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The interior of Reel M Inn, a cozy and dark dive bar.
Reel M Inn is one of Portland’s most beloved dives
Molly J. Smith / EPDX

The Ultimate Guide to Portland's Iconic Dive Bars

Unearth some of the city’s best watering holes for cheap drinks

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Reel M Inn is one of Portland’s most beloved dives
| Molly J. Smith / EPDX

Craft cocktails and chef-driven bar menus are great and all, but sometimes love cries out for a simpler poison: stiff pours, Rainier tall boys, and greasy piles of crispy-fried potatoes in a variety of shapes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, our sordid little town practically runs on the back of its neighborhood dives — the beloved spots with stained carpets, blacked out windows, and iconic outdoor signage which acts like a beacon for those looking for a low-key bar experience. It’s enough that several newer cocktail bars serve as homages to the old-school dive; however, this map is dedicated to the tried-and-true standards, authentically and endearingly dive-y.

While Portland has kept its dive bar scene alive better than other cities, they were still uniquely hurt by the pandemic and the safety precautions around it — pivoting to takeout isn’t really what dives are about, and the cocktail to-go legislation was basically meaningless to most, if not all, of them. But many managed to survive largely thanks to their diehard clientele, who supported them out on rainy patios and in socially-distanced dining rooms throughout the pandemic. Today, they’re a testament to Portlanders’ drive and loyalty while still being a reliable place for a quick, cheap drink.

Per usual, we’re not ranking these — the list is organized geographically.

Note: Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Perch Bar & Grill

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St Johns’ dive bars seem uniquely warded against any kind of perceived “hipsterfication.” Take the Perch Bar and Grill on Lombard (also known as Perch Tavern) — this classy dive has served the neighborhood for 40-odd years, slinging cheap drinks, airing Blazers games on small screens, and even providing a cozy and covered patio. Food is serviceable (think jojos, wings, and burgers), and drinks are nothing too fancy. However its clientele is dedicated and loyal, having visited the Perch for years.

Mousetrap Tavern

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This spot off Lombard is bigger than it looks from the outside, with room for pool tables and a kitchen plating “WT charcuterie boards,” a pile of mozz sticks, fries, and mini corn dogs. Well drinks and beers stay under $5 during happy hour (from 3 to 6 p.m. daily), the freezer is stocked with Hungry Man TV dinners, and bloody marys during weekend brunch clock in at $3.50. It’s open for indoor dining and drinking, with an outdoor patio as well.

George's Corner

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George’s blurs the line between sports bar and dive bar, with multiple screens for games; a food menu full of fried chicken and “big game” appetizers like jojos, tots, jalapeno poppers, and hummus; and a surprisingly robust collection of agave spirits — diners can even sip on a mezcal negroni while watching a game or out on the open patio. Nevertheless, its super casual, barebones vibes with pleather seating and numerous video poker machines keeps it on the side of a friendly, neighborhood dive.

Billy Rays Dive

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When by driving too fast down MLK, Billy Ray’s red facade might look like nothing more than a standalone Portland home. However, inside is a two-story dive fit for all bar flies. Hungry Man meals are microwaved to order, just passing the bare minimum for what qualifies for legally acceptable bar food, and the outstanding patio makes for excellent smoke breaks and people watching.

Joe's Cellar

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Despite a few hiccups along the way, Joe’s Cellar remains as an escape from the bustling NW “Trendy-Third” neighborhood. This place has everything needed in a dive bar: carpeted floors, wood paneling, pool, big-screen TVs, and the occasional karaoke night. These days, like many others, it’s closing a little early, but you can still drop in until midnight for a stiff drink.

Classic dive bar Joe’s Cellar
Joe’s Cellar in NW PDX
Alex Frane/EPDX

Yur's Bar & Grill

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Yur's has style: half-circle booths that can easily fit eight people, pool, a jukebox, and free popcorn. The drinks are respectfully cheap, and, as a bonus, the food is actually quite good, from burgers to cheesesteaks, tots, and wings. Each day of the week even sees dinner specials, including Taco Tuesdays and Prime Rib Thursdays. Those feeling anxious about drinking indoors can opt for the makeshift outdoor seating area.

Low Brow Lounge

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A respite of low-brow dining in the otherwise ritzy Pearl District, the all-too-appropriately named Low Brow Lounge offers the cheapest drinks and most-fried food for blocks around. The multi-chambered diner and saloon sports arcade games and quirky artwork, and each night sees regulars and service-workers coming in for an escape from the Pearl. It’s open for indoor and outdoor seating until 2 a.m.

