The Best Bars in East Portland

Our favorite juke joints, sports hangs and dance floors in East Portland.

Luna Azul

1721 SE 122nd Ave., 503-954-3128.

The name sounds like a resort with cabanas, and that's essentially what this restaurant/club/quinceañera is for East Portland. The Mexican restaurant is an oasis of bright disco lights at night and pepper-flecked family meals by day. The seafood stew comes in a massive bowl with crab legs hanging over the rim, and the shrimp and fish are stewed in red Cuban spices, plated with fried plantains and served with heads and eyeballs intact. But forget food after 9 pm on weekends, when the DJ reigns supreme. Fridays are for karaoke that splits time between Spanish and English, and Saturdays are for dance-club salsa—but no one will stop you from dancing or singing along on any night. In fact, wallflowers should expect to be pulled into the disco lights by fast-talking girls in tight, white pants and sky-high heels, or guys in tight, white tees and slicked hair. Get your liquid courage from margarita specials or the house cocktail, an icy-blue drink resembling an AMF in both flavor and hue. ENID SPITZ.

The Lariat Lounge

17238 SE Division St., 503-760-4454.

A country bar in form more than function, the Lariat Tavern beckons with its light-up sign of a cartoon cowboy whirling a lasso above his head, but the only spurs you're likely to see are hanging on the walls, along with a horse saddle, replica steer horns and all manner of beer swag. Walking into the small, low-slung, wood-paneled saloon does feel a bit like stumbling into a roadside tavern in middle-of-nowhere Texas after your car breaks down, though. Regulars slouch elbow to elbow at the bar watching baseball and MMA, or playing pool, or video poker. Everyone is waiting on a plate of fried chicken to emerge from the kitchen and drinking cans of Coors Light, and you feel like you're going to get side-eyed if you order anything fancier than that. But it's comfortable enough to feel like, if your car really did break down out here, you could get used to it. MATTHEW SINGER.

Bridge City Taproom

620 SE 122nd Ave., 971-202-7267

The beer list inside the former Dog House Saloon, between Fabric Depot and Mr. Peep's Peep Hole, boasts arguably the best beer offerings in East Portland—with happy hours that might include $3.50 pints of Hop Venom, Barley Brown's Pallet Jack and Pfriem wit until 7 pm. Food offerings are only a little less generous, including a half-dozen wings for $6 and linguine in white clam sauce for $9. The wings were light on sauce, but otherwise respectable. Settle in to watch the game—there's a row of screens in every direction—and get some cheap and crafty beers. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Related: Bridge City Taproom: Bar Review

Bridge City Taproom photo by Bridget Baker

Tony's Tavern East

10524 NE Sandy Blvd., 503-252-1887.

Tony's Tavern is West Burnside's mighty alcoholic liver—a jukebox dive processing every alcohol-stunned piece of humanity in the district. It's not the sort of place you'd imagine to be a chain, and yet…here we are, in a little box on Sandy Boulevard that is also dirt-cheap–especially during the bar's six-hour "happy hour" till 7:30 serving up $2.75 wells. There's a lovely jukebox playing real albums, and the bar is full of old men who really want to talk or can't really talk at all. The Eastside location is much less adorned than Tony's West—and being newer, it's much cleaner—but otherwise, it's like stepping into drunken Portland's dirty mirror. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Wooden Chicken Pub

12500 NE Sandy Blvd., 503-253-8893,

If East Portland has a nightlife district, it is Parkrose, a onetime German enclave now home to countless giant neon signs advertising roadhouse bars smaller than the signs, from Bill's Steak House to Katie's Backyard to Nick's Parkrose Pub. But if there's one bar to rule them all, it's the always-packed chicken shack and party bar Wooden Chicken Pub, a hardwood sports hall for the 49ers faithful with pool tables stretching out like the greens of a putt-putt course, $7.50 pitchers of Bud at happy hour, a hundreds-strong phallic menagerie of tap handles apparently brought in by customers, and at least one regular so regular he sends Christmas cards with nearly naked photos. "Does his wife mind that he keeps sending those?" we asked. "Pretty sure she took the pictures," said the bartender. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Boss Hawg's Bar 'n' Grill

617 NE 102nd Ave., 503-252-4647,

Despite its corrugated-metal Texas roadhouse exterior emblazoned with images of an angry Beaver and Duck, Boss Hawg's is perhaps a perfect old-man and day bar. It is a dimly lit, sprawling, almost domestic-feeling place with all-day breakfast, including $3.95 Hawg McMuffins, and a cozy patio with a fireplace and a little stone water fountain as if it were on the deck of every suburban dad. Inside, Stella Artois is served at exactly 37 degrees, out of a space-age tap that looks like it was designed by Stanley Kubrick. "Oh, that?" the bartender says. "Our owner likes to get fancy sometimes." The bar's Hawgarita machine was broken on our visit or we would have stayed even longer. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.


