5 Places to Play in Portland's N Mississippi/Williams Neighborhood
This neighborhood is all about loud music, arty happenings, fantasy battles, and pool parties. With pints in hands for nearly every activity, of course.
Game Knight Lounge
From sandwiches dubbed the Catanwich to cocktails like the Jumangin or Dungeons and Daiquiris, everything in Game Knight is in keeping with the stated theme: this is a place to get your board game on, where you’ll find battleships sunk, territories captured, and property titans sent to jail on any given night. Non-gamers can choose to park it at one of the long wooden tables and enjoy a house-made Pickles Against Humanity plate or a ponzu chicken and jasmine rice “Dice Bowl” while watching cards fly and dice roll around them, but an extra $4 a head gets you access to the library of nearly 500 board games—Pandemic, Exploding Kittens, Cards Against Humanity, Hungry Hungry Hippos, and so many more—to be plucked and played in the casual, brightly lit space by beginners and seriously seasoned gamers alike.
Here in PDX, we like a little history with our rock and roll. Case in point: this stately, turn-of-the-century building originally constructed for the Ancient Order of Hibernians and later home to both a local boxing school and day care center. In 2004, local arts promoters Mark Woolley and Chris Monlux reimagined the space as a cushy, midsize music venue, which acts as a stepping stone for emerging bands who’ve outgrown Doug Fir but can’t fill the Crystal just yet. The lineup is consistently great, Liars to Breeders to Beach House; a stream of hometown heroes and eclectic one-offs like, say, a glam, plus size fashion show. Bonus: the Wonder’s basement houses its own Bunk Bar outpost, which means the iconic local sandwich chain’s margarita-slushy topped pints and pork belly Cubanos (or, sweet lord, its brisket- and guac-adorned Queso Deluxe) are only a flight of stairs away.
Mississippi Pizza Pub
Make no mistake, this neighborhood joint makes a darn good pie—and with vegan and gluten-free options galore, the menu can easily accommodate finicky eaters. The pizzeria’s real draw, however, is its robust events calendar, which includes everything from celebrity children’s musicians like Red Yarn to trivia nights, spelling bees, rap battles, and lesbian dance parties. For a more intimate setting, step into the adjoining Atlantis Lounge, a candlelit bar with a nautical drink menu.
Me teaching my new deep water class last Thursday to a group of what @pdxbrownclown would call "melanin poppin'!" An all POC group... and in deep water! 💦 This was the first time any of us had seen this in PDX. * #aquafun #angelabjaquafun #FatWomenOfColor #bodypositive #lovinggodlovingme #fatandfit #nomoreweighting #workingthewater
Matt Dishman Community Center
Named after the first African American sheriff’s deputy in Multnomah County, Matt Dishman has been a hub of activity for nearly 70 years. With a large indoor swimming pool, on-site gym, a legit boxing ring, and dance classes galore, it has physical opportunities for all ages and levels. Plus, there’s a popcorn machine at the front desk!
Mississippi Studios & Bar Bar
This church-turned-recording-studio-turned-music-venue has hosted all manner of local, national, and international bands, and it’s pretty much always a good show, thanks in no small part to the venue itself. Everyone from Joan as Police Woman to Pure Bathing Culture to Sallie Ford has rocked out from beneath its stage-topping line of bass drums. Even after more than tripling its capacity to around 300 in 2009, Mississippi Studios still offers sweet acoustics and the cozy feeling of a living room jam session. Its in-house watering hole, Bar Bar, is a draw unto itself—with a no-nonsense roster of burgers and boilermakers and one of the finest garden patios in town.