One of the greatest things about going to school on an urban campus is being surrounded by an eclectic array of watering holes. You don’t even have to go far off campus to find some of the best bars in Portland.
Just down the street from Portland State you’ll find Momo’s—a personal favorite of mine. With cheap drinks, yummy eats and a cozy patio, Momo’s is one of the best bars for students. The nachos are large enough for three people to share, making it easy to save a dime, and the mac and cheese will blow your mind. Although it just finished renovating the extended seating area next door, the place still has an intimate vibe without feeling overcrowded. From $2 tall boys to $4 cocktails, almost every student you ask will tell you to go to Momo’s if you’re looking for a bar around campus. It’s located right next to a streetcar stop, as well as a MAX line stop.
Continuing down 10th Avenue into Northwest, you’ll come across the Life of Riley Tavern, a two-story bar with totally different atmospheres between upstairs and downstairs. Upstairs you’ll find red vinyl booths and a bit more of a classy vibe. But go downstairs and you’ll find the game room. It’s set up with shuffleboard, video lottery, a dart board, a pool table and a full bar. Having a cheap, fun night with friends is easily accomplished here. And it’s really easy to meet new people while battling others on the shuffleboard table.
Deschutes Brewery not only has a great selection of beers on tap but one of the best burgers on the west side. Although it’s always crowded, waiting at the bar with one of their handcrafted ales makes the wait worth it. It provides 19 consistent brews on tap, plus seasonal and experimental beers that rotate throughout the year.
In the Pearl District you’ll find the Low Brow Lounge: the dive bar to beat all dive bars on the west side. With excellent service, cheap drinks and good food (including vegan options), this dive bar sets the bar pretty high. Its happy hour adds the cherry on top. Many know it as the only good dive bar left in the Pearl. If you have bad eyesight this may not be your favorite bar, as it intentionally keeps the lighting dim inside.
On the edge of Chinatown there’s Ground Kontrol, a bar with vintage video games, beer on tap and some delicious cheap eats. This is a great bar to come to with a group of friends looking to bond over a mutual love of Ms. Pac-Man. Ground Kontrol has the only 10-player game and the largest selection of pinball games in the Pacific Northwest. My personal favorite to play is classic Mario Kart.
If you’re searching for something on the classier side, there’s Teardrop Cocktail Lounge. The fancy cocktails are quite delicious. From classics like the Army Navy to their own creation the Afternoon in Paris, they have an assortment of drinks to choose from. And during happy hour (Monday through Friday, 4–7 p.m.), the food is 20 percent off.
So get on out there and enjoy the downtown bar scene! There’s a little of something for everyone.