It’s hard work, cranking out guides like this one. We spend months researching (that is, drinking) and writing (often while drinking) and fact-checking (usually not while drinking) to ensure we print the best possible directory of bars this city has to offer. In the thick of reviewing, sometimes we visit three, four bars a night. It’s exhausting, all this drinking on the company tab. I mean, we’re not exactly firefighters, but still...
No, there’s no need to thank us for our service. The knowledge that this guide will be of use to our readers is all the thanks we need. That’s why we put in the hours of liver-enlarging labor to freshly review the city’s best 105 bars.
1739 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 238-3693, 442soccerbar.com. 11 am-10 pm Monday, 11 am-11 pm Tuesday-Thursday, 11 am-midnight Friday, 7 am-midnight Saturday, 8 am-10 pm Sunday.
The booming popularity of the Timbers has
inspired Portland bars to cash in, stapling soccer scarves to the walls
and ordering satellite service offering European games live at absurd
times. Four-four-two is more sincere. This manly pub is run by Bosnians
and has that famous Balkan hospitality—servers are a little intense and
won’t necessarily honor an advertised happy-hour special—but with all
those exotic jerseys flying across the screens, it works. The cevapcici
helps, too. Just like better-known Turkish kebabs and Greek gyros,
cevapcici is filled with onions and juicy lamb and beef. Four-four-two’s
cevapcici’s twist is the two pieces of puffy lepina bread fresh from
the frying pan. Once you’ve enjoyed one with a bottle of British beer,
all other food seems inadequately suited to the sport. MC.
Drink this: Boddingtons or Bass.
8325 SE McLoughlin Blvd., 231-9611, acropolispdx.com. 7 am-2 am Monday-Saturday, 11 am-2 am Sunday.
I know that most people head to this
outer Southeast Portland strip spot to watch a naked girl with the word
“DECEPTICON” tattooed under her breasts do pole tricks to “Whoomp!
(There It Is).” Or they come, as many men swear, “for the (remarkably
juicy, $6) steak special.” But for me, it’s about the majestic, 7-foot
statue of Poseidon and his attendant water nymphs that lords over the
black-lit, four-stage carnival of flesh from the corner near the video
crack machines. Look at those rippling abs. Those taut nipples. His
golden crown and that glowing, laser whozi-whatzit he’s cradling in his
giant merman hands. He’s fucking gorgeous. Why aren’t all those
bachelor-party bros, that big leather trucker and the trio of jolly
lesbians at the rack admiring him right now? Jesus, do they really have
pitchers of Ninkasi for $11? And how many have I already had? And why is
there a salad bar 7 feet from a shaved coochie? KC.
Drink this: Many, many $5 pitchers of Miller High Life. Or a 10-egg omelet ($7.50) and a very Irish coffee ($7) at brunch.
4024 N Interstate Ave., 287-5335. 11-2:30 am daily.
Despite its name, the tiki-tacky Alibi is
unlikely to provide you with one; after a couple of Long Island iced
teas (they limit you to two), your friends won’t remember you were
there. So it’s ironic that what it does offer is more history than just
about any bar in town: It began as a 19th-century horse-and-buggy stop
before its conversion to tiki in 1947, and was bequeathed to its current
owners on the stipulation that its eruptive neon exterior signage
remain unchanged. The interior is beautifully seedy, dim, vegetative,
wood-paneled and labyrinthine, with bas-relief hula dancers on the rear
walls, bathrooms smaller than airplane water closets and a sickly sweet
tiki menu that leads to bad behavior. A major renovation has bolstered
the place’s seven-days-a-week tourist-bar karaoke rep, with a new sound
system and big screen. Just watch out for drunken suburbanites on the
Drink this: A classic Singapore Sling ($8) or Beachcomber ($7). Pretend you’re your own musky uncle or makeup-smeared aunt.
Entertainment: Karaoke nightly after 9 pm, locals-only video crack all day.
107 SE Washington St., 575-4861, ambonnaybar.com. 5-10 pm Monday & Wednesday-Thursday, 5-11 pm Friday-Saturday, 1-7 pm Sunday.
Stumbling across Ambonnay feels like
finding one of those secret rooms in video games full of cash and ammo.
Hidden in a tiny blinged-up office at the back of the austere Olympic
Mills Building, this newish bar is stockpiling the best collection of
Champagne in the city. And I mean Champagne in its correct sense: About
85 percent of the two-page list is from the region, much from the
eponymous Grand Cru village of Ambonnay itself. Prestige comes at a
price—only seven selections are available by the glass, and most of
those hover in the $11-$14 range. The pours are substantial, but this is
probably too rich for most casual tipplers to make a night of it. A
better bet is to bring a group and share a bottle, ranging from around
$35 up to $1,000 for a magnum of ’96 Dom Perignon rosé. RB.
Drink this: Owner/sommelier David Speer is a congenial host and knows his bubbly; drink whatever he suggests.
1216 SE Division St., apexbar.com. 11:30-2:30 am daily. Cash only.
Meat market for fixie riders or amazing
beer bar? Why not both! Sure, Apex’s half-block of bike racks,
flattering light, sparse furnishings and inner-Southeast location draw
the skinniest of jeans. But check out that 50-strong tap list! Also
admire the computerized tap board that shows you exactly how close the
ultra-rare but super-expensive keg is to blowing—it’s as advanced as bar
technology gets and the envy of beer geeks the world over. There’s no
food, but Los Gorditos next door has great burritos to go. If the scene
gets to be a little too much for you, the BeerMongers man cave is
Drink this: Beer. Apex has a lot of it.
1733 NE Alberta St., 287-2400, aviarypdx.com. 5-10 pm Monday-Thursday, 5-11 pm Friday-Saturday.
The bar at small-plates restaurant Aviary
strikes a nice balance of new and old. The gleaming wood bar with
high-back chairs, and the soft lighting and white walls give the place a
stylishly contemporary feel. But look around and you’ll notice
old-timey touches like the reclaimed wood and purple velvet drapes from
the church that once stood here, and the antique cash register and
cameras displayed behind the bar. The balance carries over to the drinks
of bar manager Ross Hunsinger, who previously worked at Clarklewis
among other Portland haunts. The Brix Layer ($9) deftly mixes bourbon,
Cointreau, house sour, cherry and bitters, topped by a splash of
cabernet, for a seamless blend of sweet and sour. One Night in Bangkok
($9) delivers tart, refreshing sips with vodka, kaffir leaves, lime,
simple syrup and a “sesame glass” chip. Happy hour recently expanded by
an hour, giving diners and drinkers more reason to linger in this
pleasant space. RF.
Drink this: Brix Layer.
Happy hour: All draft beers $3, house wine $5, well drinks $5, daily special cocktail $6, small food menu; 5-7 pm Monday-Friday.
632 E Burnside St., 233-3110. 4 pm-2:30 am daily.
In keeping with its name, the venerable
Burnside (ergo, “B-side”) dive is in some ways best characterized by
what it is not: the nearby Rontoms, Doug Fir, Dig a Pony, or even East
End. It is resolutely a low-cost neighborhood hangout, not a destination
spot, although this indeed makes it a destination unto itself. It is
always half-full, whether it’s New Year’s Eve or any random Tuesday,
with oft-betatted clientele both loyal and a bit protective, and
bartenders who are always happy to see you if they’ve seen you before.
(It is also the after-work hang for the staff of Le Pigeon.) The walls
bespeak a place both domestic and profane, with a Ted Nugent clock,
framed and sweetly needlepointed doilies reading “Cunt” and “Fuck you in
the Face,” and an ’80s Pee-Chee-style unicorn computer graphic
captioned “Tronicorn will fuck your girlfriend.” The heated back patio
is basically a graffiti museum in pine, with more ashtrays than you’d
expect at a Chinese airport. MK.
Drink this: Canned beer ($2) and a well whiskey neat ($3.50), of course.
Happy Hour: Cans of Tecate, Hamm’s and Rainier are yours for a $1 during the extended “crappy hour,” 4-7 pm daily.
213 SW Broadway, 295-1004, baileystaproom.com. 4 pm-midnight Monday-Saturday.
Simplicity is the name of the game at
this busy downtown beer bar. No liquor, no wine, no food, no games—just
20 taps of craft beer (plus one cask) and a dozen tables filled with
buzzed, mostly male computer programmers, loan officers and other
assorted cubicle drones. The bar’s broad windows along the Ankeny Street
alley lend the long, narrow space a sunny cafe atmosphere—in striking
contrast to its older, seamier neighbors, Tugboat Brewing and Mary’s
Club. Bailey’s is most popular as an after-work gathering place, but I
like it best after 9 pm, when the noise level drops and the corner
tables offer the best possible view of the freak show that is Southwest
Broadway at night. BW.
Drink this: Mad River aged barleywine.
3939 N Mississippi Ave., 288-3895, mississippistudios.com. Noon-2 am daily.
With its luxuriant patio now fully
defended against drizzle by extended roofing and potbelly stove, the
waiting room for prime venue Mississippi Studios is perhaps Portland’s
best locale to spot indie-rock daemons holding court and/or cadging
cigarettes. The $5 burger is highly regarded, the snack tray served in a
cash box ($8.50) is a diverting scavenger hunt, and the cocktail menu
is hit-and-miss. Avoid the Mississippi Slammer ($7), a Southern
Comfort-based red thing that seems targeted at Richard Brautigan’s
“Kool-Aid Wino” if he were an actual wino. Instead, try the Classic Cuba
Libre with Mexican cola ($6) or the Bar Bar Superstar ($8), essentially
a gin gimlet with muddled and squeezed cucumber. AM.
Drink this: Two of those should do you.
Happy hour: $3 pm drafts, $5 margaritas; noon-7 pm Sunday-Thursday, noon-6 pm Friday-Saturday.
Bare Bones Bar
2900 SE Belmont St., 206-6535 barebonescafe.net. 4 pm-2 am daily.
If the first thing you hear when entering
a bar is “I swear the jukebox is free,” there are two possible
scenarios: You’ve found a gold mine, or someone is already stupid drunk.
And while the jukebox at Bare Bones Bar does cost a few quarters, I was
lucky enough on a recent visit to discover that the bar staff and a
friendly patron had loaded it up with enough cash for me to pick songs
by Pavement and Madonna without sacrificing any sacred beer money. The
rest of the space, which opened in 2011 and shares a name with the cafe
next door, is just as laid-back, with plenty of cheap drinks ($2.50
Miller High Life tall boys) and a killer bowl of Frito pie ($6)
featuring vegan espresso chili and lime sour cream. Tip your bartender,
and you just might get a few free plays. MM.
Drink this: The Maple Whiskey ($6.50) blends bourbon, apple brandy, maple syrup and soda on the rocks.
Happy hour: $2 Session, PBR and High Life, $1 off draft beers, $3 wells, cheap food; 4-7 pm daily.
118 NE 28th Ave., 235-2794, beulahlandpdx.com. 2 pm-2 am Monday, noon-2 am Tuesday-Thursday, 9 am-2 am Friday-Sunday. Hours vary with international football schedules.
Ostensibly a soccer bar, Beulahland flies
Timbers colors but is hardcore enough to cater to English Premier
League fans. But don’t let that keep you away. The TVs are reasonably
non-invasive and you’re unlikely to wind up the victim of a
British-style glassing. In fact, the most dangerous thing at Beulahland
is probably the housemade pie. The place is lived-in and cluttered, with
bar-tops and refrigerators that resemble the streamline moderne
Coca-Cola bottling plant across the street. The clientele are all the
coolest 30-somethings from the neighborhood, most of whom are either in
it for a long night of drinking or waiting for a movie to start at
Laurelhurst Theater. (The barkeeps are kind enough to put showtimes on a
chalkboard in the side lounge.) Even when it’s packed on a weekend,
Beulahland feels casual—it’s enough like a truck stop that no one’s
going to call you out for eating pie with that pint. CJ.
Drink this: The HUB Double Organic Ale.
Happy hour: $3 booze drinks and $1 cans of Old German, 4-7 pm daily.
13095 SW Canyon Road, Beaverton, 971-228-8246, billys-bar.com, 11 am-11 pm Monday-Thursday, 11 am-midnight Friday-Saturday, 10 am-10 pm Sunday.
It’s Friday night. You walk into Billy’s Bar. There’s a lot going on here. To the right is an old man sitting at a keyboard, crooning Burt Bacharach-y lounge music. Pairs of divorcees sit at high tables sipping cosmos. A basketball game lights up the bar’s modest-sized TV. Billy’s Bar is a new watering hole in Beaverton, and while it draws a diverse crowd, the atmosphere is comfortable and satisfying. Billy’s is predominantly packed with Beavertonians just looking for a good meal and a stiff drink. The drinks are made behind a majestic wood bar, which is stocked with the usual suspects of liquor and a strong cast of draft beers. Overall, it’s a welcome addition to the neighborhood. Try the meatloaf sandwich. WH.
Drink this: Draft beer (stocked with Oregon standbys like Ninkasi, Lompoc and Deschutes).
Happy hour: 4-6 pm and 9 pm-close daily.
2715 NE Alberta St., 493-4430, binksbar.com. Noon-2:30 am daily.
Binks is warm, and not just from the fireplace. It’s one of Portland’s friendliest pubs, a place where the bartenders remember you on the second visit, and where the regulars are happy to bring you in and make you one of their own. It’s a bar-crawler’s bar serving bar food like pizza and tots, stiff drinks and a modest selection of beers. There are no frills or shticks: just a pool table, a touch-screen, garage-style doors that open in the summer and a couple games. Most important, Binks loves its customers, as evidenced by the framed group photo of regulars on the wall. There’s even a regulars-only jukebox competition, in which customers put a mix CD in the box and get points each time their songs play. To many, Binks is home. In a district dotted with spots that force their identity on patrons, this is where the real heart is. APK.
Drink this: The Bushmills whiskey sour ($7), every bit the “tall glass of kick ass” the menu promises.
Happy hour: $3 micros, wells 4:30-6:30 pm Monday-Friday, 7-8:30 pm Sunday.
