Best Bars in Portland

Portland Bars: Variety and Energy

Portland bars run the gamut from the neighborhood tavern to the more posh places to be and be seen. For lovers of microbreweries, Federal Jack's in Kennebunkport has been serving up some of the best craft beers in southern Maine for more than two decades. Meanwhile, places such as Sprint Point Tavern in South Portland feature an inviting, local bar type of atmosphere. Many of Portland's bars are also choice destinations for enjoying up and coming music talent. Places such as the Big Easy, Asylum and Empire Dine and Dance are just some of the choice venues for enjoying live performances. No matter what your preference, Portland's bar scene offers much for locals and newcomers alike!


Pier Patio Pub
Photo courtesy of Pier Patio Pub

Looking to let loose on Maine's cool summer evenings? Then be sure to check out the Pier Patio Pub in Old Orchard Beach. Located on a pier that juts 600 feet into the ocean, this venue offers stunning, compelling views of the coast. Patrons enjoy the best of both worlds here: sipping a relaxing cocktail while watching the ocean waves roll up on the smooth, inviting sands of Old Orchard Beach. This pub often hosts regional favorites performing hard driving, classic rock and roll and blues. A dance floor is readily available for those seeking to let the beat move their feet throughout the evening. Other highlights include a decent sampling of pub fare as well as plenty of cold drafts on tap and in bottles. An impressive offering of summer cocktails, martinis and other special drinks can be enjoyed, as well. A good night out for those seeking to party the night away.

Local Expert tip: Summer cocktails are a specialty at this favorite Old Orchard Beach destination.

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51 Wharf and Ultra Lounge
Photo courtesy of 51 Wharf and Ultra Lounge

With its fun offerings of upscale dining and luxurious nightlife entertainment, 51 Wharf Restaurant and Ultra Lounge has gained rave reviews as the place for that special night out in Portland's trendy Old Port district. House music sets the mood with 51 Wharf's outstanding sound system. For those seeking even more posh and style, VIP sections with plush seating and service is available. Ultra Lounge also features special evenings including Salsa night on Wednesdays, Ladies Night on Thursdays (featuring drink specials), and the dance moves of Hip Hop on Fridays and Saturdays. Under the leadership of Chef Kevin Soucy, 51 Wharf's menu features a tantalizing mix of local ingredients in dishes influenced by global cultures. Standout dishes include Wild Flower Honey Atlantic Salmon featuring fresh Atlantic Salmon filet grilled and basted with citrus and wild flower honey glaze; and Candied Lobster Bruschetta with Grilled Sourdough bread topped with oven dried tomatoes,

Local Expert tip: Be sure to review the daily drink specials.

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Empire Dine and Dance
Photo courtesy of Empire Dine and Dance

If you're looking to rub shoulders with Portland's hipster community, there is perhaps no better place to explore than Empire Dine and Dance. This venue features diverse entertainment offerings including bluegrass, jazz, blues, folk and soul performances as well as stand-up comedy troupes. Many presentations also have a delightfully refreshing interactive slant such as First Friday Salsa complete with dancing lessons. Meanwhile, Empire's Boston and Maine series combines art and live music stage productions. The atmosphere is funky new wave with some evenings featuring a crowded dance floor, while other shows may encourage laid back enjoyment of the music. For those seeking something different in their evening out in Portland, be sure to check out Empire Dine and Dance.

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Jonathan's Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Jonathan's Restaurant

Jonathan's Restaurant in nearby Ogunquit is famous for showcasing entertainer icons that have built significant followings, both locally and nationally. Personalities such as comic Paula Poundstone or roots master Leon Redbone are regulars at this intimate live entertainment night spot. No wonder given the warm welcome such personalities consistently receive from the friendly, laid back audiences at Jonathan's. Music also figures prominently on this night spot's stage include guitar legend Ronnie Earl and his band the Broadcasters, folk legend Judy Collins, and British blues great John Mayall. Jonathan's also features an elegant dining menu with dishes that focus on delicious Maine seafood recipes.

Local Expert tip: Check out Jonathan's dinner specials, as well.

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Inn on the Blues
Photo courtesy of Inn on the Blues

Blues in nearby York. This legendary live music destination is a magnet for national blues and soul performers touring the New England region. This is especially true during the summer, the top tourist season along the southern Maine coast. Featured headliners have included guitar legend Monster Mike Welch, Jay Geils of the former J. Geils Band, blues legends James Cotton and James Montgomery, and swing blues favorites The Love Dogs. This club's atmosphere encourages up close and personal enjoyment of the music � the stage is within close proximity of the audience � with an expansive dance floor. It's also possible to make a full evening of it with dinner and drinks at this entertainment mecca.

