This downtown institution, with its mirrored bar, wood paneling and smoked windows, is a prime post-show sanctuary for Artists Rep, Portland Center Stage and Third Rail. Even when cast and crew from two or three different theaters converge, staff are miraculously welcoming—and "they politely tolerate a ton of separate checks," says Third Rail company member Maureen Porter. Late-night happy hour starts at 10 pm, with gooey mac 'n' cheese and stacked burgers to sop up the booze.
1331 SW Washington St., 223-0054, cassidysrestaurant.com.
MoHo is a utilitarian bar, but it's a utilitarian bar with a milelong menu of bottled beer (including plenty from Germany and Belgium) and an owner, Chris Joseph, who's a big supporter of the arts, which makes it a good stop after a show at Zoomtopia or Miracle. It's a neighborhood spot, not destination drinking, so it's rarely crowded. And, well, Sassy's is just up the street.
719 SE Morrison St., 236-7080, mohobar.com.
After a show at the Shoebox Theater—or at Shaking the Tree's brand-new location just around the block—performers head to this barbecue joint, which seems perpetually stuck in the middle of an ill-fated remodeling project. (Pro tip: Do not order the ribs.) "No matter how many times the management changes, the bartenders stay the same, and they love us," says Theatre Vertigo company member Nathan Crosby. "Drinking there is like drinking on the deck of a sinking Viking ship. I have never been hit harder, done more shots with the bartender, or woken up hating myself more than I have after a night at T-Red's."
2133 SE 11th Ave., 231-1710, tennesseereds.com.
How do ballet dancers let loose? With Jell-O shots, of course. "When it comes to closing night," says Oregon Ballet Theatre soloist Candace Bouchard, who likes to buy rounds, "we can party a little harder." The dancers often return to their home turf near their Southeast Portland studio. One favorite spot is Star Bar because, Bouchard says, "it's nice and loud and dark." A metal bar with cheap tall boys might not be the first place that comes to mind when imagining a ballet after-party, but if you've met dancer Michael Linsmeier (who's also a drummer in a local punk band), it makes sense.
639 SE Morrison St., 232-5553, star-bar-rocks.com.
While Northwest Dance Project company members had to say goodbye to BarBar when they left their North Mississippi digs for East Burnside, they still have Virginia Cafe when they perform downtown. Dancing can really build appetite for tots ($4.50-$5.50). Virginia Cafe, popular for its late-night grub, turns 100 this year. Go for the comfort food, but if you're still feeling artistic after the show, try your hand at the napkin art contest for a gift certificate.
820 SW 10th Ave., 227-0033. virginiacafepdx.com.
Obviously a favorite of nearby Artists Repertory Theatre actors, this swank, mid-cench-mod basement bar fills up fast. But it's popular among the more experimental performance set, too. Dancer Allie Hankins and her pals go here after shows for the champagne cocktail specials ($7), but when all the seats are taken, they head up to one of the conference or board rooms in Hotel DeLuxe. "It's super weird," she says, "but weird in the 'What has my life become?' way, rather than an exciting drunken way.'"
729 SW 15th Ave., 820-2076.
Small (exclusive), dark (sexy), and cheap (cheap), this is
a prime spot for readings, and a common destination for local poets and
small-press folks when stuck in Southwest Portland—no one in the lit
scene likes downtown all that much, but they like Valentines. Here
you'll probably see poets like Emily Kendal Frey, Donald Dunbar, Julian
Smuggles, Hannah Pass and Robert Duncan Gray.
232 SW Ankeny St., 248-1600, valentinespdx.com.
Eraserhead is one of the most interesting and important publishing houses in Portland. Its focus on Bizarro Fiction (a broad term that covers a multitude of genres, including horror, absurdity, gore, and goth—most often all blended together into a beautiful mess) makes it a destination for talented writers from around the world who wouldn't otherwise get published. The Lucky Lab's Northwest outpost is the Eraserhead bar of choice, and has been the setting of many book deals and late-night editor meetings. This is where you can find Jeff Burk, Kirsten Alene Pierce, Carlton Mellick III and Cameron Pierce (who recommends the Super Dog IPA). It's admittedly sort of a weird bar for writers to frequent, but they're weird people—in a good way, of course.
