Trying to find the best happy hour in Portland is like trying to name the best star in the sky. There are hundreds of contenders and no clear winner. Portland is a drinker's paradise, and the city knows a thing or two about good eating as well. The best happy hour specials feature great drink prices as well as deals on delicious noshes. A handful of elite Oregon microbreweries foster excellent competition not only in the Portland beer scene but also in the crafting of complementary foods that create the ideal happy hour. State laws are friendly toward the drinking crowd as well -- in Portland, you'll find late night happy hours in addition to the standard pre-dinnertime specials, and even a few lunchtime happy hours. It's always 5 o'clock somewhere in Portland!
Here's a look at some of my favorite Portland happy hour restaurants and bars.
3702 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Portland, OR 97214
Happy Hour: 3PM-6PM and 10PM-close daily
The Bagdad, an old-fashioned pub and theater located in southeast Portland on Hawthorne, is part of the McMenamins empire. All of the McMenamins properties are uniquely wonderful: the company makes a habit of buying historic buildings such as schools, churches and theaters, and converting them into restaurants, entertainment venues, hotels and more. The menu is more or less the same at any McMenamins location, so you can't go wrong. I love the Bagdad
for its location and its cheap second-run theater. Catch a $2 movie on a Tuesday evening, then hang out in the pub after the flick to take advantage of the late night happy hour specials. McMenamins is a popular microbrewery, and their Ruby Ale -- a light, crisp, raspberry-flavored beer -- is a Portland
favorite. Happy hour food specials include $1 to $3 snacks and $4 to $5 burgers. Don't miss the Cajun tater tots!
306 NW BroadwayPortland
Happy Hour: 5PM-6:30PM weekdays
Located on Northwest Broadway, the Gilt Club is an artsy, sexy happy hour destination for Portland
residents. The Mediterranean-inspired fare highlights ingredients grown in and around Portland
, and the happy hour menu features items from $1-$5. The setting is upscale and lounge-inspired, and the food and drinks are as artful as the decor. Try the $2 scrambled eggs and toast from the happy hour menu -- slow cooked eggs with creme fraiche, chives and brioche toast fingers -- or go for the $5 stewed pork shoulder with telaggio and red onion on foccacia. Wash it down with Gilt's Moscow Mule, a vodka cocktail with ginger beer, lime, fresh ginger zest and a spritz of soda, served in a traditional copper cup.
611 SW Tenth Avenue
Portland, OR 97205
Happy Hour: Monday - Friday 3PM-6PM; Monday - Thursday 9:30PM-close; Saturday 1PM-4PM; Friday and Saturday 10PM-close; Sunday 3PM-close
Only a 30-second walk from Powell's City of Books
in southwest Portland, you'll find the classy seafood restaurant, Jake's Grill, owned by McCormick and Schmick's. While the restaurant is a white linen kind of place (complete with white linen prices!), you can take advantage of some of the top happy hour specials in Portland at their laid-back bar area or sit on the 10th Avenue sidewalk for some people watching while you enjoy an afternoon cocktail. The items on the happy hour menu are great for sharing, and you'll want to try one of everything. At $1.95 to $4.95 per item, you can order several items without worrying too much about the effect on your wallet. If you're really hungry, the $2.95 half-pound cheeseburger is the best happy hour deal in Portland
, and it's served with Tillamook cheddar cheese -- you cannot visit this city without sampling Tillamook cheese. At Jake's late night happy hour, try the $4 white wine sangria.211 SW Ankeny Street
Happy Hour: 5PM-7PM daily
Discovery Channel junkies might recognize this favorite Old Town Portland dive bar. Shanghai Tunnel gets its name from the tunnels that run below the bar and through other parts of downtown Portland
to the WillametteRiver
. Legend has it that visitors to the bar would be drugged, whisked away through the tunnels, and sold into slavery in the East. Historians agree that this legend is probably not true, but it gives the place character. The dark and dirty atmosphere inside the bar contributes to the spooky feel, but after a couple of Shanghai
's cheap drinks, you'll be relaxed and comfortable. The staff is friendly and fun, the food (especially the noodle bowls) is delicious and cheap, and the history -- true or not -– is fascinating. The $1.50 Rainier is a big hit at this local bar, and it's one of the best happy hour specials in Portland
838 SW Park Avenue
Portland, OR 97205
Happy Hour: 3PM-6PM and 9:30PM-close daily
RingSide Steakhouse is quite possibly the top steakhouse in Portland, and its happy hour menu is shockingly inexpensive –- offering some of the best happy hour food specials in all of Portland. The $2.25 steak bites are the talk of the town, but don't stop there -- try the potato skins loaded with bacon, cheddar and sour cream, the prawn satay, chili-lime crabcakes and the pulled pork sliders. All of these options are $3.50 or less on RingSide's happy hour menu. This famous Portland
steakhouse is renowned for its wine list, offering 60 wines by the glass and over 700 labels by the bottle. The knowledgeable staff will happily help you select the perfect wine to complement your meal. This may be the swankiest happy hour in Portland
No matter where you are in the Portland
area, there are a lot of outstanding happy hour choices within stumbling distance. Since most establishments offer late night happy hours in addition to the afternoon specials, you are guaranteed to find a great spot to either kick off or wind down from an evening on the town.