Rock Creek Tavern – Hillsboro

McMenamins Manic Mondays – Episode Two.  I know, I know I’v e been teasing the Grand Lodge for a couple of weeks now, but do any of you have any idea how freaking big that place is?  I feel like there could be at least two to three episodes just about the Grand Lodge, so to try to take it in smaller chunks I’ve decided to keep working on that episode and to also continue to visit other McMenamin’s locations and continue the slow march forward.  To that effect t, I present you the Rock Creek Tavern.  This place is fantastic.  Filled with amazing signs, unique and random decorations, and a plethora of wonderful things to see.  But first…

Where is the Rock Creek Tavern?

Despite the fact that I’ve visited Rock Creek Tavern at least twice previously, I still had little idea where to find it – as it turns out it’s just up the road from the other McMenamin’s location – the Cornelius Pass Roadhouse – which is another location I’ll be reviewing very shortly, I can only do so much after all dear friends.

Outside Rock Creek Tavern

I drove there just after work and arrived around three in the afternoon.  The parking lot wasn’t deserted, but there were several spots left close to the entrance.  The entire place reminds me of the town in the movie “The Lord of the Rings” where the hobbits all go to meet Gandalf – the Prancing Pony in the town of Bree?  It’s got a familiar feel to how I imaging that place feels.  But, before I get too far, as soon as I arrived I noticed the lovely entrance.  The it’s got a great big sign outside and a beautiful means to get to the front door.

The Rock Creek tavern main sign is easy to spot from the street - while most of the structure except the fireplace is wooden - adding to the vintage feel and esthetic
The exterior of the Rock Creek Tavern is just gorgeous – there are many plants and the wood has a deliberately unkempt appearance (though I suspect that is on purpose).  The sign is easy to see from the road and there is great parking available
The exterior stairs is a way to access the upstairs seating area and the upstairs dining room
The stairs on the outside of the building is a means to access the upstairs seating area and the upstairs dining room – where the pool table and shuffle board are located
Tables in front of the main entrance all wrought iron and comfortable looking
The tables in front of the front entrance are hidden from highway view by foliage, but I can imagine they would be very comfortable in the spring in the late evening
The tables on the side of the Rock Creek Tavern - made from split logs
There are quite a few split log tables on the side of the Rock Creek Tavern – during this time of year, I figure they aren’t used too much, but when I visited previously they were extremely comfortable
Below the exterior stairs is a hidden two-person dining table - perfect for an intense chess or checkers game!
There is a hidden table just under the exterior stairway.  It looked like a perfect spot to have a killer game of chess or checkers

Inside Rock Creek Tavern

The first thing you’ll see when you use the front entrance is the huge iron stag bust.  This thing is huge and amazing.  Wow.  I was blown away.  Just below that is a large traditional bar area, behind which you’ll find the cooking area.

The unofficial mascot of the Rock Creek Tavern, at least as far as I’m concerned
This seems a bit like the informal mascot of the Rock Creek Tavern, so that’s what I’ll call it – it’s pretty amazing, either carved or somehow made out of metal
The bar area and the cooking area located just below the second floor dining area
The bar area is just near the cooking area, and both are just under the stag bust in the front area

Another item that I noticed, that I suspect not as many others will notice is the handcuffs attached to the water line near the ceiling above the bar area.  Yeah, I noticed it and was lucky enough not to get myself locked up when I took the picture.

The handcuffs near the ceiling above the bar left more questions in my mind than they answered
Not sure the reason this is here or the crime one has to do to be locked here near the ceiling above the bar, but it does not seem like a pleasant experience

Inside the Rock Creek Tavern there is a cheery fire that seems to be something that is at most McMenamin’s locations – they must understand the comforting feel the fire provides.  It’s not gas powered, there is a stack of firewood next to the fireplace.

The fireplace is wood fueled and very relaxing to sit by and have at meal at
The fireplace isn’t gas fueled like many places there is a wood pile next to the fireplace and the bartenders regularly add pieces when needed
The enclosed stove is also wood-fueled and enhances the vintage look to the Rock Creek Tavern
Another heat providing item at the Rock Creek Tavern is a large stove that is also wood-fueled.  It looks like something Sasquatch would have in his house in the super deep woods!

As I sat down and started observing I noticed all kinds of odd vintage advertisements.  There are faces not he walls, old vintage signs advertising all manner of products.

