Maybe you're gathering your "gal pals" together for a Galentine's Day outing Friday night. Or maybe you're desperately seeking an escape from Valentine's Day PDA. February 14 is a Saturday night, after all. It's time to go out. And you don't want to be surrounded by kissy-face couples all night long. So here are our picks for places that are out of the V-day fray, where you and your friends can sip your whiskey sodas undisturbed (or if you're lucky, get lucky).Read More
Best Bars for Celebrating Galentine's Day or Escaping Valentine’s Day
1. The Box Social
It's true. This bar can be a great date spot, but it's also a good place to catch up with a friend over some finely tuned craft cocktails. It's also a sexy room lit mainly by votives, which makes everyone look picture-pretty. And because of the way the room's laid out, your conversations can be private and limited to your table — except for those eight tall 2-tops. These tables are right on top of one another. If you find yourself sitting high up at one of these tables, go ahead and share some popcorn, drinks, and conversation with whomever bellies up next to you — unless, of course, it's a cute, starry-eyed couple. Then it's OK to give them the secret stink-eye. It's so dark in there, they probably won't even notice.
2. Doug Fir Lounge
The Doug Fir is certainly a sexy place, a proto-lumbersexual hot spot long before that classification of style held any cache. And if you find yourself here on Valentine's Day, you're in for a treat: While knocking back your favorite drinks of choice, you'll be entertained by a long list of local musicians who, for six years in a row, have taken the stage to perform a sort of variety show known as Cover Your Hearts: A Night of Guilty-Pleasure Love Songs. So expect plenty of rowdy '80s tunes and slow jams. Go get on the floor and dance your pants off.
3. Kelly's Olympian
If you work in the restaurant industry and you work downtown, you just might find yourself in this dim dive blowing off steam having spent the last several hours either preparing food or serving it to flocks of Valentiners on their big annual night out. And chances are slim — very slim — that you'll stumble onto any of them here. So it's a safe space to grouse all you want about having spent your night making some other couple's night special. But don't get too blue. Chances are good — very good — that you won't spend the night alone. [Photo]
Portland, OR 97209
There are so many distractions at this classy dive that you won't even care that you and your friends are spending the night alone together. There are video games, pinball machines, a pool table (on the giant covered and heated patio), as well as a vending machine that's been stocked by the owners with little tongue-in-cheek treasures. The vibe is chill and respectful, the people are pretty and the menu offers plenty of quality sippers and snacks, like rotating hard liquor infusions and one mighty mean and mighty proper cheeseburger. And it's also open as late as the state allows. [Photo]
5. M Bar
Portland, OR 97210
Unless you've got charisma to spare, don't expect to practice your flirting game at this little jewel-box of a bar (beer and wine only). It's a neighborhood joint, so everyone who comes here knows everyone else who comes here. But, maybe because of its size, or maybe because of its clientele, the room is a very friendly one. If you're flying solo on V-day, M Bar will give you a warm welcome. And don't be surprised if, by the end of the night, you've made a new friend. [Photo]
6. TILT - PEARL DISTRICT
With the exception of the proudly divey Lowbrow Lounge, the tony Pearl District doesn't usually attract the younger, just-getting-started crowd. But that's all changed now thanks to Tilt, the enormous burger and pie bar. Step in there on any given night and the space is shoulder-to-shoulder with twenty- and thirty-somethings making eyes at one another. It's great for large groups or just pairs of friends and, because of its industrial design, the space is decidedly unromantic. In other words, if you are hitting up Tilt on Valentine's Day, you can pretty much guarantee everyone around you is unattached, too.
7. Rum Club
Rum Club is the bar where Portland's bartenders go to drink, so expect to see plenty of our local luminaries letting off some steam after making cocktails all night for the city's Romeos and Juliets. Maybe it's the low light and the cool wallpaper, or maybe it's Michael Shea's rum-centric cocktail menu, but this bar always feels — and tastes — like you're some place other than the rainy Pacific Northwest in the middle of the night in the dead of winter.
8. Sweet Hereafter
Portland, OR 97214
If you're a vegan, this spot — along with Bye and Bye, its sister to the north — is a destination. But if you live in the neighborhood, or often find yourself visiting friends who do, this spot is your typical, comfortable, friendly, non-judgy neighborhood bar. The space is big (thanks to its covered patio), the drinks are strong, and the vegan food is tasty enough to trick the most obstinate of carnivores. So if you're looking to catch up with friends and neighbors over quiet, casual, no-pressure Valentine's Day drinks, this is probably your spot.
Also Featured in:
9. Swift Lounge
With its black walls and red everything else, Swift is most definitely, and very intentionally, a dive bar. And like all dives, it certainly looks better in the dark, especially after one or two Mason jar cocktails (which feature famously strong pours). If you're of a certain age and station, you may think the bar's clientele is too cool for school, but you're probably just getting old. Because behind all those blocky glasses and countless tattoos, Swift has a soft, squishy heart. The clientele mostly just wants to enjoy its drinks and get to know you a little better. So let it.