Portland

Portland has become something of a base for up-and-coming alternative-rock bands, which perform in clubs scattered throughout the city. Good jazz groups perform nightly in a handful of bars as well.

Portland’s most diverting neighborhoods for bar-hopping are, not surprisingly, its favored dining districts, too—the West End, Pearl District, and Nob Hill on the west side of the Willamette River, within walking distance (or a streetcar ride) of downtown hotels; Alberta Street, North Mississippi Avenue, East Burnside Street in the 20s, the Central East Side, Belmont Street, Hawthorne Boulevard, and Division Street on the East Side. Note that many of the restaurants listed in Where to Eat also double as highly popular nightspots; especially notable for sipping and socializing are Bluehour, Clyde Common, Departure, Interurban, Irving Street Kitchen, RingSide Steakhouse, Smallwares, and Veritable Quandary.

The best way to experience quite a few of the city's hottest spots is to check out the happy hour menus offered at most Portland bars; these offer excellent deals on both food and drinks. Typically, bars present late-afternoon happy hour deals from about 4 until 6 pm; a smaller number of establishments also offer late-night happy hours from 9 or 10 until typically 11 or midnight.

It’s worth noting that Portland is a bit less of a late-night destination than many cities its size—chalk this up, perhaps, to the local love of the outdoors, as many locals like to set out early on weekend mornings for road trips, hikes, and bike rides. Bars often become quite crowded by late afternoon or early evening, and they tend to peak in popularity—even on weekends—by midnight. You’ll find some exceptions downtown, especially among the handful of warehouse-style dance clubs around Old Town and Chinatown, which pulse well beyond last call (2 am).

Portland’s reputation for high-quality microbreweries rivals that of any city in the country; you’ll find dozens of small breweries around town producing hoppy IPAs (Oregonians tend to favor crisp, aromatic, bitter beers), complex Belgian-inspired saisons, unfiltered farmhouse-style beers, potent barley wines, rich porters, and luscious stouts. Most of them serve food to complement their brews, and several others have food carts parked beside them and encourage patrons to bring food inside from other restaurants to snack while they sip. "Brew theaters," former neighborhood movie houses where patrons enjoy food, suds, and both recent and vintage theatrical releases, are part of the microbrewery phenomenon here . Many are branches of McMenamins, a locally owned chain of quirky bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and hotels, many of them installed in restored historic buildings.

In recent years, a number of artisanal distilleries and boutique wineries have opened in Portland; most have tasting rooms open during weekends and some weekdays, usually during the afternoon and early evening (some are listed as Sights). A wine-tasting rooms stay open late and serve food and other drinks and are listed in Nightlife.

From the preponderance of coffeehouses around town, it may be safe to assume that espresso flows through the veins of Portlanders. Indeed, the city has been at the forefront of the nation’s artisanal coffee-roasting movement. It’s the home of the now nationally renowned Stumptown Coffee as well as a few hundred indie cafés around the city, many serving their own house-roasted beans and others serving Stumptown or other locally favored beans, such as Coava and Water Avenue Coffee. Many Portland coffeehouses close by 6 or 7 at night, but you will find a few late-evening options. Regardless of when you stop in, the social vibe and eclectic crowd is typically similar to those of local bars (a fair share of Portland coffeehouses also serve beer, wine, and even cocktails).

Although Portland has a sizable and highly visible gay community, there’s no LGBT nightlife district per se. For years there were several gay bars in the West End, but all but one of these (Scandal’s) has closed or moved. Old Town and the downtown blocks near it have about a half-dozen gay bars of varying popularity, but this is very much a city where gay and mainstream culture blend together, and many—perhaps most—LGBT Portlanders hang out at the same bars and lounges as everybody else. Especially in hip East Side neighborhoods like Alberta, Mississippi, Hawthorne, and the Central East Side, you’ll typically encounter a mixed gay–straight crowd at most establishments.

