The incoming “heat dome” is nothing to mess around with. Weather forecasting models predict Portland could hit upwards of 110 degrees this weekend, meaning that even a day at the river will be scorching.
It’s ironic that Portland’s bars and restaurants have been working to turn themselves inside out for over a year and now suddenly find themselves needing to seal up again to pump cooling air on their heat-stressed clientele. Many of the cool spots we recommended in 2018 remain closed, but luckily there are still a few basements in this town.
Get out your vaccination cards and get into some cold rooms with this list of cool places to wait out the heat.
211 SW Ankeny St., shanghaitunnelbar.com. 4-10 pm Wednesday-Friday, 1-10 pm Saturday.
Here’s some news: Portland’s dank, brick-lined basement bar Shanghai Tunnel is back! Named for Portland’s tunnels of urban legend, this gruff but lovable dive has pinball, poor cellphone reception, and friendship toilets in the women’s restroom. (Friendship toilets are when there are two toilets side-by-side and you can hold hands with your bestie.) Shanghai was closed for much of the pandemic, but reopened at the end of May—just in time to save Portland from a heat wave.
Good Luck Charm
203 SE Grand Ave., facebook.com/goodluckcharmpdx. 4-10 pm Monday-Sunday.
Formerly the Elvis Room, formerly East End, Good Luck Charm is the same old bar under new management, with all the same Elvis Room stuff on the walls—including that enormous, mesmerizing painting of a bored-looking, long-hair cat. New menu, new drinks, who dis? Good Luck Charm’s basement has a powerful chill and a secondary, subterranean bar that opens on weekends or “when it gets busy.”
560 N Mississippi Ave., psychicbarpdx.com. 4-11 pm Sunday-Thursday, 4 pm-midnight Saturday-Sunday.
A much beloved watering hole among Portland’s most eccentric and hopelessly hip, Psychic is located in a hot, hot house but will be looking out for its customers this weekend and turning the heat wave into a sort of party, with full-coverage misting fans, boozy slushies and “electro tropic” DJ sets. It’s also the current home of Prey + Tell’s Cambodian fried chicken pop-up. Well, that sounds awesome.
Life of Riley
300 NW 10th Ave., lifeofrileyportland.com. 3-11 pm Monday-Thursday, noon-midnight Friday-Saturday, noon-11 pm Sunday.
This downtown pub has a welcoming basement full of dark wood furniture, pool tables, and a cucumber gin and tonic that will really make you think about ordering quite a few gin and tonics.
303 SW 12th Ave., mcmenamins.com/crystal-hotel/als-den. 3-11 pm Monday-Friday, noon-midnight Saturday, noon-11 pm Sunday.
This concert venue, in the basement of the McMenamins Crystal Hotel, has been home to intimate comedy and music shows. There’s no programming on the board yet, but they’ll still let you downstairs. You can even bring your kids and make them sit with you until 8 pm—at which time you must send your children elsewhere.
712 NW 21st Ave., coffeetimepdx.com. 7 am-4 pm Monday-Wednesday, 7 am-6 pm Thursday-Sunday.
While Coffee Time isn’t a bar and isn’t in a basement, this delightful ice-box cafe certainly has a grizzled cavelike atmosphere. Pre-pandemic, Coffee Time’s hours were legendary for a city that doesn’t like to stay up late. As we live now, you’ll have to wrap up your chess game in the afternoon, right when the sun is out there doing its worst!