In a city where artisanal fare and libations are already relatively reasonably priced, happy hours are the icing on the cake. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a bar or restaurant in Portland that doesn’t offer some kind of happy hour. But which ones are the best?
From martinis accompanied by fantastic city views in swanky hotels that we couldn’t otherwise afford, to tiki bars and everything in between, here are our eight favorite places to get our fancy-drink on without breaking the bank.
1014 SW Stark St – Happy Hour: 3-6p (daily)
Adjoined to downtown’s swanky Ace Hotel is Clyde Common, a European style tavern with fantastic food and drinks. The lively, casual restaurant hosts happy hour everyday from 3-6, when draft beer is just $4. Come to this happy hour hungry. Nosh on tōgarashi popcorn, garlic roasted cashews, house meatballs or fried brussels sprouts. Their famous Clyde Burger, served medium and topped with bacon jam and fu manchu mayo, is a steal at $8. Don’t leave without trying a cocktail (especially with mixologist magician Jeffrey Morgenthaler running the bar). All cocktails, including daily punch, are just $6. Our pick? The Spelling Bee, a tequila-based libation mixed with absinthe, bitters, agave syrup and grapefruit.
3356 SE Belmont St – Happy Hour: 5-7p (daily)
Experience one of the most generous happy hours in Portland at Aalto Lounge on Southeast Belmont. A few bucks can get you far at Aalto from 5-7 daily when food and drinks are just $2 each. Specials include cocktails such as the Slow Burn, with Serrano-infused vodka and pineapple, The Dandy, with cucumber gin and lavender or The Belmont Jewel, a gem made with Bourbon, pomegranate and orange blossom water. Two dollar “grown up” jello shots, cheesy oven-baked pretzels and a grilled cheese and tomato soup combo also grace the two dollar menu. For a little bit more, you can get a bottle of wine for $10 and beer buckets that start at $8. Their spacious, inviting outdoor patio is great for sunset drinks when temperatures get a little warmer.
5008 SE Hawthorne Blvd – Happy Hour: 4-6p & 10p-close (Sun-Thurs)
Located in a former hotel lobby, Mt. Tabor’s swanky Sapphire Hotel cocktail lounge serves delicious libations at modest happy hour prices. Sapphire’s dim-lit, seductive ambiance reflects the history of the space, which was a brothel, hotel and gathering place for sailors, artists and travelers to eat, drink and play during the early 1900’s. Share small bites and cocktails with a hot date everyday from 4-6 or 10-close from Sunday-Thursday. Nibble on nuts and olives ($3), a Mediterranean meze platter ($5) or warm artichoke and arugula dip ($5). All well drinks are $4, house wine is $5 and PBR pounders are $2. For something a little more intriguing, try the Apricot Blonde (spicy pepper-infused vodka, apricot and lemon), The Other Woman (apple bourbon, pear and ginger) or the weekly punch–all for $6.
Portland City Grill
111 5th Ave – Happy Hour: 4-7p & 9p-close (daily) and noon-close (Sundays)
Downtown’s Portland City Grill boasts incredible views of the city with a great happy hour to boot. Sip cocktails on top of one of the city’s tallest buildings while admiring the Instagram-worthy vista of the city, Willamette River and Mt. Hood from 30 floors above ground. Portland City Grill hosts happy hour Monday through Sunday from 4-7 and 9-close, in addition to all day Sunday after noon. The happy hour food menu is vast, ranging from $4.95 salads, Parmesan-herb fries and spring rolls to $10.95 red crab and Bearnaise topped seared steelhead. Beer specials start at $4.95 and glasses of wine and cocktails will set you back $6.95. Try a pink margarita, Tennessee tea or vodka berry cooler.
1800 E Burnside St – Happy Hour: 3-6p (daily)
Head to East Burnside for EastBurn‘s excellent Recess Happy Hour. From 3-6 daily, you can get $3 off house cocktails, $3.50 well drinks, $5 house wine and $3.50 pints from their excellent craft beer selection. Hungry? Grab an early dinner or some snacks to share: macaroni and cheese ($6), Fressen soft pretzels ($6), grilled cheese with bacon ($5) and beer bratwurst ($5) provide some tasty options. In addition, you can get an aged cheddar and bacon capped Cascade burger or the famous Uber sandwich (potato pancake, bourbon-apple chutney, caramelized onion and scallion sour cream topped pork sandwich) are both $10. EastBurn also hosts free stand-up comedy on Monday and $2.50 pints all day Tuesday. After happy hour, head downstairs for skee-ball, live music and perhaps a few more drinks.
835 SW 2nd Ave – Happy Hour: 4-7p (daily)
For affordable, delicious Vietnamese fare, head downtown to Luc Lac. It’s no surprise that this is a popular happy hour spot, so expect it to be busy. However, it’s worth it. Try 20 of Luc Lac’s small plates for just $2-$3 each in addition to $4 draft beer and wine and $6 Dealer’s Choice cocktails. Relax after work in this lively, laid-back spot; order at the counter, follow the hanging pink parasols to a table and chow down on lemongrass chicken skewers, coconut prawns, la lot and green papaya salad. Happy hour runs from 4-7 daily.
2733 NE Broadway St – Happy Hour: 4-6p (daily)
If short winter days and dreary skies have you feeling a bit down, we have two words: tiki bar. Northeast’s Hale Pele isn’t your typical cheesy theme bar. Sure, there’s tiny umbrellas in your cocktails, pineapple drinks and real puffer-fish lamps hanging from the ceiling. But there’s also hand-crafted syrups, fresh juices, spiced premium rum and tasty tropical-inspired fare. Not to mention: a great happy hour everyday until 6. All of Hale Pele’s colorful, exotic drinks are just $6 during this time. Try the Castaway (rum, coffee liqueur and pineapple), the Shark’s Tooth (rum, pineapple, demerara syrup and hibiscus grenadine) or a classic Blue Hawaii. For munches, there’s Cuban or pulled pork sandwiches ($5), kimchi and soft egg rice bowls ($4) and grilled, buttered Hawaiian bread topped with guava jam ($3). You could also stay and order one of their drinks for two, such as the Boo Loo (served in a whole pineapple) or a Volcano Bowl that gets set on fire.
1015 NW Everett St – Happy Hour: 4-7 (Mon-Fri)
Although the Pearl District’s Teardrop Lounge is a local favorite anytime of the day (or night), happy hour here is definitely a lively three hours. Praised for their excellent mixology skills, Teardrop marries an ultra-posh ambiance with quality, hand-crafted food and drinks. Grab a co-worker or date (or someone who’s both?) and head to happy hour, 4-7 Monday through Friday. Sip delicious artisan cocktails such as the Goodnight Moon, with pommeau de normandie, fennel-walnut soda and cream, or the Neverland, featuring vodka, sparkling wine, saler’s apéritif, raspberry and lemon. These cocktails will set you back $7, a good deal considering all of their libations during non-happy hours run $10-$13. Teardrop also offers $5 small plates. Share sweet potato chips, wild boar jerky, crispy coconut cashews or an olive, artichoke and feta salad.
Photography by Brenda Rose and Paul Grupp.