Oregon is home to a lot of restaurants, bars, wineries, and breweries, but there are tons of hidden gems that some Portlanders aren't unearthing. To help guide us to these potential discoveries, we've enlisted some of our city's many food players to share their recommendations for a weekly feature dubbed Dining Confidential.
Image of Ladd's Inn courtesy gotime.com
Jabriel Donohue, formerly the bar manager of Acadia Bistro, is currently the vice president of the Oregon Bartender's Guild, meaning that you'll often find him on the other side of the rail at bars across the city, where he'll be happy to buy you a drink and strike up a conversation any day of the week. But sometimes, even a bartender-about-town needs a break from the mixology scene. "Every bartender I know has a few places that they like to go to hide out after a rough shift or on a day off," Donohue says. "It's not a reflection on their friends or regulars, but when you spend 30 to 40 hours a week on stage, sometimes you just need a break."
Ladd's Inn is one of those places for me. It reminds me of a place that my dad used to work security for on the weekends back when I was a kid (hi dad! Sorry!). It was this joint out on the San Juan Islands that would have shows on the weekends but was otherwise pretty relaxed. This was back around 1989 or '90, but when I walked into Ladd's the first time I was just hit with a wave of sense memory. The pool table is far from perfect and the Karaoke machine is right there on the floor, but I'll be damned if that doesn't actually make the place better. The happy hour specials are also magnificent. My first time there was with Brandon Wise [the current President of the Oregon Bartender's Guild]. We'd just come from a meeting and I'm sure we had plenty of business on the table but the first thing we talked about once we sat down? Baseball.