1945 NW Quimby St., 517-4352, luckylab.com.
As far as I'm concerned, Aalto is the best bar in the
city, and when the destination is up to me, I take my writer friends
here. With fantastic $2 cocktails during happy hour, a sleek interior
design, friendly bartenders, good food and a rad patio for smokers (all
the best writers smoke while they drink), Aalto can't be beat. You're
likely to run into Lisa Ciccarello, James Gendron, Kevin Sampsell and
Parker Tettleton. Get there during happy hour, and make sure to try the
bourbon-based Belmont Jewel or the Slow Burn, which has serrano-infused
3356 SE Belmont St., 235-6041, aaltolounge.com.
—Riley Michael Parker
White Owl Social Club
Its proximity to Helium Comedy Club, sprawling patio,
photo booth and "dope Moscow Mules" (per comic Shane Torres) make White
Owl the undisputed favorite after a standup show. Metal pours from the
speakers, and the bar sometimes hosts shows that bring together
headbanging and standup. Comedian Belinda Carroll says any male comic
will dance on the bar for $5, a claim we admit has not been
independently verified. "I don't have any juicy stories about anyone's
behavior," adds Amy Miller, "though I know there's been some, uhhh,
'commiseration' between the staff and some comics."
1305 SE 8th Ave., 236-9672, whiteowlsocialclub.com.
Shane Torres says Holman's is his favorite place to drink alone after a bad show, but you'll also find comics at this Buckman standby watching basketball, playing Ms. Pac-Man or mixing their own drinks at the DIY bloody mary bar. Food is fast, greasy and cheap. Bri Pruett, whom you are unlikely to find watching a Blazers game, recommends the clam strips.
15 SE 28th Ave., 231-1093.
Day-drinking comedians—and there are a few—love this
strangely castle-shaped dive in Kerns. The music is loud and tends
toward sludge rock, a perfect accompaniment for video poker and pinball.
And if you want the comedy to come to you, the first Saturday of every
month brings an early-afternoon standup showcase featuring some of the
better comics in town, as well as $10 bottomless mimosas whose bubbly is
cheaper than the OJ.
2035 NE Glisan St., 235-5690.
The Boiler Room
After shows, Oregon Symphony musicians head for this Chinatown bar—a former brothel that's also a favorite of the service industry—to assume their identities as karaoke wailers. "There are a few particular karaoke rock stars (flutists Alicia DiDonato Paulsen and Zach Galatis, timpanist Jon Greeney and violinist Ron Blessinger) who would completely blow your mind with their Heart, Danzig, Adele, David Bowie and everything-80s-power-ballad renditions," says flutist Sarah Tiedemann, who occasionally sits in with the orchestra and unleashes her inner Axl Rose after hours. But only on weeknights: On weekends, expect a two-hour wait to sing, thanks to the divas praying a talent scout enters the bar and former frat boys from Beaverton performing yet another rendition of "Baby Got Back."
228 NW Davis St., 227-5441., boilerroomportland.com.
Although the Ambassador is farther from the Schnitzer than
the Boiler Room, the Oregon Symphony players' other favorite (and less
crowded) karaoke corner looks "something like the cross between a divey
Chinese restaurant and the inside of a low-budget spaceship," flutist
Sarah Tiedemann says. "The KJs are solid, the book is good, and when you
really knock it out of the park, there are victory bubbles. After all
that subtlety and nuance, we like to be loud."
4744 NE Sandy Blvd., 280-0330, ambassadorkaraoke.com.
The Heathman Bar
When seeking a less raucous post-concert vibe, classical
musicians head for the plush chairs, crackling fireplace and top-shelf
liquors of this old-school haunt, just a few steps from the Schnitz.
"You can get there without leaving the building if you know the secret
passage," says assistant principal violist Charles Noble. "Plus, it's
still close enough to the hall that you can find your way to your car
1001 SW Broadway, 790-7752, heathmanrestaurantandbar.com.
Jazz & World Music
If you want to get down with the late-night crowd, the Conga Club offers brassy salsa music and cheap drinks deep into the evening. A live band is often on hand, so you can sit back and watch if you're too intimidated to bust out your newbie moves in front of the regulars. But even the least experienced can find some footing with the free dance lessons offered nightly. Water bottles are a required accessory, and sweat towels are highly recommended.
4923 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Suite 102, congaclubpdx.com.