Montavilla Station

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Montavilla Station is a cross between a dive and a friendly locale, serving cheap drinks and entertaiment to residents of the cloistered Montavilla Neighborhood. Here, visitors can find shuffleboard, hunter arcade games, and the ubiquitous video poker, as well as live music almost nightly in the spacious bar under the glow of the many TVs and neon signs.

A wooden back bar glows with a light saying “The Station.” The bar is stocked with many spirits.
The bar at Montavilla Station
Alex Frane/EPDX

The Slammer Tavern

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Will the Christmas lights still be up? This is always a question at The Slammer, and the answer is always “yes.” Along with arcade games and low ceilings, there's a jukebox and (occasionally busted) skee-ball console. Those in a romantic mood can watch the sunset over the west hills from the tables outside, which now feature walls and covering from the cold weather.

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#tavern

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Yamhill Pub

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An old-school watering hole, the Yamhill Pub is hidden downtown by the train tracks, and not too far from the riverfront, as any true dive should be. Dark, endearingly grimy, and utterly covered in penned graffiti, the bar is vaguely intimidating to enter for those uninitiated. Luckily, the bar staff is friendly and quick to serve a well drink in a plastic cup, and the digital jukebox takes cards. Those less-than-charmed by the New-York-subway-in-the-’70s interior can now enjoy some drinks on the new COVID-era patio, which is thankfully still low-brow.

Gil’s Speakeasy Tavern

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Neither a speakeasy nor a tavern, Gil’s Speakeasy Tavern is a subterranean bar that harkens back to the old days of Portland’s punk rock bar scene. A long, double-sided bar dominates the center of the room and graffiti lines the ceilings, walls, and just about every other surface. Drinks are cheap, the bar regularly hosts local bands, and regulars playing pool generally respect the fact that it’s directly under an apartment complex, especially the ones who live there.

Reel M Inn

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SE Division's nondescript Reel M Inn would be just another dive — lack of windows, junk on walls, cramped pool table — if not for its killer fried chicken. On even a moderately busy evening, the chicken will take its time coming to the table, sometimes more than an hour, but it’s worth it to order a bottled beer or a cheap whiskey, play pool, and wait. It lives up to the hype; there’s a reason it might be Portland’s most beloved dive.

Rumpus Room

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There are a number of exceptional no-fuss watering holes on the east side of 205, but Rumpus Room pulls out all the stops to land on the higher end of the dive bar spectrum: Plenty of shuffleboard tables, half-moons of rust-colored vinyl booths, walls covered in neon beer signs, video poker. Most of the time, Rumpus Room also hosts karaoke and live music, though the pandemic has limited offerings for obvious reasons. However, folks can still pop in for a stiff drink, with a small patio and indoor drinking.

Ship Ahoy Tavern

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An oddly unleveled floor and some alcove rooms gives Ship Ahoy a charming kind of dive vibe, which is helped by the drink specials and hot food menu that’s there just because of legal requirements. It’s actually a surprisingly good place to get a beef hot dog, which are just $1 each, or for some fruit candies from the candy dispensers. A few TVs are strewn about the space and there’s a single pool table and some pinball machines for entertainment, but the true draw is the no-frills service that’s been bringing in regulars for decades. 

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Day drinking commences!

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Starday Tavern

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Starday proudly identifies as “the most OK-est bar” in Portland, but when it comes to dives, it places extremely high. The floors are sticky, sure, but the tap list is consistently strong. Visitors can find video poker, but they can also often find live music. If you’re lucky, you’ll pop in when bar mascot, Ghengis the pup, is hobbling around the bar.

Yukon Tavern

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A number of worthy dives dot the length of SE Milwaukie — including the Bear Paw Inn, where you can also find a killer Chicago tavern-style pizza — but Yukon lands on this map thanks to its lengthy tenure (since 1937), roster of regulars, distinctive interior, pool, shuffleboard, pinball, and cheap drinks. Barely anything on the bar menu hits the double-digits, price wise, and for a dive bar, the food menu has a few cool hand-made touches, including buttermilk brined chicken tenders and house-made chips and salsa. Yukon Tavern requires proof of vaccination.

The Lion's Eye

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Lents is an oft-overlooked Portland neighborhood, but for bars like the Lion’s Eye that can be a good thing, filtering out the visitors and riff-raff and saving more bar seats for regulars and neighborhood residents. The modest main room of the Lion’s Eye keeps its surprisingly large enclosed back patio a secret for all but local residents, which is its main draw; it’s comfortable, spacious, and partially covered to protect from weather. Inside there are games like pools and darts, and the bar offers a few cocktails and — being a Portland bar — a solid draft beer list, plus enough food to justify serving drinks (think: bar staples like burgers and tacos).