Black Cat Tavern
8230 SE 13th Ave., 235-3571. Noon-2:30 am Monday-Sunday. Cash only.
It’s a shame Sellwood isn’t a convenient
destination for most of Portland’s university students, because the
Black Cat Tavern would make one hell of a college bar. Hidden away in an
undiscovered part of the city, it’s instead a prime hangout for the
local working class. Spacious and wood-paneled, it’s got the vibe of a
rec room, with the recreation to match: billiards, three
regulation-length shuffleboard tables (if there is such a thing; they’re
longer than most in town, anyway), arcade games and even a Pop-A-Shot
machine in the back corner. The bar serves only beer and wine, but it’s
cheap and plentiful. Pints, personable people and Pac-Man: What more
could anyone ask for? Oh, a back patio for summer-day drinking? With
horseshoes? Done. MS.
Drink this: Lagunitas IPA.
Happy hour: 50 cents off drafts and bottles, 4-6 pm daily.
2016 NE Sandy Blvd., 230-9590, bluediamondpdx.com. 10:30-12:30 am daily.
Blue Diamond isn’t the kind of place you notice at first.
It’s more of a curiosity. As in, “Hey, there’s a gray-haired old man out
front, leaning on his walker and taking really sensual drags from a
cigarette—so, what’s up with that place?” If you ever get inside,
though, it feels like home in minutes. The dining section looks kind of
like a pancake house—sans pancakes, though the menu is above-average bar
fare—and the bar is an after-hours spot for a rotating cast of low-key
middle-aged men (one of whom usually has a laptop out at the bar—which I
don’t understand) who talk about...well, who knows what they talk
about. I’m observant, not nosy. I just know there’s a picture of
legendary Portland drummer Mel Brown on the wall, and often the
real-life Mel Brown right under it. If the place is good enough for Mel,
it’s good enough for me. CJ.
Drink this: Lagunitas IPA.
Happy hour: $3 wells, 4-7 pm daily.
The Box Social
3971 N Williams Ave., 288-1111, bxsocial.com. 4 pm-2 am daily.
A stuffed peacock roosts high on a shelf
above the bar at the Box Social. It’s a bold flash of décor for a bar,
yet it doesn’t seem out of place in the intimate new space by Sapphire
Hotel co-owner Shannon McQuilkin. Dubbed a “drinking parlour,” the Box
Social aims for jovial but sophisticated and ends up with a dash of
pretension. The vibe is equally appropriate for drinks with friends or a
promising early date, as congenial bartenders formulate cocktails with
pomegranate drinking vinegar and burnt orange peel. They’re delicious
and deceptively strong. Nibbles include the decadent (fig compote and
blue cheese panino) and the nostalgic (goldfish crackers and grilled
cheese sandwich with tomato soup). Happy hours in the afternoon and late
night are the way to go, with house cocktails $6 and snacks $2 to $5.
For a paltry sum, you can walk away as stuffed as the peacock. PB.
Drink this: The Fernando ($8), with Strega, Dolin Blanc and Fernet.
Happy hour: Cheap snacks, $3.50 draft beer, $4 wells and house wine; 4-6 pm and 11 pm-2 am daily.
820 NE Dekum St., 719-6475, breaksidebrews.com. 3-10 pm Monday-Thursday, noon-11 pm Friday-Saturday, noon-10 pm Sunday.
In a city bursting with breweries, it can
take eons for a new beer lab to make its name. For Breakside Brewery,
it took a mere few weeks to become the best reason for non-Woodlawners
to travel to the Dekum Triangle. The reason is simple: the place does
everything right. The glowing restaurant is split between an upper-level
dining area and a lower-level bar with barrel tables creating a
lodge-like ambiance. The beers ($4-$5) by brewer Ben Edmunds range from
mainstays like Hoppy Amber to more adventurous experiments such as the
fruity German concoction Alanbier. As the icing, the joint does
near-pornographic things with its juicy pulled pork, available as a
sandwich ($9) or atop a mound of nachos ($10-$13). There’s even an
outdoor seating area where you can toast passersby before heading to
Woodlawn Park for a little drunken Trek in the Park. Nothing goes better
with Tribbles than a belly full of tripel. APK.
The explosive Aztec packs a wallop at 9.4 ABV and a sweetness that
hides a habanera kick that can turn a tiny beer burp into dragon’s
Happy hour: $2-$6 food specials, 3-6 pm daily and 9 pm-close Sunday-Thursday.
1313 NW Marshall St., 241-3612, bridgeportbrew.com, 11:30 am-11 pm Tuesday-Thursday, 11:30 am-midnight Friday-Saturday, 11:30 am-10 pm Sunday-Monday.
This two-story behemoth of a brewpub sits
nicely in the Pearl. Bridgeport brews its beers onsite, so your frosty
pint of Hop Czar or Kingpin will come fresh from the source. When the
weather is nice, Bridgeport’s outdoor patio becomes of sun-drenched
platform of patrons gulping down ice-cold beer (a refreshing pint of
Summer Squeeze, perhaps.) While the downstairs portion is more of a
family-friendly restaurant, the upstairs area feels more like a bar
where young professionals and twentysomethings gather. Another plus is
Bridgeport is located in the not-so-bustling area of the Pearl, so
parking is ample (and free, if you walk a few blocks east). WH.
Drink this: Downing two pints of Kingpin (7.5 percent ABV) is a real kick in the pants
Happy hour: $3 20-ounce pints, great food for cheap ($2.50-$6); 4-6 pm Monday-Friday.
Brooklyn Park Pub
3400 SE Milwaukie Ave., 234-7772. 2 pm-2:30 am Monday-Friday, noon-2:30 am Saturday-Sunday.
At first glance a humble neighborhood
bar, Brooklyn Park Pub is set apart by its dizzying selection of
whiskey. Sample 30 and you’ll join the Whiskey Club, granting you $1 off
all whiskey for life. For life! Non-whiskey drinkers can sip a draft
micro from a Mason jar and marvel at the amazingly ugly carpeting, which
looks like a little kid’s baseball-themed pajamas. Vinyl swivel stools
and faux marble tables add to the tacky ambiance, and the wood-paneled
walls have been plastered with images of groundhogs and other midsize
rodents, complete with speech bubbles. For example: “I like it doggy
style. Prairie dog style.” A tad dingy, Brooklyn Park is an unhurried
and likable place to catch a Blazers game, play darts or do some light
reading. The pub’s bookshelf includes encyclopedic tomes on sports cars
and great sea battles, collections of presidential anecdotes and,
curiously, What to Expect When You’re Expecting. RJ.
Drink this: Whiskey.
Happy hour: 50 cents off wells and drafts, 4-6 pm daily.
1028 SE Water Ave., 894-9708, bunkbar.com. 11-2 am Monday-Saturday, 11 am-midnight Sunday.
Bands, beers and some of the city’s
better sandwiches. Yup, Bunk Bar has a lot going for it. This
industrial-district space is essentially a large box—versatile
furnishings are required, as they have shows here—with a window to the
kitchen where Bunk’s pork belly Cubano and roasted beet sandwiches come
from. For what it’s worth, the $3 spicy cucumber salad is also
amazing—very light. Bunk Bar feels like a place successful restaurateurs
created so they could drink heavily and see bands they like, which they
were then kind enough to open to the public. Cocktails like the Turbo
Shandy (tequila, lime, grapefruit, beer, $5) are big and powerful, and a
better bet than $2.50 drafts of Rainier. MC.
Drink this: Turbo Shandy.
Happy Hour: $1 off well drinks and pints, 3-6 pm daily.
The Buffalo Gap
6835 SW Macadam Ave., 244-7111, thebuffalogap.com. 7 am-2:30 am Monday-Friday, 8 am-2:30 am Saturday, 9 am-2:30 am Sunday.
The Buffalo Gap (named after a small
North Dakota town) has been serving thirsty South Portlanders since
1974. Located in a historic building that once was a brothel, the bar
has a no-frills approach to good drinks and good food that has suited it
well. Nightly specials are fine and cheap, which aligns with the
Portland ethos of drinking and eating. During Blazers games, wings are
30 cents and pitchers of Coors Light are $6.75. Tacos are 75 cents on
Tuesday nights. On Wednesday, all pints from the day’s chosen brewery
are $2.50 all day. Mimosas are $3 on Saturday and Sunday. If you’re
looking to eat and drink for good and cheap, the Buffalo Gap provides.
Drink this: Whatever is on special.
Happy hour: 4-6 pm and 10 pm-midnight Monday-Saturday, 1 pm-midnight Sunday.
Burnside Brewing Company
701 E Burnside St., 946-8151, burnsidebrewco.com. 3-10 pm Monday-Tuesday, 3 pm-midnight Wednesday-Friday, 2 pm-midnight Saturday, 2-10 pm Sunday.
In our beer-soaked town, Burnside Brewing
is a relative young’un. But don’t mistake it for a lightweight—since
opening in December 2010, this brewery has established itself as a maker
of adventurous beers. In addition to stock ales, stouts and the
obligatory IPA, on any given day Burnside might offer a grätzer (a
smoked wheat beer) or the Sweet Heat, an apricot-wheat ale dry-hopped
with Jamaican scotch bonnet peppers. More prickly than spicy, it tickles
on the way down. Give the food menu a look as well—the happy-hour brat
burger with sauerkraut and Swiss is a salty and satisfying accompaniment
to a pint, and my companion and I fought over the last bites of the
spicy pork slider. With dried hops hanging from a high-beamed ceiling
and black leather booths, the big-brewery aesthetic is comfortable
enough, and the beer specials ($3 imperial pints on Wednesdays, $10
pitchers on Sundays) will keep the hopheads happy. RJ.
Drink this: Oatmeal pale ale, made with Bob’s Red Mill oats.
Happy hour: $3.50 imperial pints, $5 glasses of wine and $18 bottles, food specials $3-$6; 3-6 pm Monday-Thursday and all day Sunday.
Caldera Public House
6031 SE Stark St., 233-8242, calderapublichouse.com. 5-11 pm Monday-Thursday, 4 pm-midnight Friday, 5 pm-midnight Saturday, 5-10 pm Sunday.
This town has a lot of nice slabs to sit
at, but few compete with Caldera Public House’s 100-year-old oak bar.
Salvaged from a tiny Montana town’s tavern, it’s one of the touches that
make this former pharmacy at the foot of Mount Tabor such a pleasant
place to stop for a drink. Crammed with antiques and plush armchairs,
Caldera is a little like a college-town coffeehouse. The scattershot
menu has everything from barbecue ribs to brie to burgers to fish
tacos—as though it’s a lonely bastion of civilization in a small town
instead of a Portland bar. House cocktails tend to be very
sweet—hazelnut mochatini or marionberry drop, anyone?—but the classics
and craft beer poured goblet-size at an equally small price will satisfy
those not seeking sweetness. MC.
Drink this: G-Coz ($8.50), a grapefruit cosmopolitan with Grey Goose, fresh lime and ruby grapefruit.
Happy hour: $1 off pints and cocktails, $2 off pitchers, various food specials; 5-6 pm and 9 pm-close.
1331 SW Washington St., 223-0054, cassidysrestaurant.com. 4 pm-2 am daily.
It’s best to visit Cassidy’s after dark.
During daylight hours, this wood-paneled downtown institution, with
cocktails named after the seven deadly sins (in March; the theme changes
monthly), feels a bit shady. Not that it’s all swank once the sun goes
down. This is the sort of place that’s simultaneously spiffy, with a
mirrored bar, smoked windows and jazzy tunes, and seedy, with worn
carpet and dim lighting. Cassidy’s attracts a mix of off-work
bartenders, middle-aged regulars and post-show crowds from the Crystal
Ballroom and still manages to keep it mellow, probably thanks to the
full bar, long wine list and numerous beers on tap. The food is
hit-and-miss, but after a night of drinking, that semi-classy bar menu
(think pork belly, fried oysters or mac ’n’ cheese) might call your
Drink this: Lust ($8), with gin, vodka, vermouth and plum bitters.
Happy hour: $5.75 food with one drink, 4-6 pm and 10 pm-2 am daily.
220 SW Ankeny St., 719-7918. 5 pm-midnight Monday-Wednesday, 5 pm-2:30 am Thursday-Saturday.
When Central first opened its black
velvet curtains in late 2010, it was a quiet, speakeasy-style cocktail
bar, hidden behind a crepe kitchen in a dingy downtown alley. There was
no sign, there was no advertising—just word of mouth and a decent
serving of media hype over the owner’s public anti-“douchebag” stance.
How things have changed. The tiny stretch of Southwest Ankeny Street has
been closed to traffic and filled with outdoor seating where, in warmer
months, drinkers can rub shoulders with douchebags from neighboring
Berbati’s and Voodoo Doughnut. A large A-frame sign out front announces
the bar’s name and location to all manner of passersby. The crepes have
been replaced with a real menu, serving excellent but pricey high-end
fare. But fear not: One thing that hasn’t changed is the excellent
cocktails ($8-$14)—perfectly realized classics alongside more outlandish
house creations, heavy on spices and bitters, but not afraid to be a
bit girly. Sipping a Dark and Stormy on a quiet weekday winter evening,
safely hidden from the doughnut-eating masses outside, it can still feel
like you’re in on the city’s best-kept secret. RB.
Drink this: You can’t go wrong with anything off the $8 highball menu.
Happy hour: $6 cocktails, $2 off some food items; 5-6:30 pm daily.
6031 SE Belmont St., 222-6014, cheese-bar.com. 11 am-11 pm Tuesday-Sunday.
Cheese Bar is only subordinately a deli;
as the name implies, it’s primarily a bar that sells cheese—250
different kinds, in fact. But the food alone is worth a trip: Try the
strata ($8), a savory bread pudding packed with a rotating cast of
seasonal vegetables and, yes, cheddar cheese. It’s served in a pub with
paintings that look like the insides of Decemberists songs (oh, see the
whale a-drinking from the tap in the oak!). With more than 60 bottled
beers—Oregon obscurities include Long Kolsch, Billy the Mountain Old Ale
and Hopworks Ace of Spades—to pair with that creamy pouch, Cheese Bar
is the perfect spot to take your date after a Mount Tabor sunset,
especially since it stays open till 11 pm. Of course, it will help if
said date likes cheese. AM.
Drink this: Elysian Idiot Sauvin.
