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Ahh, “bar food.” Equal parts guilty pleasure and veritable necessity, there's no shortage of options for greasy fare in well-lubricated Portland. While smothered tots and buffalo wings can be epiphanic when cooked to perfection, this tends to be much more of an exception than a rule. More often than not, late night eats in the area fall flat and would be a tough sell at two in the afternoon. They’re typically built for soaking up alcohol, and little more.

Hence my decision to approach LFK’s recently updated bar menu a bit differently than many patrons will — at 6 p.m. on a Sunday, chatting life with an old friend over a single beer.

Make no mistake — LFK is far from a dive bar serving up reheated steak and cheese. The space itself continues to be one of the more unique rooms in Portland, the cocktails are well thought-out and the vibe is classy-casual to the max. This doesn’t skirt around the fact that LFK is a bar above all else, however, evident immediately by the food served within. Think dual red hot dogs (beautifully referred to as “Lewiston Lobster Rolls”), deviled eggs, nachos — you get the idea.

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Deviled eggs

Some of it is pretty good, too. “The Devil’s Eggs” are made-to-order classics, hit with a flurry of paprika and pushing out plenty of kick and tang to justify the next bite. Fried green tomatoes are crunchy, acidic and loaded with juicy goodness, enveloped in an impeccable breadcrumb crust and served with a sidecar of Sriracha ranch. “I Wanna Be Your Gyro, Baby” is standard Greek fare, albeit absolutely loaded with some of the tastiest gyro loaf I’ve had in Portland.

The burgers are worth looking at, too. The “G.O.A.T. Cheeseburger” — filthy with goat cheese, pesto and wild mushrooms — is sturdy, funky and ideal for delaying the next crushing hangover.

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The "Cluck Be A Lady" pizza at LFK.

LFK’s hand-tossed pizzas (made to order) look great on paper. Unfortunately, the “Cluck Be a Lady” tasted this particular evening (Sriracha ranch, BBQ chicken, bacon, red onion, scallion) went limp and fell apart when divided into slices, dripping copious amounts of toppings onto unsuspecting table and hand. I hesitate to say that this is the pizza M.O. at LFK. I may well have caught the kitchen on a bad night, but it was not good.

I love bar food. I love it when it sucks, and I love it when it’s surprisingly great. LFK somehow toes the line, offering bites that satisfy and those that simply do not. Pick your poison.

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LFK | 188A State St, Portland | 5 pm-1 am 

Erik Neilson is a writer, musician and passionate foodhead based in Portland, ME.

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