The Best Dive Bars in Portland

Owing to its love of happy hours (and its population of young people with time to kill) Portland is awash in great—and sometimes gruesome—dive bars, most of which are open all day long. Some of these dives have become destinations, like Reel M Inn for its booze-mopping fried chicken or My Father’s Place for its dingy charm, while others exist quietly in their utter dive-dom, content to collect dust with or without you.

  • 1

    B Side Tavern

    Above all, B Side is a post-shift staple for the service industry. Bartenders can be gruff, but the pours are generous. Post-dinner, settle in with a group of friends, and by last call you’ll be surrounded by Portland’s chefs, line cooks, bartenders and barbacks who all know that this is the perfect place to blow off steam with a few after-work beers.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • jukebox
    • outdoor / patio
    • cheap date
  • 2

    Club 21

    With its weird walled, castle-like façade, Club 21 looks like a place you played mini-golf at as a kid. Inside, however, it's got the unmistakable feel of a 1970s basement with its wood-paneled walls covered with ancient beer advertisements. But fear not: This is not an ironic rendition of a dive. Club 21 is the real deal. Entertainment abounds—pinball and live music, specifically—but minus a cover charge, and the enclosed, dog-friendly patio remains packed through the winter. When hunger strikes, you can build your own burger, with a side of tater-tots to boot.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • live music
    • bar food
    • outdoor / patio
    • games
  • 3

    My Father's Place

    My Father's Place (MFP for short) is a bar wrapped in a diner wrapped in a 35-year (plus) patina of grease and grizzle. The diner counter—where pancakes and burgers are served—doubles as a bar where day-drunks can sit for hours on a swivel stool scratching lotto tickets, playing Scrabble or staring at the television screen. Come evenings, children are shooed out and hipsters, rockers and Southeast locals (i.e. hipsters and rockers) slide into the brown, cracked booths or behind the Buck Hunter screens, cheap beers and unaffected attitudes in tow.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • games
    • full menu
    • day drinking
  • 4

    Paymaster's Lounge

    This nouveau dive used to be called Moonshine, and then Balls the Cat’s Moonshine Kitchen ('Moonshine' was already in use by a Texas bar). While many miss the name, regulars still frequent this Northwest watering hole for its giant covered patio, kind staff and no-brainer location. There are pinball machines, lots of vintage beer signs and potent slushy cocktails, as well as—surprisingly—fresh juices for basic highball cocktails.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • bar food
    • games
    • craft beer
    • outdoors / patio
  • 5

    Reel M Inn

    Without its legendary fried chicken, Reel M Inn would still be a great dive. But with it, it's one of PDX's most beloved watering holes. The place is covered in the weird things dive bars are covered in—notes from last decade, wood paneling, an inch of dust stuck permanently caked on over layers of fryer grease, a pool table and lots of local character. But the crown jewels of the bar are the crispy fried chicken and jojos (battered and fried potato wedges) made fresh by the brusque lady bartenders on duty.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • bar food
    • cheap date
    • games
    • day drinking
  • 6

    Sandy Hut

    This wonderful, windowless dump is affectionately referred to as the "Handy Slut." Covered in wood paneling and tipsy regulars the Sandy Hut is also filled with all the things that make a great dive: weird conversations, loud, local rock bands, brusque bartenders and the occasional drag queen playing pool.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • games
    • live music
    • day drinking
    • bar food
  • 7

    The Slammer Tavern

    The Slammer is where nights go to die, often at the hands of one-too-many games of Big Buck Hunter. Centrally located and dangerously close to the excellent Rum Club cocktail bar, it’s become a haven for people who call Southeast Portland home. The wraparound bar is oddly lit and TVs pepper the walls, but its dive-y charm is undeniable. And come holiday season (and sometimes into springtime if no one’s taken the time to dismantle the decorations), its light display unparalleled.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • sports
    • games
  • 8

    The Spare Room

    There is seemingly nothing that The Spare Room doesn't do. There is karaoke and dancing. There are movie nights and taco nights. There are pool tables and pinball. And, most importantly, there are drinks. Young and old, hipster and tech geek, the crowd at The Spare Room is reminiscent of a high school dance. Which is to say, simultaneously awkward and beautiful.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • games
    • karaoke
    • cheap date
    • day drinking
    • bar food
    • full menu
    • live music
  • 9

    (The World Famous) Kenton Club

    The Kenton Club may not be as famous as its name suggests, but it did appear in one scene of some old movie that no one’s ever watched. This bar excels at showcasing North Portland's weirdo-art-rock-alt-country artists and doling out cheap, strong drinks. With its surprisingly good acoustics and comfortable vibe, this is the kind of place you might accidentally end up whiling away an entire night.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • live music
    • day drinking
    • bar food
    • outdoor / patio
    • craft beer
  • 10

    Yur's

    The epitome of neighborhood dive, Yur's is cheap, semi-dumpy and stocks enough PBR to satisfy the entire city. It's owned by a former Washington Redskins player, and has become an unofficial Patriots bar, so Sundays and Mondays are guaranteed to be rowdy. Every other night of the week, the jukebox and pool tables take center stage.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • sports
    • jukebox
    • games

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