3348 SE Belmont St., 477-7682, circa33bar.com. 4 pm-late Monday-Friday, 9 am-late Saturday-Sunday.
Heading to Circa 33 can easily become an
all-night affair. While it doesn’t offer much in the way of gaming or
live music, the prohibition-themed joint is an excellent excuse to dress
up and rub elbows with some other people who are as suave as yourself.
Sip on Circa 33’s array of traditional cocktails while you ask around
for the passcode to the bar’s brand-spankin’-new secret bar, hidden
behind a bookshelf on the way to the bathroom. Don’t be afraid to put on
that fedora and make sure you check your bank account balance before
you open that tab, ’cause trust us, those cocktails are delicious. KW.
Drink this: The
Damrak Sling, Circa 33’s take on the Singapore Sling, is the bar’s most
popular order. Not surprising, as it’s mixed with freshly muddled
cucumber and pomegranate grenadine.
Happy hour: $1 off drafts, $4 wells, $5 house wine, and food specials; 4-6 pm daily and all night Monday.
3006 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 232-1744, claudiaspub.com. 11 am-midnight Sunday-Thursday, 11-1 am Friday-Saturday.
Claudia’s claims to be the “original”
sports pub, and we won’t claim otherwise. When Claudia’s opened in 1958,
Willie Mays and the Giants had just moved out to San Francisco and
Johnny Unitas was suiting up for the Baltimore Colts. Good ’n’ greasy
pizza and the bar’s signature high-backed leather captain’s chairs are
this dive’s most endearing qualities, but the plentiful televisions and
cash poker tournaments are probably bigger draws. This old gal still
draws crowds, so arrive early if you want a prime place in front of the
Drink this: Rainier tall boy.
2035 NE Glisan St., 235-5690, facebook.com/Club21PDX. 11:30-2:30 am daily.
Club 21 still looks like a little fish
tank castle on the outside and feels like a ski lodge on the inside. But
the former dive bar, which took only a slight hit in patronage while
closed for upgrades in the summer of 2011, has stepped up its style game
considerably. Its former duct-taped booths have been replaced by new
upholstery; dingy old beer mirrors replaced by...well, even older Pabst
paraphernalia; two pinball machines have turned into four; the patio now
seats dozens of young blue-collar regulars without discomfort. The
obscenely cheap food specials are out, but replaced by still-cheap and
altogether more satisfying options, including an epic build-a-burger
menu with endless variations (how about a housemade veggie patty on
Texas toast with smoked Gouda, Kingston jerk rub and Asian barbecue
sauce?). Maybe the renovated Club 21 doesn’t feel like a place where
your grandpa would drink—but let’s face it, your grandpa needs a
makeover, too. CJ.
Drink this: Ye olde PBR!
Happy hour: $1 off food, 50 cents off draft beer, $1 off wine; 3-7 pm daily.
2045 SE Belmont St., 232-3227. 4 pm-2:30 am daily.
Since it opened in December, the
Conquistador has been one of the most popular neighborhood spots in
Southeast Portland. It’s a creation of Casey Maxwell, owner of the
Matador on West Burnside Street, though its décor is evocative of the
more lavish (and unrelated) Casa del Matador restaurant. To furnish the
place, Maxwell cashed in his sizable collection of Spanish-style
adornments, including several velvet paintings of guys who look like Don
Quixote. The bar features an intentional retro-lounge vibe with its
dark leather booths and ’70s jukebox; upstairs are arcade games and a
sweet gold sofa. The menu is vegetarian, but as a proud carnivore I have
to admit the rice-and-bean bowl ($4.50) is delicious. The Sweet
Suggestions cocktail ($8), served hot or cold with Bulleit bourbon and
chamomile liqueur, isn’t bad either. AS.
Drink this: Tequila.
Happy hour: $3.25 wells, $2 draft PBR pints, $6 PBR pitchers, $3 microbrews; 4-7 pm daily.
1329 NE Fremont St., 284-4805, countycorkpublichouse.com. 3-10 pm Monday, 3-11 pm Tuesday-Thursday, noon-midnight Friday and Saturday, noon-11 pm Sunday.
Not to be confused with Cork, the wine
shop on Alberta, Irvington’s County Cork is an Irish pub with a
family-friendly twist. How family friendly? It literally has a play area
for kids, complete with a shelf full of children’s books. But just
because the place openly invites parents to haul in their tykes doesn’t
make it less legit as a bar. It offers an impressive lineup of Irish and
British ales, top-notch fish and chips and shepherd’s pie, and two dart
boards with individual stalls, which lets you know this is a spot for
serious dart players. MS.
Drink this: Murphy’s Irish Stout, brewed in the actual Irish county of Cork.
Happy hour: $1 off pints, 4-6 pm Monday-Friday.
Corkscrew Wine Bar
1665 SE Bybee Blvd., 239-9463. 5-11 pm Monday-Thursday, 4 pm-midnight Friday-Sunday.
In a town drenched in ale, Corkscrew’s
wine offerings provide a refreshing alternative. Friendly and
well-informed servers help patrons select from the dozen or so wines on
offer ($5-$12 per glass) and can recommend a cheese or charcuterie plate
to pair. The space is cozy and romantic, filled with reclaimed wood and
wrought iron and lit by twinkly chandeliers and votive lights. Couples
should head for the red velvet sofa beneath the stairs; the upstairs
loft is another fine nook. Sophisticated but not pretentious, Corkscrew
also offers weekly wine tastings and live music (though beware—the
open-mic nights are more summer camp talent show than American Idol finale). RJ.
Drink this: Any glass of red or white—ask for a recommendation.
1400 SE Morrison St., 235-8150, crushbar.com. 4 pm-2 am Monday-Saturday, noon-2 am Tuesday, noon-1 am Sunday.
Crush is a cocktail destination, where
attractive bartenders serve up outlandish libations, mixing exotic
ingredients and fresh-squeezed juices with a crew of infused liquors
(lavender-infused vodka, cucumber gin, orange-infused vodka). Crush’s
extensive cocktail menu includes fruity mojitos and herbaceous drinks
like the Green Monk. And don’t miss Margarita Thursday, when sweet,
salty slushies are $5 all night. Apart from the bar area is a venue
space used for shows and DJs who motivate sexy, sweaty dance parties.
After numerous visits, it’s clear that Crush is a good time, always. WH.
Drink this: The Green Monk, Orange Crush.
Happy hour: 4-7 pm Tuesday-Saturday.
2338 NE Alberta St., 208-3483, cruzroom.com. 4:30 pm-midnight Monday-Thursday, 4 pm-2 am Friday-Saturday, 4:30 pm-midnight Sunday.
“Non-authentic tacos and overambitious
cocktails” boasts the sign outside this Alberta Street bar, and it does
not lie. Said tacos ($2.95-$4) are probably the establishment’s biggest
draw, soft little tortillas piled high with, for example, Thai chicken
curry or fried pickles. As Korean-American food truck owners have
already thoroughly violated the purity of the taco, I see no problem
with this. The cocktails are conceived from the same sense of
experimentation and humor, but most weren’t, at least on my visit, good
enough to justify the $8-ish price tag. Instead, grab a beer and join in
whatever is going down inside this artfully made-over diner that night:
knitting, trivia, Lego tournaments, movies—much like a taco filled with
corned beef and Russian dressing, Cruzroom is the comforting and
familiar served up in more stylish and creative wrapping. RB.
Drink this: Beer. If you really want a cocktail, the Lawn Dart ($8), with tarragon vodka, St. Germain and lemon juice, is solid.
$2 tacos, $2 Rainier, $3 micros, $4 drinks with housemade infused
spirits; 4:30-6:30 pm Sunday-Thursday and 4-6:30 pm Friday-Saturday.
1501 NE Fremont St., 282-0956. 9 am-10 pm daily.
Daddy Mojo’s is the pinnacle of identity
crisis. The main menu’s full of comfort food, but on the bar side it’s
fried schizophrenia. Mozzarella sticks come with salsa (which makes one
suspicious of the lasagna). Chicken strips and burgers are reliably
ho-hum, and nothing’s more than $3.99. A sushi menu, mostly fried, is
surprisingly edible. Your palate becomes more adventurous as you quaff
$2 mixed drinks virtually absent of mixer and $3 micros at happy hour,
which make the crowd of young Fremonters and older, sharply dressed
African-American gents all the more loquacious. The place is populated
with random, framed photos of celebrities ranging from Jack Nicholson to
Thomas Jefferson to Shakira. Some are signed. Most aren’t. The joint
evokes a friendly Detroit dive dropped into Portland. It’s amazing. Just
don’t fuck around: “Lowlife! You stole my picture. Your parent will be
cursed. Watch out. —Mojos” reads a sign adorning an empty frame in the
bathroom. The curse might be lurking in the California roll. APK.
Drink this: Stick to macro brews like Bud ($2.25), preferably in a bottle. Some of the micro taps look a little underused.
Happy Hour: $2 mixed drinks, $3 micros; 4-7 pm daily.
Dig a Pony
736 SE Grand Ave., 971-279-4409, digaponyportland.com. 4 pm-2 am daily.
Dig a Pony is a big bar. Housed in the
former Niki’s Restaurant building near the Morrison Bridge, its high,
exposed wood-beam ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows and good
old-fashioned square footage make for one spacious tavern—which is just
as well, as this place is already pulling in big crowds. But this is no
beer barn: Cozy booths line the walls, allowing groups to stake out
their own territory away from DJs, dancers and the eclectic group of
punters mingling around the huge, horseshoe-shaped central bar. This
diversity in crowd (we spied everyone from rock pigs to suits, and no
one looked out of place), coupled with plenty of personal space, creates
a rare venue that is both cool and largely unpretentious. Cheap,
accessible cocktails don’t hurt either: At $7 to $8 a pop, they’re both
boozy and delicious. RB.
Drink this: Seasonal sangria ($5).
Happy hour: $3 food and drink specials, 5-7 pm daily.
Doug Fir Restaurant and Lounge
830 E Burnside St., 231-9663, dougfirlounge.com. 7 am-2:30 am daily.
Like a supersized Lincoln Logs cabin with
yellow-tinted windows and mirrored walls, the Doug Fir is a sci-fi
hunting lodge for flannel-clad urbanites. The view of the Jupiter Hotel
isn’t exactly woodsy, but the ground-floor lounge, with its glass moose
head trophy and murals of ducks and bucks, is a good place to grab a
drink before a show downstairs. Sink into a cushy bench by the
fireplace, set your Dark and Stormy on the stump-shaped end table, and
go ahead—pretend that plaid-shirted musician really is the rugged
lumberjack of your dreams. RJ.
Drink this: Wood Fir’d Manhattan ($10), with bourbon, sweet vermouth, bitters and an amarena cherry.
Happy hour: $3 wells, house wine and draft beers, $2 PBR, food items $2-$5; 3-6 pm daily.
The Driftwood Room
729 SW 15th Ave., inside Hotel DeLuxe, 222-2171, graciesdining.com. 2-11:30 pm Sunday-Thursday, 2 pm-12:30 am Friday-Saturday.
Thanks to a fervent grassroots campaign,
this tiny, kidney-shaped lounge escaped the classic Hollywood-themed
makeover to which the rest of the old Mallory Hotel was subjected when
it became Hotel DeLuxe in 2006. But for some new upholstery, the bar
retains its midcentury charm, with undulating brick walls, an “S”-shaped
banquette, redwood slats on the ceiling and pieces of actual driftwood
scattered here and there. The menu was updated, thank goodness, and now
heavily features variations on Manhattan and Champagne cocktails. Since
the Benson’s Palm Court went to hell, the Driftwood Room is the only
hotel bar worth a damn in Portland, and the destination of choice for
theatrical postmortems for audiences at Artists Rep across the street.
If you down a few too many Champagne cocktails, you can always get a
Drink this: Rose Colored Glasses ($9), with gin, rose syrup, lemon juice and Champagne.
Happy hour: $20 bottles and $6 glasses of wine, $6 Champagne cocktails, $4 pint of the day, cheap food; 2-6:30 pm and 9:30 pm-close daily.
203 SE Grand Ave., 232-0056, eastendpdx.com. 4 pm-2:30 am daily.
Like all the best kinds of rock bars,
East End doesn’t care a whit what you think of it. From the sticky old
vinyl booths to the total lack of décor to the rank unisex bathrooms,
it’s dirty and divey in the best kind of way; the kind of place you come
to drink cheap beer, eat greasy food, have your eardrums assaulted,
then perhaps get a late-night tattoo at Sea Tramp next door. East End is
at its finest when the basement bar is heaving with sweaty music lovers
dancing and screaming along to local heroes or touring bands not big
enough to play the Doug Fir. Come for the happy hour, stay for the
Drink this: PBR ($2.50).
Happy hour: $3-$7 food, $2.75 wells, $1 off cocktails, $2 PBR, $3 micros; 4-8 pm daily.
The Foggy Notion
3416 N Lombard, 240-0249, thefoggynotion.com. 5 pm-2:30 am Tuesday-Sunday.
A rock ’n’ roll cocktail bar sounds like a
contradiction in terms. If an establishment decorates its countertops
with album covers and has a Rolling Stones-themed pinball machine in the
corner, the assumption is that it should only serve two things: PBR and
more PBR. At the Foggy Notion, the delightfully divey ambiance hides a
drink menu to satisfy the snobbiest mixologist. It’s the rare
neighborhood watering hole where couples get up and slow-dance next to
the Skee-Ball track in between sips of concoctions like the Rebound
($7), a blend of rum, Champagne and pineapple juice. Credit owner Mel
Brandy—she’s the bartender who sort of resembles a punk-rock Amy
Sedaris—for the vision, but give her chef husband the props for the
pierogi ($8). They’re the best you’ll find this side of the Portland
Polish Festival. MS.
Drink this: Kentucky Peach ($7), a refreshing combination of bourbon, peach bitters and mint.
All specialty drinks, well drinks, drafts and food entrees $1 off; 5-8
pm daily. There’s also Tatt2For1 Tuesdays, offering two-for-one drink
specials to anyone who flashes their ink.