Clyde's Prime Rib
The late-night jam session is a staple of the New York
jazz scene, a place where the top dogs go to scope out eager
up-and-comers and grab a beer in the process. In Portland's smaller,
laid-back scene, there's only one real jam: the Sunday night session at
Clyde's Prime Rib Restaurant, run by Portland's "King of the Jam
Session," drummer Ron Steen. A rather pricey American-food joint doesn't
seem ideal for cash-strapped musicians, but countless players still
come down after their Sunday evening gigs to play jazz standards and
5474 NE Sandy Blvd., 281-9200, clydesprimerib.com.
The Bar at Jimmy Mak's
Where do jazz musicians go for a drink after they get offstage? Right across the room, of course, to the narrow bar at the back of Portland's only true jazz club. There's a room in the back with a more authentic "bar" atmosphere, but it's far from the action. You want a view of the stage. Let J.D. Stubenberg, the club's bar manager and resident musicologist, mix you a slightly overpriced Sazerac ($9.50), and stay out of the way of tipsy jazz fans who didn't get there early enough for seats.
221 NW 10th Ave., 295-6542, jimmymaks.com.
For Jeff Jahn— artist, critic, curator and editor of the blog PORT—the Northwest location of Anna Bannana's is basically his office. The energy there, he says, is "classic Old Portland: edgy, sarcastic and political, as opposed to New Portland, which is passive-aggressive polite police." Two years ago, when Jahn squired Wall Street Journal arts writer Peter Plagens around town to give him a sense of the city's pulse, he made a point to take him to Anna Bannana's. He wanted Plagens to see the aesthetic cross-pollination that happens over java, beer and good food, and to realize what Jahn himself has come to believe: that "Portland is a coffee house that happens to be a city."
1214 NW 21st Ave, 274-2559, www.annabannanascafe.com.
If you're wearying of the Last Thursday crush on Northeast Alberta Street, head two miles over to Miho Izakaya, a favorite haunt for artists who like shareable, small-plate Japanese grub and a chill vibe. On the menu you'll find fairly priced dishes, with plenty of options for vegans (Spam musubi, anybody?) and glutenphobes. Drinks center around a well-curated list of sakes and shochu. Best of all, you can dish with a friend about that adorable stilt-walker-cum-poi-dancer you made out with on Alberta, far away from the smell of patchouli.
4057 N Interstate Ave., 719-6152, mihopdx.com.
When Disjecta's head honcho Bryan Suereth heads out with artists and curators after a big opening, he often makes a beeline for Liberty Glass, just off North Mississippi Avenue. "It's a very communal place, and I love the hideaway location." Even with its amiable porch and nookish upstairs, it retains a below-the-radar appeal. The decor is woodsy, with antlers on the wall, and the food is comfortable, too—Suereth is partial to the mac'n'cheese on challah. Spread across two stories of an old house, the floor plan encourages moving from room to room. "Large groups tend to get split up," Suereth says, "so you get to circulate like you're jumping around on lily pads."
938 N Cook St., 517-9931, libertyglassbar.com.
Blackwell's Grub Steak Grill
A glorious, old-school dive, Blackwell's is a place of
beauty. The service is charming, despite the drinks coming out at the
speed of a Zach Snyder special-effects shot. The steaks might exist, but
you'll probably get chicken fingers so you don't stress the bartender,
who is most certainly by herself, and is most certainly the sweetest old
lady behind any Portland bar. And you will nerd out here after a movie,
since you can flash a Hollywood Theatre ticket stub to get happy-hour
prices, making Blackwell's the go-to spot for drinks after Kung Fu
Theater. Considering that the place's regular prices are lower than most
joints' happy-hour deals, it's the cheapest place in town to decompress
after watching Gordon Liu kick ass.
1815 NE 41st Ave., 288-5164.
While many NW Film Center fests include opening-night
parties, visiting filmmakers can often be found at the bar at Higgins,
mere steps from the Portland Art Museum's Whitsell Auditorium. Just
don't go looking to get rowdy: The laid-back vibe and upscale offerings
are the draw here, not the opportunity to slyly slip a jump drive
containing your screenplay into a drunken director's pocket.
1239 SW Broadway, 222-9070, higginsportland.com.
The perfect nightcap following a horror revival (or, even better, the Oct. 4 Best of CthulhuCon screening at the Hollywood), the Lovecraft might be Portland's best theme bar, with coffins and tentacles littering a dark, fog-filled room that's a goth kid's wet dream. It's also a movie nerd's paradise, a joint where you can get an entire history of horror from the bartender—if you can hear him over the blaring Bauhaus soundtrack.
421 SE Grand Ave., 971-270-7760, thelovecraftbar.com.