Portland is one of the country’s great melting pots for transplants who have immigrated from far and wide. It’s no secret that moving away from home can be difficult, and making friends or finding a social circle in a new place can be even harder.
However, for sports fans, watching your hometown team is a great way to feel connected and combat homesickness.
Being a football fan in Portland
Because Portland doesn’t have an NFL team of its own and is largely considered a basketball town, you might expect Sundays to be a little less significant here. On the contrary, the rose city has a cornucopia of great sports bars and restaurants where you can catch all the action and bask in the adrenaline-filled atmosphere of fellow fans.
The Seattle Seahawks are the closest pro football team to Portland geographically speaking and hold undoubtedly the biggest fan base in town. You’re likely to catch them on TV just about anywhere that has one on game day, with at least one person glued to it while fawning over Russell Wilson and screaming something about the 12th man.
Another thing to keep in mind is timing. Since Portland is in the Pacific Time Zone, the first games of the day kick off at 10 a.m. locally. This places a huge importance on the availability and quality of brunch food and drinks to draw you off the couch.
Awesome all-around sports bars
If you’re looking for a well-rounded crowd of fans, here are some all-around fantastic sports bars ready to take your game day to the next level.
1. On Deck Sports Bar & Grill
In the heart of Portland’s bustling, upscale Pearl District, On Deck stands out as a laid-back yet modern sports haven, drawing crowds from all over town. Tons of TVs, a tasty menu and a huge dog-friendly deck have made On Deck Portland’s premier sports bar since opening in 2004. Try the habanero Bloody Mary if you need a wake-up call before kickoff!
Across the river in the east side’s Buckman neighborhood, Century provides a unique viewing experience you won’t find anywhere else in town. This bustling bar offers hardwood bleacher-esque seating, a menu of concession stand grub and huge projection screens that lower from the ceiling for games to take in all the action.
3. Claudia’s Original Sports Pub & Grill
For a more old school, dive bar vibe, you can’t go wrong with the Hawthorne neighborhood’s Claudia’s Pub. This long-standing local gem has been serving up massive burgers, legit pizza and an atmosphere that can only be cultivated over decades of victories and defeats. Tons of TVs and wood-paneling provide a cozy spot but isn’t afraid to get raucous depending on the flow of the game.
Here’s something that may surprise you, you can find a sports bar dedicated to many individual NFL teams in the greater Portland area. These fan base bars can be a perfect way to meet new people (you all have at least one thing in common already). Not to mention it really enhances the viewing experience to have a collective voice of cheers (or groans, depending on your team) at your back to soften the blow of defeat, or sweeten the glory of victory.
These local spots have been adopted by specific fanbases as a home-away-from-home. With unique offerings and histories, each brings something different to the table.
- Baltimore Ravens: Sheridan’s 52nd Avenue Sports Bar is a neighborhood sports bar where you’ll find the flock perched on Sundays. They’ve got 13 big-screen TVs and a menu of classic pub grub, along with a decent selection of craft beers to help you celebrate on game day.
- Buffalo Bills: Any place that touts itself as a Bills bar better have some quality wings, and the Cheerful Bullpen does not disappoint. It’s also one of the few places in town you’ll find Labatt Blue, along with a dozen other beers on draft, so Buffalonians will feel right at home watching their team at this friendly establishment.
- Chicago Bears: The Ship Tavern isn’t just a place “Where Ship Happens,” it’s a bar that’s been in operation for decades and since coming under new ownership in 2015, they’ve been a dedicated hangout for fans of Da Bears. The food menu may not be impressive, but the ambiance is great.
- Cleveland Browns: For a team that hasn’t been particularly successful in quite some time, the Browns’ fan base is a wide one. Ladd Taphouse, a lively and spacious sports hub, has a huge beer list of over 50 craft brews, and the owners are Browns backers, so the dawg pound is always welcome and usually in attendance on Sundays.
- Green Bay Packers: Hawthorne Fish House may not sound like somewhere you’d think to watch a game, but cheese heads will love the wall of Packers memorabilia, a great beer selection, brats and even fresh cheese curds. They’re known for their fish and chips, though, and for good reason.
- Indianapolis Colts: The Hangout Sports Bar & Grill Gresham location may be a bit of a drive depending on where you are in Portland, but for Colts fans, it’s worth the trip. This cozy neighborhood bar is a friendly place to watch the boys in blue over a quality meal.
- Kansas City Chiefs: D’s Bar may not be as rowdy as Arrowhead, but it’s definitely the biggest Chiefs party in the area. They open early on game days and serve some tasty sandwiches and other classics at surprisingly reasonable prices.
- New Orleans Saints: If you’re looking for Who Dat nation, look no further than A&L Sports Pub. They’ve got a dedicated Saints section complete with memorabilia, and you’ll find the game on one of their large projectors. Pool tables and a dive bar atmosphere will make you want to stay to watch the late game.
- Oakland Raiders: Bleachers Sports Bar is the quintessential blue-collar sports bar in the suburbs of Beaverton. Their menu may be basic, but what they do have is quality. Tons of TVs and a fun atmosphere draws Raider Nation out on Sundays, but you’re likely to find fans of all teams, as well.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Coach’s Sports Bar is a bonafide Eagles bar that becomes the nest every Sunday. Fans gather to feed off the energy of their fellow fans, along with great daily specials and cold beer.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: The Spot Bar & Grill is in Vancouver just across the river. While technically outside of Portland, it’s close enough for Steeler die-hards to make the drive on game day to watch their team on multiple HD projection screens with fellow fans.
- San Francisco 49ers: The Wooden Chicken is a long-standing dive bar that hosts the 49er-faithful every game day and is decked out in memorabilia. They’ve got a great happy hour menu and 12 taps that keep ‘niner fans coming back.
- Seattle Seahawks: Do you even have to ask? Just about anywhere in town that sports are shown.
- Washington Redskins: Yur’s is a bit more of a dive bar than it is a sports bar, but it’s owned by retired Redskin Terry Hemerling and they serve tasty food that goes above and beyond the average hole in the wall, like their Thursday prime rib special.
Making the most of game day
The NFL regular season is only 17 weeks (for now), so each game counts more than most sports. When tailgating outside your favorite team’s stadium isn’t an option, Portland has some great places to turn to for an atmosphere that elevates your game day experience.