Rose City Book Pub in Portland, Oregon, sold me on its name alone. Combining two of my favorite indulgences – books and a nice cocktail – this neighborhood spot is a cozy, quiet reprieve from the hustle and bustle of downtown.
Located in what was formerly an Irish pub, owner Elise Schumock opened Rose City Book Pub in 2018 with the intention of keeping much of the décor the same, giving the book pub a quaint, lived-in feel with old wooden bench seats and dim lighting. One important improvement, however, is the books.
The literary portion of the book pub is eclectic and interesting, with inventory gathered over the past forty years by Elise and her parents. (Her father once interviewed authors for Between the Covers, a literary series on KBOO, Portland’s community radio station.) From literature to fiction to children’s books to local authors, there is a little bit of everything. While the children’s books appeared to be compiled together, I didn’t discern much structure with the remaining shelves, so don’t step into the shop with a specific title in mind. Rather, enjoy the hunt. There is a tall shelf along the wall near the door, so if you end up waiting in line for your drink, there are plenty of books to browse. Several more shelves are chock full of books on the other side of the space, with plenty of table seating in the center.
The pub’s menu is café and bistro style, and there’s an alternating list of beers, wines, as well as cocktails with locally-sourced spirits. (I was intrigued by a peanut butter whiskey but didn’t sample it…which I slightly regret.)
The pub also maintains an active events calendar of trivia nights, live readings, music, book clubs, kids activities, and more. There is also apparently a back patio for private parties.
It was a quiet Sunday evening when I stopped in. The few tables occupied consisted of people reading, working on laptops, and a group of young women engaged in conversation. The staff was friendly and welcoming, and the atmosphere was pretty chill.
Were I local, Rose City Book Pub is just the kind of low-key jewel I would adopt as a regular hang-out. As Willamette Week recently proclaimed, the pub manages to fuse two of Portland’s trademarks – beer and used books – without a drip of pretension.
Rose City Book Pub is located at 1329 Northeast Fremont Street, Portland, Oregon. Open daily.