The Best Places to Drink Wine in Portland

For a place with just over half a million people, there is an outsize density of great wine to be consumed in Portland. In fact, there is likely more good wine per capita here than in any other U.S. city. With the Willamette Valley just a short drive away, Portland is fortunate to have a great number of thoughtfully made local wines at its disposal, but the city’s best wine lists go far beyond its backyard. Not only is Portland one of the cheapest cities to drink great wine in, but it’s also home to a number of progressive, adventurous wine lists and a growing crop of talented, energetic young sommeliers to match. Below is a list of some of the best places to drink wine in Portland, from red sauce joints with unexpected cellars of old Italian wines to bars slinging grower champagne at fire-sale prices.

  • 1

    3 Doors Down Café & Lounge

    This Hawthorne District neighborhood joint has been around since 1994 and maintains a wine list that is far better than it needs to be. In a city where wine prices are, on average, significantly lower than in places like San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, 3 Doors manages to tuck under Portland's lowest average. Here you can pop in for a bottle of cult Champagne producer Cedric Bouchard's Inflorescence for under $100 or Trevallon's 2004 Bouches du Rhone VDP for below retail cost. No matter where you live, this is the sort of place everyone wishes was within walking distance.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • champagne
    • low wine markups
    • craft cocktails
    • full menu
  • 2

    Ambonnay

    Unlikely as it might sound, Portland happens to be one of the greatest cities in America in which to drink champagne. Not only will you find all of the most beloved growers and big houses represented on a number of restaurant wine lists, but you'll be hard pressed to find them at better prices anywhere else in the country. Amidst this citywide fire sale, Ambonnay—a tiny sliver of a wine bar located within an industrial complex on Portland's east side—is about as cheap as it gets. The handiwork of longtime sommelier David Speer, this is where you go if you like $13 glasses of Lahaye (you do).

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    KNOWN FOR

    • champagne
    • low wine markups
    • bar menu
  • 3

    Ava Gene's

    Peering into the windows of Ava Gene's is like looking into the storybook version of Portland that everyone dreams about. It's all floating lights, lace curtains, wood-fired grills and elegant-rustic décor. The bar acts as the dining room's buffer, and is an excellent place to eat and drink second to the counter that wraps around the open kitchen where pieces of locally raised pork are thrown on the grill and line cooks prep some of the freshest vegetables in the Northwest. Chef Joshua McFadden's vegetable-heavy menu has a way of coaxing depth of flavor from ingredients that don't often play a starring role, and ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • full menu
    • craft cocktails
    • craft beer
    • Italian wine
    • natural wine
    • lots of amari
  • 4

    Bar Avignon

    Bar Avignon may not be well known nationally, but in Portland, it has long maintained a position as one of the city's most reliable wine destinations. A cozy, narrow space that's almost all bar—save for a few tables and a back communal table—there are few better places on the east side to pop in for a bite and bottle. Longtime manager Patrick Gaffney and Randy Goodman—who co-owns the place with his wife, Nancy—maintain a relatively short and affordable (most wines are marked up just 25 percent on top of retail) list of wines that split their allegiances between Oregon, Washington and the Old World.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • Oregon wine
    • low wine markups
    • craft cocktails
    • full menu
    • happy hour
  • 5

    Bar Vivant

    Cheryl Wakerhauser opened Pix Patisserie in 2002 in an east side space barely bigger than a janitor's closet. The small bakery earned a reputation for its astonishingly underpriced list of champagne, eventually establishing itself as one of the best places to drink bubbly in the entire country. In 2012, Wakerhauser decided to leave her old space behind for an upgrade—a nearly 3,000-square-foot expansion, complete with a 2,000-bottle wine cellar—with a new name, a selection of savory tapas served alongside Wakerhauser's famous macarons and one of the best sherry lists on the West Coast. As one of Portland's few ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • champagne
    • lots of sherry
    • low wine markups
    • bar menu
    • outdoor / patio
    • late night
  • 6

    Clyde Common

    Clyde Common has been the city's catchall dining and drinking hall for years, but has yet to feel anything but fresh and original. Its bar—headed by Jeffrey Morgenthaler—continues to provide one of Portland's best dining and drinking experiences, morning to midnight. Thanks to Morgenthaler's tongue-in-cheek creativity, the bar program has always pushed the craft cocktail conversation forward, whether intentional or not, from bottled and barrel-aged drinks to makeovers of once-maligned drinks like the Amaretto Sour. Similarly, the wine list has remained one of the city's most consistently excellent, marrying a love of ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • French wine
    • Italian wine
    • natural wine
    • craft beer
    • day drinking
    • hotel bar
    • full menu
    • lots of whiskey
  • 7

