Corvallis, Oregon Bar & Tavern Review
Tailgaters Sports Bar & Grill,1425 NW Monroe Avenue, upper floor on east side of the Cobblestone Square building. 541-752-6316. Drink deals range from decent to pretty good. Pretty good beer selection. Three or four pool tables, a big screen TV plus a handful of regular TVs. They occasionally have a DJ with music. Watch out for angry jocks/frat guys. Due to bar fights in the past few years the place has gained a reputation as something of a dive. The OSU student newspaper The Barometer has given it less the stellar reviews, too. They have people working the doors to check ID, but on a positive note I don't think they ever have a cover charge. Their hours are wacky-- I'll drive by at midnight on a Tuesday night during the summer and the place will be packed, but its dead at the same time on a Friday night, or closed. Sancho's, in the same building, also has wacky hours (see below).
Sancho's Mexican Grill, 1425 NW Monroe Avenue, upper floor on west side of the Cobblestone Square building. 541-752-2500. Beer and mixed drinks are about average in price and they have drink deals that vary according to what day of the week it is. The menu is fairly small but the food they do offer is pretty good. They have a nice covered balcony with chairs but on the downside it gets frequently monopolized by jocks/frat guys from OSU who hurl drunken insults and food articles at pedestrians walking by below. When this people are absent the balcony is a breezy and relaxing. The advantage this balcony has over Tailgaters is this one allows drinks on it.
Clodfelter's, 1501 NW Monroe Avenue, on the corner. 541-758-4452. Beer and drinks are on the pricey side, even the domestic beer. Food is fair to good. Sorta jocky but not nearly as bad as Tailgater's. There is a patio out back with tables and a fenced-in area out front with some small tables and a gas heater (used when weather is cold). Crowd is somewhat varied -- you get a little bit of everything here. The building is very old and has a lot of character; I believe its been Clodfelter's since it was built in the 1910s. They told be they try to close before Tailgater and Sancho's do so their crowd doesn't come over and cause problems at Clod's. Another downside to the bar is it gets PACKED beyond belief and many of the patrons are unwilling to scoot 4 inches to allow you to get to the bar. I've overheard a couple employees make snotty bigoted remarks but couldn't get their names so I could never report it. Walk out, sans tip, if you hear this shit, and you'll be a better person for it.
Bombs Away Cafe, 2527 NW Monroe Avenue. 541-757-7221. Decent beer selection and GOOD food (in this case Mexican). Fair beer selection and mixed drinks range from reasonable to very good in price/value, depending on what night of the week you're there. The place is a little on the cramped side, but has character. Lots of lesbians, unfortunately few gay males, such is Corvallis. Big college hang-out for the non-redneck/hillbilly students. Live music on occasion, but the acoustics are awful.
The Peacock Tavern, 125 SW 2nd Street. 541-754-8522. Probably the most famous bar in Corvallis. I think it opened in the early-1920s, and has been in the same spot the entire time. They feature some drink deals during the week and their regular drink prices are pretty good compared to some of the other bars and taverns around town. Good food, numerous pool tables and weekly tournaments, too. The upstairs has two tables but is generally only open on Friday and Saturday nights. They would originally only charge cover occasionally, but as of late-2004 its every Friday and Saturday night, and sometimes during the week, for bands that range from bland to a little above average. The new cover charges plus Father Time working the front door giving you the stink-eye as you walk by may make you plan your visit accordingly. Clientelle is very mixed -- you see college students, little old folks, people who come in mainly for the billiards, etc. Homeless people frequently stop by the fenced smoking area in front to panhandle but they don't usually cause trouble. In late-2005 the smoking area began getting plagued by groups of angry 20-somethings picking fights with patrons and this shit needs to stop -- keep your eyes open. About 5 - 10 years ago it was much more of a jock/biker bar. At the present it is much more of a general bar. Interesting trivia: The upstairs was a gay bar in the 1970s and into the 1980s.*
Squirrels Tavern, 100 SW 2nd Street. 541-753-8057. Being a tavern they offer only beer and wine -- no hard liquor. Which leads me to my next observation: The clientelle is mainly non-redneck OSU students (the same ones mentioned above, the ones you can actually carry on a conversation with), hippies, writers and Hewlett-Packward employees. The place has also been called "the closest thing to a gay bar Corvallis has", even if it is only dykes making up that clientelle. Once in a long while you will run into a gay guy, but he's usually only visiting Corvallis, i.e. visiting his parents. This is because most of the gay guys in Corvallis who are 21 and older drive to Eugene or Portland on the weekend out of fear of being seen in public in Corvallis with their gay friends and being perceived as gay (you guys know who you are). Getting back on-topic... Picnic tables outside covered by an overhang offer haven to smokers. Squirrels is a fairly famous place and has been open in the same spot since 1974. Good beer selection, but unfortunately overpriced, even their domestic beer, a technique used to weed out potential drunks. Its cheaper to go with a friend or two and get a pitcher. Two pool tables upstairs and GOOD food! But plan ahead -- they only take cash, no credit cards. (They do enough business to make this an option if they wanted, but its their way of say 'damn the man'.)
