The ground floor of McMenamins' Crystal Ballroom may get overrun on weekends with the "woooo!" crowd, but here's a hot tip: Ringlers boasts one of the finest whiskey selections in town, and nobody knows about it—sometimes, not even the bartenders. They're sitting atop rare bottles of Hirsch and Black Maple Hill that are just gathering dust (we scored a pour of Black Maple Hill's 23-year rye for $23, an absolute steal; don't worry, most pours are much cheaper), and there are some surprisingly decent McMenamins house beers that go beyond the Hammerhead/Ruby varieties. Yes, we're saying it: Ringlers is a totally solid choice. Just pick the right time to visit—actually, one of the best times is when you're shut out of a sold-out show upstairs, as they'll pipe a soundboard mix right down into the bar. NED LANNAMANN
Funky wedge-shaped bar where Burnside and Stark St. meet. Sit at the windows on the ground floor or descend into the den of the basement. Get romanced by the dimly lit cave, where giant drippy wax candles light the space. They serve fresh-squeezed cocktails and good, cheap, all-vegetarian eats.
This bustling Southern bistro has an impressive drink list (yes, they have mint juleps) as well as a menu full of down home treats. The seasonly changing menu reflects some of the best of what the south has to offer including a list of deep-fried appetizers and homemade deserts. Reservations highly recommended. If you're on a budget stop by for Bernie's incredible $3 happy hour in the bar featuring fried green tomatoes, mac and cheese, red beans and rice and po boys. Also, in summer they serve almost exclusively on the gorgeous back patio.
Donuts, bearclaws and bismarks! Oh my! Daily, home-made donuts of every variety. A cake donut and a cup of coffee...breakfast of champions.
The location of the Portland Coffee House is one of its best assets. It sits in relatively dead center of downtown's shopping district, with a cozy interior and lots of outdoor tables. While it used to be a member of the independently owned coffee shop family, it recently got bought by a larger coffee company, locally based, Coffee Bean International. Have no fear, the coffee and people watching are still good to great.