    Gino's

    This old-school Sellwood red sauce joint is worth the trek if you're looking for a bowl of penne with meat sauce (named for Grandma Jean in this case) and an old bottle of Barolo (you are). The list of more than 500 wines, mostly from the motherland, is tucked into a cozy, tavern-style space complete with a 100-year-old oak wood bar

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    KNOWN FOR

    • Italian wine
    • vintage wine
    • low wine markups
    • full menu
  • 8

    Grüner

    In a city that seems to have more restaurants than residents, it's easy to overlook a mainstay like Grüner in search of the next new thing. But "mainstay" is a compliment; at just five years old, Chef Chris Israel's downtown Portland ode to the Alps—and all of the delicious white wines, sausage and sauerkraut they bear—has already managed to establish itself as a west side institution. The cocktail program here—as well as the adjacent Kask, which is under the same ownership, is a creative and well-executed companion to a terrific short list of Alpine wines (Northern Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Alsace, et ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • Austrian wine
    • German wine
    • craft cocktails
    • happy hour
    • full menu
    • outdoor / patio
  • 9

    Le Pigeon

    While Le Pigeon might qualify as a fine dining restaurant, it does the white tablecloth thing the Portland way. In 2006, the restaurant hired Chef Gabriel Rucker, then a 26-year-old cook from Napa, to help revamp the kitchen. In the eight years since he's racked up two James Beard Awards, published a successful cookbook and maintained Le Pigeon's relevance in a city whose dining landscape is expanding at a breakneck pace. By his side is partner and wine director Andy Fortgang who left his job as the beverage director at Tom Colicchio's Craft to join Le Pigeon in 2007 and has since transformed the wine list into one of ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • French wine
    • full menu
  • 10

    Levant

    Open for just over a year, Chef Scott Snyder's mashup of French and Middle Eastern flavors by way of the Pacific Northwest has quickly earned a spot amongst the city's most beloved restaurants. The wine list, the handiwork of wine director Brent Braun, is eclectic, finding its way through the Mediterranean, up into the Alps and back down to Oregon's backyard, but not without pit stops along the fringe. Almost all of the more than 150 selections fall under the $60 mark, with a grip of excellent options in the $30 range (a rarity in most cities), and a seasonal list of cocktails (with the option of ordering each as a ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • low wine markups
    • full menu
    • craft cocktails
  • 11

    Luce

    The tiny Italian counterpart to Navarre, Luce is part mini-specialty foods shop, part café. Originally conceived as an addition to an event space, Luce has about a dozen tables that dot a black-and-white-checkered floor. Order from a short menu of simple, but refined Italian dishes and/or a long list of antipasti all priced at $2 each. The space is so small that a short list of 30 wines would probably satisfy, but Luce punches above its weight class with a relatively lengthy and well-priced selection of small Italian producers. And if you're looking just to chug wine with minimal thought, they offer a $6 house red and ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • Italian wine
    • low wine markups
    • full menu
  • 12

    Navarre

    Chef John Taboada has built a mini-empire of jewel box restaurants, which now includes Navarre, Luce and Angel Face. The flagship of the group, Navarre, pumps out an ever-changing pan-European menu from a kitchen barely bigger than a utility closest. The wine list is equally hardworking, drawing inspiration from Europe and offering a whopping 60 wines either by the glass, carafe or half bottle. While the restaurant is now pushing 15 years old, it's still packed on a nightly basis, so be prepared to wait for a seat.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • Italian wine
    • French wine
    • low wine markups
    • full menu
    • outdoor / patio
  • 13

    Olympic Provisions (Southeast)

    Located in an industrial complex near the eastern bank of the Willamette River, Elias Cairo and Co.'s original outpost of Olympic Provisions—which opened in 2009 and promptly went on to dominate the American market for cured meat—also sports a smart, value-driven list that leans on Italy and France, but picks up all of the best hitchhikers from Germany, Austria and the West Coast and drops them off behind a short list of classics-inspired cocktails. Also, cured pork products. What else do you need?

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    KNOWN FOR

    • Italian wine
    • French wine
    • champagne
    • full menu
    • charcuterie
    • craft cocktails
  • 14

    The Woodsman Tavern

    The first restaurant from Stumptown founder Duane Sorenson—whose brood now includes Ava Gene's and Roman Candle—The Woodsman has always boasted a top-notch beverage program. The prototypical Portland restaurant, all Edison bulbs and reclaimed wood, the place practically begs for you to order a glass of whiskey. And while the list of brown spirits is worth a trip alone, the wine program remains one of the most concise and avant-garde in the city. The list skews French, but detours are encouraged, particularly if they lead to the "Italian Reds" section.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • French wine
    • lots of whiskey
    • craft cocktails
    • full menu
    • brunch

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