It's no wonder that this neighborhood watering hole has that lived-in feeling of a place that's been around forever; it has. The building was owned and operated by the same local family for nearly a century before it sold to one of its regulars in 2005.
Chris Ongkiko, former owner of the Lava Lounge, has gutted and updated the place, which had earned a reputation as a pretty rough hangout. The new identity pays serious tribute to its lineage, featuring the original handcrafted wooden bar and cabinetry and decorated with framed black-and-whites of past glory days. The name, a reference to the Continental Railroad, is a nod to the bar's original title, "The Hiawatha," after the nearby Amtrak line. To the delight of seasoned patrons, former owner Arlene Lasso still holds court behind the counter many days.
The result? Rather than trying too hard to look retro, the authentic throwback decor and unassuming crowd of regulars mixed with curious (and younger) newcomers give The Continental a speakeasy feel that elevates its status from local dive to late-night lounge. New, comfortable booth seating and DJs spinning rock, indie and downtempo styles Wednesday through Saturday (starting at 10 p.m.) make it an ideal place to unwind.
Specials change nightly, but you can always get your PBR for $2.50 and domestics for $3; cocktails are a standard $5-$7. When the warm months hit, take your libation out to the beer garden or sidewalk cafe.
Centerstage Reviewer: Julia Steinberger