[Note: Bleachers has since closed.]
Bleachers Restaurant & Pub
118 Preble St., Portland
It’s pre-season football season, and just as the players and coaches need these weeks to get ready for the games that matter, so too do the fans.
Like the players, we’ve got to get into mental and physical shape, able to sit for stretches of three hours or more watching a tiny brown orb sail across a screen that gets blurrier with each passing quarter. The mouth must become accustomed to hot wing sauce, the stomach stretched to hold beer by the gallon.
Like the coaches, we’ve got to pick our players, refine our strategy, practice making hand signals bartenders understand. Come September, we need a sports bar we can count on.
Portland’s pool of sports bar talent is pretty deep these days. Asylum puts out a generous spread and is practically walled with TVs. Rivalries is tough to beat, and Binga’s Wingas’ new Portland Street location is gunning to do just that. Then there’s The Stadium, soon to be joined to a place where the gratuitous boobage isn’t just on the tube – it’s bringing your chicken fingers. (This is, of course, in addition to the scores of smaller neighborhood bars and Old Port hideaways where die-hard fans of teams that don’t have Brady seldom venture on Sundays.)
Bleachers Restaurant & Pub is already a proven competitor, having spent not a few years at the corner of Forest Avenue and Bedford Street, next to USM. Bleachers recently relocated to Bayside, where it occupies a spacious cinder-block-and-brick building on lower Preble Street.
Here’s the scouting report…
Peanuts. Bucketfuls of free, slightly salted peanuts roasted in shells you are free to toss on the floor. If you have a peanut allergy, do not attempt to enter Bleachers. You will die. If you are a compulsive peanut-eater like me, enter Bleachers often. You will be rewarded like the good monkey you are.
Beer. Strong line-up of taps, from PBR and the national predictables to locals like Gritty’s and Geary’s. Plus plenty of bottles and enough hard liquor to numb even a Bills fan’s post-loss despair. (Not that that’ll be necessary this year.)
Wings. Hot, crispy, sold by the pound. Specials likely to be in effect. Plus an exhaustive menu of burgers, fried appetizers, hot and cold sandwiches, Mexican favorites and more.
Waitstaff. Friendly, attentive service from genuinely nice young women who wear the clothing of their choosing and just happen to be smokin’ hot.
Bar games. Amusements include Golden Tee video golf, Ms. Pac-Man, and aSopranos pinball machine. The back room has room for a pool table and a foosball table, but the foos players’ sticks are sticky and we only got one ball for our 75 cents on a recent visit. (Made up for it by eating at least $1 in peanuts.)
Tunes. Jukebox is, mercifully, not Touch Tunes, but is full of albums by great ’70s rock bands made in the 1990s or later. Van Halen’s 1995 album Balance, for example, should not be occupying jukebox space anywhere outside Cabo San Lucas.
That’s it. Overall, Bleachers is outstanding, a great place to view this season’s games. This is a sports bar with a neighborhood bar’s heart – a neighborhood sports bar. It’s spacious, but not huge, so show up early to get a seat. Then grab a bucket of nuts, a brew, and get crackin’. You’ve only got 17 weeks to make the sports bar playoffs.
— Chris Busby
Bleachers opens daily at 11 a.m., and closes around 12:30 a.m.