It's kind of ironic that trivia nights generally involve copious amounts of alcohol, considering that booze kills brains cells, which just so happen to be the primary tools in answering questions correctly. To counterbalance this unfortunate phenomenon and improve your trivia score, I suggest eating solid food while you drink, thereby creating a sort of internal stomach-sponge to absorb the alcohol and help prevent brain damage. Check these trivia night hotspots, where food, drink, and cutthroat competitive knowledge combine most harmoniously.
The Belmont Inn
3357 SE Belmont, 232-1998, Thurs 7 pm, $3 to play
This Belmont watering hole's trivia night offers up a cash prize to the winning team. The Inn also features a food menu that boasts, in large font on its laminated cover, "The Best Burgers in Southeast." And though I'd never dream of concurring with such an outlandish claim, I have to admit their burgers are pretty good. If burgers aren't your bag, there're plenty of other options, too, like the turkey supreme with bacon, cheddar cheese, tomato, mayo, and a French roll; or the yummy taco salad served up in a crunchy tortilla bowl.
118 NE 28th, 235-2794, Tues 9 pm
NE 28th Street's friendliest bar gets not-so-friendly come trivia time—Beulahland is notorious for serving up some of the toughest questions in town. Fortunately, they also serve up good grub to sop up some of the pain of being dead wrong, like the Le Royale Salad with seasonal greens, beet vinaigrette, goat cheese, and toasted walnuts. And also the gut-bustalicious Grandpa's Silver Platter, a steaming mound of homemade meatloaf and mac and cheese, rounded out with a green salad. Sandwich-lovers have plenty to choose from as well, like the Portabeulah, featuring a luscious wedge of portabella mushroom on a bun with lettuce, tomato, onions, and pesto aioli; or the sardine (!!!) deluxe served on rye with mustard and onions. Yowza!
1520 SE 37th (at Hawthorne), 235-4530, Mon 9 pm
As if I didn't already love Greater Trumps enough for its fine selection of cigars, wine, and Nat Sherman singles (being able to smoke without having to buy an entire pack is a beautiful thing), now the place offers hot Monday night trivia action. Food-wise, it's a McMenamins' joint, but with a few twists on the usual fare thanks to the nearby presence of the Bagdad and its restaurant annex. Try the Thursday Jane's Spicy Tofu Burrito to ease your vegetarian needs, or if you're eating meat, the curried chicken pita pocket is quite nice, as is the American Dip, a twist on the French version with horseradish and garlic jus on the side. There's also piping hot pizzas to be had, like the Bagdad special with Canadian bacon, pepperoni, fennel sausage, onions, and artichoke hearts.
The New Old Lompoc
1616 NW 23rd, 225-1855, Tues 7:30 pm
I love trivia night at the New Old Lompoc, and it's not just because it's hosted by former Mercury editor Katie Shimer. It's also because the Lomp has some of the best bar food in the world, with a killer fish sandwich, delicious fries, and daily soup specials that always rock the cradle of love. Add homemade beers to that list and a slew of questions from Shimer that skillfully mixes pop culture with more obscure knowledge, and you have yourself one hell of an evening.
The Basement Pub
1028 SE 12th, 231-6068, Sun 9 pm
One of Portland's smokiest bars also happens to be one of the most laidback, except on trivia nights when the place gets packed to the rafters. If you can't find a seat just sally up to the bar and order something to nibble on. The Basement's menu is far from ornate, but the items on it are extraordinarily cheap and surprisingly wholesome. The $1 chickpeas and rice plate is actually filling, while the $3 version is a meal in itself. Get the $5 version if you want to throw in some variety, like nachos or Caesar salad. There's also a perfectly decent chicken or veggie burrito to be had, as well as a delicious chicken Caesar pita. Don't smoke, though. It's bad for you.