Even the newer FoPo bars have hung onto the rough-hewn aesthetic of the former Felony Flats—setting up shop in old dives and barely patched holes, while old-guard spots have remained unstuck in whiskey-stained time. Will it last? We'll see what happens when that whole two-lane Foster conversion happens. Here's the tour, from north to south.
1. Slingshot Lounge
5532 SE Center St., 503-445-6649.
Slingshot is the decade-old O.G. of the newfangled FoPo scene, and it's changed very little aside from 86'ing the loud-ass hockey machines that gave it the name. Bisected by a bar that runs the length of the space, the Slingshot is like two pubs in one. If you're feeling chill, take your $2 happy hour basket of fries and your $2 Oly over to one of the perpetually springy booths and gaze upon the wonders of the Gun Room outside. Or if you're feeling spry, hit the game room, where pinball and foosball get increasingly difficult as the crowds swell and your impossibly stiff well cocktail takes hold.
8 min walk (0.4 mi):
2. Bar Maven
6219 SE Foster Road, 503-384-2079, barmaven-pdx.com.
We never knew we needed gyro nachos with our local cider, but here we are, eating tzatziki-gyro pita chips amidthe seemingly endless weekend crowds of Bar Maven. Just four years old, Maven serves weirdo specialty cocktails like the amaretto/1800 tequila-laced Red Hooter alongside crafts from Pfriem to Barley Brown's, in a bar that's equally mismatched—made of all reclaimed wood. Unite under the banner of bar shuffleboard, stay for strangely appropriate Mediterranean takes on pub food.
4 min walk (0.2 mi):
3. Starday Tavern
6517 SE Foster Road, 971-888-4001.
Starday looks like a cross between the kind of New York bar you'd expect to be home to hard-luck Scorsese characters and the world's tiniest airport hangar—courtesy of the sloping Christmas lights behind the bar. Starday crams a lot into its narrow interior: TVs blaring music videos, an eensy stage that hosts everything from (cramped) live shows to karaoke, a carefully curated taplist mixing cheap tallboys with Founders' Rubaeus, and an omnipresent dog. That's Genghis, a 10-year-old English bulldog/pug mix we recently named the best pub dog in town.
25 sec walk (105 ft):
6535 SE Foster Road, 503-777-0495.
This dark, sprawling, Irish-named, metal-leaning, dive-ish institution has long stood as something of a middle finger to the whole "new Portland" thing—so much so that it hosts an annual "macro beer fest" featuring nothing but tallboys. But among the vintage Rainier bric-a-brac you have to squint to see in the dim lights of video poker and pinball machines, you'll still find a nice selection of craft stouts on nitro, served up alongside proper, made-to-order Sicilian slices. O'Malley's is a warm, welcoming hole in the ground, even if they pretend to not give a shit about you.
8 min walk (0.4 mi):
5. Barrio Bar
7238 SE Foster Road, 503-803-0990, barriopdx.com.
Tucked inside Latin food-cart pod Portland Mercado, little 20-seat Barrio bar doesn't look like much more than a place to squirrel oneself away to devour cart-fresh pupusas during a downpour. But the minimalist bar is an impossibly friendly hangout, serving micheladas alongside Boneyard crafts and bottled Mexican lagers, plus vino curated by Wine Nomad wine store. Come summer, roll-up doors transform the place into one of the best open-air bars in the area—a place where an outstanding $6 glass of sangria is as welcome as the aromas from the nine on-site carts.