Cosmo Lounge

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When drinking cheap in Westmoreland, many would head to the perfectly respectable bar Kay’s. But for a more low-key, eccentric experience, imbibers would do well to head next door to The Cosmo Lounge. Felt paintings line the walls above the booths of this little dive bar on the way to the back hallway, which sports a fair amount of video poker machines. There are no fancy cocktails or five-star meals here, but there are cheap shots of whiskey and a solid tap list.

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Perch Bar & Grill

St Johns’ dive bars seem uniquely warded against any kind of perceived “hipsterfication.” Take the Perch Bar and Grill on Lombard (also known as Perch Tavern) — this classy dive has served the neighborhood for 40-odd years, slinging cheap drinks, airing Blazers games on small screens, and even providing a cozy and covered patio. Food is serviceable (think jojos, wings, and burgers), and drinks are nothing too fancy. However its clientele is dedicated and loyal, having visited the Perch for years.

Mousetrap Tavern

This spot off Lombard is bigger than it looks from the outside, with room for pool tables and a kitchen plating “WT charcuterie boards,” a pile of mozz sticks, fries, and mini corn dogs. Well drinks and beers stay under $5 during happy hour (from 3 to 6 p.m. daily), the freezer is stocked with Hungry Man TV dinners, and bloody marys during weekend brunch clock in at $3.50. It’s open for indoor dining and drinking, with an outdoor patio as well.

George's Corner

George’s blurs the line between sports bar and dive bar, with multiple screens for games; a food menu full of fried chicken and “big game” appetizers like jojos, tots, jalapeno poppers, and hummus; and a surprisingly robust collection of agave spirits — diners can even sip on a mezcal negroni while watching a game or out on the open patio. Nevertheless, its super casual, barebones vibes with pleather seating and numerous video poker machines keeps it on the side of a friendly, neighborhood dive.

Billy Rays Dive

When by driving too fast down MLK, Billy Ray’s red facade might look like nothing more than a standalone Portland home. However, inside is a two-story dive fit for all bar flies. Hungry Man meals are microwaved to order, just passing the bare minimum for what qualifies for legally acceptable bar food, and the outstanding patio makes for excellent smoke breaks and people watching.

Joe's Cellar

Classic dive bar Joe’s Cellar
Joe’s Cellar in NW PDX
Alex Frane/EPDX

Despite a few hiccups along the way, Joe’s Cellar remains as an escape from the bustling NW “Trendy-Third” neighborhood. This place has everything needed in a dive bar: carpeted floors, wood paneling, pool, big-screen TVs, and the occasional karaoke night. These days, like many others, it’s closing a little early, but you can still drop in until midnight for a stiff drink.

Classic dive bar Joe’s Cellar
Joe’s Cellar in NW PDX
Alex Frane/EPDX

Yur's Bar & Grill

Yur's has style: half-circle booths that can easily fit eight people, pool, a jukebox, and free popcorn. The drinks are respectfully cheap, and, as a bonus, the food is actually quite good, from burgers to cheesesteaks, tots, and wings. Each day of the week even sees dinner specials, including Taco Tuesdays and Prime Rib Thursdays. Those feeling anxious about drinking indoors can opt for the makeshift outdoor seating area.

Low Brow Lounge

A respite of low-brow dining in the otherwise ritzy Pearl District, the all-too-appropriately named Low Brow Lounge offers the cheapest drinks and most-fried food for blocks around. The multi-chambered diner and saloon sports arcade games and quirky artwork, and each night sees regulars and service-workers coming in for an escape from the Pearl. It’s open for indoor and outdoor seating until 2 a.m.

Montavilla Station

A wooden back bar glows with a light saying “The Station.” The bar is stocked with many spirits.
The bar at Montavilla Station
Alex Frane/EPDX

Montavilla Station is a cross between a dive and a friendly locale, serving cheap drinks and entertaiment to residents of the cloistered Montavilla Neighborhood. Here, visitors can find shuffleboard, hunter arcade games, and the ubiquitous video poker, as well as live music almost nightly in the spacious bar under the glow of the many TVs and neon signs.

A wooden back bar glows with a light saying “The Station.” The bar is stocked with many spirits.
The bar at Montavilla Station
Alex Frane/EPDX

The Slammer Tavern

Will the Christmas lights still be up? This is always a question at The Slammer, and the answer is always “yes.” Along with arcade games and low ceilings, there's a jukebox and (occasionally busted) skee-ball console. Those in a romantic mood can watch the sunset over the west hills from the tables outside, which now feature walls and covering from the cold weather.

