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The Down Towner Sept 2004 - 10/1/2004


Nightlife in downtown Medford once may have been an obsolete term that brought to mind rundown buildings, antiquated parking and “slim pickings” for Friday night fun. Downtown Medford now offers a variety of appealing options.

All within walking distance, a combination of clubs and restaurants offer locals and visitors alike the chance to “shoot pool,” enjoying a cold drink or relax to the sounds of rhythm and blues. In recent years, a number of clubs geared to special age levels and interests have made their way downtown. As early evening winds down and galleries and shops close for the day, the atmosphere turns festive and music drifts down sidewalks.

At the core of downtown, Las Margaritas hails the corner of Riverside and Main with family dining fun, while across the way, Highwaters Nightclub sits above the historic Hubbard’s Ace Hardware, offering light dinner faire and a live DJ.

A stone’s throw down Main, the Osprey and newly opened Sambuca’s Martini Bar and Italian Bistro sit side-by-side offering two very different club flavors. Sambuca’s features an authentic Italian menu, full bar and specialty martini’s while Osprey offers locally famous hand-tossed pizzas., an extensive variety of beer “on tap” and a glimpse into the evolution on Downtown Medford nightlife.


“Medford seems to suddenly have gotten a really nice bar scene in the downtown” said Osprey bartender Julie Jensen. “It’s kind of mimicking that Ashland thing where you can walk around different places and hang around all evening….I think it’s a really great atmosphere.”

Just down the road, along Riverside, Bozz Bluez & Jazz Club pipes out great jazz and blues in an atmosphere all its own with free appetizers and special music nights, featuring

jazz to karaoke. Rack Em, just past HighWaters is packed with pool tables, a jukebox and cold beer- perfect for nightclub-goers who want a little more to do. Red Lion’s Characters night club manages to have yet an entirely different flavor in a dimly lit atmosphere with dancing, cold drinks and pool. At the opposite end of downtown, Samovar’s features authentic Russian cuisine while, practically next door, Vibes Main One gets points with the younger and non-alcoholic drinking crowds for headliner events and atmosphere.

Ground Zero, across from the new library along Central, features a popular comedy show and buffet on Fridays, while down Central near the railroad tracks, choose between Habanero’s authentic Mexican cuisine and cozy bar or Porter’s fine dining and quiet, casual atmosphere. Porter’s co-owner Brian Porter agreed that Medford’s nightlife had come a long way. “I think it’s great, of course,” Porter said. “The more new places that open up, the better...We had someone in the other day tell me they liked walking around downtown Medford more the they do walking around downtown Ashland. There are a lot of nice options in downtown Medford all of a sudden.”

Given the season, Porter said a popular weekend treat had become dinner downtown, a show at the Craterian and a favorite club for drinks. With a kaleidoscope of options, Porter said just abut anyone could design their perfect night. “If you want jazz, you can get jazz. Rock and roll? You can get rock and roll…There’s really a nice set of options and choices for people, something for everyone, really. And it’s only going to get better.”

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