The Fixin’ To
8218 N Lombard St., 477-4995, thefixinto.com. 2 pm-2 am Monday-Saturday, 2 pm-1 am Sunday.
It’s apropos that the Fixin’ To, located
right where Lombard curves into St. Johns, should stand there at the
neighborhood’s helm: No establishment better charts the good ship St.
Johns’ recent course. This faux dive arguably displaced a genuine dive
(Slim’s) as the area’s premier nightlife attraction a couple years back,
rolling into town and setting up on cinder blocks like a gentrifying
Okie. Today, on a typical evening, the vaguely trailer park-themed bar
is as bucolic as a backwoods roadhouse. Whether conferring by
candlelight at a battered wooden table or zoning out to a Blazers game
at the bar, nobody much looks like they’re fixin’ to go anywhere. Pull
up a stool and order a Frito pie—yes, they can be made vegan. JF.
Drink this: A beer-and-shot special like the Rainier and Old Crow “Down ’N’ Out” combo.
Happy hour: $1 off wells, specials and drafts; 2-6 pm Monday-Friday.
The Florida Room
435 N Killingsworth St., 287-5658. 3 pm-2:30 am Monday-Sunday.
It wouldn’t shock me if the Florida Room,
a beacon for North Portland’s fashionably trashed, originated as an
elaborate prank on the McMenamins across the street. After all, this is a
place that once displayed the word “cumbag” on the giant, roadside
motel-style sign out front, which must’ve delighted the administrators
at nearby Jefferson High School. That sense of punk mischief extends to
the interior design, with its ironically tacky aquamarine color scheme,
kitschy knickknacks that look stolen from someone’s grandparents’ beach
house and tabletop illustrations of monkeys posed in risqué positions.
One thing the bar does take seriously is its bloody mary. On a hungover
Sunday, it’s good for what ails ya—which is most likely the nachos and
$1 cans of Old German you consumed there the night before. MS.
Drink this: Anything fancier than an Old German might get you labeled a pretentious douchebag, so stick with the swill.
Happy hour: Food specials and 50 cents off drafts and well drinks, 3-7 pm daily.
Gladstone Street Pub
3737 SE Gladstone St., 775-3502, gladstonestreetpub.com. 2:30 pm-2:30 am Monday-Thursday, noon-2:30 am Friday-Sunday.
A really good dive bar can be a thing of
beauty, and the Gladstone Street Pub is just that. I’ve never been to
Cleveland, but this is exactly the type of neighborhood bar I would
expect to find there, Drew Carey and all. Five TVs screen a variety of
sports (including all Blazers games and the full MLB season), and the
pub touts itself as “Oregon’s home for cornhole,” with individual
tournaments and league nights through the summer. Beer is, of course,
the beverage of choice, with standards like PBR and Miller Lite
alongside a few local craft brews. A full menu offers homey staples like
chili and clam chowder, as well as four varieties of nachos. Join the
regulars for a summer full of hard drinking and serious cornholing. PB.
Drink this: $2.25 happy-hour PBR tall boys.
Happy hour: Open-7 pm daily, all day Sunday.
2845 SE Stark St., 239-9292, thegoodfoot.com. 4 pm-2:30 am daily.
Sometimes written off as a Southeast
Portland hippie magnet (the menu includes a William S. Burroughs House
Salad, and its description begins “R.I.P., my brotha”) this two-story
bar actually houses a far more diverse clientele than most of its
neighbors. That’s probably because Goodfoot casts a wide net: The
on-site recreation pleases pool hustlers and pinball wizards alike; the
live music is eclectic but always danceable; and the no-frills,
mix-and-match drink list looks kind of like the menu at Subway. While
your hippie friends will indeed welcome the righteous vibes Goodfoot
keeps on tap alongside all those organic beers you like, the compound is
especially well-suited to new Portlanders looking for the friendly,
untucked and unbuttoned Oregon they read about in the travel magazines.
Drink this: Any of the $4 beers on tap. This is kind of a beer joint.
Happy hour: Free pool, free jukebox, $2 PBRs, cheap food and all sorts of other tricks to get you dancing downstairs later in the evening.
Goose Hollow Inn
1927 SW Jefferson St., 228-7010, goosehollowinn.com. 11 am-midnight Sunday-Thursday, 11-1 am Friday-Saturday.
When Bud Clark held the mayor’s seat from
1985 to 1992, he became Portland’s beloved, de facto wacky uncle. But
Uncle Bud’s got another legacy that keeps on legacy-ing: the Goose
Hollow Inn. The five-decades-old joint is everything you’d expect from a
place owned by Clark since 1967—that is, a cabin-style pub with wooden
benches adorned with old photos and campaign posters of Clark, with a
wrap-around porch and an isolated exterior seating area offering privacy
for small groups. The food ranges in quality from the humongous Reuben
($9.25) to the paltry roast beef sandwich ($7.25), all fired up in a
pizza oven and served with carrots (Uncle Bud doesn’t use a fryer). Late
last year, the place also started serving liquor, making its
stone’s-throw proximity to the MAX all the more essential to those
locked in long conversation over 20-ounce pints. APK.
Drink this: Fort George’s Goose Hollow Golden is served exclusively at the Hollow. Or, just to be a smartass and order a Bud for Bud.
Entertainment: TV, literature, patio, actual conversation.
511 NW Couch St., 796-9364, groundkontrol.com. Noon-2:30 am daily. 21+ after 5 pm.
After a recent remodel—one funded by a
chewing-gum contest, nonetheless—kicking it at Ground Kontrol after
hours now feels 50 percent more like being in the movie (or, more
fittingly, the game) Tron. There are glowing tables, pixel-shaped
chairs, constant bloops and bleeps and a set of “laser stairs” that
take you up to the best collection of pinball games in Portland. The
place is a local treasure that’s nearly as well-known as the
Decemberists and Voodoo Doughnut, but it’s also a pretty underrated bar.
(Ground Kontrol’s D.K. Dessert Dog, a banana served in a hot-dog bun
with bacon and honey, also deserves greater notoriety.) The drinks are
pretty standard, but once you factor in all the quarters you’re going to
drop, Ground Kontrol can make for a spendy night out—especially if you
and a few friends get hooked on the epic four-player Pac-Man
machine, which features built-in drink-holders. Best to pace yourself
and take in a goth/metal DJ set or live rock band (OK, live Rock Band) while sipping whiskey and playing Super Mario Land at the bar. CJ.
Drink this: Whiskey if you’re a player, vodka and Red Bull if you’re a gamer.
Happy hour: $1 off drinks and food specials, 5-7 pm daily.
The Guild Public House
1101 E Burnside St., 233-1743, theguildpub.com. 4 pm-2:30 am daily.
First, some history: This two-story bar
at the base of East Burnside’s bright crimson Rocket Building was opened
as an Ed Hardy-ish “boutique bar” called the Chesterfield in May 2007
by the guy behind Bishops Barbershop. It closed after 18 months and
swiftly reopened as the Report, which lasted two years before
shuttering. Failed politico Jesse Cornett took over the space in January
2010, but proved no more successful a publican than he was a City
Council candidate; his Guild was known mostly for being the only
unionized bar in Portland, and consequently closed shop after 10 months.
The space’s latest tenants are a seasoned crew whose combined
experience includes Vintage Cocktail Lounge and Trébol Mexican
restaurant. They’ve kept the name and much of the decor, but turned the
upstairs makeout nook into a game room and added an excellent lineup of
cocktails and a tap list heavy on the tiny and hyper-local (Mt. Tabor,
Occidental, Natian, Phat Matt’s). It might just be the Cavatica Stout
talking, but the light streaming in the bar’s broad windows finally
seems to carry a touch of hope. BW.
Drink this: Kentucky Mob Boss ($8), a fiery blend of bourbon, Averna, Cardamaro and burnt orange oil.
Happy hour: $2 tall boys, $3 drafts, wells and house wine, $1 off cocktails; 4-7 pm daily.
The Hop & Vine
1914 N Killingsworth St., 954-3322, thehopandvine.com. 3 pm-midnight daily.
From the outside, the Hop & Vine
can’t compete with its neighbor bars on Killingsworth. It looks stuffy,
like it was plucked from some touristy resort town. It’s hard to tell
there’s even a bar attached to the bottle shop. But inside, the peacock
feathers on the bar, the mismatched vintage furniture and the
super-strong drinks challenge your expected boredom. (Plus, they serve
brunch.) The Hop & Vine’s menu professes, “It’s dark. It’s loud.
It’s a bar. Enjoy.” On a Saturday night, it was dark, and the Sufjan
Stevens was just loud enough to match the cozy atmosphere. With it’s
fancy dessert drinks, espresso brownies, couches and young clientele,
the Hop & Vine feels like a coffee shop that serves alcohol. And
what better place for a nightcap or drinking in the morning? Check the
website for special offerings like seasonal tasters, flights and beer
Drink this: Hete Chocolade is a delectably strong mix of rum, espresso, peppers, stout and cream, or try the Southern Tier Chocolate Stout.
Happy hour: $1
off 20-ounce draft beers and wines by the glass, $6 select cocktails
and food deals ($2 Cerignola olives or fancy popcorn, $5 butter lettuce
salad or grilled cheese and tomato soup, $8 burger); 3-6 pm
Monday-Saturday and 3 pm-midnighht Sunday.
Horse Brass Pub
4534 SE Belmont St., 232-2202, horsebrass.com. 11-2:30 am Monday-Friday, 9-2:30 am Saturday-Sunday.
Arguably holding the title of Portland’s
best bar since it opened in 1976, the Horse Brass is still going strong
carrying forward the vision of its recently departed honcho, Don
Younger. It’s tribute to all things English—aside from the beer
selection, which is very Portland—and surprisingly faithful given the
owners had never actually been across the pond when they conceived it.
Soccer, short stools and old wooden things rule here. As does craft
beer: The bar was among the first to champion craft brewers and they
honor it by sending their best brews to make up Horse Brass’ list of 50.
Order the halibut fish and chips and soak ’em in vinegar. MC.
Drink this: Something
from Russian River, a renowned California brewery that Younger
supported early. Russian River even brewed a special tobacco-tinted beer
in his honor.
4057 N Mississippi Ave., 284-6669, interurbanpdx.com. 4 pm-2:30 am Monday-Friday, noon-2:30 am Saturday.
A less brazen publican might have taken
an opening-weekend fire as a sign to throw in the towel, but the men
behind Interurban—Toro Bravo/Tasty N Sons chef John Gorham, Prost! owner
Dan Hart and serial restaurateur Kurt Huffman—are no shrinking violets.
When an electrical fire scorched the kitchen of the gastropub the
morning after its debut, they went ahead and soft-opened anyway. Now
that everything’s ship-shape, it’s time to pass judgment: Interurban
feels as though someone opened a Portland-themed bar in Los Angeles,
what with the bare wood, animal heads and bridge silhouettes on the
walls, rotisserie meats and fried starches on the menu, Abyss and
Wandering Aengus on tap and Manhattans and negronis served by the
bottle. It’s a lovely place to drink away a winter evening, even if,
like many of Portland’s newer bars, the atmosphere seems a little
forced. Good times are mandatory for everyone in the building, including
the servers, who have been known to sing along to deafeningly loud
roller-rink oldies and even dance the twist behind the bar. BW.
Drink this: Start with a $40 bottle of Manhattan, followed by $6 craft-brewed Snake Bites.
Happy hour: $2 Staropramen pilsner, $5 house wine and select cocktails, cheap snacks; 4-5:30 pm Monday-Friday and 10 pm-close Sunday.
221 NW 10th Ave., 295-6542, jimmymaks.com. 5 pm-midnight Monday-Thursday, 5 pm-1 am Friday-Saturday.
As the bar’s website proudly proclaims, the staid Sunset
magazine called Jimmy Mak’s “just about exactly what you’d expect of a
jazz club,” and while this might seem like damning with faint praise, it
is precisely the truth. From the framed Duke and Dizzy and Ella on the
muted walls to the intimate stage encroaching on the tables to the dim
light folding itself into red curtains, it is a hologram of a bygone
era. By day home to anachronistic surf-turf fine dining, after 8 pm
Mak’s truly becomes itself, with daily jazz shows that include a
residency from Tuesday to Thursday by the last of Portland’s truly
defining jazz fixtures: drummer and bandleader Mel Brown, still
beautifully holding up the rhythm section for bop and blues after 40
years. Show up, especially, for his B3 Hammond Trio on Thursday nights,
which makes full use of the bar’s line-array speakers and rafter-mounted
subwoofers. Oh, and order the salmon cakes ($8). They’re good. MK.
Drink this: A cognac neat—Hennessy VS ($7). Drink it alone, and think of better times.
Entertainment: The jazz, man. The jazz. (Minors OK until 9:30 pm.)
1215 SW Alder St., grunerpdx.com/kask.html. 5-11 pm Monday-Saturday.
There’s nothing conceptually awry with
Kask, the back-alley companion to westside Alpine chateau Grüner. The
decor is salvaged classroom, with a blackboard above tiny wooden folding
chairs. The charcuterie and cheese plates are smartly chosen and
presented, with the Mexican queso slice paired with blueberries, pretzel
bread and jam. The drinks are canny variants on classic cocktails—the
Black Lodge ($10) is essentially a Perfect Manhattan on one very large
rock, with splashes of cherry and artichoke liqueur. But the tab is
higher than any of this would seem to justify: at least $30 for drinks
and salami. That leaves a sour aftertaste to Kask—it’s a nice,
self-consciously downmarket place to get a fancy pre-dinner beverage,
but you can’t afford more than one round of austerity. It may be in the
West End, but Kask is somehow a very East German experience. AM.
Drink this: The Warsaw, with Sobieski vodka, Imbue bittersweet vermouth, blackberry brandy and lemon, $10.
Kir Wine Bar
22 NE 7th Ave., 232-3063, kirwinebar.com. 5-11 pm or so Tuesday-Friday, 5 pm-midnight or so Saturday.
If this wine bar were anywhere near my
house, I fear I would be there every night. The charming little hidey
hole behind Burnside Brewing, with a big blackboard full of (mostly old
world) wines by the glass or bottle next to a tiny open kitchen filling
the room with fragrances of garlic and butter, feels more like a
friend’s living room, where many hours can slip by in a haze of laughter
and cab franc. The wine pours are very generous, and at $7-$10 it’s
easy to justify sinking one too many of them, while the “small plates”
are decadent and not all that small. I could happily live out my final
days at Kir, pickling my liver and hardening my arteries into oblivion.
