Portland Bars Offer Good Times, Lots of Local Flavor
By Meagan Shamy
Portland Local Expert
When it comes to finding the right bar to hang out at in Portland, Oregon your options are limitless. Portland offers every type of bar imaginable and 10Best has searched far and wide before ranking any of these Portland bars. How'd they earn their way on the list for Portland Oregon? Beer selection, specialty cocktails, cool aesthetics, great jukeboxes, hip crowds, tasty food, prices; we consider it all before deciding which ones belong on a list of Portland's Best Bars. Portland is a unique city, so it’s no surprise to find such a variety mix of bars making it on to our top 10 list. All of the bars we've included serve wonderful food and enticing drinks. We’ve included award winning, nationally recognized bars like Kir Wine Bar. We included locals’ favorites like Kells, it's always a lively place to be. We’ve included bars with unique themes and good happy hours, like Texas saloon themed Casa Del Matador. For those that enjoy a more chic experience we’ve included the Portland City Grill and Departures inside the Nines Hotel. For those wanting to play a round of pool we've included Lucky Staehly's Pool Hall at the wildly popular Edgefield.
Oh course no Portland bar list would be complete without a few hipster bars and that is why the Secret Society Lounge tops our list followed by a close second the Bye and Bye.
Oregon Wines on Broadway
This comfortable wine bar with good music, located in Morgan's Alley, is small but attracts a congenial crew of patrons. Its specialty is Oregon wines, and forty are available for sampling each night. The staff is well-versed in the various vintages and can advise you on selections and tell you the history of the wines. Although Oregon Wines isn't open incredibly late, they close at 8 PM, it's a terrific stop-off after work or if you're hanging out in town waiting for a dinner date or a show. Bread, from Pearl Bakery, and cheese are available if you need a light nosh. (503-228-4655, 800-943-8858)
Portland City Grill
Located on the 30th floor of the Unico/US Bancorp Tower, this steakhouse has a swanky bar that is separate from the quite dining room. The bar has panoramic windows showcasing gorgeous views of downtown Portland and the Cascade Mountains. Often times someone there playing the piano. They serve interesting signature drinks and delicious shared plates. Portland City Grill can be expensive, so go during happy hour for a more affordable experience. During happy hour small plates range from $4.25 to $9.25 and drinks range from $4.25 - $6.25. Happy hour is available every day from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm -- close, and all day on Sundays. (503-450-0030)
Located beneath the Crystal Ballroom, a mecca for live music lovers, this pub attracts a large contingent of patrons who attend the shows upstairs. Even so, it's a terrific place to meet with friends and nurse a drink or two. The spacious venue boasts a funky decor and serves up microbrews crafted in the on-site Crystal Ballroom Brewery as well as a collection of stiff cocktails. For distraction, there are pool tables and pinball machines, but there should be enough activity and conversation that you don't need anything else to hold your attention. The pub food menu offers all your favorites and adds a nice twist with dishes inspired by global cultures. A great place to meet people. (503-225-0627)
Back Stage Bar
Backstage Bar is a cool place to hang out, watch the game, and have a beer. Considered to be the the loftiest place to play pool among bars in Portland with their super high ceilings. This hidden bar behind the Bagdad Theater's screen actually stretches an incredible seven stories from floor to ceiling! Some about that ceiling makes this one of the most visualizing appealing bars in Portland. On game day they project the game up onto their massive wall. Plus, their shuffleboard table is considered to be one of the best in town. Back Stage Bar allows pets at our sidewalk seating only. No minors are allowed at this bar. ((503) 236-9234)
Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub
A favorite downtown spot for people of all ages, Kells offer Irish food and drink with a Northwest influence. Nightly shows make this pub the best place in Portland to hear traditional Irish music. A separate cigar lounge (with separate ventilation, of course) offers a wide selection of smokes. Though Kells offers Guiness Stout and a selection of beers and wines, it really stands out with its menu of single-malt scotch and Irish whiskey. The menu offers some traditional Irish favorites along with some more typical American fare. Kells is also open for and breakfast on the weekends. (503-227-4057)
