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10 Portlandia-Worthy Restaurants and Bars

By Kelly Dobkin
August 19, 2013

Sometimes we feel like we're watching an episode of IFC's Portlandia when we step into certain eateries lately. From bike parts and mustaches to a bespoke water menu, restaurant culture has embraced some hipstery trends that would make comedic gold for the sketch show. Here's a lineup of restaurants, bars and trends that could inspire their own parodies. (Note: we say this with love.)

  • Kinfolk Studios, Brooklyn, NY

    A plethora of things make this Brooklyn bar/bike shop/art space Portlandia-esque. (And we just named three of them.) The space houses trendy Scandanavian pop-up restaurant Aska but is also home to art exhibitions, DJ nights and a design space for bikes. But it's the terrariums on the bar that really drive home the fact that it's basically a hipster mothership.

  • Tres Gatos, Boston, MA

    A restaurant meets record shop meets book store? Paging Fred Armisen. Double Portlandia alert: this is a tapas joint. Tres Gatos serves tapas in a large living-room-like space, and its back room is a used vinyl (and book store), so there's a huge hipster contingent always culling through old Bowie records with wine in hand. Live music on Monday nights ties the whole theme together (we're assuming no gentle bands will be present).

  • Handlebar, Austin, TX

    A mustache-themed bar? You bet your suspenders. There's also Jenga, pinball and an adult-sized seesaw to play on. Immaturity + mustaches = Portlandia fodder.

  • Bike Parts on the menu at Battery Harris, Brooklyn, NY

    Jerk chicken, a bespoke cocktail and bike parts? All of these are on the menu at Battery Harris. At this newish Brooklyn bar and eatery, you'll find a list of bike parts on their regular menu (a recent addition), just in case your ride needs some new tubes while you're dining. (P.S. don't drink and bike.)

  • Malort on tap at Scofflaw and Trenchermen, Chicago, IL

    Malort is one of those uber-hipster beverages that's an exceptionally acquired taste. It's a Swedish, wormwood-based liqueur that has its roots in Chicago and is a source of pride for local cocktail enthusiasts. But putting this very hard-to-quaff drink on tap? We think this calls for some playful chiding.

  • Water menu at Ray's & Stark Bar, Los Angeles, CA

    This popular, farm-to-table eatery doesn't really have much of a Portlandia vibe overall (although billing itself as "farm-to-table" might count), but how could we overlook its extensive water menu? Beginning with a quote from Da Vinci, the menu explains how H2O is essential for life and then follows with a list of bespoke waters ranging from $4-$42, including 90H2O - the "champagne of waters."

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    Pizza Brain, Philadelphia, PA

    This quirky "pizza museum"-slash-pizza joint in Philadelphia's hipstery Fishtown hood is stacked with pizza memorabilia. It's a pretty standard pizza joint otherwise but they have some interesting toppings for their pies, including pizza-flavored ice cream (see our video here). Plus its "totally sauce-some" owner Dwyer (pictured) has that certain Portlandia quirkiness about him.

  • Pay-What-You-Want-Restaurants

    While these are still few and far between, pay-what-you-want restaurants have been trending the last few years, most likely inspired by Panera Bread's Panera Cares initiative. Rocker Bon Jovi even got in on the action with his JBJ Soul Kitchen in Red Bank, NJ. As noble as this concept is, it seems ripe for a little Portlandia-style parody.

  • Do or Dine, Brooklyn, NY

    Justin Warner's outlandish cooking style and sense of humor earned him his own Food Network show after winning Next Food Network Star (the show has yet to kick off save for one episode). But it's his original Brooklyn eatery Do or Dine that started it all (menu items include foie gras doughnuts and the like). I mean, what other restaurant has a Christopher Walk-in?

  • Lightbar, Portland, OR

    We'd be remiss not to include at least one restaurant from Portland on this list, and this place epitomizes everything we're talking about. Lightbar is a restaurant and bar that incorporates "light therapy" into its dining experience, including light-based art. Whether or not the lighting used here is actually therapeutic, it seems like the gimmick this place is hawking is most commonly referred to as "ambiance" everywhere else.

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