12525 SE Powell Blvd., 503-761-4641.

From the outside, Papa-Son's looks like a German beer hall. Inside, the brightly lit, wood-paneled space offers a host of neighborhood regulars playing pool or ponied up to the bar, plus printed lists of rules entreating patrons to please not fight. A much more cheery sign lists the "all day every day" specials that count up from $1 Jell-O shots to $4 white Russians to the special board's pinnacle, a $6 Long Island iced tea. The music went everywhere from Ke$ha to death metal, and the crowd is equally diverse. But when we arrived on a recent Friday at 11 pm, the first thing anybody did was offer to sell us a bunch of tube socks for $5. For that price, we'd recommend you go for a Jägerbomb off the specials board. Consider Papa-Son's a worthy first stop if you're heading to the non-drinking hookah nightclub across the street. ALYSSA WALKER.

Luna Azul (Emily Joan Greene) Luna Azul (Emily Joan Greene)

Bar 108

10845 NE Halsey St., 503-255-8833,

A sign taped to Bar 108's door kindly asks that patrons not wear hats, or bandanas, or jackets, or all sorts of things that might lead you to believe you're in for a rough crowd. But within, Bar 108 is a mix of Bud Light, boba tea and fluorescent fishbowl cocktails, with a nightclubby environment framing what seems to be more of a chill hang for a mostly Asian crowd—with Vietnamese fish-sauce wings, pho and yum nuar on the bar menu next to the hamburger. On our visit, most of the action was at the pool tables and on the porch. We've seen evidence of more crowded nights, and there's a stage in the main "fireplace room" with a little cutout mic stand. But when we asked what the stage was used for, the bartender cheerily told us nothing at all. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Clamity Jane's

10805 NE Halsey St., 503-257-4939.

Ever feel a little cramped in Portland bars? Might I recommend Clamity Jae's (note: not Calamity Jane's, and yes, it does serve breaded clams), a big ol' warehouse of a bar that nonetheless offers the comforts of deep, cushy booths and big round tables fit for a blue-collar King Arthur. The rules are clearly stated on the door—cannabis will get you "86'd for life" and you should "pull your pants up or don't come in" as a way of demonstrating that you "have some decency and respect for yourself and others." If you can pass these stringent guidelines—if you're Clamity Jae's material—you will be treated to both Blue Moon and Widmer Hefe. MARTIN CIZMAR.

The Pink Feather

14154 SE Division St., 503-761-2030,

It sounds like the name of a burlesque club, but the Pink Feather is really just your typical, old-fashioned, family-style diner with a backroom bar. One that's decorated with velvet paintings that look purchased from the estate sale of a madame who died in the 1940s. With magenta furniture that hasn't been tended to since the Eisenhower administration. And a menu highlighted by broasted chicken. And an entertainment calendar featuring a summer luau, karaoke for kids, and the occasional Elvis impersonator. OK, so everything about the Pink Feather is pretty weird, in that gloriously unassuming way that can only happen in a part of town that has yet to be commodified—the kind of place where day-drunk 50-somethings dance around a standup fireplace to two guitarists playing drum machine-assisted classic rock covers, then nearly come to blows over an incident on the smoking patio involving a squirt gun. Don't ever change, Pink Feather—not that there's any chance of that happening. MATTHEW SINGER.

Pink Feather (Christine Dong) Pink Feather (Christine Dong)

Rumpus Room

10555 SE Division St., 503-254-9212.

This old-school dive bar has been around since 1972, and with its wood paneling and beige leather banquettes, pool tables and three screens showing sports, the decor doesn't seem to have changed much since—aside from maybe a wall of video poker. But at 11 pm on a recent Friday, Rumpus Room was conspicuously lacking in rumpus. Only a handful of people had shown up for a karaoke night where patrons bring their own instruments—all-out jams happen Sunday. But that left a pair of shuffleboard tables—plus a karaoke setlist—wide open. Craft pints are $4.50, and pool and shuffleboard are free on Sundays and Tuesdays. Just stay far away from the $1 Jell-O shots. GRACE CULHANE.

(Christine Dong)

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