Henry's 12th Street Tavern
Henry's 12th Street Tavern is a restaurant, bar, brew pub and billiards all rolled into one awesome place to eat and hangout. Henry's is located in the Pearl District inside their old brew house. They have over 100 mostly local and regional beers and hard ciders on tap. Downstairs they have a dining area and a large bar area. Upstairs is another large bar area and a billiards room with high end pool tables. You do not need a reservation to play pool. Henry's serves their full menu in the billiards room including happy hour. They have an extensive menu and all food is made from scratch daily. (5032275320)
Departure Restaurant and Lounge
Departures restaurant and lounge is found in downtown Portland inside the Nines Hotel. They serve their own signature cocktail creations, like the Three Headed Elephant and Crazy 88. The bar is well stocked so they can make almost any cocktail for you. The atmosphere is lively and bright. Most the décor is white. They serve interesting food too that they refer to as modern Portland Asian cuisine. Food offerings include sushi, dim sum, and kushiyaki. They also offer a vegan menu. They also have an awesome roof top patio area. They offer happy hour from 4-6 PM daily , again from 10 PM - midnight Sunday through Thursday, and from 11 PM to close on Fridays and Saturdays. (5038025370)
Casa Del Matador
Casa Del Matador is a 21 and over Tex-Mex restaurant and bar in downtown Portland that's open from lunch until 2 AM. They serve fresh, gourmet Tex-Mex cuisine like tacos, burritos, nachos, and savory steaks and extra large margaritas. The atmosphere and decor is sensational and the prices are cheap for Portland. They have three plasma T.V.'s with sports games on. They offer $5 appetizers during happy hour, like Texas Size Nachos, Tacos, Habanero or Garlic Prawns, Tex-Mex Spring Rolls, Quesadillas, and Spicy Fried Calamari. Happy Hour is every day from 4pm to 6pm and again from 10pm to 1am. (503.228.2855)
The Bye and Bye
Looking for a vegan lounge to hang out at? You've found just that at local hipster lounge, The Bye and Bye over in the Alberta District. They even have a good size patio that is perfect on a warm day and there is a secret patio behind this patio. They serve vegan food, vegan cocktails in mason jars and Oregon craft beers. Although technically not a restaurant they have a decent size menu, including chips and salsa, pretzel knots, spaghetti, meatball subs, chili pie, grilled cheese, and a variety of bowls. They offer a happy hour every day from 4 - 7 PM. ((503) 281-0537)
Secret Society Lounge
Secret Society is a 1907 Victorian-era hall with a rich history that housed two fraternal organizations, countless artists and musicians, and diverse events. The cocktail lounge is decorated in wood paneled club and provides exceptional food and drink in a casual environment. The Secret Society offers Pacific Northwest spirits, wine, beer and food. The ballroom, a fraternal lodge meeting hall for roughly 90 years, now plays host to events, both public and private, from live music to private dining, weddings and parties. Draped in lush red velvet and vintage wood, the ballroom's history shines throughout, offering a spirit of ceremony and celebration. The recording studio offers a truly unique and comfortable recording experience. Deftly balancing modern technology and its 1907 vibe, the studio is an ideal musical environment, inspiring a creative flow for musicians who are enveloped by their recording projects. ((503) 493-3600)
About Meagan Shamy
Meagan Shamy is an Oregon resident by choice and thinks Portland is a tremendous city that everyone should visit. Originally a Texas girl. She has lived all around the United States, compliments of the US Air Force. After living in Texas, Mississippi, Oregon, Idaho, Florida, and Nevada, she chose to return to Portland, OR and make it home. Meagan graduated with a History and English degree from the University of Texas. Being a military wife has led her on adventures around the world, including two of her favorite places Honduras and Scotland. Her work can be found on several websites including 10Best.com and TravelingMom.com.
Read more about Meagan Shamy here.