If you glance at the new Beerchaser map (see link below), you will see that most of establishments visited on Thebeerchaser Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs, commencing in August 2013, are located on the southeast side of Portland – in what includes the infamous and beloved Barmuda Triangle.
It is thus fitting, to hit a Northwest venue – the last one was Slabtown last October – especially when two are located in the same block. And Sniff Cafe may be accurately labeled a “unique” watering hole in Portland in that it appears to be the only one that is integrated with a canine day-care and hotel.
My initial reaction was to harken back to Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Eastern Oregon last summer when I witnessed the antithesis of Sniff at the entrance to two different taverns – one in Burns and one in Prineville. Take a look at these two signs greeting patrons at the doors of these bars.
To the contrary at Sniff, if you stop in for a glass of beer or wine during the Happy Hour times of 5:00 to 7:00 P.M., you get a $1 discount on beer and wine — plus, your pooch gets a free romp in the pet indoor play area – even getting occasional personal attention by one of their attendants. You also get to view not only your pooch, but the other dogs cavorting in this puppy play pen.
Sniff is a neat little bar – it does not have hard liquor, but beer, wine, coffee and snacks ranging from pastries to pizza to wraps. According to our bartender Taylor, who has been at Sniff for two years, it has been successful since it opened in 2010 – even to the extent of recently expanding as can be seen from the picture below.
Instead of hard-boiled eggs, pickles or other unhealthy stuff placed on the bar for snacks, Sniff had dog biscuits!!
I did not have the guts to ask Taylor if he had heard the joke about the dog who walked into the bar and asked the bartender, “Have you seen the guy who shot my paw??? ”
Sniff also has some rules for their pet guests that might be a good idea for some bars to institute as well – especially dive bars with a rough clientele. For example, check out these guidelines below. Substitute “you” for the canine equivalent in the following and you’ll see what I mean:
“We want all our guests to play nice. That’s why we pick and choose which guests will socialize the best…..Call ahead and schedule your free temperament evaluation.
WHAT IF MY DOG DOESN’T PLAY WELL WITH OTHERS? If your dog is not social, or requires one-on-one attention, for the safety of our guests, he or she is required to stay in a private suite and participate in private play sessions and/or walks; additional fees will apply.”
To further the above premise, they also have special rules for females in heat, because they “can stress our male guests…”
Sniff has only four beers on tap (inexplicably no Hair of the Dog Brewery products) but seven additional bottled beers. Also three white and three red wines to try.
To momentarily digress, Sniff also reminded me of my favorite Beerchaser regular, Portland lawyer, John Mansfield. He tends to view phrases literally and on one of our bar trips after he saw a sign stating, “Temporary Dog Play Area,” commented, “Given my scheduling constraints, I would be interested in getting one of those temporary dogs.”
Okay, so let’s assume you either don’t have a dog or you just dropped off Fido at the Sniff Hotel and want to have a nightcap in the vicinity. Just walk one block to a neat little neighborhood bar at 19th and Quimby.
Quimby’s prior to 2011 was named Cheers, which allows mentioning one of my favorite quotes from Cliff Clavin – intrepid regular at the beloved television bar:
“Well Norm, it’s like this. A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it’s the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole….because the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.
In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That’s always why you are smarter after a few beers.”
Quimby’s is a quaint and typical neighborhood bar – with seven beers on tap. Although they have a decent menu including sandwiches, pizza, good soups and more, the bar has a partnership, of sorts, with six food carts immediately adjacent to the back entrance and patrons can bring their cart cuisine inside while consuming their favorite beverage.
According to Steve, the affable bartender, who has been in the business 16 years, although he had just started at Quimby’s that day, their specialty is Buffalo Wings – we verified that they were really good.
They also serve reasonably priced breakfast all day, although when I tried to order one of the breakfast combinations in the early afternoon of my second visit, was informed that they had run out of eggs.
I had heard that the bar could be rather sparsely populated although the late afternoon of my first visit with my daughter and her boyfriend, Ryan, on a Thursday, we had to scramble for a table because it was Trivia Night and people came early for what is usually a big and raucous crowd. The neighborhood is growing by leaps and bounds and patronage at the bar will continue to grow – especially in the summer with the patio area available.
There is both a free pool and ping-pong table plus darts, pinball and three big screen TVs which have PAC 12 and Big 10 broadcasts – evidently Ohio State and Michigan State fans frequent the bar to root for their teams. Happy Hour is every day from 3:00 to 6:00 and they have specials each night such as Taco Tuesdays, Whiskey Wednesdays, etc.
A recent Yelp review summarized pretty well by stating:
“The service is rather impeccable. Attentive, kind and respectable bartenders round out an overall enjoyable experience.”
So the next time you’re in Northwest Portland, give both Sniff and Quimby’s a visit.
(To view the map with all the bars reviewed by Thebeerchaser, click on the “View Larger Map” link at the bottom of the map below)