Growing up in Argentina, Lam Phan fell in love with foosball.
His brother introduced him to the game—known internationally as table football—after coming home from college, and Phan became obsessed. But when he walked into a bar in Southeast Portland five years ago and saw an open table beckoning, it'd been years since he last played.
"As soon as I felt that snap on my wrist," he says, "I immediately knew that Portland deserves a foosball venue."
Opened on Southeast Foster Road in late 2019, Foster Foosball takes the classic bar game that would otherwise serve as a distraction and places it center stage. According to Phan, it's the first true foosball venue in the country, modeled after similar halls in Europe. Players both amateur and advanced pay a $5 cover—or "foosfee"—to compete in a space with more foosball tables than chairs.
Don't call it a "foosball bar," though. Of course there's beer, wine and cider to either celebrate the wins or drown the sorrow of the losses. But Phan prefers to call it a "foosball social club"—a place where the game, and the camaraderie around it, comes first.
"The way Portland is moving and progressing, it's more accepting of a crazy venue like this," he says. "Of all things, we just want people to enjoy the beauty of table soccer."