Crowbar, located in the back area of American Dream Pizza at 214 SW 2nd Street. 541-753-7373. Happy hour is 4:30pm to 6:30pm, I think. The bar infuses their own vodkas and gins, starting with basic vodka and basic gin. Among the finished products are blackberry vodka, grapefruit vodka, ginger gin, plus a few others I can't think of offhand. There are large illuminated glass containers on the back shelf of the bar containing the liquor being infused, which usually takes a week or two. They offer a number of different martinis and various mixed drinks using these liquors, and they are excellent. During happy hour all the kamikazes are $3.50 (price subject to change). Guinness on tap! Not on that, but its probably the cheapest pint of Guinness in Corvallis! The food is excellent, the same as at the other American Dream Pizza locations. The bar is fairly dark but stays nice and cool as a result. It is also probably the smallest bar in Corvallis...if its not, then Bombs Away's bar is. Two TVs. Staff is friendly and will usually let you change the channel if business is quiet. Overall a neat little place with great drinks. They have Guinness on tap and it might be the cheapest in town...?
Fox & Firkin, 202 W. 1st Street. 541-753-8533. (They had a website up until recently but it appears to be gone now.) This bar has 35+ beer types on tap, more than any other place in town. The food is excellent. They occasionally have live music but the acoustics are terrible. The service is reported to be downright awful by over half a dozen different reliable sources, but I was served fairly well when I was there. Maybe it was a good night? Anyways, the little asshole with the beady eyes and the tattoos, whos nickname I was told after talking with the bartenders is "Stinky", apparently (charming!) who was managing the place is gone now. He took over AJ's, turning it into The Union and putting it out of business. As of right now, March 26th, 2007, that space is empty. I went in several months ago and liked it. I'll have to go in a couple more times before I come up with a conviction but at this pont I'd say its worth trying.
140 NW 3rd Street. 541-754-7448. Fairly cheap drinks but they are also one of the worst bars in town. The bouncers are untrained and unaware of what is and isn't Senor Sams property -- they thing the space in front of the bus station, in front of the post office nook, and in front of The Mac Store is all their property. Its not. The bouncers are unreceptive when told of an imminent obvious problem. This is a recipe for a very bad and violent experience. Senor Sams is to be avoided, at all costs, even if it means being a "wet blanket" when you friends all want to go here. I'm not fucking kidding. I've lived here in town for 4 years and even have a website reviewing the bars here. This place is a shithole. The cops are called there at least once every weekend.
(This space reserved for whatever happens with the Headline Cafe/Endzone bar property, if it becomes another bar/pub/tavern.)
Some upcoming reviews:
Murphy's Tavern on south 3rd street (southtown). I am having a tough time with this one because every time I go by the place they are closed. I think they're a weekends-only place during the summer. My parents were going to treat me to lunch there, but when we got there it was closed. Wacky hours. Numerous people I've spoken with tell me the place has their prices set artificially high in order to keep southtown people out but I have yet to go in myself. I'm told the food is excellent.
Darrell's Restaurant & Lounge The place has been around for years and is something of an institution. I was in the bar briefly in May or June of 2005 with two friends but we decided to leave because one of them had forgot their ID and they couldn't be served without it. Much of the interior of the lounge is original from when the place was built: Overstuffed vinyl booth seats, tacky wood paneling and bar back, etc. It has the Lawrence Welk thing going on, and by that I mean so cheesy it ends up being cool. :) People tell me its more of a bar for the older crowd who live in the north side of town. Can't tell you much more than that at this point.
*Most people, customers included, are unaware of this and some GLBT reading this may have a hard time believing it. For example, I've met a few dykes in particular who refused to believe it, even though various sources, completely unrelated to each other, from inside and out of the GLBT community have confirmed it. Just go ask your 55-year-old Big Mama Juniper Sage lesbian neighbor, the one who has been in Corvallis for 25 years, and see if she remembers. If she doesn't, she very well may be blocking it out because of a fear of alcohol induced by an alcoholic father or family member. Don't laugh, I've known an alarming number of damaged lesbians in Corvallis that fit this description. Or, she's flat-out lying. At any rate, its rather sad the town has regressed rather than progressed in the GLBT field -- we managed to LOSE a gay bar, when we have a population of 74,000+ (counting non-resident students) and an alledgedly large GLBT community, which is more than enough to support one. Also consider Ashland, Oregon has circa 25,000 people (as of the year 2001) and yet it can support two different gay bars. It should also be of note that the city of Couer D'Alene, Idaho, stronghold of the Aryan Nation, has a gay bar. Something is wrong with this picture. They have one while Corvallis does not, and if anything, Corvallis deserves one. Bite me, Carol Carver. You obviously can't see the forest for the trees, please do not attempt to.