Photo: Henry Miller

10 Best Dive Bars in Portland

Portland Restaurants + Bars
by Henry Miller Jan 12, 2017

In case you haven’t heard, Portland is pretty hip these days. With folks from across the country and around the world coming to settle in the Rose City, it makes sense that the little metropolis’ topography would change. New skyscrapers, luxury condos and threadbare affordable housing units are popping up everywhere, ripping up or displacing beloved buildings and cultural landmarks as they go. So it is good to have a short list of bars that tell newcomers and the younger crowd the story of Portland from “back in the day.”

Below are the dive bars that reflect that lovable, quirky and dark character of Portland that we hope will remain steadfast for decades to come.

Joe’s Cellar

 Joe’s CellarPortland, United StatesThis diner/pub is perfect for all hours. Plenty of space, three pool tables, a few tvs, jukebox and killer tots. Also it was in Twin Peaks.

One of Portland’s landmarks thanks to its role in Twin Peaks as “The Roadhouse.” Joe’s endearing quality is that it never seems to be that crowded, and at least one of the three well-kept pool tables is always open. Although the jukebox is far too pricey, you gotta love the nards of a bar to not play music when it isn’t being used. The resulting silence between CCR and Everclear tracks gives patrons plenty of time to introduce themselves to newcomers with a shot of whiskey.

Goose Hollow Inn

 Goose Hollow InnPortland, United StatesThe stomping grounds of one of Portland’s most popular mayors is still a great bar for talking politics over burgers and a beer. Good for rainy days #pub #beer #history #casual #food #cheap-eats

Opened by one of Portland’s most popular mayors ever (Bud “Expose Yourself To Art” Clark), the Goose is your more traditional small and sweet joint with limited seating, keeping the atmosphere to that of a Cheer’s during a snow storm. Still family owned- this dive is a spirit-lifter with its “pleasant music” and neighborly patrons. Good for beer, great for Irish Coffees.

My Father’s Place

 My Father’s PlacePortland, United StatesClassic and irreplaceable. MFP is the sort of #divebar that you dream about. A 70s look gives the #diner grub added authenticity and it is always tempting to spend all afternoon with your friends in one of the booths #pub #diner #classic #localculture #cheap-eats #coffee #history

MFP is just as much a community center as it is a dive bar. Offering some of the best cheap breakfasts in town along with a pair of pool tables and pinball machines, it isn’t too hard to blow a whole Saturday there chugging bloody marys and admiring the flawless 70’s decor. Highly recommend the HH food menu, which offers a $3.25 gumbo and $4 for pork sliders and fries.

Slow Bar

 Slow BarPortland, United StatesAn old location that’s been dressed up in a more hipster new-Portland style, but slowbar still has the attitude of (and delicious food) of a dive. Burger topped with onion rings is a must #food #casual #pub #beer #industrybar

The venue may have been done-up in recent years, but the location and style of this bar remains that of a beloved old-Portland dive. Today you can chow on a Southern Fry (with chicken and hushpuppies slathered in honey-butter) for $9. Menu items like that and the Central East Side locale make Slow Bar a hotspot for bartenders, chefs and other industry folk in the wee hours.

Low Brow Lounge

 Low Brow LoungePortland, United StatesThe Pearl’s last and truest dive. Dark, dingy and covered in cool art. No better place to end a night #divebar #latenight #cheap-eats #open-late #food #casual

One of the loneliest dives in the Rose City; Low Brow is a one-story bar in a modern skyscraping neighborhood. Yet somehow Low Brow has kept it real since the 90’s. With its walls covered in funky neon designs and black lights providing an atmosphere made for end-of-the-night drinking, Low Brow is the perfect spot on the West Side to nab a margarita and a plate of mini-corndogs at 2AM on a Saturday.

Renner’s Grill

 Renner’s GrillPortland, United StatesOne of the best #divebar menus in town. Tri-tip sandwiches, chicken and waffle specials, Chicago hot dogs and pudding shots all come together to make this cozy diner/pub a cuisine extravaganza. #cheap-eats #coffee #open-late #food #pub #breakfast #casual

Located in sleepy Multnomah Village, this is a classic dive with low ceilings, low lights and photographs of Portland’s history. On an ordinary night expect to come across aging natives reciting tales about the bar and the area before “it changed.” On Wednesdays, the small bar fills up for their weekly Bingo night, which is hosted by a notoriously raunchy MC.

Star Bar

 Star BarPortland, United StatesBest punk #divebar in town. Loud music with the occasional dj, lots of tattoos and people falling over one another. $5 drink specials everyday. #punk #bar #dj #cheapbeer #cheapbeer #food #dancing

One of the most beloved joints on this list, Star combines the best characteristics of a dive with the energy of a Riot Girrrl tribute band. Its menu is a spectacular cheese and salsa fest with quality vegan options. The drinks are steep, the DJ keeps it LOUD, and the patrons rep some of Stumptown’s best tattoos. At Star, every day has a $5 happy hour option. Tequila Tuesday is a personal favorite.

Cheerful Tortoise

 Cheerful TortoisePortland, United StatesPortland State #college bar that just so happens to be one of the oldest pubs in the city. Good for meeting new folks and a bit of karaoke followed by some Jell-O shots #karaoke #college #student #cheapeats #history #casual

One of the oldest bars in the city, the Tortoise functions as PSU’s favorite bar. A mediocre pool table, karaoke, pinball machines and a handful of monitors come together to create a visage ripped from American Pie. The pop-rocks-sprinkled Jello-shots are an almost bourgeois addition to the lengthy beer list of microbrews and American lagers. Highly recommended for folks looking to feel young again, and will leave feeling glad they aren’t.

Tryon Creek Grill and Sports Bar

 Tryon Creek Sports BarPortland, United StatesA traditional dive in every sense. Decent pool tables, cheap non-craft beer, trivia nights and a whole lot of interesting characters. Expect a few Lewis and Clark students #divebar #college #pool #cheapbeer #cheap-eats #pub #open-late

One of the special few spots that never went hipster with its interpretation of “dive.” This tavern in the West Hills runs a very-relaxed ship with an expansive yet unpretentious menu of cheap eats, well-manicured pool tables, an impressively not-just-microbrew beer selection, and a cozy smoking patio for folks celebrating their third night without cigarettes. Come here to watch games, play trivia, and meet some of Lewis and Clark’s finest.

Bear Paw Inn

 Bear Paw InnPortland, United StatesOne of the friendliest #divebars in town. Delicious chicken fingers, pool table, cozy patio and darts. #food #casual #karaoke #pub #cheap-eats #open-late

Pool, cheap beer, people playing Keno in the corner, this is a bar one would expect to find isolated along Route 66. Fridays and Saturdays feature a rough and friendly crowd slurring along to karaoke, generously applauding whoever takes the stage.

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