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Just outside of town on Highway 101 stands a sign with a cow baring its ass that declares: Cloverdale, Oregon's Best Kept Secret. Living in Tillamook County and having frequent occasion to visit the place, I can tell you it's not the town that's a top secret but the city's only bar, the Riverside Lounge at the Dory Restaurant. It is without question one of the finest liquor serving establishments on the Oregon Coast and well worth a stop and belt if you happen to pass through and can't stand the fetid dairy wind any longer. The Cloverdale Dory is a gritty joint where loggers and dairy hands literally chew the fat. It has unremarkable food but tucked away in back is a spacious lounge, known as the Riverside, that beckons all weary, parched travelers. The Riverside Lounge sweats a lusty fishermen ambiance, free pool and a powerful heating fan that goes well with a double Irish coffee on a chilly afternoon. The main pull of this bar however, the very magnet that holds you here for hours, is the wonderful view of the Nestucca River. Whether the river washes logs past in winter or sways drift boats down during summer, the window is the place to take it all in and regroup after a dismal romance or ridiculous day looking for meaningful employment. Besides the scenery, there is free pool and occasionally a two-man hillbilly outfit plays the Riverside and locals have been known to join in and jam. You won't hear polished country music but it feels real and doesn't sound like the face-lifted crap that's aired on TNN. As for alcohol, the liquor offerings are cheap and full of Hunter S. Thompson's favorite brands. Incredibly, no draft beer is available but it hardly matters after viewing the variety of canned and bottled brew. The appearance of my personal favorite, a 14.9 oz. black can of Guinness shocked me considering most local patrons were weaned on Bud or Miller, but it symbolizes what makes the Riverside special. Cinderblock taverns dominate the Oregon Coast's cheap drinking life and this jewel of a saloon is a diamond in the manure. It exists where it should not, exactly like one tall, old Douglas Fir left leaning in a brutal Oregon Department of Forestry approved clearcut. One last suggestion when visiting the bar. Sit near the windows overlooking the Nestucca and look straight down to the water. Observe a creek enter the river directly under you and think about this: I recently heard an old timer remember how salmon once journeyed up this steep tributary, through the city and high up into the Coast Range to spawn. One day, so the story goes, bungling lackeys from the Oregon Department of Transportation constructed an illegal culvert that blocked passage, thereby killing a fish run that thrived for thousands of years. At the Riverside Lounge, the salmon are damned but the booze still flows. That's a sin that commands any moral drinker to order another shot of cheap whiskey backed by a cheap Pacific Northwest lager formerly brewed in the Pacific Northwest and begin serving a proper hangover penance.
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