20 Places to Get Your Housemade Soda Fix
Forget the high fructose corn syrup, these Portland restaurants, breweries, and bars are swapping out the Pepsi in favor of craft syrups and fresh bubbles.
We get it, it's hot. Nobody you know has air conditioning (much less a pool), and you can't sit in your ice-cold Prius forever, so what's a sweaty Portlander to do? Drink up!
Not only is the Rose City a hotbed of breweries, urban wineries, cold-press coffee pushers, and distilleries ready to knock out that heat stroke with a high-proof cocktail, we've also got a growing community of taste tinkerers looking to boot modern fountain sodas from the menu.
Here are twenty local watering holes bringing back the soda jerk, on ice:
- The Original (pictured at right): Harking back to the days of fresh milkshakes, made-from-scratch desserts, and a good old fashioned breakfast served all day, this downtown diner offers a long list of natural housemade sodas—including ginger mint, five flower, candied lemon, pineapple shrub, coconut, honey rosemary, and rhubarb. 300 SW 6th Ave
- Harvester Brewing: The gluten-free beer experts at this Southeast Portland brewpub aren't limited to the boozy side of beverages, as evidenced by the delicious, balanced tartness of their housemade strawberry-rhubarb soda. 2030 SE 7th Ave
- Radar: This modern, maritime-infused bar and restaurant on North Mississippi crafts their own ginger and raspberry sodas—and their own zippy tonic water. 3951 N Mississippi Ave
- Fireside: While the appeal of a central fireplace may lose a tiny bit of its charm in July, this Northwest Portland hub has another draw in the summertime: house sodas boasting flavors like tangerine and bay leaf or rhubarb and mint. 801 NW 23rd Ave
- The Pok Pok Empire: From Sen Yai and the Whiskey Soda Lounge to the Pok Pok mothership, each of Andy Ricker's award-winning restaurants offer the Thai food guru (and documentary star's) full line of Som drinking vinegars as sodas. Each one pairs perfectly with the restaurant family's big, spicy flavors. Try tamarind, pomegranate, honey, raspberry, pineapple, ginger, Thai basil, apple, and a few seasonal surprises. pokpokpdx.com
- Pizza Maria: Thomas Keller’s baking collaborator Sean Coyne recently unleashed his wood-fired Neapolitan-esque pies on SE Division Street, and the bar program is keeping pace with a series of housemade syrups primed for cocktail stardom—and super Italian sodas—with herbal and fruit flavors like thyme and strawberry.
- Biwa: This perennial Japanese favorite offers "chu-hai’s"—Biwa’s take on traditional Japanese iced highball cocktails made with shochu—that make the most of Biwa’s housemade sodas, syrups, and produce. Not in the mood for the shochu part? Each cocktail—think ginger-orange-hai, pepper-hei with black pepper and fresh lemon, melon-hai with watermelon syrup, genmai-hai with toasted rice and vanilla, and mugi-hai with barley tea and milk—can be made with soda water for a non-alcoholic flavor bomb. 215 SE 9th Ave
- Dick’s Kitchen: Paleo? Vegan? Gluten-free? Dairy-averse? Vegetarian? Adventurous omnivore? Portlanders of all diets and appetites get excited about this whole food-focused diner, and can gather around the soda list, too—made with cane sugar, not high-fructose corn syrup. Stay tuned for an opening report from the restaurant's third location on SE Woodstock! dkportland.com
- Imperial/Portland Penny Diner: Vitaly Paley's SW Broadway double-header offers seasonal ingredients on the plate and in the glass, with housemade soda flavors like strawberry coriander, orange turmeric, vanilla almond, and lime. 410 SW Broadway
- Aviary: Soda is a true passion of Aviary bar manager Ross Hunsinger, who launched his own line of craft sodas (including Spruce Cola, Birch Root Beat, Tonic, and Ginger Beer) in 2013. 1733 NE Alberta St
- The American Local: With regional flavors and multicultural influences, this "New West Drinking Food" restaurant is one part izakaya, one part road map of America's culinary legacy. The owners' attention to quality extends to the bubbles—the 'Local offers house-brewed ginger ale, root beer, and lemon-lime soda. 3003 SE Division St
- Blue Plate: All of the house sodas at this downtown lunch counter are made from scratch with cane sugar and natural ingredients, with flavors like orange, strawberry, pineapple, lemon, neon lime, ginger spice, vanilla-honey, and creative blends from the Purple Haze (hibiscus, allspice, and star anise) to the Hawaiian Sunset (pineapple, coconut, and strawberry). 308 SW Washington Street
- Hot Lips: The papa bear of Portland-made sodas, this pizzeria's seasonal Northwest fruit-powered fizzes (Hawaiian ginger ale, marionberry, black raspberry, cherry, cranberry, pear, and raspberry) can be found at markets around town—and at all Hot Lips Pizza locations, natch. hotlipssoda.com
- Dime Store: A newcomer to the diner revival scene, this West End eatery from Dayna McErlean (owner of Yakuza, DOC, the Colony, and Nonna) serves up house sodas with inventive flavors like celery, orange mint, and maple. 837 SW 11th Ave.
- Clyde Common: Sure, they've been nominated by the James Beard Foundation for best bar program in America, but it's not just about cocktails, people. The downtown mainstay also shakes up housemade ginger beer, pomegranate-grapefruit soda, and sparkling lavender lemonade. 1014 SW Stark St
- If Root Beer is your go-to soda order, local breweries have you covered. Hopworks, Deschutes, Laurelwood, and Rogue all offer small-batch root beers to match the effort and flavor of their boozier craft brews. Fort George in Astoria bucks the brewers trend with a different root (well, technically a rhizome) in their refreshing ginger beer, on tap at their North Coast brewpub and second-floor pizzeria with a view.
Now it's your turn. Where are you tempted to order the mocktail instead of the cocktail? Tell us in the comments!