Portland has no shortage of dimly-lit watering holes where surly regulars gripe about traffic, development, and the many other growing pains that plague the city. But now’s a better time than any to point out that just because a bar is decrepit doesn’t mean it should be celebrated. Likewise, what may look and feel like a dive bar may actually be a post-dive, which is an entirely different thing unto itself that owes a great deal to the drinking culture of down-and-out Old Portland nonetheless.
That being said, there’s still a small clutch of truly wonderful shitholes that have stood the test of time. The marks of a great dive vary in the eyes of the beholder, but a few quintessential traits everyone can agree on are steadfast and time-tested: cheap beer, greasy food that’s mostly edible, and a judgment free environment that’s not entirely allergic to irony but certainly not dependent on it. We’ve lost a few good ones over the years, but it still feels like the golden age in which no Portlander is ever more than stumbling distance from a place where they can show up alone, drink a few cheap whiskeys and talk shit to strangers they’d likely befriend if only they could ever remember their names. Drink up while you can, friend.