The Horse Brass is the kind of pub that is an institution. Looks small, huge inside, smoky, great British food (is there such a thing? Yes!) and fine taps pouring brew faster than you can handle.
I think they have something like 50 beers on tap - you can imagine they have something for everyone. Great place to pull up a bench and commiserate with friends. I know the wife and I tend to get a tad drunk here so make sure you have a safe ride home.
Dress Code: Casual as you'd like. Just not nude.
Kell's is the most well known Irish pub in Portland. May not be the best, but absolutely the most popular.
Kell's typically has a band, loud & fun - and certainly not above pointing out a good looking woman to keep you entertained.
Surprisingly large, but always crowded.
Small dance floor, but you rarely see more than a few drunk soles tripping the light fantastic.
Good beer, fine taps and bartenders who are busy and try their best to get to you. Rarely a cover charge, but they get you once and a while.
Young crowd, but mainstream.
Bag pipers parade through on weekends - loud, VERY LOUD, but entertaining.
Have not tried the food, but it looks just fine.
Dress Code: This is Portland...jeans are just fine here.
There is a never ending list of great places to eat and drink in Portland. I enjoy the Gypsy because it isn't too crowded, not too pretentious, has a local feel and the staff isn't afriad to toss some drunk bastard out on his ear.
On 21st Avenue a club that is 60% restaurant and bar and 40% stricty a bar. Great people watching. Mostly older college crowd, but always a mix. (can always find at least one size 20 in a tight 1/2 shirt - ha!).
They pour good mixed drinks, clean taps and have some good food. They also throw a decent Mardi Gras party.
Dress Code: Casual. No cover. Jeans are just fine, but I;d wear a cool shirt to stand out. Havn't seen anyone in hats...not sure of the policy.
Don't be discouraged by the brightly colored exteriot - yollow and purple I believe. Something to do with Mardis Gras...
11:30am-1am Mon-Fri; 9am-1am Sat-Sun
Update:December 2006: Sam, the bartender at the amazing Dive, will be leaving the pub. He is the booking agent for all the great free punk shows in the upstairs bedroom of the dive. He also did the pig on a spit and goat barbeques on the back porch. Most sadly, he will be taking the King Louie, X, Radio Birdman, and other selections out of what was, for a time, the greatest jukebox in Portland. Stay with me friends, and wipe those tears away, for I do have good news. He will be taking over a new location, which he assures me will have live music and an even better juke ?! Keep an eye on Slabtown, the former gay bar that turned into a punk bar that turned into a hippie place in the industrial section of downtown portland. He is taking it over in the next couple of months, so look it up.
Billy Rays is the definition of a Portland dive bar. It is a house that was turned into a bar. The only way you can tell it is a bar is the big, beat up, neon sign out front that reads "tavern". The back patio is a great little area with free ping pong, occasional three dollar barbeques that recently featured barbequed goat and live blues bands. The jukebox is amazing, and the feel there is sort of like Animal House, but in a sort of more laid back-punk rock house party kind of way.