from the valley are getting more and more sophisticated. Just hosting a blues jam or having a couple of lowbrow beer specials won’t always do the trick, especially with visitors from Portland, who require some sort of higher form of entertainment at night.
As the coast gets more popular, more people are snagging second homes in the region, and groups of twentysomethings and thirtysomethings join that demographic. This is a group that is accustomed to a plentiful nightlife scene at home.
Keith Schreiner, keyboardist for Portland band Dahlia, sees the writing on the wall, especially after a recent and quite successful show in a bar in Nehalem. “I came from New York,” Schreiner said. “And you could go out to the beach at the Hamptons, enjoy the surf and sun and nature, and stuff. But at night, you had cool clubs to go to. Sometimes you wanted a bit of sophisticated New York life at night, even though you were on vacation.”
The expansion of wine bars popping up all over the coast is another indicator of this. There’s a whole upscale demographic that’s historically been left out of things to do at night on the Oregon coast. But now they’re being given an option at places like Yachats Wine Trader or Yummy in Seaside.
It’s in that spirit that BeachConnection.net presents this small tour of interesting nightlife possibilities for the intrepid explorer. Like so many aspects of the coast, there’s much more than you think lurking beneath the surface.
Pudgy’s: Unattractive name – great bar. What a loungy experience it is, too. The place has quite a retro feel to it. Apparently it’s been nicknamed the “Star Trek bar” at times over the years, because it sometimes looks like one of those kooky old episodes of the series where Kirk is hitting on some blond in the lounge of a starbase somewhere.
It’s here where the famed “Bubble Man” of Seaside sometimes hangs (he’s a quirky fixture around town, with his massive flurry of soap bubbles he lets loose to entertain kids). A couple of the older ladies that work here are tremendous people – but we’ve unfortunately forgotten their names. 227 Broadway. (503) 738-8330.
Girtles: If you dig karaoke - or even if you don't - check out Bucky behind the Music Machine. An interesting mix of KJ and live performance, Bucky stretches the boundaries of the oft-maligned role of KJ to nifty new heights. It's fascinating to watch technically - and fun as heck. It’s not unlike that “karaoke from Hell” in Portland, where you actually perform with a live band – but without that lanky goofball leader of the band, none of that “we’re all so precious” attitude from the band and participants, and a little more high tech. You'll find him there all week - on weekends with his band. 311 Broadway. (503) 738-8417.
Bill's Tavern: The homebrewed beer is celebrated, and the place is supposedly haunted by a ghost. You pick which is the Rock Star of this long-venerated hangout. Hemlock St. (503) 436-2202.
Warren House Pub: It’s quite possible this is one of the coolest bars in the state. There’s nothing that sticks out about it: no funky gimmicks or twists on the bar scene. It’s just a great little bar with no smoking that is exceptionally friendly, laidback, and not too upscale but neither a dive by any means. The locals that are regulars here are wonderful folk.
The drinks here really stand out at times, with some interesting and innovative takes on mixology. Like the “Roo Paul” (booze in a root beer float of sorts).
Then there’s Kyle – one of the coolest bartendresses you’ll ever meet. Quick wit and great conversation are just the beginning of her exceptional qualities. 3301 South Hemlock. (503) 436-1130.
Nehalem Bay Winery: By far one of the coolest booze-slingers on the coast (although it's only wine and not booze), Melissa is the hostess-with-the-mostess. Otherwise known as Mel, she not only provides excellent and exuberant advice for the wine tasting experience, but she steers the course of the winery's always-exceptional entertainment as well. Hwy 53 - between Wheeler and Nehalem. 888-368-9463.
San Dune Pub: The bar itself is one cozy bit of fun, with loads of lovely locals and regulars who inhabit these woodsy surroundings.
But a favorite of BeachConnection.net’s will always be Tamra, who continually graces the other side of the bar and shines with her ability to not only pour well but has an exuberant personality. She’s also pretty funny. Laneda Ave. (503) 368-5080.
Watering Hole: Some truly cool things are starting to happen in this sizable bar in the middle of nowhere. It began with a dizzying display of electronic DJ’ing, which defied anything else going on up and down the entire coast. Then, they dared to bring in electronic band Dahlia from Portland, which was essentially bleeding edge for any coastal bar. Now, there’s a regular lineup of cool bands, DJ’s and other forms of entertainment looming, which will result in some stunning new ways to have fun on the north coast.
Manager Marcus is the recipient of the official “rock star of coastal bars” title for this club, for his visionary approach to bringing a bit of Portland nightlife to the beach. Also exceptional fun are bartender ladies Sarah and Ali, who may well be the two most beautiful creatures on the entire coast. Highway 101, Nehalem (a half mile s. of Manzanita). 503-368-4990.
Rick’s Roadhouse Bar & Grill. Finally, another decent bar in Rockaway, and this one’s a real gem. Classy yet not pretentious, owner Rick has brought a shot in the arm to the area with his new bar. Karaoke at night (run by the owner himself), super friendly locals, some excellent service and stellar food all typify what is quickly becoming a hotspot among residents, part time locals and tourists. Plus it’s no smoking, which is such a pleasant thing these days. Highway 101, Rockaway Beach. 503-355-2052.
Maxwell's: Every night is karaoke night at this lovely bar in the middle of things in town, with the usual helping of kooky locals and wacky tourists enjoying themselves a little too much at time.
Mr. Gary mans the mikes most nights of the week (making it “Garyoke,” it seems), providing a confidence-inducing touch and yet a truly personable and courteous approach to the KJ thing. A fabulous book here includes thousands of selections – including some wonderful rarities from David Bowie, Peter Gabriel and even Brit monsters Manic Street Preachers. Now how cool is that? There’s not even a place in Portland that has this many Manics tunes.
Meanwhile, behind the bar lurks the always-agreeable, redheaded Shalom, whose adept pouring arm and bubbly personality makes her one of the best behind any bar on these shores. 1643 NW Highway 101. (541) 994-8564.
Roadhouse 101: Essentially, the whole staff at this gargantuan facility is stellar, with lots of warmth exuded at regular intervals. Their expert cocktail manipulation doesn't hurt for that fuzzy feeling, either. The bar itself is a cavernous wonder, with some of the biggest crowds you’ll ever find on the entire coast. Some pretty darned good blues bands haunt this place, giving it some of the finest you'll encounter in Lincoln County. 4649 SW Highway 101, Lincoln City. (541) 994-7729. www.roadhouse101.com.
Landmark Restaurant & Bar: So many incredible things abound here it's hard to pick just one. Incredible service. Outstanding live music: John Shipe is a regular, as are some fairly big names in the national and semi-national worlds of rock and blues. And some of the best Italian cuisine this side of the Atlantic. Then there's that bar that keeps collecting holiday decorations - while never getting rid of the last holiday's trinkets. Halloween, Christmas, Mardi Gras and whatever else simply pile up to resemble something out of a Tim Burton flick. Hwy 101. (541) 547-5459. www.landmark-yachats.com.