By Cat Wurdack


1401 SE Morrison St.


Tues. – Wed. 11 am -11 pm

Thurs. – Sat. 11 am – late

Sun. brunch 10 am – 3 pmalite-bar-out


Sure, everybody loves Portland when the sun is shining, the IPA is flowing, and the tulips are blooming. Come November when the temperature drops and grey skies settle in for another seven months, we hunker down, upgrade our Netflix account, and try to hold on until spring. Even those who kayak and hike and thumb their nose at the rain can’t deny that something essential is missing: light!

Lightbar owner and developer Alex Carlson has seen the future and the future is light –  soothing, energizing light that provides relief in the dark days of a Portland winter and has been known to alleviate symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D), a condition that likely affects more of us than we know.

Carlson offers an alternative to sitting home alone and staring at a clinical-looking sunlamp. His light-enriched cafe bar offers fast, free wifi; parking; and a cool place to hang out in all types of weather. He uses a cutting-edge DMX control system to adjust the interior light and influence the mood with a touch of his iPad.

Working with an infinite palette of colors and color combinations, Carlson can cool things down with a blue and violet palette for example, or warm them up with a spectrum of orange, red, and yellow. He plans to install therapeutic, individually-controlled lightboxes (12” wide by 6” tall) at each dining table. The lightboxes, which Carlson designed, will be available for about $150. alite-bar-2

Carlson says that the LED light arrays he uses are the newest on the market and produce the best light. The light moves down the wall and along the ceiling’s perimeter while slowly rotating and morphing through a chosen color palette. He customizes the program about once a week so the lighting is always a little different and he’s open to customer requests.

Lightbar features perfectly-brewed Coava coffee. Gatto and Sons provides the kitchen with fruits and vegetables, and a menu of seasonal dishes offers affordable and healthy meals that depart from the predictable restaurant fare.

The light and hearty wasabi and potato salad (gluten-free) of chopped Romaine, al dente fingerling potatoes, and caramelized shallots is tossed with a creamy, full-flavored wasabi dressing.

An albacore tuna sandwich of olive oil-poached tuna is updated with hazelnut pesto, sliced heirlooms, and fresh mozzarella, and served on toasted ciabatta.

Everything is around $10. Bar specials include barrel-aged infusions of smoked chipotle and sage tequila and a Manhattan mix of bourbon & vermouth.

Bring on the light.