For now, it’s probably best that I live across town. RB.
Drink this: The servers knows more than you. Let them guide you.
Happy hour: $2 off glass pours, 5-6 pm daily.
2026 NE Alberta St., 473-8729, theknowpdx.com. 3 pm-2:30 am daily.
Ah, The Know. It is the inherited
punk-rock flophouse of Portland dives. Everything’s kind of broken, the
art is makeshift and hodgepodge, the bathroom door is a negotiable
presence, everybody’s in black, there’s always a band playing in the
other room and the people are graffitied every bit as much as the
bathrooms, and yet everybody still shows up because you know there’s
going to be a party and nobody cares if you’re too drunk as long as you
don’t get in a fight. Karaoke on Sunday is raucous and remarkably
ballad-free aside from the old soul tunes; an egregiously bad song
choice on the wrong night can lead to thrown beer. Which is to say, you
are heartily welcome unless you’re not, and you’ll know which is which
by how you feel when you walk in. Because if it feels like home, it is.
Drink this: A whiskey order ($3.50 for well) will net you a full-sized beer back for a mere dollar more. Take them up this.
Happy hour: Piss-water beers are a buck, well drinks $2.50; 3-7 pm.
LaurelThirst Public House
2958 NE Glisan St., 232-1504, laurelthirst.com. 4 pm-midnight Monday-Wednesday, 4 pm-1 am Thursday, 4 pm-2 am Friday, 9 am-2 am Saturday, 9 am-midnight Sunday.
Don’t go to this not-quite-a-dive expecting not
to hear live music. It just ain’t gonna happen. While you may not be
able to have that intimate conversation you were planning on, here’s the
good news: You’ll most likely be pleasantly surprised by the music
you’ll hear at the LaurelThirst, of which there’s some scheduled every
night for free or cheap. Even if it’s not your usual jam, there’s a good
chance you might be dancing anyway. That’s just the way it is. As for
beer, expect an unexpectedly good selection on tap, but in mixed-drink
territory don’t expect much. KW.
Drink this: In a brown ale-deprived place such as this, any bar that has Big Sky’s Moose Drool on tap has my heart.
Happy hour: Free music 6-8 pm daily.
938 N Cook St., 517-9931. 5 pm-2:30 am Monday-Saturday, 5 pm-midnight Sunday.
When Lovely Hula Hands (RIP) relocated to
shinier digs, the fate of the little pink house it once called home on
the outskirts of Mississippi seemed doomed. Instead, siblings Jason and
Rose McCormick have transformed the building into a destination. Liberty
Glass epitomizes hominess, maintaining its antiquated aesthetic right
down to the toilet fixtures and offering a coziness unmatched by most
mothers, from the nurturing staff to the water served in tin cups. It
helps that the food is top-notch, highlighted by the inventive and tasty
Triscut nachos. Drinks (try a perfect Manhattan, $8) contribute to the
old-school speakeasy feel of the bi-level house. There’s even a
fireplace on the porch, offering ample opportunities to bum smokes from
strangers. Were there only a crash couch in the basement, most of us
would never leave. APK.
Drink this: The Mary Jean, a refreshingly quaffable blend of Bulleit bourbon, Campari, lemon juice and 7-Up.
Happy hour: $1 off beer and appetizers, 5-7 pm daily.
The Lion’s Eye Tavern
5919 SE 82nd Ave., 774-1468, facebook.com/lionseyetavern. Noon-2:30 am daily. Cash only.
The Lion’s Eye Tavern is like the Will
Hunting of 82nd Avenue. Notwithstanding the tendril of Southeast Stark,
the Avenue of Roses remains basically untouched by close-in Portland
urbanity, so the Lion’s Eye can walk the Southie walk of its more
rough-and-tumble neighbors unnoticed. But as that linear-algebra stumper
outed Matt Damon as a smartie, so the Lion’s Eye’s drink menu exposes
the bar as a nanobrew-pouring, local-distiller-supporting Harvard man.
This split personality manifests in the bar’s layout: One side is your
standard dive, the other’s decorated with an eclectic mix of antiques,
skateboards and original art. A more unified vision is evident in the
Lion’s Eye’s booze selection, which features Oregon liquors from
Aviation, Lovejoy and Pendleton, a Best Coast-centric tap list and a
fridge full of hard-to-find brews. JF.
Drink this: Make
history by being the first person to drink a sake-tini on 82nd Avenue.
Be obnoxious by ordering it with locally made Momokawa.
Happy hour: $2.50 drafts and domestics, $3 micros and $4 wells; 3-7 pm Monday-Sunday.
3536 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 282-1833, local-lounge.com. 4:30 pm-2 am daily..
A Yelp reviewer probably conveyed Local
Lounge’s chief defect best when he wrote that the gay bar “should once
and for all disprove the myth that [all] gay people have style.” Local
Lounge’s decorating scheme is like a European youth hostel’s. While
we’re breaking down stereotypes, though, look past Local Lounge’s Cost
Plus World Market furnishings. You’ll find a come-as-you-are watering
hole around which gathers the rainbow of the bar’s inner-Northeast
community. Gay and straight, black and white, old and young—they all
come for the VJ’s Beyoncé bangers and stay for the damn near perfect
Drink this: For a smooth drink and a fiery show, order the Spanish coffee.
Happy Hour: $2 wells and $3 micros, 4:30-7:30 pm daily.
421 SE Grand Ave., 971-270-7760, thelovecraftbar.com. 8 pm-2 am Mondays-Thursdays, 3 pm-2 am Fridays-Sundays.
“I’ll buy a free drink for anyone who
sings an Erasure song!” yells the bartender, her face hidden behind dry
ice and a series of red and green laser lights straight out of a
televised Muse Christmas special. Welcome to Sunday-night karaoke at the
Lovecraft, Portland’s new “horror-themed tea shop and bar” and
definitely the only place I’ve ever been where Goth kids and aging
Trekkies meet to serenade their loved ones over Kate Bush and New Order
hits. With black lights on the ceiling and artificial cobwebs dotting
nearly every corner, the Lovecraft—named after H.P., if the quotes in
the men’s room mean anything—feels like you’re drinking in a haunted
house, or at least at a dance party where everyone is a member of the
Bruce Campbell fan club. Here’s your new home. MM.
Drink this: Elder gods drink beer.
Happy hour: “Unhappy hour” offers $1 PBR, 8-9 pm Monday-Thursday and 3-9 pm Friday-Sunday.
Luc Lac Vietnamese Kitchen
835 SW 2nd Ave., 222-0047, luclackitchen.com. 11 am-2:30 pm Monday-Friday, 4 pm-midnight Monday-Thursday, 4 pm-4 am Friday-Saturday.
At Luc Lac you don’t just eat the pho—you
drink it. And it’s damn good. Adam Ho, co-owner and bar manager at the
newish downtown restaurant, mixes bourbon, cranberry juice and a little
pear cider with a syrup spiked with the Vietnamese beef noodle soup’s
trademark spices, from ginger to star anise. That makes for a
dangerously drinkable sweet and spicy cocktail called team dac biet
($8). A slight, dapper man always sporting black-frame glasses and a
crisp white shirt, Ho has a flair for highlighting Southeast Asian
cuisine’s traditional sweet, sour and bitter combinations in craft
cocktails. The décor at Ho’s and his brother Alan’s new haunt is as
delightfully baroque as its drink ingredients. A horseshoe of
tall-backed, red-leather banquettes surround a huge oval-shaped wood bar
painted bright teal. One entire wall is devoted to a stunning,
graffiti-ish mural of capering Chinese dragon heads while a flock of
pink parasols hang from the high ceiling. It’s a fun, fabulous place to
eat and drink, like a long-lost Asian set piece from The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. KC.
Drink this: Bo Say,
a cardamom-scented avocado shake with Grand Marnier and tapioca bubbles
($10) that looks like a tropical-cruise drink and tastes like creamy
Happy hour: $4 house wine, $3 draft beers, $6 cocktail specials and food discounts; 4-7 pm Monday-Saturday.
Lucky Devil Lounge
633 SE Powell Blvd., 206-7350, luckydevillounge.com. 11-2:30 am daily.
Never judge a strip club by its exterior.
Actually, scratch that: Go ahead and pre-judge most strip clubs, just
don’t do it to the Lucky Devil Lounge. Housed in a faded brown building
on the east side of the Ross Island Bridge, from the outside it looks
like the kind of place that holds possum fights in the basement. In
truth, it’s one of the only nudie joints in Portland that can actually
be described as “sexy.” It’s more intimate retro cocktail lounge than
titty bar, with crimson-colored walls, puma-print carpet, red-tinted
lighting and a sleek steel stage. And what of the ladies? Well, here’s
another helpful axiom: A strip club is only as good as its day shift.
And at Lucky Devil, even the Sunday afternoon staff is pretty hot. MS.
Drink this: Whatever Hef might drink. Perhaps an Old Fashioned ($5).
Happy hour: $3.50 drafts, $2.50 wells, $2 tall boys and $3 food specials; 11 am-7 pm daily.
4639 SE Woodstock Blvd., 774-0353. 11 am-2:30 am daily.
In its previous life—which ended last
year after 63 years—Lutz Tavern was known nationally as the bar where
hipsters discovered Pabst Blue Ribbon. It was a true dive, but one with
outsize influence among bike messengers and other curators of cool, and
the owner’s decision to replace the discontinued Blitz with
similar-sounding Lutz proved fortuitous for PBR. The revived Lutz, which
was reopened two weeks ago by Clinton Street Pub owners Jayson Criswell
and Robert Kowalski, is a little cleaner but retains the old look and
clientele: The lineup at the bar on a recent Friday was plaid, fleece,
tweed, plaid, plaid, plaid and tweed. The PBR is still there, $2 per
tall boy, along with four other macros, but the new regime has made a
few important changes: Lutz now has liquor, eight taps of very good
Northwest micros, and a real kitchen that makes a kick-ass burger. It
comes with shoestring fries and, for an extra $2, house-cured bacon. Get
the bacon. Don’t feel like beef? Try the laughably large fried
pork-loin sandwich. BW.
Drink this: Double Mountain IRA.
Happy hour: $1.50 tall boys, $2.50 well drinks; 4-7 pm daily.
417 NW 21st Ave., 228-6614, mbarpdx.com. 6 pm-2:30 am daily.
The candlelight makes it a great place to
take a date; the bartenders make it a good place to go if you just got
stood up by one. With only a few small tables, a tiny bar and the
ultra-romantic lighting, M Bar is intimate, if not cramped. Midweek it’s
a nice, quiet neighborhood spot. On a Friday night, it feels like a
cramped living room. Regardless, the menu of a handful of wines and
beers won’t disappoint, especially if you take advantage of M Bar’s
unusually late happy hour. And you’re likely to find at least one rich
conversation on which to eavesdrop. For us, it was the old guys arguing
about which of their interactions with Ray Charles was more legitimate.
Regardless, by the time you leave you will have bumped shoulders with a
few Alphabet District professionals or residents, whether you wanted to
or not. And without distractions like serving food or mixing drinks, the
bartender may have become your new best friend. HG.
Drink this: 20 ounces of whatever’s on tap.
Happy hour: $4 beers, $3 off glasses of wine, $15 bottles; 6-8 pm daily.
217 NW 4th Ave, 224-8472, magicgardenpdx.com. 11:45-2:30 am Monday-Saturday, 5:45 pm-2:30 am Sunday.
Magic Garden is the only strip bar I know
that doubles as a bona fide coed hangout—it is routinely, gleefully
suggested by female friends as a nightcap locale—and one of the few
where patrons often tip the dancers as a matter of courtesy even when
they’re just playing pool or drinking at the bar. Patty the bartender is
a prickly Portland institution, more in the realm of sexagenarian than
sex. The usually few dancers on shift on a given night—young, pretty,
oft-betatted, more indie than alt—play music from Pixies to Tom Waits to
Chromeo. It is a friendly local house of nudity that feels like a local
dive bar, or the rare dive bar that feels rewardingly sexy, and the
right place to take out-of-town guests when you’re trying to explain
that Portland strip clubs are nothing at all like what they know. MK.
Drink this: Pabst Blue Ribbon ($3) is the consistent local flavor.
Happy hour: Daily $5 “Pabst +” food specials. Saturday this means $5 PBR + steak and eggs, Sundays $5 PBR + fish and chips.
129 SW Broadway, 227-3023, marysclub.com. 11 am-2:30 am Monday-Saturday, 11:30 am-2:30 am Sunday.
Portland’s oldest nudie bar stopped being
about bare butts and became part of the Stumptown must-visit checklist
decades ago. Maybe it’s because the shoebox-sized dive so aptly captures
the city’s shrugging attitude toward sex: you’ll find as many heads
turned to marvel at the curiously glowing mural of seamen and oriental
madams that spans the back wall as you do focused on the lone lady
bumping and grinding 3 feet from the customers. She’s up there balanced
on the ledge between the tiny stage and the bar—maybe it’s Blaze or Ayla
or Athena—swaying to Lou Reed or Massive Attack; one hand on her bare
hip and the other above her head, grasping the spot where, years ago,
somebody pried a ragged ceiling tile away from its frame to make a
little hand hold. You see, nothing much changes here; original owner Roy
Keller’s daughter or one of his granddaughters still ferries your beer
to your table, and the brassy voiced dancers still shame the crowd when
it doesn’t cough up enough singles to feed the onstage jukebox. This,
people, is living history. KC.
Drink this: A sweet, strong whiskey ginger ($4.75).
1967 W Burnside St., 222-5822, thematadorbar.com. Noon-2:30 am daily.
Even after its recent facelift, the
Matador still feels just divey enough to keep us coming back. It’s a
place where thick-rimmed glasses, flat-billed hats and bitter,
middle-aged construction workers can get drunk in harmony (mostly). The
endless people watching, deliciously greasy bar food and the old
red-vinyl booths and chairs make the douchey bartenders and occasional
bar fight seem actually kind of charming. Plus, who doesn’t love a
photobooth? Especially one that boasts “We heart boobs!” on the outside
with, yes, a bunch of photostrips of bare-chested patrons. HG.
