The best bar in Portland changes pretty much every night, depending on who shows up, what beers get tapped and who controls the speakers.
Our pick for the top brewpub, dive bar or wine lounge might change by the time you've finished reading this. But here are the spots, new and old, that we're most excited about right now. For a comprehensive list of favorites, check out our Bar Guide.
Where to drink this week:
1. The Lay Low
6015 SE Powell Blvd., 503-774-4645.
If former dive bar Club 21 is now an outdoor graffiti museum on Sandy Boulevard, the old owners' new Lay Low Tavern is like a museum devoted to Club 21, with seemingly every bartender, every piece of decor and the build-your-own burger bar transported intact.
2. Ground Kontrol
115 NW 5th Ave., 503-796-9364, groundkontrol.com.
Ground Kontrol's got a new expansion in the old Backspace with 16 taps, more space and—gasp!—modern games. But the old room's now being remodeled.
215 W Burnside St., nyxpdx.com.
In the former Alexis, Nyx plays host to a crowd that looks more Brooklyn or Chicago than Portland—with hip-hop and sneakerheads worlds from the usual Old Town fratboys and fuccbois.
4. Tonic Lounge
3100 NE Sandy Blvd., 503-238-0543, tonicloungeportland.com.
Panic Room Caution: High Volume Bar is now the Tonic again, the metal continues, and all is right with America. God bless what's left of America.
5. Cosmo Lounge
6707 SE Milwaukie Ave., 503-233-4220.
Cosmo is a Westmoreland gem we forget about sometimes—then ease into with the comfort of an old sweater—just the right mix of dim light, enormously stiff Jell-O shots and velvet-painted ladies.