Lots of interesting vintage advertisements
In this picture alone are several odd advertisements – The Cock Inn, the Grocery and Provision Store, Doray Starch, Government Tea, and the Humber Street Board of Trade Labour Exchange
Advertisement for Mitchells and Butler’s Good Honest Beer
Mitchells and Butlers “Good Honest Beer” – seems like the best kind of beer, right?
Advertisements for starch and Milkmaid brand milk
Interesting that there were so many different kinds of metal signs advertising just about everything, here are two advertising both starch and Milkmaid brand milk

While I was looking around I noticed the amazing variety of lights that are in the Rock Creek tavern.  Many of them are on the second floor (where the ceiling is higher – picture later) but I did notice one from where I was sitting.

One of the decorative lights at McMenamins Rock Creek Tavern
I really like the enclosed build with the frosted glass in the flame (or is it a flower) shape.  Made for a beautiful display

Menus and Late Lunch

This was a day I was working late so only had time to grab a bite here after I was off work, that can happen sometimes when I am unable to get to any food then have to  rush to fid something somewhere else.  Luckily I was thinking about McMenamins and managed to find my way here!

The menu at McMenamin’s seem like they are stabilizing somewhat – I remember when it seems like every place had something different, now it seems like there are quite a few items that are similar no matter which place you visit The main menu at McMennamins has some wonderful offerings
The specials menu has some unique offerings depending on where you go
The specials menu is one of the places where items seems to be different depending on which McMenamins you visit.  Lots of local goods and some delicious foods to try

I decided to not be too fussy but I’m a serious tater-tot fan, so had to get the cajun tater-tots but I also wanted a burger so I got the Captain Neon blue cheese burger – wow, that one definitely has an amazing flavor and I whole-heartedly recommend it.  The fries at the Rock Creek Tavern are also  freshly made and just wonderful.

The blue cheese burger at McMenamins is super tasty as is the cajun tater tots and fresh fries
I really like the flavor of blue cheese on a cheeseburger, not sure what it is about it, but it’s super tasty

Second Floor

As soon as I’d finished my meal I paid and took a wander up the stairs to the second floor.  There is quite a bit of space there and even a pool table and shuffleboard table.  The first thing I did after going up the stairs was to go outside to the back porch – it’s a really nice spot that is completely covered and protected from the rain or any weather, though the sides are open.  Even on a drizzly day the covering provides most of the shelter that is needed.

The stairs that go to there second floor – if you go past them on the first floor the restrooms and a large seating area are available
The outside seating area is covered and nicely lit
The section of seating outside is completely covered and has metal chairs that won’t stay wet

Going back inside on the second floor many booths with high backs are visible.  They would provide very nice quiet spots for private conversations and intimate dinners. There appeared to be seating for about forty or fifty people on the second floor.  On the second floor is also a very nice well maintained pool table and a smooth shiny track shuffleboard (I think that is what that is anyway).  Near the shuffleboard if you look carefully you’ll also notice a quite large wooden mushroom with lights coming out of it – little weird that.

Booth seating on the second floor
The booths on the second floor look very nice and comfortable – just the place for a nice intimate dinner or private conversation
The pool table no the second floor is very nice and would be pretty dun to play on
The pool table is quite nice and looks to be in excellent repair.  There wasn’t anyone playing or even on the second floor when I visited
The shuffleboard and large mushroom
The shuffle board (I think that’s what that is…) is very nice however it’s next to a giant wooden mushroom, so not exactly sure what to make of that, but it’s pretty interesting nonetheless

To the left of the pool table is the door leading out and to the stairway on the right of the main sign we’ve already seen.  The doorway leads too another seating area where at least twelve seats are available with table umbrellas.

Tables on the second floor front porch
The tables not he second floor front porch are similar to the ones below – it just isn’t the season to eat outside too much

Rating and Summary

I had a great time visiting the Rock Creek Tavern – like many McMenamin’s locations it’s a singular wonder to itself, the only commonality with other McMenamins locations seeming to be some items on the menu a great disdain for conventional decorating style and a location that oozes comfort and vintage appeal.  I really liked the Rock Creek Tavern and can see myself visiting there to just get away from it all and writing a story (not this one, but one like it!!) while the rain pours and wind howls outside.  McMenamin’s has made it their business to purchase these older locations and revamp them and turn them into classic establishments, and the Rock Creek Tavern is no exception.  I think you’ll love this place when you get an opportunity to visit.  It definitely deserves five big Heywillamettes for all of the reasons I’ve outlined above and more.  I hope you will visit the Rock Creek tavern to see just what I’m talking about.



One comment

  1. Just moved this venue further up on my “to-visit” list. Great descriptive review. I especially appreciated the inclusion of menu pictures. Nice place for a gathering or solo.

    Liked by 1 person

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