Drink this: The
refreshing El Chupacabra—mezcal, cucumber water, pineapple and ginger
beer. And get the fried zucchini—it’s a huge serving, perfect for
sopping up the alcohol in your body, and it’s only $4.50.
Happy hour: $1.50 PBRs, $3 well drinks, free jukebox; noon-7 pm Monday-Saturday. Free pool, noon-2:15 am Sunday.
3203 SE Division St., 234-7844, matchboxlounge.com. 4 pm-2:30 am daily.
Named for its petite dimensions and
scarlet interior, this tiny bar is widely known for its excellent
Manchego- and pancetta-topped cheeseburger, which draws happy-hour
crowds that then disperse to larger, louder bars. That’s fine with us.
Matchbox is a cozy, calm retreat from Southeast Division Street’s
increasingly hectic nightlife, and the menu has much more to offer than
just the burger. The soup of the day is reliably good, and the seasonal
entrees rarely disappoint. The cocktails tend toward top-shelf spirits,
the wine list is interesting and cheap, and there’s always something
very nice on tap. And now they have housemade ice cream. If Matchbox
were in my neighborhood, I’d never leave. BW.
Drink this: Classic Aviation ($8).
Happy hour: $6 burgers, $5 cocktails, food specials; 4-6 pm Monday-Saturday, all day Sunday.
719 SE Morrison St., 236-7080. 11 am-close Monday-Friday, 5 pm-2:30 am Saturday, 5 pm-1 am Sunday.
Named after the Doors’ masterpiece, the
low-key Morrison Hotel draws three kinds of people: the neighborhood
regulars who have been perched on its stools since 2007; curious
bar-hoppers with memories of “Waiting for the Sun;” and lushes tackling
the 100-plus beer selection and Molotov-style cocktails. The place
accommodates each set aptly in its dimly lit interior, which features
local art and old photos of Mr. Mojo Rising hovering over the bar like
the centerpiece of a teenage weed den. The ambiance is shattered during
Red Sox games, but otherwise works well for dates or random hookups with
possible Sassy’s amateur-night outcasts made sexier by shadows playing
tricks on the lustful. Get frisky all you want. Just don’t let the name
serve as an excuse to expose yourself—the staff won’t appreciate the
Drink this: You can basically throw a dart and hit a great beer. Alcoholic Russian roulette has seldom been so refreshing.
Happy hour: $1 off drafts, $2.50 wells; 5-6:30 pm daily.
1801 NE Alberta St., 282-0230. 3 pm-late daily.
Though its featureless, recessed front
door looks like the entrance to a particularly unfriendly strip club,
the Nest is the sort of loud, unfussy place that’s divey but not skeevy,
a spot where neighbors gather to play pool and pingpong while nursing a
stiff drink. Movie and trivia nights encourage socialization and
friendly competition among the varied crowd, which includes artsy
Alberta types; rowdy, drunk students; and straight-up regular folks. In
winter months, the large outdoor patio is mostly a haven for smokers,
but come summer it’s prime real estate. With seven micros on tap and a
full bar, expect to linger. RJ.
Drink this: PBR ($2) or Laurelwood Free Range Red ($4).
Happy hour: 50 cents off wells and drafts, 3-7 pm daily
The Old Gold
2105 N Killingsworth St., 894-8937, theoldgoldpdx.com. 4 pm-midnight Monday-Tuesday, 4 pm-1 am Wednesday-Thursday, 4 pm-2 am Friday, noon-2 am Saturday, noon-midnight Sunday.
There are plenty of reasons for WW to dis new North Portland bar the Old Gold. For starters, it’s co-owned by former Portland Mercury music editor Ezra Caraeff. More important, Old Gold beat WW’s
team in bar league softball last year, and the championship trophy now
looms on top of a refrigerator behind the bar. So know when I say the
Old Gold is actually a great little bar, I’m not blowing smoke up your
ass. It’s perhaps not destination drinking, but a cozy local watering
hole that has already acquired a genuine neighborhood atmosphere. On the
back wall is a large wooden “Drink in Oregon” white stag sign—an ethos
that extends to a localish tap and bottle menu and a well-priced
cocktail menu that’s heavy on kombucha. Pair one with the surprisingly
good tofu banh mi and sit back to admire that trophy—it won’t be there
for long. RB.
Drink this: The Old Gold has Portland’s only Champagne button. Might as well give it a push ($25-$85/bottle).
Happy hour: $1 off wells, house wine, microbrews and sandwiches; 4-7 pm Monday-Friday.
Olive or Twist
925 NW 11th Ave., 546-2900, oliveortwistmartinibar.com. 4-11 pm Tuesday-Wednesday, 4 pm-1 am Thursday-Saturday, 4-10 pm Sunday.
There are no beers on tap or TVs hanging
overhead; the wine list is limited. What Olive or Twist offers is a
classy and comfortable place to shed the day’s worries and indulge in
the classic cocktail. As its name implies, this is a martini bar, and it
has been turning out impeccable versions of that old standby since 2005
in a discreet location at the north end of the Pearl District. The
clientele runs the gamut—young and old, locals and suburbanites,
fashionistas and everymen. Owner Sam Fowler, a former Portland
firefighter who wears natty suits and not an ounce of pretension, runs
his bar ably. Your senses quickly pick up on the attention to detail:
gentle lighting, jazz soundtrack, showroom seating. The theme carries
over to the drinks, crafted by a crack crew led by head bartender Gabe
Martini (yes, that’s his real name). The classic dry martini ($8.50)
starts with Plymouth gin and a dash of vermouth and finishes cold and
clean. Olive or Twist also makes one of the city’s best sazeracs
($9.50): absinthe rinse, Sazerac rye, bitters and a mist of orange peel.
Then there’s the marionberry cosmopolitan ($8.50), the bar’s biggest
seller, if that’s your thing. Me? I’ll stick to the classics. RF.
Drink this: The Vesper ($8.50), with Brokers gin, vodka and a swirl of Lillet Blanc.
6535 SE Foster Road, 777-0495, omalleyspdx.com. 3 pm-2 am daily.
The mark of a great neighborhood bar is
its reflection of the people who call it home. O’Malley’s, then, is the
perfect oasis for Foster-Powell, given the kooky sum of its parts. What
appears from the street to be an Irish dive bar serves up exceptional
pizza and pasta from a stone hearth, paired with strong mixed drinks
quaffed by denizens ranging from metal-heads to young families and
blue-collar gents. These folks all get along amicably, and seem to know
each other from daily life (which, for many, exists mainly at
O’Malley’s), whether they’re playing on the vintage “Night Moves”
pinball machine or shooting pool. It’s hard to find a bar’s bar where
everybody knows your name—even the dude with facial tats—like they do at
O’Malley’s…even if the name they call you isn’t the right one. APK.
Drink this: The
early-bird special from 3 to 6 pm, which for $10 nets you a 10-inch
pizza and a microbrew (or “a couple crappy brews”), is one of the best
bar combos in town.
Happy hour: 50 cents off drinks, 3-6 pm Monday-Friday.
10350 N Vancouver Way, 345-0300, ponderosalounge.com. 9 am-midnight Monday-Thursday, 9 am-2:30 am Friday, 8 am-2:30 am Saturday. 8 am-midnight Sunday.
The Jubitz Truck Stop and Travel Center
is an entirely self-contained institution on Portland’s northern
outskirts, a corporate-administered village unto itself complete with
hotel, restaurants and a two-screen movie theater. In a sense, it is an
unpopped and ebullient bubble of the Other Oregon that still makes up
the majority of the state: red-voting and true blue, where good times
taste like Budweiser and sound like Travis Tritt. (Travis Tritt, indeed,
has played on its stage after a stadium show, as have scores of other
country greats.) The place is as fun-centric, long on spectacle,
uninhibited on the dance floor and as deeply culturally encoded as any
gay dance club: To an upbeat live version of “Folsom Prison Blues,” two
women in push-up bras, vinyl corsets and sexy prison-guard outfits
smiled broadly and twirled batons in time—one song after a virtuoso
fiddle version of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way”—while the crowd on the
generous dance floor swung any way they knew how or any way they still
could. It is a wonderful, wonderful place, and I’ve never felt better.
Drink this: A cool, crisp bottle of Bud ($3.25).
Happy hour: $2 tall boys, $2.50 domestics, $3.50 wells, $8 pitchers; 3-7 pm and 10 pm-close.
Pope House Bourbon Lounge
2075 NW Glisan St., 222-1056, popehouselounge.com. 4 pm-late Tuesday-Sunday.
No reasonably priced bar in Northwest
Portland is entirely immune from the Fraternity Row atmosphere poisoning
the neighborhood, but Pope House has resisted
more than most. Its Kentucky gentility, combined with some no-nonsense
servers, keeps it a pleasant retreat even on packed weekends. The
bourbon list makes it a destination. I think highly of the Old
Fitzgerald 12-year ($8), but there are more than 100 options to the
north and south of it. Also worthwhile: the cheddar and cornbread
fritters with remoulade, and the Frito pie (both $6). In keeping with
the Derby-day aesthetics, there’s a mint julep contest on April 30,
which sounds like a spectacular way to murder a Monday. AM.
Drink this: The best bourbon you can afford, neat.
Happy hour: $2 off cocktails, $3.50 wells with food specials; 4-7 pm and 10 pm-close daily, all day Sunday.
204 SE Oak St., 232-8355, producerowcafe.com. 11 am-midnight Monday-Thursday; 11 am-2 am Friday-Saturday; 11 am-10 pm Sunday.
The metamorphosis of Produce Row, which
used to look like a highway rest stop and now looks like a fancy MTA
station crossed with a dirigible port, is the story of Portland’s
destination renaissance in miniature. The place was dowdy but
trustworthy; now it’s chic and correspondingly precarious—can we
perpetuate such nice things if we don’t do anything but drink? Well, we
can also eat: The menu moves from strength to strength, including a
sensational oxtail stroganoff ($13) and a shrewd chicken and waffles
($11). Beer and whiskey pairings were always the standby swill, and
still are, but they now come in identical, elegant tumblers. In short,
Pro Row is a nice place to do nasty things: The back patio, with glossed
wood and artful tree plantings protected from the elements by a
cylindrical canopy, is probably the fanciest room where you can still
smoke, unless you have a rich, alcoholic aunt in the West Hills. AM.
Drink this: The Redford ($8), a pairing of Laurelwood Free Range Red and Woodford Reserve.
Happy hour: $1 off well drinks, call drinks and pints, plus food specials; 4-7 pm daily.
4237 N Mississippi Ave., 954-2674, prostportland.com. 11:30-2:30 am Monday-Friday, 11-2:30 am Saturday-Sunday.
This place is the wurst! Spend an hour in
Prost! and you’ll find yourself up to your ears in bratwurst,
knackwurst and weisswurst, not to mention the most delicious soft
pretzels ever known in Portland (they’re made by the German Bakery in
Parkrose). And hey, the beer’s not bad either. Thankfully for us
Amerikaners, Prost! has knowledgeable staff who will help intrepid
voyagers navigate the unfamiliar rivers of German beer. If that isn’t
enough to get you on one of their barstools, how’s this: They have beer
glasses the size of your head. Don’t sissy out. KW.
The Bayreuther Landbier Dunkel is fantastic. Good body, great taste, no
extraneous bells and whistles. A full liter mug of this won’t leave you
1101 NE Alberta St., 287-2346, radioroompdx.com. 7-2 am Monday-Friday, 9-2 am Saturday and Sunday.
Radio Room makes me feel like I live in
the ’70s. Vaguely decorated with vintage music-playing devices from
across the years, the bar’s theme lackadaisically fits its name. What
really stands out about the sometimes-packed, sometimes-dead lounge is
the outstanding menu of alcoholic concoctions and the chill, friendly
staff. With ample hangout room outside, the Radio Room’s multiple patios
are popular in all seasons, thanks to fire pits and heaters. It’s
perfect for the in-between crowd that isn’t quite high-rolling, but no
longer grungy. Planned activities include trivia nights and the mass
grunting at the public airing of local sports games. KW.
Drink this: The Ste. Julie’s Gimlet, a lovely crimson cocktail with floral and tropical overtones.
Happy hour: Food
and drink specials 3-6 pm daily, food specials 11 pm-2 am daily.
Service-industry specials 9 am-midnight Sunday. Drink discounts 3
2430 SE Division St., 231-3880. 10-2:30 am daily.
Aside from its outrageously good fried
chicken and jojos, Reel M’Inn is an otherwise ordinary inner-eastside
dive bar with a crummy pool table and some old neon signs. Thanks to the
big, crisp chicken breasts and spicy battered potatoes, it manages to
sit smack dab in the center of Southeast Division Street—just down the
street from Pok Pok, the Woodsman Tavern and a host of other destination
dining—and hold its own during dinner hours. Things change as the night
wears on and the barflies come in. Listen in and you’ll eavesdrop on
Old Portlanders who made the pilgrimage in from Gresham to sit near the
gentry that now rule this ’hood. For chicken this good, we’d make the
drive in reverse. MC.
Drink this: Rainier tall boy.
Red Cap Garage
1035 SW Stark St., 226-4171, redcapgarage.com. 4 pm-2:30 am nightly.
Young, cute, fastidiously groomed
bartenders? Check. Multiple disco balls and a poster touting live “lube
wrestling”? Check. A 6-foot man in 6-inch platform heels? Double check.
If Leverage or Grimm ever needs to cast the role of “gay
bar,” Red Cap Garage will cream all comers. From drag competitions and
drunken trivia to film noir screenings, the good-naturedly nasty Garage
(part of the interconnected Southwest Stark Street party complex that
also includes the Fish Grotto and Boxxes) hosts ’em all—plus dressy and
undressed dance parties for every era and major holiday (including some
the management just made up). All of this adds up to one raucous, goofy,
guilty pleasure of a dance spot, where gay boys, dancing queens and
that middle-aged dude wearing nothing but jean shorts can all shimmy and
sing along to Abba’s “Mamma Mia” at least five nights a week…just the
way God and Lady Gaga intended. KC.
