Food & Drink

From Jenga to Pac-Man, these are Portland's 10 best bar game bars

Published On 02/26/2014 Published On 02/26/2014
Giant Jenga
Drew Tyson

If there is one thing the people of Portland like more than going to bars, it's going to bars where women take their clothes off. If there's a second thing we like more though, it's going to bars where we can make bad decisions... or possibly ones that're Doctor Who-themed. But, in addition to all that, there're also places where you can play bar/video/lawn/pretty-much-any-kind-of games. That's why we assembled a list of PDX's 10 best bar game bars, and will totally crush you in giant Jenga anytime...

Ground Kontrol

Best barcade: Ground Kontrol
They've got four-player Pac-Man and pinball upstairs, and frustratingly large crowds (far too few of whom are cute lady nerds who can school you in Joust), but wait until after 1am, or get there just after happy hour, and you’ll be able to jump on whatever you want to play.

Drew Tyson

Best dive: Triple Nickel 
Pool. Darts. A bunch of booze. This place has it all, but be careful: win that especially heated Giant Jenga match, and you could lose a friendship... at least until get the next round.

Uptown Billiards Club

Best pool hall: Uptown Billiards Club
NW 23rd
This swank little billiards club houses some of the best tables in town, and some of its better players, so it's probably time to give up those Color of Money-inspired fantasies... except about Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, obviously.

Rialto Poolroom

Best place to win (lose?!) money: Rialto Poolroom
Known for their stiff pours, this boozer is a one-stop-shop for the real gamers/boozers: they've got off track betting from around the world, Texas hold 'em, as well as other card tournaments, rows of video lottery, pool tables galore, and... wtf, no pull tabs?!

Spirit of 77

Best place to pretend you're Damian Lillard: Spirit of 77
Basically the ultimate Blazer bar, this place feels like your high school gym, complete with screaming bros and girls who won’t talk to you. But that’s okay, 'cause the skee-ball and pop-a-shot are free.

Beat adult version of Chuck E. Cheese's: Punch Bowl Social
This open-pretty-much-all-day boozer boasts bowling lanes, ping pong, private karaoke rooms, marbles tables, deck-shuffle, shuffleboard, darts, pinball, foosball, board games, and a giant pit of balls you can totally dive into wall of throwback 1980’s video games. 

The best place for sausages: The Wurst
East Burnside
They're slinging some seriously good/exotic-stuffed local meats (the "Wally Gator" w/said reptile meat & red peppers, the duck & pancetta "Donald", etc.), an excellent suds selection, and giving you a chance to work off both by... um, standing around and tapping (vigorously, presumably) buttons on their sizable selection of pinball/video games.

Flickr User Allen Burt

The best place to dominate Chutes & Ladders: Tugboat Brewing Co
This tiny little spot tucked away in the heart of Downtown specializes in British ales, and in creating the kind of convivial atmosphere you find in Irish... just kidding, British pubs, so relax and grab one of the books/board games lining the walls, or you'll be Sorry. Yet another game we will totally crush you in.

Leisure Public House

Best bocce ball court: Leisure Public House
North Portland
They've got a sweet line-up of Italian eats (build your own bruschetta, hot-pressed caprese sandwiches, etc.), and a charmingly inviting patio where you can break out the ping pong paddles, or post-up at their old-school outdoor bocce ball court... at least until someone who actually knows how to play shows up.

Slingshot Lounge

Best place to work on your game: Slingshot Lounge
SE Powell/Foster
Sure, they host pinball/8-ball tournaments, but most of the time, this laid-back boozer is the perfect place to hang out and play Big Buck Hunter, where you never hit a doe accidentally... unless they're standing RIGHT IN THE WAY OF YOUR SHOT, DARN IT!

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1. The Wurst 724 E Burnside, Portland, OR 97214 (Lower Burnside)

The Wurst is making alcohol and bratwurst sexy again, and they don't care who knows it. With a fine selection of beers on draft and in bottled form, as well as a number of specialty mixed drinks, there's plenty of special sauce to prepare you for the pool tables, pinball and skee ball they have as well.

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2. Uptown Billiards Club 120 NW 23rd Ave, Portland, OR 97210 (Nw Portland)

This swank little billiards club on NW 23rd houses the best tables in town and is usually filled with the better players. The perfect place to meet fellow enthusiasts and enjoy some eats/drinks.

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3. Leisure Public House 8002 N Lombard St, Portland, OR 97203 (N Portland)

Featuring an honest-to-god bocce ball court outside, plus delicious bar eats like an Applewood-smoked bacon panini, this boozer is the perfect spot for a group.

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4. Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade 511 NW Couch St, Portland, OR 97209 (Downtown)

Classic arcade 'n drink emporium Ground Kontrol has been remodeled/upgraded to version "3.0", which brings new comfy flooring, an LED-heavy Tron grid-esque interior.

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5. Triple Nickel 3646 SE Belmont St, Portland, OR 97214 (Se Portland)

After being overhauled, the Triple Nickel is STILL a neighborhood favorite in Southeast Portland, boasting giant Jenga, four dart boards, four pool tables, a juke box, and a solid bar menu.

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6. Rialto Poolroom Bar & Cafe 529 SW 4th Ave, Portland, OR 97204 (Downtown)

With their famously large pours, Rialto is a local favorite, serving up locally sourced meats and fish in their combo restaurant-bar-pool room.

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7. Spirit of '77 500 NE Martin Luther King Junior, Portland, OR 97232 (Ne Portland)

Complete with old-school gym accoutrements (including a working scoreboard!), Spirit augments traditional sports bar trappings with indoor bike parking, a line of hoops-shooting games, and a menu sporting old Topps cards and featuring killer mastication-creations like a burger enshrouded in sourdough known as the 'Frisco Melt, also what chicks and a few gym teachers in SF do every time Tim Lincecum shakes out his raven locks. Me-ow!!

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8. Punch Bowl Social 700 SW 5th Ave, Portland, OR 97204 (Downtown)

This grown-up's version of Chuck E. Cheese's has oh so many games... and booze. Lots of booze.

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9. Tugboat Brewing Co. 711 SW Ankeny St, Portland, OR 97205 (Nw Portland)

This place specializes in British-style strong ales, offering a wide selection of microbrews as well as an assortment of international beers and wines. There's live Jazz in the evening and only enough seating for 50, so get there early and grab a pint.

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10. Slingshot Lounge 5532 SE Center St, Portland, OR 97206

Good. Honest. Local. If you live in this area you should probably just stay at this place for casual brews and bites.



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