Content originally written for the Let’s Go: USA & Canada Guide by our researcher-writer, Graham Bishai.
107 NW Couch St.; (971) 271-7178 ; jonesbarportland.com; open F-Sa 8pm-2am
We knew 80s style would return one day. In Portland, that day is Friday, when the decade comes back to life at Jones. This 80s- and 90s-themed club has neon signs and mood lights as well as different neon-toned disco ball lights which shine on the club’s patterned walls, giving it a past-meets-future vibe. 2Pac, MJ and their generational colleagues look out over the crowd of young and young-ish people moving to the smooth 80s beats. Thursday nights are Latin nights. Jell-O shots are $3, and other specials rotate, so look for the luminescent writing by the bar. There’s a lowkey porch at the back, where the music is quieter—if you’re into more chilling, less dancing. Steady flows of people show up to have a good time dancing, singing along, and imagining their life was an 80s movie.
Cover $8 F after 9pm, $10 Sa after 9pm; cocktails from $7; wheelchair accessible; happy hour until 9pm; dress code requires no plain white t-shirts, no local athletic gear
220 SW Ankeny St.; (503) 847-9177; open daily 8pm-2am
Found right in the neighborhood where a vast underground tunnel network once was used to smuggle everything from moonshine to humans, this place incorporates Roaring 20s aesthetics. The irony is lost on no one. Prohibition is long gone, and this spot sure fails to pretend that away. Lit up in blue and purple neon, and full of young and young-ish people sipping Moët and moving to hip-hop, this modern-looking space is no Portland quirkhouse. It’s a cosmopolitan bar, sexy and modern. Although some people might break it down just in their own stride, don’t expect an underground dance party. What you can expect is a fun and vibey place to get a few drinks and into a good mood.
Cover varies, up to $20; cocktails from $8; wheelchair accessible
Graham left behind the stressed-out chaos of Cambridge for the laid back life on the West Coast. A refreshing change of pace, he assumed, until the line for coffee on his first morning took 2 mins longer than he’s used to, and the Northeast nasty jumped out. Starting in Vancouver, Graham meandered south, toning his calves being a pedestrian on San Francisco’s hills and by navigating the monstrosity that is Los Angeles using just his feet and public transit (only resorting to Uber twice!) Graham’s love for the West Coast life only increased as he sat by the Puget Sound in Seattle, sipped kombucha in the crunchy cafes of Portland, climbed into a waterfall in Yosemite and stayed in an abandoned opera house in Death Valley. By the time he hit upper 80s sun of San Diego, buff calves and sun tanned, the words “West Coast, Best Coast,” almost slipped out of his mouth. Identity crisis looming, he figured it was time to go home.