Drink this: Habanero vodka and passion fruit “Shocker” ($3-$5).
Drink and food specials, 4-8 pm nightly and all night Sunday. Plus,
Vodka Bust 2.0: $1.75 well cocktails 10 pm-midnight every Tuesday).
The Red Fox
5128 N Albina Ave., 282-2934, redfoxpdx.com. 3 pm-1:30 am daily.
Written on cans of Old German beer are
the words, “The World Knows No Finer.” This, of course, is utter
bullshit. The world knows plenty of beers that surpass this light and
watery domestic lager. But for $2 a tall boy at Red Fox, it will do just
fine, thank you. This wonderfully laid-back North Portland bar sells a
lot of Old German, which goes down easy, serves as a perfect back to
whiskey and is soft on your wallet. It fits with the unpretentious vibe
of Red Fox, a neighborhood hideaway bedecked with all manner of red
(stuffed foxes, curtains, candle holders). There are a few beers on tap,
but many more in cans and bottles. If you feel like splurging, there is
a short but well-chosen shelf of single-malt Scotch. The 14-year Oban,
at $12 a pour, is a bargain compared to its price at other bars around
town. So sit back in one of the bar stools or at a table and heed the
sticker on the glass door of the beer fridge: “Alcohol slowly kills, but
who’s in a hurry?” RF.
Drink this: The Low Rider ($5), a can of Old German and a shot of Old Crow whiskey.
Happy hour: $1 off well drinks, 3-7 pm daily.
7819 SW Capitol Highway, 246-9097. 11 am-2:30 am daily.
For over 60 years, the curved bar, dimly
lit booths, and friendly, hardworking staff have made Renner’s a
Southwest Portland drinking institution. Renner’s is definitely
customer-oriented, offering fierce drink specials to keep friendly
regulars and curious newcomers coming in the door. Apparently Renner’s
got a little too customer-friendly: the management has posted a notice
by the front door apologizing to all patrons because the bar’s insurance
company no longer allows “Buck Night Tuesdays,” during which Renner’s
served $1 well drinks. RIP Buck Night, you will be missed. Renner’s
still pours hearty $2.50 bloody marys all day, every day, so the
customer satisfaction is alive and well. WH.
Drink this: Whiskey ginger. Or a bloody mary. Nothing fancy.
Happy hour: 3-7 pm Monday-Friday.
600 E Burnside St., 236-4536, rontoms.net. 4:30 pm-2:30 am daily.
Although I’m generally suspicious of any
establishment that considers itself too cool to need a sign, Rontoms’
atmosphere is mostly one of laid-back joviality. With a décor theme
somewhere between converted warehouse and ’70s lounge, the space is
dotted with denlike groupings of furniture made for intimate chatting
and splitting a pot of their Champagne-and-brie fondue ($9-$13),
enhancing the Merv Griffin Show vibe. The beer and wine offerings
are unremarkable, though a selection of regional spirits adds interest
to your cocktail of choice. But Rontoms’ raison d’être is its beautiful
and spacious partially covered patio with a fire pit, pingpong table,
occasional live music and a movie screen (all mostly in summer). PB.
Drink this: The made-in-Portland Clear Creek apple brandy
Happy Hour: $1 off draft beer and well drinks, 11 pm-1 am Monday-Thursday.
720 SE Sandy Blvd., 467-2469, rumclubpdx.com. 4 pm-2 am Monday-Saturday, 5 pm-midnight Sunday.
Michael Shea, the curly-haired,
Hawaiian-shirt-loving co-owner of Rum Club, describes his year-old bar
as geographically and philosophically at the midway point between Beaker
& Flask, the cocktail-heavy restaurant down the block, and the
Slammer, the delightfully weird dive across the street. I don’t think I
can do better. Rum Club, which Shea, a former bar manager at Doug Fir,
conceived with Beaker & Flask’s Kevin Ludwig, serves Hemingway-class
cocktails at reasonable prices (nearly all $8) in a tiny triangular
room almost completely filled by a horseshoe bar topped in glowing
African mahogany. The bar encourages long, pisco-soaked conversations
that drift on and on until the 2 am last call, so fortify your stomach
with whatever chef Jon Anderson (a Le Pigeon alumnus) is cooking and
settle in. BW.
Drink this: The Sister Ray, in which Shea blends bourbon, cassis, black rum and Fernet Branca into ambrosia.
Happy hour: $6 select cocktails; 4-6 pm Monday-Saturday, all night Sunday.
1004 N Killingsworth St., 206-4252, saraveza.com. 11 am to midnight daily.
A bar and bottle shop with a woman’s
touch, Saraveza manages the difficult task of pleasing finicky beer
geeks without totally ignoring atmosphere. That means, basically, that
there are cupcakes for sale and the vintage beer signs—many of which
honor the owner’s native state of Wisconsin—are artfully arranged above
the vintage minty-green cooler cases. Compared to any other bar with
such a wide selection of brew, Saraveza is a warm place to drink and
munch on a goblet of stellar fresh-baked Chex mix. Made-from-scratch
pasties ($8.75) nicely quiet a beer-filled belly. MC.
Drink this: Beer, beer, beer or beer.
116 NE Russell St., 493-3600, secretsociety.net. 5 pm-midnight Sunday-Thursday, 5 pm-1 am Friday-Saturday.
Secret Society isn’t much of a secret.
Judging by the way the lounge filled up on a recent Thursday, it’s safe
to say the word is out about one of Portland’s most unique bars. Housed
in a 1907 Woodmen of the World hall, Secret Society opened in 2008 after
a two-year renovation and has built a following with its classic
cocktails and commitment to absinthe, the heady, anise-flavored
high-proof spirit known in literature as “the green fairy.” It also
doesn’t hurt that the place is upstairs from always-packed tapas temple
Toro Bravo, bringing a steady flow of diners who can grab a drink while
waiting for a table. The drink list is heavy on old-timers like the
Moscow Mule and Champagne cocktails, the best of which is Death in the
Afternoon ($10), which adds absinthe and a sugar cube to the bubbly and
was created in the 1930s by Ernest Hemingway after he fell under the
spell of absinthe in Paris. After a few of these in the clubby lounge,
you might fall under its spell, too. RF.
Drink this: Death in the Afternoon, Lucid absinthe ($9).
Happy hour: $5
cocktail specials and $1 off Champagne cocktails, 5-7 pm
Sunday-Thursday; $1 off Moscow Mules and Kentucky Mules, 10 pm-close
211 SW Ankeny St., 220-4001. 5 pm-2:30 pm Monday-Saturday. 9 pm-2:30 am Sunday.
At least apocryphally, Shanghai Tunnel
was once quite the active scene: Sailors were abducted underground to
Pacific deck-swabbing, and a crowd of the hip and drug-assisted made
mischief. This was approximately the same era: the ’90s? What remains is
a basement with low ceilings, a friendly bartender, an unfriendly line
cook, heavy noodle bowls ($8) and screamcore blasted too loud to carry
on civilized conversation. Which is not why you came here, anyway. You
came here because it was downhill. AM.
Drink this: Something from the rotating microbrew taps. I had the Tilburg’s Dutch Brown Ale, and did not regret it.
Happy hour: $2.50 domestics and $3.50 well drinks, 5-7 pm nightly.
3955 N Mississippi Ave., 208-3798, sidecarpdx.wordpress.com. 4 pm-“late” daily.
The term “Prohibition-style cocktails” is
troubling. Do the cocktails come sans booze? Do they carry little tommy
guns? At Sidecar 11, a new “speakeasy” on North Mississippi Avenue,
“Prohibition-style” apparently just means “real good.” The club’s
marquee drink, a murky-looking sugar-topped citrus concoction called the
Mississippi Sidecar ($8), is as tasty as it is pretty. The
hallway-shaped room, like Sidecar’s drinks, is sparsely decorated (out
of necessity, as it is a tiny space). That makes it a low-key escape
from an increasingly bustling neighborhood. Also, the already cheap
appetizers are half off for happy hour. Maybe Prohibition wasn’t all
that bad. CJ.
Drink this: “North” Manhattan ($9), made with Four Roses Bourbon and tawny port and Angostura bitters.
Happy hour: $1 off beer, wine and cocktails and half-price appetizers; 4-6 pm daily.
1033 NW 16th Ave., 223-0099, slabtownbar.net. 3 pm-2:30 am daily.
Slabtown has just changed hands, but
since reopening after a brief hiatus, I’m pleased to report very little
else is different. The pinball, air hockey, Pop-A-Shot, Skee-Ball and
other barroom amusements remain the dive’s biggest draw; the entrance
still smells like a urinal; the jukebox is still great; the decor is
still a pastiche of comfy repurposed tat; the food is still deep fried;
and the industrial surrounds still create a welcome retreat from the
neighboring Alphabet and Pearl districts. What will make or break
Slabtown’s future is whether the new owner can continue the bar’s
tradition of booking great punk and garage rock shows. We’re rooting for
Drink this: Beer. Most taps are around $4.
Happy hour: $3 micros and wells, $1.50 PBR; 3-7 pm daily.
500 SE 8th Ave., 232-6504. 3 pm-2:30 am Monday-Friday, noon-2:30 am Saturday-Sunday. Cash only.
The Slammer is maybe the friendliest bar
in town and certainly the most festive, with more year-round Christmas
lights than Pigeon Forge, Tenn. It is a family-run dive of the old
school, an after-softball hangout for the local bar league and a place
that will suffer fools gladly but never assholes, one of the few locales
in town where widely disparate strangers routinely talk to each other. I
have witnessed at this bar very serious impromptu pinball tournaments,
bar-wide singalongs, bar-wide Jell-O shots ($1) and multiple
transvestite jukebox dance parties. It is a heartening place, and it’s
very bad for your liver. Cash only, people. MK.
Drink this: A lively, effervescent gin-and-tonic or vodka soda ($3) tends to keep things lubricated.
4-7 pm weekdays (except Wednesday) wells drop to $2.50, with $1 wells
on Thursday from 9 pm-midnight and $1 off call drinks on Sunday.
36 N Russell St., 287-2262. 11 am-10 pm Monday-Thursday, 11 am-midnight Friday.
Sloan’s is usually known as “the bar with
the semi-truck in its side,” though that odd structural accoutrement is
hardly the only curious thing about Sloan’s. Like the aurora borealis
or the Great Pumpkin, the bar keeps irregular hours: After my girlfriend
moved into an apartment 100 feet away, it took us a month before we
actually caught the place with its lights on. Such a mercurial
establishment can only be born of magic. Its aura glows gold lamé:
Unaltered since the Carter administration, the décor is all mirrored
ceilings, vinyl bucket seats and owl art, plus an old novelty jukebox
powering a miniature mechanical big band that grooves along to each
selection. As a favorite hangout of Rip City’s lesbian fan contingent,
you can usually count on the doors being open during Blazers games,
though if the bar ever vanished overnight, dissipating from
consciousness like a wonderful dream, I wouldn’t be surprised. MS.
Drink this: A pitcher of PBR.
Happy hour: 25 cents off domestic, 50 cents off microbrews, $1 off well drinks; 3-6 pm Monday-Friday.
533 SE Grand Ave., 230-7767, slowbar.net. 11:30-2:30 am daily.
Dark but seemly, with equal parts plush
and grit, Slow Bar feels like a New York bar plopped into the industrial
eastside and outfitted with one of the city’s best burgers. The titular
Slow Burger—a half-pound of beef topped with Gruyère, onion rings,
lettuce and relish for $9.75—is half the draw and big enough to share.
Good luck landing one of the coveted deep booths. Bathed in red light,
they afford intimacy that makes it possible to yell over the heavy-metal
soundtrack. If you’re at the bar, better to just nod along between
bites of that burger. MC.
Drink this: Bulleit hot toddy ($7.50).
Happy hour: $1 off all drinks, $3 sliders, other snack specials; 3-6 pm Monday-Friday.
The Spare Room
4830 NE 42nd Ave., 287-5800, spareroompdx.com. 7-2:30 am daily.
A sterling example of Portland’s ability
to repurpose otherwise useless buildings into places where we can get
hammered, sing Hall & Oates and shove our tongues into strangers’
mouths, former Cully bowling alley the Spare Room is a drinker’s
Shangri-La. Inside, the mammoth box of a building resembles a hybrid of
seedy East L.A. banquet halls and an industrial Rat Pack hideaway, with a
steady mix of young’uns holding their own with the older folks lording
over the video-poker machines near the bar. The entertainment, too, is
singular, ranging from trivia nights to queer dance parties, live music
and beyond. For a true mind melt, hit up the Danny Chavez karaoke
extravaganza (9 pm-1 am Mondays-Wednesdays), the only place where you
can see a 70-year-old woman singing “Careless Whisper” while the KJ
blows a live sax solo and his sidekick, the gold-vested Rockin’ Raymond,
plays a Guitar Hero ax and dances. APK.
Roll a die and get a shot from one of six brown-bagged fifths. Last
round, Southern Comfort was in the glass, then a stomach and, soon
thereafter, in the sink.
Happy hour: $1.50 tall boys and Bud Light, 3-6 pm daily; $1.50 Bud, 7-10 am daily.
Spirit of 77
500 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 232-9977, spiritof77bar.com. 4 pm-midnight Monday-Friday, noon-midnight Saturday, noon-10 pm Sunday.
Look, Spirit of 77 isn’t a cozy
neighborhood sports bar. It’s cavernous, the drinks are pricey and
getting a table on game day is like trying to break through the
Steelers’ defense. None of that matters, though. Why? Three reasons.
First, even in a standing-room-only situation, with its high ceilings;
big, open room; and massive TV, there’s no such thing as an obstructed
view anywhere in the bar. Second, there’s free Pop-A-Shot. Need I say
that again? There’s free Pop-A-Shot. And last, the bar is within walking
distance of the Rose Garden, making it an ideal stop for pre- and
post-Blazers game activities. It’s the perfect place to get drunk on
hope and Fort George Vortex IPA and then, three hours later, drown the
misery of yet another first-round exit in a bottle of Delirium Tremens
and a plate of hush puppies. MS.
