After two years, the Porter Beer Bar finally reopens

New chef E.J. Hodgkinson and owner Manny Maloof revamped the space, the menu, and added extra beer taps

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Molly Gunn and Nick Rutherford opened the Porter Beer Bar Little Five Points in 2008, growing a steady following of beer connoisseurs and locals who appreciated the warmth and creativity the pub offered. Fourteen years later in 2022, after pushing through a recession and a pandemic, the couple was ready to move on. That’s when Manny Maloof, owner of Manny’s and Euclid Avenue Yacht Club, approached chef E.J. Hodgkinson (formerly of King + Duke and JCT Kitchen) about plans to take over.

“That place is awesome. I recognized how important it was and didn’t want to see it go away,” Hodgkinson says.

On May 10, the duo relaunched the Porter, which had been closed since July 2022, with a new menu, 18 additional beer taps, and a renovated interior. “We wanted to carry forward the aesthetic of the Porter but improve upon it,” he says. “The charm was the knickknacks stacked everywhere. You felt like you were in someone’s home. We wanted to pay homage to that.”

They tore up the Spanish tile floors and uncovered terrazzo underneath, replaced light fixtures, and built new, bigger booths and tables using polished curly cherry wood. They added a classic bar rail, painted part of the walls dark blue, and used the antique suitcases (previously stacked) as art on the wall. The old tables and booths—many of which Rutherford had made from hand—were recycled into a barrel ceiling.

“Porter means a lot of things, including a person who carries baggage. We’re uncovering a lot of history here,” Hodgkinson says.

Like the space, the menu has changed, although Hodgkinson is careful to preserve customer favorites like the goat cheese fritters, pull-apart pretzel, salt and vinegar popcorn, and fish and chips. “They’ll be on the menu in perpetuity,” he says.

New items include a seasonal panzanella, a riff on angry mussels using beer instead of wine, and crispy fried Hen of the Woods mushrooms served with French onion dip. The veggie burger will continue to be made in house—this one showcasing mushrooms, carrots, onions, chickpeas, and kidney beans. It’s served smash burger-style with a double patty. The “Roast Pork Sandwich By Way of Philadelphia” features pork shoulder marinated for days, slow roasted and sliced thin, then topped with sharp provolone, spicy relish, and braised greens. It comes on an Amoroso Bakery roll from Philly.

“It’s fun, creative, well-intentioned, updated, funky pub fare, and it’ll continue to evolve,” Hodgkinson says, adding that weekend brunch is planned for the near future.

Of course, Maloof and Hodgkinson are also prioritizing the beer program. They now have a total of 60 taps, including direct draw lines, allowing for cask beers, cold brew coffee, wine, and cocktails in the future. Most of the brews are from Georgia, with some domestic and international options. A beer cellar features a whopping 800 bottles.

“We really wanted to come out of the gates swinging on the beer list,” Hodgkinson says. “We have some of the best breweries around, including Cantillon on draft.”

Even the cocktails have beer inflections. Take the espresso martini, for example. It features an imperial stout syrup made from Old Rasputin. Long-time Porter fans can rest assured the popular Lemon Gingerade will still be available, with or without vodka.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Manny Maloof owned Manuel’s Tavern. It has been corrected to reflect that he owns Manny’s.

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