Portland happy hours have evolved. Long gone are the early evenings when happy hour consisted of limp chicken wings and various other-worldly deep-fried delectables being rolled out on a white-covered tablecloth, devoured, then sent back into the kitchen by 8 pm. Throw off a couple of bucks on well drinks and beer, and everyone was happy.
Nowadays, Portlanders require a bit more than barely edible food and watered down drinks for their happy hours. And many restaurants have happily obliged. Here are five local hangouts that might make you a believer in the happy hour again.
Date Night: Bar Mingo
Looking for something easy on the wallet but strong on sex appeal? Bar Mingo fits the bill perfectly. Not only do they offer an impressive amount of edibles, but their drink specials will leave you and your date with some extra coin. All served up in a sophisticated space in playful hues sure to brighten the grayest of days. Specials include 40% off bottled wines—nothing off the glass pour list, please—on Mondays, while items from their regular menu are discounted daily. Try the cold meat plate ($5) which features a generous serving of house-made mortadella and pate, truffle salami and pickled onion/golden raisin relish and more; mixed green salad with gorgonzola and candied walnuts ($5); calamari bruchetta ($5) or lamb meatballs ($5)—all regularly $8. That’s not small-plate hand food, people, that’s dinner.
Happiest Hours at Bar Mingo: 4-6 p.m. daily; 40% off bottled wine on Mondays
811 NW 21st Avenue
Portland, OR 97210
Late Night: Biwa
Biwa offers happy hour "counter service" early (5-6:30 daily) and late (9-10 p.m. daily, 9-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday). Nosh on pork belly ($2) and hanger steak ($2) early in the evening, or warm up with a bowl of udon ($5) or ramen with egg ($5) and other fixins (add pork shoulder, $3) later in the evening. It all goes down easy with hakutsuru junmai sake ($5) and draft sapporo ($3) specials. Get your home-style Japanese food fix late night, too. The Late Night menu (starts at 10 p.m., 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday) includes the mouth-watering Biwa burger made with seasoned fancy ground beef with crispy chasyu pork, kimchi mayo, lettuce and brioche bun—for only $8. Whether you're starting or ending your night, Biwa's your place.
Happiest hours at Biwa: "counter service" served 5-6:30 p.m. daily, 9-10 p.m daily, 9-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; Late Night service starts at 10 p.m., 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
215 SE 9th Avenue
Portland, OR 97214
After Work: Mee Sen Thai Eatery
They call their happy hour Thai One On. Do we really need to say more? Specials include $1 off all beer and wine, 50 cents off all small noodle bowls, and specialty cocktails—like the Tamarind Whiskey Sour and Mee Sen Margarita—for just $6. Nibbles include peek gai tod, or five wings with basil sauce ($4), pla muek yang, grilled squid ($5), and crying tiger, grilled rib-eye steak ($6). And that’s just the food and drink. The two-story space is uniquely constructed from re-used and recycled materials from around Portland, such as bricks, old bicycle wheels, and used building materials from the ReBuilding Center. It adds a definite Portland vibe to the happy hour experience.
Happiest hours at Mee Sen Thai Eatery: 3-6 p.m., 9 p.m.-close daily, all day on Tuesdays
3924 N Mississippi Avenue
Portland, OR 97227
Boys’ Day Out: Saraveza
You don’t have to be a dude to appreciate this wonderful beer and food hangout (founded by Sarah Pederson). Green Bay Packer fans jam the place on Sundays during the NFL season, so if you’re a Vikings’ fan, you’ve been warned. An impressive rotating tap of local and regional beers, tastings from local breweries and rows and rows of cold refrigerators crammed with six-packs and 22-ouncers to go make this the perfect spot to hang out for a bit and pick up something to go. Happy hour offers $1off full draft pours and food specials. The pasties are amazing—crispy, flaky crust filled with beef, potatoes and carrots, with pickled peppers and onions on the side, along with homemade ketchup— and are guaranteed to make beer fans happy.
Happiest hours at Saraveza: 3:30-5:30 p.m. daily (except Tuesday. CLOSED.)
1004 N Killingsworth Street
Portland, OR 97217
Girls’ Night Out: Driftwood Room
Swank? Mod? Bogart heartbreaker? Channel your inner 1920s starlet or noir femme fatale and grab your friends for some delicious cocktails and food. Drink champagne-based drinks like they’re going out of style, for happy hour prices, of course. With names like The Elizabeth Taylor (crème de violette and champagne, $5) or Springtime in Paris, (St. Germain, elderflower liqueur, rhubarb bitters and champagne, $5) you’ll want something to nosh on while you sip. The Driftwood delivers with happy hour delights such as the prawn scampi ($5); bay shrimp and Dungeness crab cake ($6) or French fries with white cheddar cheese ($2.50). The Driftwood borrows heavily from the past, more loungey era but with a foot firmly in the modern school of cocktails and dining.
Happiest hours at Driftwood Room: 3-6 p.m. and 9 p.m.-close daily
729 SW 15th Avenue
Portland, OR 97205
We think these restaurants have raised the bar on happy hour. What do you think? Sound off in the comments below, and let us know your top picks.