View this post on Instagram

#tavern

A post shared by Mike (@sawed_off_mike) on

Yamhill Pub

An old-school watering hole, the Yamhill Pub is hidden downtown by the train tracks, and not too far from the riverfront, as any true dive should be. Dark, endearingly grimy, and utterly covered in penned graffiti, the bar is vaguely intimidating to enter for those uninitiated. Luckily, the bar staff is friendly and quick to serve a well drink in a plastic cup, and the digital jukebox takes cards. Those less-than-charmed by the New-York-subway-in-the-’70s interior can now enjoy some drinks on the new COVID-era patio, which is thankfully still low-brow.

Gil’s Speakeasy Tavern

Neither a speakeasy nor a tavern, Gil’s Speakeasy Tavern is a subterranean bar that harkens back to the old days of Portland’s punk rock bar scene. A long, double-sided bar dominates the center of the room and graffiti lines the ceilings, walls, and just about every other surface. Drinks are cheap, the bar regularly hosts local bands, and regulars playing pool generally respect the fact that it’s directly under an apartment complex, especially the ones who live there.

Reel M Inn

SE Division's nondescript Reel M Inn would be just another dive — lack of windows, junk on walls, cramped pool table — if not for its killer fried chicken. On even a moderately busy evening, the chicken will take its time coming to the table, sometimes more than an hour, but it’s worth it to order a bottled beer or a cheap whiskey, play pool, and wait. It lives up to the hype; there’s a reason it might be Portland’s most beloved dive.

Rumpus Room

There are a number of exceptional no-fuss watering holes on the east side of 205, but Rumpus Room pulls out all the stops to land on the higher end of the dive bar spectrum: Plenty of shuffleboard tables, half-moons of rust-colored vinyl booths, walls covered in neon beer signs, video poker. Most of the time, Rumpus Room also hosts karaoke and live music, though the pandemic has limited offerings for obvious reasons. However, folks can still pop in for a stiff drink, with a small patio and indoor drinking.

Ship Ahoy Tavern

An oddly unleveled floor and some alcove rooms gives Ship Ahoy a charming kind of dive vibe, which is helped by the drink specials and hot food menu that’s there just because of legal requirements. It’s actually a surprisingly good place to get a beef hot dog, which are just $1 each, or for some fruit candies from the candy dispensers. A few TVs are strewn about the space and there’s a single pool table and some pinball machines for entertainment, but the true draw is the no-frills service that’s been bringing in regulars for decades. 

View this post on Instagram

Day drinking commences!

A post shared by Erin Adams (@writeonerin) on

Starday Tavern

Starday proudly identifies as “the most OK-est bar” in Portland, but when it comes to dives, it places extremely high. The floors are sticky, sure, but the tap list is consistently strong. Visitors can find video poker, but they can also often find live music. If you’re lucky, you’ll pop in when bar mascot, Ghengis the pup, is hobbling around the bar.

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Yukon Tavern

A number of worthy dives dot the length of SE Milwaukie — including the Bear Paw Inn, where you can also find a killer Chicago tavern-style pizza — but Yukon lands on this map thanks to its lengthy tenure (since 1937), roster of regulars, distinctive interior, pool, shuffleboard, pinball, and cheap drinks. Barely anything on the bar menu hits the double-digits, price wise, and for a dive bar, the food menu has a few cool hand-made touches, including buttermilk brined chicken tenders and house-made chips and salsa. Yukon Tavern requires proof of vaccination.

The Lion's Eye

Lents is an oft-overlooked Portland neighborhood, but for bars like the Lion’s Eye that can be a good thing, filtering out the visitors and riff-raff and saving more bar seats for regulars and neighborhood residents. The modest main room of the Lion’s Eye keeps its surprisingly large enclosed back patio a secret for all but local residents, which is its main draw; it’s comfortable, spacious, and partially covered to protect from weather. Inside there are games like pools and darts, and the bar offers a few cocktails and — being a Portland bar — a solid draft beer list, plus enough food to justify serving drinks (think: bar staples like burgers and tacos).

Cosmo Lounge

When drinking cheap in Westmoreland, many would head to the perfectly respectable bar Kay’s. But for a more low-key, eccentric experience, imbibers would do well to head next door to The Cosmo Lounge. Felt paintings line the walls above the booths of this little dive bar on the way to the back hallway, which sports a fair amount of video poker machines. There are no fancy cocktails or five-star meals here, but there are cheap shots of whiskey and a solid tap list.

Related Maps