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April 2nd, 2008 12:00 am Amy Mccullough | Bar Reviews

Virginia Cafe

Smoke doesn’t get in your eyes.

VIRGINIA CAFE: Old wood, new digs.
IMAGE: camronbrowne.com
You’d think the weirdest thing about Portland staple the Virginia Cafe’s new digs (820 SW 10th Ave., 227-0033) would be the fact that it’s, well, new. The hardwood floor is gleaming; the burgundy-and-cream velour wallpaper is pristine. But by far the most unsettling thing about this downtown favorite—which, thankfully, brought most of the furniture and woodwork from its since-1922 locale behind Nordstrom with it—is the fact that it’s non-smoking. The air smells…like nothing. A thin layer of tar and nicotine is only apparent in spirit, lingering more on your mind than in your nostrils and sparked only by familiar sights: the fancily scribed “VC” marking the front door; the wood-and-glass foyer tacked with signs indicating specials and the soup of the day. The worn wooden booths topped with yellow-tinted glass are the same; the happy-hour cheeseburger is still four bucks; the winning lip-print contest entries are still strewn about the walls; the stereo and stack of CDs still occupy shelves to the right behind the bar; and some changes, like the plethora of pinup-girl art in the ladies’ room, are welcome. Not sure if mozzarella sticks and the tuna sandwich have always been $9 each (yikes!), but when your eyes are blurred by a slight tear upon glancing at a photo of the past VC’s neon-green signage, you’ll just order the cheese bread ($2.50), double up that bourbon and let it slide.
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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