1. Rose City Book Pub

1329 NE Fremont St., 503-287-4801, rosecitybookpub.com.

It has all the makings of a Portland cliché: craft brews, staged poetry readings, rows of old and obscure books. But don't be deterred by appearances. The simple bar manages to fuse two of the city's trademarks—beer and used books—without a drop of pretension.

(Henry Cromett)
(Henry Cromett)

2. Avid Cider

121 NW 9th Ave., 503-477-9130, avidcider.com.

The brand formerly known as Atlas recently opened its first Portland location. Oregon's second-largest cider label now pours fruity booze inside a substantial pub with a massive U-shaped bar, like a giant horseshoe tossed at the Pearl's Patagucci crowd. Sleek, black walls are juxtaposed with mirrored finishes, and a projector plays high-def videos of people doing outdoorsy things in slow motion.

(Henry Cromett)
(Henry Cromett)

3. Hey Love

920 E Burnside St., 503-206-6223, heylovepdx.com.

The retro tropical-themed bar inside the Jupiter Next hotel comes from a superteam of local food-and-drink pros. The décor is a flurry of highly photogenic touches from the South Pacific circa 1976, with intricate floral wallpaper, mismatched photos and a jungle of leafy plants that directly encourage the consumption of sugary, high-proof cocktails.

Wedgehead. IMAGE: Aaron Lee.
Wedgehead. IMAGE: Aaron Lee.

4. Wedgehead

3728 NE Sandy Blvd., 503-477-7637, wedgeheadpdx.com.

Portland's newest pinball paradise replaced legendary punk hang the Know, but the warm nostalgia of the room carries its legacy well. The layout is roomy and easy to navigate, but the X factor is the kitchen, which serves a no-nonsense menu filled with shareables like wings, a killer plate of underpriced nachos, and big, sloppy burgers like the Dangerfield ($12).

(Abby Gordon)
(Abby Gordon)

5. Psychic Bar

3560 N Mississippi Ave., 503-206-5343, psychicbarpdx.com.

Housed inside a converted Victorian home, the psychic-themed bar is the creation of three film and TV vets. The dark walls are adorned with a supernatural motif, and the restroom has surreal illusion mirrors. Crucially, though, the bar does not place theme before comfort—it doesn't take a clairvoyant to imagine it eventually becoming a popular neighborhood haunt.