For a while there, the pandemic forced game night into the dimly lit corners of our own home (necessarily so). But after of so many nights of oven-made appetizers, box wine, and agonizingly explaining game rules to your friends who are just going to ask about it again later, it's time to take game night back outside, and in Portland there's no shortage of places to assemble your tabletop squad.
From the board game haven that is Mox Boarding House to the chill backyard patio at the Basement Pub, here's where to buy and play tabletop games in Portland.
A new addition to Portland’s board gaming scene, Master Goblin Games opened on March 1 on Hawthorne, and boasts a modest section for board game browsing, and plenty of tables and chairs for tabletop fun. The space has been quiet since their opening but promises free open gaming and weekly events. The entrance might be hard to find, but just look for the cute goblin with a monocle.
We can’t mention board games in Portland without mentioning Guardian Games, the tabletop staple that blesses the Southeast quadrant with its 10,000 square-feet of board games and accessories. Hard-to-find games are almost a guarantee here, and though it’s not quite a restaurant or bar like some of the other entries here, Guardian Games hosts tabletop tournaments and weekly events, which you can find on their calendar.
After catching a Timbers or Thorns game at Providence Park, hit up nearby Mox Boarding House’s board game mecca in Goose Hollow. The Parisian-inspired interior is part shop, with a bevy of games, and part restaurant, with surprisingly bright appetizers and meals, like Cubano pork sliders or Ethiopian lentil stew. Indulge in their lineup of crafty cocktails with fun names like the Royal with Squeeze (a peach vodka drink with brut champagne, orange juice, lemon juice, and grenadine) and the Lupulin Fiasco (made with gin, a hazy IPA, lime juice, and simple syrup). Bring your own game to play at your table, or borrow one from the shop’s catalog. (There are also shops in Bellevue and Seattle, Washington.)
Assemble your board game squad for Tabletop Thursday at the 4th Wall, a café/movie house hybrid, which opened November 1 on SE Hawthorne and 15th. If Magic The Gathering is more your thing, the place also features Magic Monday for a rousing round of Commander (which they’ll teach you how to play if you don’t already). The space also features video game tournaments, trivia nights, and movie screenings, during which visitors can sip on Sisters Coffee, eat from their curated menu of pizza and sandwiches, and finish off with some Doe’s ice cream.
While it doesn’t necessarily advertise itself as a haven for board game enthusiasts, this cozy Southeast bar offers classic games like chess, Battleship, and more—plus a little corner with a few pinball machines. On Mondays, the Basement hosts chess night for players of all skill levels. There’s also a chill back patio where you can kick back with a tall boy and play a game. Just keep it quiet late at night as to not disturb the nearby neighbors.
This Tigard gaming bar/restaurant is named after an ancient Egyptian board game—though their catalog of games (just over 200) run a little more current and are focused more on quick play. If you’re looking for more games though, be sure to hit up Versus Board Games just downstairs. At Senet, you’ll find classic bar fare like barbecue pork nachos, flatbread pizzas, and “adult lunchables” (a board of pepperoni, salami, cheese, and pepperoncini mustard). Or keep it simple with a peanut butter and jelly (or Nutella) sandwich. Build your Catan community while downing some powerful cocktails.