Are you bored with basic boozing? Tired of just hanging out and seeing great music all the time?
No, of course not!
But if you ever want to get down with some fun games during a night out (and I’m talking about more than the token shuffleboard table), here’s a little list of some of the best spots you may not already know about.
Shoot Hoops, Throw Darts, Toss Skeeball, Shake a Pinball Machine… and Watch Sports if You’re into That Sort of Thing
As noted in the footer of the bar’s website, ESPN’s Bill Simmons cites Spirit of 77 as “a perfectly named sports bar because Walton’s 1977 team legitimized Portland as a sports city.”
And this sports bar- located only blocks from the Rose Quarter/Moda Center- provides folks not only with a great place to catch a game, but also a chance to play some themselves.
If you’re like me and find both the location and vibe of Ground Kontrol a little face-palmy, but still love getting your game on – this is the place for you. Skeeball, foosball, darts, pinball, and shoot all the hoops you want (for free!). It’s also worth noting that If you’re looking for the cheap fried bar food usually found in sports bars, you won’t find it here. The food and drink fares medium-high among what you’d expect from such an inventive place.
Another thing to keep in mind is that this place closes down a little early: midnight every night, and ten pm on Sundays.
500 NE MLK JR. BLVD; 503.232.9977
weekdays: 4pm-12am, sat: 10am-12 am; sun: 10am-10pm
Pinball, Pinball, Pinball
With an entire second-floor room devoted to pinball machines, this is the place to be if you’re into drinking cheap Tecate and perfecting your tilt.
Billy Ray’s Dive is quite like it sounds: It’s a cash only bar, the staff is friendly and way casual, and you know what else? You can order a Hungryman TV dinner here. And you can even eat it on one of the second floor’s comfy couches while you watch TV.
2216 NE MLK BLVD; 503.287.7254
Play a Game of Jenga That’s as Big as You
If you haven’t already experienced what it’s like to get Triple Nickeled, I’ll give you a quick overview as long as you promise to go as soon as you can.
Here you’ll find the typical dartboard and big screen projector one would expect at a divey pub, but the people-sized Jenga and one million beers on tap is what sets this place apart from the rest.
Built to completion at the beginning of a game, the Jenga blocks stand at about 4 feet (each Jenga log is roughly the size of a brick) and make a super thunderish crash when they fall. Then the whole bar goes “OOOOOHHHHHHHH!” and everyone giggles and continues drinking their very reasonably priced and stiff drinks.
Another neat thing about this place: they play old school hip-hop videos on the projector some nights. No real schedule- it seems like you just have to catch it.
3646 SE BELMONT ST; 503.234.7215
Pool, Pinball, Trivia, and SIN All the Time
If you’ve ever spent time in North Portland, you’ve probably noticed this kitschy haven of a Portland dive. You can’t miss the blinking lights around the tall ‘50s diner-esque sign in front of the building, as well as the accompanying letter board often displaying little love notes such as “ We’re still here; suck it ancient peoples” or “Support Basic Rights Oregon; Drink a Homojito.”
I’m definitely biased since this bar is in my hood, but this spot houses some objectively great attributes.
It’s made up of two big rooms – one containing the service bar with lots of booths and tables, and the other serving as the game room where you’ll find pool tables, pinball, and trivia happening on a weekly-or-more basis.
Bonus perks: Folks in the industry can take advantage of SIN all the time (a promo called ‘Service Industry Night’ where anyone with an OLCC card or Food Handler’s Permit gets happy hour prices), and the owners have a healthy sense of smartass humor as well as a conscience (often hosting donation nights).
435 N KILLINGSWORTH ST; 503.287.5658
All the Weird Board Games You Never Knew You Were Missing out On
Something of an institution among what I like to call Portland’s “Dives with Dignity,” My Father’s Place (affectionately referred to as MFP by frequenters) is about as good as it gets.
You’ll always find a cozy spot to enjoy cheap drinks and quintessential bar food, the lighting is appropriately too dim or too bright all throughout, and possibly best of all:
There’s a hugeass pantry full of Every Board Game There Ever Was.
MFP is also pretty much always there for you. You can hit them up from 6:30 am to 2:30 am. Every. Single. Day.
523 SE GRAND AVE; 503.235.5494