In case you haven't noticed, hot dogs have become Portland's next big trend, and cocktails on tap are a close runner-up. So at the newly opened Donnie Vegas, chef Benjamin Artaiz and bartender Jeremy Wilson's bar on NE Alberta, you get a trend two-fer.
But that's not to say Donnie Vegas is actually trendy. The decor is fun, but minimal, the food and drink menus small and approachable. And the duo, recent veterans of Ned Ludd, say their core mission is to make food and drink affordable, not precious. In short, Donnie Vegas has the soul of a dive bar.
The opening menu features six full-size hot dogs, all at $4 or less. There's classic chili cheese and an Old German with sauerkraut, and slightly more exotic options like the Seattle, which sports cream cheese and caramelized onions.
The cocktail menu is anchored by the Moscow Mule, made with local Volstead Vodka and Rachel's Ginger Beer from Seattle, with other options ranging from a refreshing wine spritzer spiked with Pok Pok Som drinking vinegar, and a caffeinated riff on the White Russian called The Dude, made with Stumptown cold brew, blackstrap rum, allspice dram, and condensed milk. They're all on tap and served in pint glasses.
"We will be expanding our menus over the coming weeks," says Artaiz, " and they will be constantly rotating."
But the most eye-popping addition to the 860-square-foot space (not including the giant patio) is the Bruce Lee vs. Mike Tyson mural, painted by none other than Brandon Gomez, another Ned Ludd alum and half of the duo opening P.R.E.A.M. later this spring.
"It is an old inside joke that my business partner Jeremy and I have from when we worked together at Ned Ludd," says Artaiz. "There is a section on Reddit called Who Would Win and there is a huge section about Mike Tyson, being arguably the best heavyweight fighter of all time, vs. Bruce Lee, the best martial artist of all time. Jeremy and I had many long debates over this topic."
Donnie Vegas is open Wednesday-Monday, 4 p.m.-2:30 a.m., with food and drinks available right up to closing. Artaiz says they'll expand to seven days a week in the near future. The grand opening party is Friday, March 6, with $6 Taptails and $4 hot dogs.