A small town in Oregon, a few miles west of Portland.
It is a rural place; quite green, lush, tranquil. One spot in particular is about all I really know about Helvetia, first-hand: Helvetia Tavern.
It’s a destination I’ve been visiting off and on for the better part of 20 years (I love that phrase, “…better part of…”). A good friend from school is a Portland Native; he introduced the tavern to me and a few other friends when we started going to the Oregon coast every year for a guys weekend.
Helvetia is the gateway to a powerful, joyful few days with some of the best people I know in my life. And time with these guys is precious and magic and insightful and I’d say, even sacred.
It’s Soul Time, bar none. It’s one of the most grounding experiences I have every year. I’m always better off after being together with these guys.
And it starts in this little town just west of Portland. Helvetia is on the way to the coast from the airport. The tavern is off the beaten path; you could easily drive by it, miss it, on the country road north off the highway.
The following is a little summary from the community website for the town. It sums up things nicely.
“”Helvetia’s unique character derives from a blend of Native American and European cultures.
Helvetia’s cultural heritage embraces the pre-settlement Atfalati (Twality) inhabitants, now part of The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. Helvetia Community Association partners with the Tribes to interpret the heritage of Helvetia’s first peoples.
German-Swiss farmers immigrated to the Helvetia area over 150 years ago. They saw a strong resemblance to their native Switzerland in the fertile soils and rolling hills of the Tualatin Mountains and named the area “Helvetia”, Latin for “Switzerland.” The Swiss culture remains a vibrant element of our area as we continue to honor their hard-working heritage.””
I just think of Helvetia as classic Oregon Americana. It’s a step back in time. Right there in God’s Country. Big burgers, good beer. Need anything else? Just the good friends I visit with.
Oh yea, and here’s the Jumbo Cheeseburger, maybe the marquee item on the menu.