By PJ Marcello, Staff Commentary
Recently, my comrades and I were in search of the best sports bar in the North Portland area for our weekly fix of Monday Night Football.
We determined the quality of the bars based on the environment, the level of entertainment and of course the food and beer.
8303 N. Denver
Kenton Station has a pretty comfortable atmosphere boasting a "family friendly" approach. The dÃ©cor around the pub gives it a little bit of edge. For instance, there is a motorcycle sitting in the corner of the restaurant, and it has the standard pool table set up.
The service was really good; our server was very attentive and friendly. There is also a bit of a historical feel in the bar. The building has been around since 1909 and was known originally for its underground boxing, and there have supposedly been ghost sightings. However, I never caught a glimpse of any.
While it is the coziest place we visited, other than the pool table and watching the game, there really is not much for entertainment.
In regard to the food and drink, the bar has it covered pretty well. They have your classic greasy alcohol-absorbing burgers, wings and onion rings, but they also serve more health-conscious, or at least less typical, bar foods such as soups and salads, cold cut sandwiches and veggie egg rolls. They also have a kid's menu if you are thinking about bringing the whole family.
Overall, this is a high quality establishment that would be a good place to watch sports if you are interested in a quieter, easy-going environment or if you are with your whole family and are looking for more of a restaurant than a standard sports bar.
2630 N. Lombard
As soon as we walked in, my friend exclaimed, "Now this is a sports bar!" The walls are littered with big screen televisions and projector screens. Unless you go in looking exclusively at your feet, you will watch sports when you go to Tom's.
Not only was the Monday Night game on, but there was college volleyball on one screen, the NFL network on another, an NBA game was playing. You could go in there and ask to watch game two of the 1927 World Series and they could probably find it (the Yankees swept the Pirates that year in case you really wanted to know).
Watching the game is only half the fun. The bartenders and regulars at the bar are constantly sharing their thoughts on players, teams and swapping stories. You do not only watch sports, you hear about sports.
They also have a pool table near the entrance and numerous video lottery machines tucked in the back of the bar, away from the action for those who are less interested in sports and more into gambling.
The food is superb. They are known for their pizza (obviously), and their delicious cheeseburgers. They also conveniently have happy hour Monday to Friday from 4-6, which falls right in with game time, and another happy hour every night from 9-midnight.
Simply put, this is a sports bar for those who love sports. If you do not mind a loud environment, you like big screen televisions and you want to watch a sporting event that you might not find anywhere else, I would suggest you check out Tom's Pizza.
Greeley Avenue Bar & Grill
5421 N. Greeley Ave
When we walked in, I noticed two things. The first thing to grab my attention was the beer. They have a lot of really good beers on tap. The second thing that REALLY caught my eye, was Golden Tee golf which, if you do not know about, I feel bad for you . It is maybe my favorite arcade game... scratch that, it falls below Big Buck Hunter but it is definitely my second favorite. We were off to a great start at Greeley.
I asked the bartender a little bit more about the place, and he informed me that it is a longshoreman's bar. I did not know exactly what he meant, like does a longshoreman own it or do longshoremen just go there? Turns out, it was the latter of the two options and to be honest I felt a little out of my element.
That aside, entertainment was not lost at this place. They too had the pool table set up, and did I mention they have Golden Tee? They also have some big screens set up around the dining area of the bar which allowed for easy viewing if you get there in time to grab a seat. The bar is not particularly roomy and I did not feel like getting in the way of any longshoremen that evening.
Luckily, I was able to play some Golden Tee while watching the game, and it made for a great time. They also have great happy hour deals from 3-6 and resume happy hour from 11-close. The menu is made up of classic appetizers and sandwich specials, but they are mostly known for their burgers.
This bar is a good place to watch a game. It can be a bit crowded, but it is fun and if all else fails at least you can get some Golden Tee action.
Final Rankings: 1st: Tom's Pizza 2nd: Greeley Ave 3rd: Kenton Station
I ranked Tom's number one because it is the most clearly defined as a sports bar. It has everything a sports fan wants from memorabilia to the variety of sports available to watch, it just yells, sometimes literally, sports bar.
Greeley comes in second because it does have more of a bar atmosphere than Kenton Station. It is darker and not much of a family establishment, more like where I would imagine Mickey Rourke to watch a game in Portland.
Kenton Station is in third, and for some reason I feel bad about that. It is a great place and I will definitely go back again, just not for the purpose of watching sports. I did not get the same vibe here that I got at the other bars. If my family was in town I would take them there rather than the other two. So that can be the consolation prize.