Portland Bar Guide

Where to Find Portland’s Best Bar Bites

Satisfy the drunchies with cheesy, crunchy fried goodness, from burgers to won ton nachos.

By Katherine Chew Hamilton, Margaret Seiler, and Matthew Trueherz Published in the September 2022 issue of Portland Monthly

The nachos at Expatriate

The term “bar food” is often spit out with a tinge of snobbery, as if good cocktails and beer-and-shot specials could never coexist with real food. But eating while drinking is one of life’s great pleasures, and while it’s arguable that everything tastes better when you’re drunk, this bar fare is crave-worthy, even before the alcohol kicks in.

Assembly Brewing

For top-notch Detroit-style pizza, look no further than this brewery owned by Detroit-raised George Johnson. The crust is thick yet airy and crisp, complete with its signature unconventional layering that puts the tangy tomato sauce on top of the gooey, stretchy Wisconsin brick-style cheese. Stay for the house-brewed beer and pinball machines. 6112 SE Foster Rd —KCH

Bar Casa Vale

Tapas does not mean small when it comes to the dishes cooking in the wood-fired hearth at BCV. Spanish snacks like the mussels en escabeche, pan con tomate, and sliced-to-order jamon serrano pair well with a happy hour glass of sangria, but it’s just as easy to accidentally hang out for three hours and have a hearty dinner here, too. The grilled octopus is a must—easily shareable, meltingly tender, and perfectly seasoned by the traditionally-paired romesco. 215 SE 9th Ave —MT


As you might expect from power couple Kyle Linden Webster, bartender supreme, and Naomi Pomeroy, star Portland chef, the bar bites here are just as much of a draw as the craft cocktails. While the two-cheeseburger plate is perfect for sharing, our go-to dish is the crackly wonton nachos with Thai chile–kissed Velveeta, lime leaf, lemongrass beef, and mint (pictured above). 5424 NE 30th Ave  —KCH

Les Caves/Le Clos

Fancy grilled cheese sandwiches on Dos Hermanos sourdough, filled with the likes of Havarti, Georgian adjika pepper paste, mortadella, and Hood River apple butter, are the natural accompaniment to a funky wine selection in the basement Les Caves and its outdoor counterpart Le Clos. 1719 NE Alberta St —KCH

Reel M Inn

Surprisingly, fish and chips are not the draw at this fishing-themed dive bar. Instead, Reel M Inn offers the city’s best fried chicken and jojos—well worth the long wait. 2430 SE Division St —KCH


If your German is a bit rusty, ordering the hamburger—slightly dressed up with gruyere cheese and a pretzel bun—is always a safe bet. And, washed down with a Bitburger pilsner, it’s near on a perfect meal. But all things currywurst and schnitzel-ed are not to be missed. If we had to choose just one, it’d be the Jägershcnitzel, a breaded and fried pork loin topped with mushroom gravy and red cabbage, served over späztle, pan-fried pasta-like German dumplings. 401 NE 28th Ave —MT 

Tiny Bubble Room

Once upon a time, the Tiny Bubble Room was a dreamy side bar off of the main dining room for Lung Fung, a classic Atomic Age spot for the traditional Chinese American menu, where you could count on the bottle of Pabst to be cold, but there was nothing on draft. In 2020, the owners of Roscoe's and Saraveza installed 30 taps and introduced a Southern menu stacked with fried green tomato sliders, pimento burgers, jambalaya, shrimp po-boys, fried catfish, and Nashville hot chicken. Enjoy it all in the not-so-tiny Lung Fung space (the old bar area has been retired) or on the expansive parking lot-turned-patio, with tabletop fires and heated benches come winter. 2025 N Lombard St —MS

Tulip Shop Tavern

Who needs In-N-Out when Tulip Shop provides the city with its late-night burger needs—plus excellent fries and onion rings to boot? Come early on Wednesdays for the often-sold-out special: hand-dipped corn dogs. 825 N Killingsworth St —KCH


The cocktails and the massive heated patio are the draw for many here, but the food is not to be overlooked. Southern-inspired staples are at the center of the menu, with options equally appealing to vegans, vegetarians, and carnivores offered daily for brunch, lunch, and dinner. The vegan bowl, piled high with vegan fried chicken, red beans and rice, collard greens, and a cheddar-chive biscuit with pepper jam, is a particular delight.  4835 N Albina Ave —KCH

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