July 31, 2014

Prost! in Portland, Oregon

Prost! black-and-white exterior shot

photo by: Prost!

The c. 1894 building at 4237 N. Mississippi Avenue had been boarded up and vacant for years before its restoration.

It was the old-world, rustic charm that attracted restaurant owner Dan Hart to the modest, 120-year-old building on a street corner in Portland, Oregon’s historic Mississippi neighborhood.

But it’s the authentic German fare and liters upon liters of German beer that, today, draw thirsty Portlanders to Prost!, a friendly neighborhood beer garden.

Open since Oct. 28, 2009, Prost! is located in one of the oldest buildings on Mississippi Avenue. Built in 1884, it was originally a drugstore, then later a community church.

The building had been vacant, boarded up, and dilapidated for several years before it found a new owner. The space was eventually leased to a duo determined to bring an authentic German cultural and culinary experience to Portland: Hart and business partner Chris Navarra, who spent his childhood at his family farm in Buseck-Beuern, Germany.

Prost! interior bar

photo by: Prost!

The owners of Prost! filled the building’s interior with wood paneling and lumber details to accent the historic fabric of the space.

When Hart and Navarra were looking for a space to open their German pub, they weren’t necessarily seeking out something old.

“But we did want a building that, when you walked into it, had the warmth and coziness of something that had been there for a long time,” Hart says. “And there’s just nothing in new developments that has that old, rustic feeling.”

The two made use of the restored building’s historic features, adding wood paneling and heavy lumber touches to create a space that would transport visitors to Germany.

Those visitors are welcome to get cozy at one of the many communal tables, or, on a sunny afternoon or warm summer evening, to find a seat on the spacious outdoor beer garden, which features benches and planters built by Hart and his father.

Prost! outdoor patio

photo by: Prost!

The 800-square-foot beer garden.

Each beer on the menu is imported directly from Germany and poured using the proper technique and into its proper glass, which bears its brewery’s logo. And all food items on the menu are made using local ingredients.

While its annual Oktoberfest celebrations draw a crowd, Thanksgiving is another popular holiday: Since its opening, Prost! has offered a free -- yes, free -- Thanksgiving feast featuring classic holiday vittles with a BYO side dish suggestion.

No wonder so many Portlanders have made Prost! their home away from home.

Hart says, “We transformed it into something that feels like it’s been there forever, much like the building itself.”

Prost! Oktoberfest musical celebration

photo by: Prost!

Prost! hosts an annual Oktoberfest celebration, featuring live music, dancing, and authentic German fare.

Here's what you need to know before you go:

Location: 4237 N. Mississippi Ave., Portland, OR 97217

Hours: Monday through Thursday - 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m.; Friday through Sunday - 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m.

Year Opened: 2009

What to Order: The Bratwurst mit sauerkraut and a Bavarian pretzel, sourced from a local Bavarian market owned by a first-generation German family in Portland. Or try the German Wurst Sampler for a taste of Knackwurst and Bratwurst, served over sauerkraut. Wash it down with crisp Bitburger Pilsner, owner Dan Hart’s favorite brew.

Beer Advocate Bar Score: 91 (Outstanding)

Best Yelp Reviews: “Prost is exactly what I love in a pub: great staff, great beer, good snacks, great deck and it's always hopping.”

“Love this place! Reminds me so much of my travels to Germany.”

“Go to Prost. Bring friends. Get Das Boot. That's all you need to know.”

About Das Boot: A 2-liter glass boot full of beer, meant for sharing. Requires at least three people to partake. “You order a boot and pass it around among your friends,” Hart says. “It’s a very celebratory beer-drinking experience.”

Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based field editor of Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about art, architecture, and public space, and hopes to one day restore her very own Arts and Crafts-style bungalow.

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