Local Expert tip: Inn on the Blues features a wide selection of dinner specials, as well.

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Big Easy Blues Club
Photo courtesy of The Big Easy Blues Club

Looking for the best in independent music in New England? Then the Big Easy should definitely be included on your list. This intimate nightclub setting welcomes some of the leading lights in blues, soul and rock music to be found in the region. Theme nights such as Monday Funk and Wednesday Rap are big draws for the locals at the Big Easy. Seating is always close to the stage, creating an exciting and welcome personal concert experience. The atmosphere is energetic and festive � don't expect a laid-back evening of music here. However, if you're looking for an evening out of raucous, hard-driving performances, then the Big Easy is definitely the place for you.

Local Expert tip: Monday Funk is famous for showcasing up and coming funk acts in New England and beyond.

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Photo courtesy of Asylum

Asylum offers a bit of something for everyone. This massive complex is actually three bars in one with a growing following in Portland. Asylum's main focus is on live performances. Their 700-person music space is one of the largest mid-sized concert venues in New England. Here it is possible to see up and coming acts touring New England. The atmosphere is high energy, electric and loud. For those not particularly interested in such a vibrant music scene, Asylum also offers a well-attended sports bar, open seven days per week, with an extensive dinner menu. The third option is a dance club on the lower level. This club features a top of the line sound system and plenty of space for trying out your dance moves. Drinks are plentiful with a full offering of martinis and specialty mixes. An impressive selection of twelve draft beers, several of them local craft brews, is also available.

Local Expert tip: Be sure to check out the dinner specials in Asylum's sports bar complex.

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Spring Point Tavern
Photo courtesy of Spring Point Tavern

The atmosphere at Spring Point Tavern in South Portland is decidedly local and friendly. It is a classic neighborhood tavern with a twist – a welcoming environment even for non-locals. The interior is warm, comfortable – a nice place to relax with a beer or drink in hand. The feel of this bar probably has much to do with Spring Point's location near Southern Maine Community College which features a diverse student (including adult students) population. The drinks menu is varied and there are typically ten beers on tap – many of them of the small, craft brew variety. Prices are very reasonable. Locals and newcomers alike enjoy the foosball and pool tables available for play. Spring Point also features special events including their Monday Trivia Contest (held on the first Monday evening of the month); a karaoke and DJ on Friday nights; and live bands on Saturday nights featuring very talented indie groups.

Local Expert tip: Be sure to ask about the drinks specials – available most nights of the week.

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Bull Feeney's
Photo courtesy of Bull Feeney's

It doesn't get much more authentic in terms of Irish pubs in Portland – or anywhere else for that matter – than Bull Feeney's. Located near the bustling Old Port district, Bull Feeney's boasts a comfortable, laid back atmosphere. Just the kind of environment you would expect in an Irish Pub where sipping rich beer or an Irish whiskey, combined with hours of conversation, is an art. Bull Feeney's does not disappoint for those seeking this type of tavern. It's claim to fame is, of course, top of the line Irish whiskey and single malt Scotch. It also features an impressive selection of Maine craft beers and, as you would expect, imported Irish brews. The menu features Irish classics such as Shepherd's Pie, Corned Beef and Cabbage, and even bread pudding. On weekends, quirky, indie bands perform to the delight of patrons. A nice place to experience a bit of Ireland in Portland.

Local Expert tip: Don't miss Bull Feeney's menu for authentic Irish dishes.

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Federal Jack's
Photo courtesy of Federal Jack's

For more than two decades, Federal Jack's has been a mecca for beer lovers in southern Maine. This expansive pub serves up some of the finest beers, brewed fresh on the premises, to be found anywhere in the Pine Tree State. There are also special ales offered on a seasonal basis, as well as regular classics offered on tap. Federal Jack's also lives up to its motto: "Brews with a View" quite nicely. Overlooking the Kennebunk River, this tavern offers the double pleasure of sipping quality beer while enjoying the view of one of Maine's classic waterways. The tavern itself was built in the same area that once hosted Kennebunk's many classic ship builders of the 1800s. As with many brew pubs, Federal Jack's also features finely developed food with emphasis on locally sourced ingredients. Menu standouts include Pan Seared Atlantic Scallops, Southwest Bison Burger, and Lobster Ravioli Baked Mac and Cheese.

Local Expert tip: Be sure to sample Federal Jack's seasonal ales – always a treat!

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