Have you ever been a regular somewhere, be it a bar, restaurant, or coffee shop? I was absolutely fascinated by this post of A Cup of Jo about being a regular and the intrinsic comfort and consistency that provides. It brought back many fond memories I have at the one I place I would have considered myself a regular – Boulevard Taco in Portland. From the post:
When your bedroom is so tiny that the only place to store your clothes is on a rod hung over your bed, you can either spend your time horizontal planning your next outfit or out at your favorite local spot. Maybe it’s a cafe, maybe it’s a restaurant. For me, it was the bar that became an extension of my home — a living room big enough to fit more than one chair, always filled with familiar faces, and yes, where everybody knows your name.
As I mentioned, I have also been a regular somewhere. And not just anywhere. At a hole-in-the-wall taco restaurant and bar in North Portland. Much like the New Yorker confined to a postage stamp sized apartment, Cameron and I were in a college house with roommates that we didn’t always see eye to eye with; Boulevard Taco became a treasured spot that was just for us. A place to escape, a place to call our own.
While it was true you simply couldn’t beat the $12 combined cost for both of our meals, it was also simply a place we loved to be. We retreated from the sweltering heat of the Portland streets in the midst of the summer days. We went late on Tuesday nights when the piles of homework got in the way of the best laid plans to cook dinner. We went to celebrate birthdays, good grades on exams, and hourly wage raises. We went when we wanted to be out of the house but didn’t want to venture far.
As we went to different universities, more so that any place in Portland, Boulevard was our shared, central spot. It was huddled at a ricky table that I still vividly recall getting the jubilant texts that friends were engaged and when we arrived back in Portland after getting engaged ourselves I opened the door to a chorus of “let’s see it!”. They had known we were getting engaged before I did! And of course, they catered our wedding – at a venue 120 miles away from their restaurant despite never having catered an event before. I have a favorite Boulevard tale of, after deciding late in the afternoon that we wanted to watch a highly publicized boxing match, we walked into Boulevard’s bar that’s designed to hold 25 people. It was bursting at the seams with nearly 50 people and tables had been jammed to fill the space, wall to wall. As the two groups ahead of us in the doorway had been turned away we fully expected to be heading back home; instead we were treated to a hearty hello. Long story short, they retrieved a patio table and chairs from outside and made other groups already seated get up to make room for us, bringing over our orders just as we were sitting down. I felt so special and cared for – this place we loved so much loved us back.
Cheers, Central Perk, The Peach Pit — there’s a reason hangouts often play supporting roles in our favorite TV shows. We all have those places that provide us with comfort and consistency.
This bit of the blog post also strongly resonated with me. Anyone who knows me well, knows I’m a huge How I Met Your Mother Fan. Like many of the shows listed above, the gang frequently (okay, constantly) hung out at McLaren’s and one such episode details the saga of Robin getting a drink named after her at McLaren’s. When an enchilada plate was named after me, that’s when I knew I had really, truly made it.
I’m in Portland for work this week, so Cameron chaffered me down and we spent the afternoon roaming our old haunts – of course we stopped for lunch at Boulevard. Greeted like old friends, we caught up with the owner on home searches, baby updates, and ate our fill of tacos just like the good old days. While we don’t currently have anywhere where we are regulars, the memories of being a regular there are some of the best of my college days with Cameron. So. I’m curious – are you a regular anywhere? Have you ever been a regular?