Lutz Tavern

Hamburgers | Tavern
excellent
Worth a detour
Save

Portland is a marvelous food city. If there is one thing it does best, it’s comfy dive bars.

The Lutz Tavern is iconic. Yes, there was more dive bar credibility under the original ownership, and there are those who complain that a remodel has polished away some of its 1940’s dive bar esthetic. We don’t mind a touch-up. This place smells fresher than most dives. Besides, any lost charm is worth the addition of the kitchen. The food is good, and not just dive-bar good.

For better or worse, the Lutz is best known for helping to popularize Pabst Blue Ribbon for a new generation of drinkers. The struggling brand found a home-base here, and its popularity soon spread to all of Portland, and then across the world (PBR is now one of the best selling beers in China). This happened back when the bar’s kitchen cooked only the microwavable minimum to satisfy Oregon law, which states that bars must serve “hot food.”The tavern might now be more famous for its deliciously salty food than its salty bartenders.

The burgers are bar fare with creative toppings. Grass-fed beef and brioche buns make for a good starting point, but the other ingredients are thoughtful and locally inspired. Cheddar is Tillamook, hot sauces are made in-house. The Backdraft Burger comes with pepper jack, chipotle aioli, and grilled jalapeños. Onion rings are soaked in “satan” sauce. Shoestring fries are fresh, hot, crunchy, and well-seasoned.

The pork tenderloin sandwich is a golden taste of the heartland — a pork cutlet pounded thin with hearty panko breading. It comes bedecked with bright yellow mustard and pickle chips, on the traditional inadequately-sized roll. It is tender, juicy and served fresh from the fryer.

Lutz does everything with extra care and pride. Tots, onion rings, and grilled cheese with caramelized onions are all a step above normal dive bar fare. The food and the decor are models of how to effectively update a classic bar without stripping out the soul.

Along with better food, the bar’s drinks have been upgraded as well with a selection of Bourbons and local craft beers. And there’s still Pabst. Even a can of Pabst deserves good food.

What to Eat
Lutz Tavern, Backdraft Burger
Backdraft Burger
Must-Try
The "onion ring volcano" oozing cheese lava.
Lutz Tavern, Grilled Cheese
Grilled Cheese
A childhood favorite with a few tasteful improvements.
Lutz Tavern, Tater Tots
Tater Tots
Hot fluffy tots.
Lutz Tavern, Onion Rings
Onion Rings
Crispy, delicious onion rings.
Information
Price
$
Seasons
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Late Night
Credit Cards Accepted
Yes
Alcohol Served
Yes
Outdoor Seating
Yes
Website

Other Nearby Restaurants

  • Joe’s Donuts

    Sandy, Oregon

    A ritual for Mt. Hood ski trips, Joe’s Donuts fries clever donuts in a homespun bakery featuring such Oregonian flavors as marionberry and maple bacon.

  • Gravy

    Portland, Oregon

    Gravy is a Portland breakfast destination that balances cozy charm with hip touches. Think super crispy potato cakes and a syrup sponge Monte Cristo stack.

  • Reel M Inn

    Portland, Oregon

    Order crispy fried pickles and settle in for worth-the-wait fried chicken at Portland’s iconic dive bar called Reel M Inn.

  • Water Avenue Coffee

    Portland, Oregon

    Freshly ground house-roasted beans paired with unique syrups and recipes make Water Avenue Coffee of one Portland’s best cafes.

  • Yataimura Maru

    Portland, Oregon

    For crazy-cheap happy hour deals in Portland, Oregon, Yataimura Maru offers ramen, sushi, & other authentic Japanese dishes in a fun, casual setting.

  • Case Study Coffee

    Portland, Oregon

    Case Study Coffee roasts its own and offers a unique selection of homemade flavoring and milk options. Baked goods (including vegan and gluten-free) are tasty.