Food & Drink

Portland's 10 (Best?) Bad Decision Bars

Published On 01/15/2014 Published On 01/15/2014
Bad Decision Bars

The Bad Decision Bar: the kind of place where one quick drink leads to one quick ride home on the MAX, where you sleep past your stop only to awaken with four texts from "Stripper, Vegan," and someone else's pants on. Here are 10 of PDX's finest (or worst?) examples...

Rialto Poolroom

If you’ve ever worked in the industry, or know someone who has, then you’re well aware of Rialto’s absurdly large pours, which sound awesome but usually just lead to you being woken up in Pioneer Place Mall by a police officer who wants you to do what you can't remember deciding to do at RP: leave.

Casa Diablo

Casa Diablo

NW Industrial
Between an ATM that only dispenses $50s, a bar that only gives change in fake blood-stained $2 bills, its in-the-boondocks location, and strippers that encourage touching, no better recipe for disaster exists in Portland.

Space Room Lounge

After a night of sitting in this windowless slab of awesome -- which resembles what a Rat Pack bar would look like if Sammy Davis Jr. was really into Star Trek -- and drinking strong fishbowl drinks like Long Islands or the sugary Purple Alien, there are only three places you can go: across the street for an ill-advised Big Bertha's gryo, into the inevitable street fight outside of Sewickys, or into a diabetic coma. All are ill-advised.

Multnomah Whiskey Library

After waiting upwards of three hours to get in, not to mention the 20 minutes for one of their roving bartenders to stop by, you might start to question whether coming to get one of the cocktails being carefully prepared in front of you was a bad decision. This question won’t surface again until the next morning, however, when you realize that spending all that time to get one of said 'tails would have been a great decision.



You'll go into this '80s- and '90s-themed dance bar looking to hook up. You will inevitably fail when you give in to the urge to do the Roger Rabbit or the Sprinkler in front of a bunch of hot chicks on the glowing LED-lit dance floor.

Dixie Tavern

It’s coming to our attention we may have a wee bit of a thing against Chinatown, but mostly we're just jealous of all the still skinny/not-jaded college kids that flock to the 'hood's bars, and embarrassed that no, none of them are impressed we put Third Eye Blind on the jukebox.

Dirty Nightclub Chinatown
Probably the most aptly named club in all of Portland, I can’t imagine anyone thinking an evening spent here won't involve a bad decision or two. Best case scenario? You end up in their Spin Room mesmerized by blinking lights. Worst case... don't ask. We said, "don't ask"! OK?!

Doug Fir Lounge

Doug Fir Lounge

East Burnside
It starts with a trip to the Doug Fir, probably for a show or late-night snack. You’re drinking, dancing or eating, having a good time. Maybe you meet someone cute. Now the bar's closing, so you go next door to the biggest party hotel in the city. Whaddya know? They’re offering a late-night special on rooms...


Various Locations
There aren’t many solid sports bars in Portland, so darkening the doors at one of these fine establishments means you'll probably decide talking to the random sports fan next to you can't be that bad, can it? Yes, it can.

Life of Riley

The Pearl
This dive-y boozer's dank smell will probably make you decide to go somewhere else after too long, and the steeply reduced beer/booze price on their happy hour menu will probably make it somewhere like Dirty Nightclub. The former's a good decision, the latter... well, you know.

Sign up here for our daily PDX email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun Portland has to offer.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Casa Diablo 2839 NW St Helens Rd, Portland, OR 97210 (Nw Portland)

Casa Diablo isn't your typical restaurant from the outside, or, for that matter, the inside. It's modeled after the vampire bar in From Dusk Til Dawn and features a solid vegan menu with must-tries like soy stroganoff. Not what you were expecting? There's another surprise: this spot is actually a strip club that has a bank full of those ever-popular $2 bills for tipping and dancers performing the wildest leather-free strip show you’ll ever see. That's right: this is a vegan strip club. Bless you, Portland.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
2. 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.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
3. Multnomah Whisk{e}y Library 1124 SW Alder St, Portland, OR 97205 (Downtown)

If you're a whiskey fan, Multnomah Whisk{e}y Library in Portland is worth a trip. One of the best whiskey bars in the country, it has more than 1,500 whiskeys stacked along a huge brick wall, and in true library fashion, they're accessible by a sliding ladder. Roaming bartenders serve drinks from bar carts, and they know more about whiskey than you ever will, so trust them. You can buy a membership to the semi-gentlemen's club to reserve a table ahead of time, otherwise you'll have to wait a few hours for a seat on peak nights with the rest of the non-members. You can always buy a one-time "Hall Pass" to skip the line though.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
4. Jones 107 NW Couch St, Portland, OR 97209 (Old Townchina Town)

At Jones, you can either get your groove on or your grub on, but either way you're in for a treat. This 80's and 90's themed establishment pours on the nostalgia with vintage arcade games, classic memorabilia and period-appropriate jams played by local and national DJs. Speaking of pouring, there's also a menu of handcrafted cocktails for you to quaff in between songs.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
5. Dixie Tavern 34 NW 3rd Ave, Portland, OR 97209 (Old Townchina Town)

With strong drinks and friendly bartenders, Dixie encourages its patrons to enjoy themselves to the fullest... which definitely isn't hampered by the Coyote Ugly-style dancers who frequent the bar tops...

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
6. Dirty Nightclub 35 NW 3rd Ave, Portland, OR 97210 (Old Townchina Town)

Dirty Nightclub, featuring the famous Spin Room, boasts a bar and DJ booth covered floor-to-ceiling with brightly colored lights for an awesome visual experience.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
7. Doug Fir Lounge 830 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214 (Lower Burnside)

This triple-threat bar, lounge, and restaurant near Buckman stuns with an entirely wood interior (right down to its chandeliers) with a rustic and interior vibe ideal for date nights. The American fare offers modern takes on staples like mac & cheese and bar food like buffalo wings, along with some of the best burgers in the city. The Fir Burger's decked with local cheddar, house-made pickles, and bacon on a soft brioche bun.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
8. Blitz Pearl 110 NW 10th Ave, Portland, OR 97209 (Pearl District)

This sports pub (other outposts in NW and Ladd's) serves up tasty bar eats and screens just about every game/match imaginable, from the NFL to UFC.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
9. Life of Riley 300 NW 10th Ave, Portland, OR 97209 (Pearl District)

With savory bar eats and plenty of drink specials, Life of Riley has that down-home divey feeling you're looking for in a cozy neighborhood sports joint.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
10. Space Room Lounge 4800 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97215 (Hawthorne Dist)

With all-day breakfast options, plus a full bar, this divey restaurant-bar-combo with an inexplicable outer-space theme serves up delicious eats and libations in Hawthorne. If you're really looking to blast off, order their Purple Alien, a mutant concoction of lemons, grape vodka, grape juice and 7-Up.



Learn More