Happy hours in the sky

You might not immediately consider Portland a swanky or glamorous city, but downtown has its fair share of elegance. Whether you’re entertaining friends and family from out of town or simply looking for a fancy night out, two local restaurants offer happy hours with amazing panoramic views of the city, delicious food selections and fabulous cocktail menus.

Departure Restaurant + Lounge is located at 525 S.W. Morrison St., on top of the Nines Hotel. It’s an Asian fusion restaurant and their happy hour menu features sushi, edamame, wings, crispy squid and more. It’s also a favorite location for vegetarian and vegan options. Though the dinner menu can fall on the expensive side, happy hour prices are considerably lower, and patrons can watch the sunset from cushy chairs on the outdoor decks that offer a spectacular view of Portland.

The Asian-themed cocktail menu features awesomely-named concoctions like Chase the Dragon (cognac, chai and condensed milk) and Sailor Moon (rum, sake, lemon and wakame syrup). During the week, happy hour is 4–6 p.m. and 10 p.m. until closing, with happy hour menus available after 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Outdoor and window seating fills up fast, but Departure promises a modern, trendy alternative to the sleepier local dive bars that you find way down there on the ground.

Long considered a Portland hot spot, Portland City Grill is on the 30th floor of the U.S. Bancorp Tower at 111 S.W. Fifth Ave. and has a varied and slightly more affordable menu. They specialize in seafood and steak with a distinctly Northwest feel, and their happy hour food selections include calamari, fish and chips and sushi rolls, as well as cheeseburgers, riblets and a tenderloin steak sandwich. Unlike Departure, this is not the place to go if you don’t like meat and fish, unless you’re happy with the amazing Rogue River Oregonzola waffle fries.

The dimly lit restaurant offers incredible views of the city, and many of the locals who frequent it cite the romantic ambience, which is perfect for date night. It can get pretty packed, but Portland City Grill is known for its liberal happy hour schedule: daily from 4 to 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close, as well as all day Sunday. They also offer a large range of drink choices, from sweet and frothy cocktails to traditional martinis and whisky, with margaritas, mojitos and mai tais also on the list.

Both Departure and Portland City Grill are definitely splurge nights, but both visitors and residents of Portland will have a great time dressing up and sipping cocktails high above the city streets. If you’re looking to impress someone or just looking for a one-of-a-kind downtown experience, try heading up the elevator instead of down the street.