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  • 1. BridgePort BrewPub

    Pearl District | Brewpubs/Beer Gardens

    Sample consistently good craft beers at the oldest microbrewery in Portland, a beautiful brick-and-ivy building that's long been a cornerstone...Read More

  • 2. C.C. Slaughters Nightclub & Lounge

    Old Town | Bars/Pubs

    The most popular gay and lesbian dance club in the city, "C.C.'s" also has a quieter cocktail bar in front called the Rainbow Room. ...Read More

  • 3. Coava Coffee Roasters

    Southeast | Cafés

    Located next door to the roastery, the light and open, bamboo wood–filled Coava Coffee Roasters offers some of the highest-quality single-origin...Read More

  • 4. Commons Brewery

    Southeast | Brewpubs/Beer Gardens

    This small, artisanal brewery, born in brewer Mike Wright's garage, maintained its small-batch, hands-on approach as it rapidly outgrew its...Read More

  • 5. Coopers Hall

    Southeast | Wine Bars

    Part of the Central East Side's burgeoning wine scene, this urban winery and taproom is set inside a dramatic and spacious Quonset-hut structure...Read More

  • 6. Crush

    Southeast | Bars/Pubs

    A favorite gay and lesbian hangout in Southeast, Crush serves up tasty food, strong cocktails, and DJ-fueled dance parties. The front section...Read More

  • 7. Doug Fir Lounge

    Southeast | Live Music

    Part retro diner and part log cabin, the Doug Fir serves food and booze and hosts DJs and live rock shows from both up-and-coming and established...Read More

  • 8. Driftwood Room

    Downtown | Bars/Pubs

    Once your eyes adjust to the romantically dim lighting, you'll find a curved bar, leather banquette seating, and polished-wood ceilings and...Read More

  • 9. Expatriate

    Northeast | Bars/Pubs

    Operated by Kyle Webster and his wife, celeb-chef partner Naomi Pomeroy of Beast (across the street), this intimate, candlelit spot has a devoted...Read More

  • 10. Headwaters & Sea Bar at the Heathman

    Downtown | Bars/Pubs

    At the elegant Heathman Hotel, you can sip tea in the eucalyptus-paneled Tea Court or beer, wine, and cocktails in the marble Headwaters restaurant...Read More

  • 11. Heart Coffee

    Downtown | Cafés

    Inside this sleek East Burnside coffeehouse, patrons sip coffees from Central America, South America, and Africa, and feast on affogato (homemade...Read More

  • 12. Horse Brass Pub

    Southeast | Bars/Pubs

    A laid-back beer-drinking crowd fills the venerable, dark-wood Horse Brass Pub, as good an English-style pub as you will find in Portland, with...Read More

  • 13. Mississippi Studios

    North | Live Music

    An intimate neighborhood music venue, with a seated balcony and old Oriental rugs covering the standing-room-only floor, Mississippi Studios...Read More

  • 14. Multnomah Whiskey Library

    Downtown | Bars/Pubs

    Smartly dressed mixologists roll drink carts around the seductively clubby room—with beam ceilings, wood paneling, leather club chairs, a wood...Read More

  • 15. Southeast Wine Collective

    Southeast | Wine Bars

    This hive of boutique wine-making has an inviting tasting room–cum–wine bar in which you can sample the vinos of several up-and-coming producers...Read More

  • 16. Stag

    Old Town | Bars/Pubs

    Drawing a diverse crowd of hipsters, tourists, and old-school clubbers, this Old Town hot spot cheekily bills itself a "gay gentlemen's lounge...Read More

  • 17. Teardrop Cocktail Lounge

    Pearl District | Bars/Pubs

    A swanky, see-and-be-seen bar in the heart of the trendy Pearl District, Teardrop has earned a loyal following for its creative cocktail menu. ...Read More

  • 18. The Bye and Bye

    Northeast | Bars/Pubs

    An Alberta go-to specializing in creative drinks (sample the house favorite, the Bye and Bye, a refreshing concoction of peach vodka, peach...Read More

  • 19. The Fireside

    Nob Hill | Bars/Pubs

    Warmed by an open fire pit and a roaring fireplace, and decorated with lots of wood and leather, this cozy campfire-chic spot on Nob Hill's...Read More

  • 20. Victory Bar

    Southeast | Bars/Pubs

    As beloved for its hefty venison burgers, chorizo spaetzle, and other stick-to-your-ribs bar victuals as for its impressive drinks selection...Read More

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