Drink this: An imperial pint of Double Mountain Vaporizer Pale Ale ($6).
Happy hour: $3-$6 food and drink specials and $4 drafts, 4-6 pm Monday-Friday.
13 NW 6th Ave., 248-4700, startheaterportland.com. 5 pm-2 am daily.
The 100-year-old Star Theater has been a
strip joint, a burlesque bar and a speakeasy. Its latest incarnation
isn’t the first time the room—with its impressive vaulted ceilings, long
red curtains, second-story lounge and narrow staircases—has been a
music venue, but it is the first time in recent history anyone has given
the place some dignity. The new Star Theater is as clean and
unpretentiously classy as it is really fucking loud on show nights. It
also has an ingeniously positioned mirror behind the bar, so you can sit
and drink with your back to a band without missing the show. And while
one can’t help but wonder if Portland needs more 21-and-over rock clubs,
the Star is open nightly with cheap drinks, a huge patio and some of
the tastiest bento boxes in town. CJ.
Drink this: Well gin.
Suki’s Bar and Grill
2401 SW 4th Ave., 226-1181, sukisbargrill.com. 7-2:30 am daily.
Suki’s, indeed, hangs on. Adjoined to the
Travelodge, Suki’s is a place that endures in transience and provides
comfort and a way station to the transient, from hotel guests to PSU
students to self-loathing open-mic comedians to the cocktail-drunk
karaoke set. Over the years the bar has housed its own big brass band,
and has been used as a wild-orgied sex platform for a local swingers’
club (think about this next time you play pool on its tables). A male
model once chose Suki’s as the venue to hang himself, prison-style, from
the bar’s pay-phone cord. All are welcome, whatever their needs. All,
too, are drunk on the bar’s plaster-stiff cocktails. The karaoke from
Wednesday to Saturday is uniquely good humored and packed to the gills,
with the spectacle of myriad birthday spankings and a longtime KJ, Dick,
with a tradition of singing, “It’s Raining Men! (Gay Men!) Hallelujah!”
when midnight comes around. MK.
Drink this: Start at the top of the racks and end up face down in a well ($4).
Happy hour: $3 drinks of every sort, food for $4 or less; 4-8 pm daily.
5903 N Lombard St., 283-4200. 4 pm-2:30 am daily.
Sundown Pub offers a welcome respite from
the long, woebegone leg of North Lombard Street between Kenton and St.
Johns. The bar’s neon brewer signs, video-lottery machines and general
lack of attention to ambience (the back room literally looks like the
management has forgotten about it) say “dive,” but with wood-paneled
walls, a vase of tulips—real ones, in freshly changed water—in the
corner and a fresh-laundry-smelling bathroom, Sundown feels more like a
suburban basement bar. With a cold brew from the bar’s extensive
selection and one of Sundown’s home-style dishes—say, the Mexican
lasagna—in front of you, going out has never felt so much like staying
Drink this: Lost Coast, Ninkasi, Caldera, Fat Tire, Lagunitas—pick your poison; Sundown’s beer list is impressive.
Happy hour: 50 cents off drinks, 4:20-6:30 pm. At 4:20 pm, for one minute, the bar sells $1 tokens redeemable for a well drink or beer.
3326 SE Belmont St. 4 pm-1 am daily.
We could make a joke about what a
Portland cliché this sister to the Bye and Bye is—the covered patio, the
Edison bulbs, the missing phone number. But we’re too drunk from the
Mason-jar drink and we’re still thinking about how passable the vegan
food was. Even with the precious, trying-a-little-hard décor, it’s hard
to deny the appeal of the super-dark Sweet Hereafter. A seemingly random
selection of over-saturated color portraits of iconic athletes lines
one wall, and old maps behind the bar give the place an even older feel.
More important, the bar is the city’s hottest pickup spot for young,
tattooed, bicycle-riding vegans. That smell in the air? That’s meat-free
pheromones. If you aren’t looking for a hot piece of tofu to take home
for the night, Sweet Hereafter still has a lot to offer: The all-vegan
menu, filled with rich flavors and a few comfort foods, is surprisingly
diverse. The drinks are perfectly mixed and strong—this was the best Old
Fashioned I’ve had in Portland. Plus, the bartenders don’t make you
feel like a pain in the ass for wanting something that’s not on the
menu. Sometimes you just really want whiskey apple cider. HG.
Drink this: The bar’s signature drink, “Hereafter,” is vodka, bourbon, lemon and iced tea served in a Mason jar. (Yes, it’s worth $8.)
Happy hour: $1 off entrees, select draft beers, house wines and well cocktails, $2 chips and salsa; 4-7 pm daily.
1932 NE Broadway, 288-3333, swiftloungepdx.com. 4 pm-2 am nightly.
This can be an excellent place for
drinking, under specific conditions: A sunny weekday afternoon is the
ideal accompaniment to Mason-jar cocktails like the Stoned Finch or the
Topless Robin. (They’re all $8 for 32 ounces, or $6 for a “sissy” 16
ounces, a worse bargain but a wiser decision.) This timing should also
get you access to a terrific happy-hour menu, with a $4 spicy fried
chicken cutlet and a $2 bowl of red beans and rice. Ponder the pawn-shop
décor—a friend noted that a mounted deer head included an eye patch
“because it has an eye disease, not because it’s a pirate”—and split
before the target demographic shows up. On event nights, Swift becomes a
hot mess of semi-reformed club-hoppers, and is essentially one of the
better bars in Las Vegas. But, again, those afternoons are lovely. AM.
Drink this: A sissy Stoned Finch ($6).
Happy hour: “Jolly hour” food menu and drink discounts, 4-8 pm Monday-Saturday and all day Sunday.
8029 SE Stark St., tanukipdx.com. 5 pm-close (10 pm or later) Tuesday-Saturday.
Janis Martin’s izakaya resurfaced in a
Montavilla storefront a few months ago after closing its original
Northwest 21st Avenue location last May. The new space is slightly
larger than the old one, providing room for a couple of pinball machines
and, more important to Martin’s loyal patrons, an expanded bar. The
variety of sake, beer, shochu and spirits, including three Japanese
whiskeys, is impressive. About the only libation that’s in short supply
is wine, and that’s a small quibble. The mixed drinks are
interesting—the Dejima ($6) features Damrak gin, St. Germain liqueur,
rhubarb bitters and muddled cucumber, served in a cedar masu
(wooden box)—and there’s a Belgian-style tripel on tap. Several
different Asian beers go well with Martin’s food, which is best ordered omakase:
Set a price and allow the chef to choose the dishes. The entire table
must participate, and for $15 to $25 per person, you will not leave this
“no sushi/no kids” establishment hungry. RF.
Yuki No Bosha sake ($16 for 8 ounces), Orion beer from Okinawa ($7 for a
21-ounce bottle), Suntory Hibiki blended Scotch whiskey ($10).
Happy hour: $2 cans of Sapporo beer, $4 Hakutsuru sake and $1 off Japanese whiskey, small food menu; 5-7 pm Tuesday-Saturday.
1015 NW Everett St., 445-8109, teardroplounge.com. 4 pm-late Monday-Saturday.
“I might need some counseling,” I told
the suspender-baring bartender as I scanned the intimidating menu, long
on obscure spirits and housemade bitters. “Booze makes everything
better,” he replied. I told him I rarely drank cocktails and began to
describe my preferences, but he brushed aside my chatter and set to
work. Several minutes later, I had a pretty yellow concoction before me.
It was perfect: a bit tart, a bit sweet, a bit of fiery finish.
“Respect Your Elders,” he called it, and it contained gin, Yellow
Chartreuse, sparkling wine, elderflower, Thai chili, cinnamon, and maybe
a few other ingredients—I lost track. My date swigged a throat-warming
Liberal Cocktail, adapted from a 1900 recipe (rye whiskey, sweet
vermouth, Torani Amer, orange bitters). With their exacting technique
and scientific precision, Teardrop’s aloof, knowledgeable bartenders
will satisfy both naifs and connoisseurs, and they’re a hell lot of fun
to watch. RJ.
Drink this: Go big with Granny’s Got a Gun (applejack, Green Chartreuse, honey, lemon, $13) or ask a bartender to craft you something.
Happy hour: $3-$5 food, $5-$6 classic cocktails, $1 off beer and wine; 4-7 pm Monday-Friday.
1465 NE Prescott St., 288-5534, tigabar.com. 5 pm-around 2 am Monday-Saturday.
Long a cool-kid hangout where local
tastemakers spin vinyl and sip house-infused vodkas, these hallowed
halls have seen untold bands formed and art projects brainstormed. The
candlelit hole in the wall seems too unassuming and friendly to deserve
its reputation as a nerve center for Portland creative types, but one
need only examine the blossoming cluster of businesses around it, which
include a drum shop, a record store, a fancy wing shack and some
less-adorable bars, to see that Tiga was at the forefront of some pretty
impressive gentrification. The Northeast Prescott Street hideaway is
still far enough off the beaten path that it keeps a regular
neighborhood clientele, and the lack of TVs and burgers keeps it close
to a secret. CJ.
Drink this: The habanero hibiscus margarita, a summery drink that burns like a shot and tingles like lemonade at the same time.
Happy hour: $1 off already cheap well drinks and drafts, 5-8 pm Monday-Saturday.
232 SE Ankeny St., 248-1600, valentineslifeblood.blogspot.com. 5 pm-2:30 am nightly.
Out front, Southwest Ankeny Street has
recently taken on the appearance of a twee street carnival with no
actual entertainment, all fairy lights and al fresco dining; but inside,
Valentines remains the same little pocket of bohemia it has always
been. Minimalist and unaffected, it’s cool in a way that marketing
people and interior designers can’t fabricate—making it the perfect
place to seal the deal with that hot art-school kid, or pick one up if
you’re really into guys or gals who print their own poetry ’zines. The
underground noise bands, cassette-tape release parties and alt-comedy
shows typically don’t kick off until late, and the happy hour runs until
9 pm, so you can sink a few quiet ones before the lights go down and
the experimental synth artists begin. RB.
Drink this: A nice stiff gin rickey ($5).
Happy hour: $3 wells, drafts and house wines, $1 off food; 5-7 pm nightly.
The Victory Bar
3652 SE Division St., thevictorybar.com. 5 pm-1 am “or later” Monday-Saturday, 5 pm-midnight “or later” Sunday.
One of Portland’s most iconic bars, in
that it is filled with icons. These folks were co-opting early
20th-century art before it was all the rage: The lamp shades are adorned
with collages of revolutionary figures, smiling cops and Picasso’s Guernika,
and the curtains are covered in Jules Verne-y illustrations. The cash
register is a hulking antique, there are tin panels on the ceiling and a
collection of shockingly racist bottle openers on the walls. Employed
white people in their late 20s crowd the place on weeknights for venison
burgers and bottled beers from around the world, producing an
ear-splitting din made tolerable by a couple of great cocktails. The bar
is best on Sunday, when lower attendance gives you room to breathe. BW.
Drink this: Any farmhouse ale you’ve never heard of.
Happy hour: $3 wells, $4 Manhattans and martinis, $1 off cocktails, 50 cents off drafts, $5 baked spatzle; 5-7 pm daily.
Vintage Cocktail Lounge
7907 SE Stark St., 262-0696, vintagepdx.com. 5 pm-late daily.
Nothing creates an air of mystery and
sexual intrigue quite like sipping a gimlet or an old-fashioned. Think
Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint in North by Northwest. True to its
name, the Vintage Cocktail Lounge specializes in the taste of nostalgia
with an extensive list of classic cocktails and more than 20 original
creations. The Vintage 75 (Aviation gin, a rhubarb bitters-soaked sugar
cube, Champagne and a grapefruit twist) is a pleasing combination of
bitter and sweet, and the Blood and Sand (Johnnie Walker Black Label
Scotch, Cherry Heering and orange juice) will quench your thirst for
international espionage. Just watch out for low-flying crop-dusters. PB.
Drink this: The Ambassador (absinthe, St. Germain, lemon bitters and soda with grapefruit).
$1 off cocktails, beer and wine and $5 pizzettas; 5-7 pm and 11
pm-close daily. Service-industry workers get 50 percent off on
The World Famous Kenton Club
2025 N Kilpatrick St., 285-3718, kentonclub.com. 10-2:30 am daily.
As the numerous framed movie posters
decorating the walls won’t let anyone forget, the Kenton Club earned its
“world famous” status by appearing in Kansas City Bomber, a 1972
roller-derby flick starring Raquel Welch. It’s doubtful you’ll ever see
Ms. Welch perched at the bar in front of a pint of High Life these
days, though it wouldn’t be surprising to walk in and find Clint
Eastwood and an orangutan in a punch-up with the regulars. A rootin’,
tootin’ old-school dive established in 1947, it’s one of those bars that
still smells like cigarettes three years after the smoking ban—though
that could just be the patrons. Hopped up on cheap beer and stiff pours,
the joint gets rowdy on weekends, when local punk, metal and outlaw
country acts step up to its shin-high stage and punt squalls of
distortion off the well-preserved redwood interior. If and when Kenton
becomes Portland’s next hip neighborhood, this here’ll be the
Drink this: A shot of well whiskey and $2 tall boy of anything.
Happy hour: $3.50 well drinks and microbrews and $1.50 PBR, 4-6 pm Monday-Friday.
Yes and No
20 NW 3rd Ave. 8 pm-close (usually around 2 am) Tuesday and Thursday-Saturday.
Old Town’s Yes and No is the snot-nosed,
punky little brother of hipster hangout the Tube next door, and an oasis
in the Barmuda Triangle’s sea of crassness. The long and narrow room
(it’s 11 feet wide) exudes a dive-bar charm with its sparse décor and
taped-up furniture. But Yes and No also has quirky touches like the
three in-wall TVs, lined up vertically, that are usually playing some
campy movie. Drinking here is a study in minimalism—tall boys of PBR and
Rainier, shots of whiskey, vodka concoctions—so don’t expect a wine
list or your favorite microbrew. What you can expect is music. DJs spin
on most nights, but get here early and you can play one of the city’s
best jukeboxes (Bowie, the Clash, the Jam, Television, Wire). It’s 1977
again, and you will get to heaven. RF.
Drink this: A shot and a beer.