865 Forest Ave., Portland
First off, credit for this great find goes to my buddy, happy hour aficionado “Wild” Bill Dawson.
I recently ran into Wild Bill at the redemption center next to RSVP. As we were cashing in our slips, Bill suggested, in his characteristically insistent way, that I join him for a beer at Mexico Lindo, just down the street, his treat.
It was 3:15 on a Tuesday afternoon. I’d just made $12.35 for a half-hour of smelly, sweaty, aurally discordant labor. Why the hell not?
It took a minute or so to make a left on Forest, and when I arrived, the restaurant’s lounge was empty save for Wild Bill and the bartender he was already chatting up. Mexico Lindo is classy in the style of other family-style Mexican places around here, like Tortilla Flat and Mesa Verde. You don’t expect dirt-cheap imported drafts and free, delicious food or, for that matter, Wild Bill Dawson. But that’s what you get here, folks (minus Wild Bill, most of the time), and not just between 5 and 7. Happy hour here is otherwise known as their hours of operation.
The skinny: $1.50 drafts and free, warm, real tortilla chips with tasty salsa, all day and well into the night. A man can live, quite happily, on this special for several days if necessary. That’s a hallmark of a truly outstanding happy hour.
There are eight beers on tap, but two I consider real deals: Dos Equis Lager and Dos Equis Ambar (my choice of the two). If so inclined, you can also drink buck-fifty Shipyards and Sam Adams Lagers and still feel special, but it’s hard to swig a Bud or Miller Light at that price and not feel a bit bummy.
For entertainment, there’s Mexican music in the background and a TV tuned to Fox Sports Español or a Latin music channel – both are pleasingly diverting, though it was creepy the way the music channel kept posting the fact songs remain copyrighted for 70 years after the artist’s death (and viewers need to know that because…).
There’s another Mexico Lindo location on Route One in South Portland, attached in some fashion to a HoJo. Bollard meat critic Mort Viande raves about the food there, and the dishes I saw at the Forest Ave. place looked really good, but I’m no food critic, and besides, I was already full of chips. This relatively new location was the famed home of Raoul’s Roadside Attraction years ago, before a series of short-lived eateries came and went.
Wild Bill’s discovery inspired me, so the next day I rounded up The Fuge andBollard contributing writer Patrick Banks for further research. The question: could one entice a couple buddies to help return an office-closetful of empties with the promise of buying them beers and cover the cost of said beers, plus one’s own libations, with the money made at the redemption center?
Answer: Sí, se puede, amigo. Yes, we can, my friend.
— Chris Busby
Mexico Lindo’s Portland location opens daily at 11 a.m. and stays open until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, 10 p.m. on other days.