Portland, Maine has an exciting nightlife scene boasting many bars, late-night restaurants, and a few dance clubs. With so many options, it can be overwhelming to decide where to spend a Friday or Saturday night out.
Thankfully, there’s a spot for every kind of atmosphere, drink, or food you’re craving. Here are the best bars in Portland, Maine, by category!
P.S. There are no breweries on this list. But, if that’s more your style, check out our list of The Best Breweries in Portland!
For more Portland, Maine fun, read:
– 46 Fun Things To Do In Portland, Maine
– 3-Day Portland, Maine Itinerary
– 10 Best Cabins Rentals In Maine
– Portland, Maine Bookstore You Need To Visit
– 8 Easy Hiking Trails Near Portland, Maine
Our pick for: Coolest Bar in Portland, Maine
To the untrained eye, this establishment doesn’t look like much – a hole in the wall bar in an old brick basement. But to those who know Maps, it’s so much more.
The walls and ceilings are covered in vintage maps, they play rockin’ music on their record player, and they have grilled cheese – could it get any better?
They do not serve liquor, but have a good selection of wine and beer, along with some refined coffee drinks. Maps is definitely our favorite bar in Portland, so don’t sleep on it!
Address: 64 Market Street
2. Blyth & Burrows
Our pick for: Best Cocktails in Portland, Maine (tie)
Visit the three bars in Blyth & Burrows’ cozy atmosphere for creatively perfected cocktails. The bar and menu are maritime-themed after an 1800s boat captain Samuel Blyth.
You might have doubts while looking at the ingredient lists of the drinks, but after your first one, you won’t want to stop. For a high-end bar experience with excellent drinks, look no further.
3. Portland Hunt + Alpine Club
Our pick for: Best Cocktails in Portland, Maine (tie)
If you’re looking for a place to go for a sophisticated night out, Portland Hunt + Alpine Club is it. They serve up handcrafted cocktails that might remind you of a night out in NYC, with flavors that will not disappoint.
For a delightful nosh, order several small plates to share. Although the prices are high compared to other establishments in Portland, you’re truly paying for excellence.
4. Downtown Lounge (DTL)
Our pick for: Best Diver Bar and Best Happy Hour in Portland, Maine
DTL is your haven away from people (namely, tourists). Be there from 5-7 for the best happy hour in town, and prepare to have your low expectations exceeded – by far.
This is a great spot to pregame for nearby concerts or to grab a couple of drinks before your dinner reservation. It’s not air-conditioned, but the drinks are cold and cheap, and that’s all that matters.
5. The Bar of Chocolate
Our pick for: Best Dessert Drinks in Portland, Maine
Chocolate-lovers take note – this place is heaven. Bring your sweet tooth to The Bar of Chocolate and you will not be disappointed.
This is the spot for flavored martinis – peanut butter, pomegranate, espresso, key lime pie, german chocolate, the list goes on.
Of course, they have real dessert too! Don’t miss out on their delicious cakes, creme brulee, pie, cheesecakes, mousse, and tarts. And… it gets better with happy hour every Monday – Friday from 4-6pm.
If you’re interested in dinner before dessert (or heck, even if you do it backward), here are my restaurant recommendations in Portland.
6. Novare Res Bier Cafe
Our pick for: Best Beer Selection (that’s not a brewery) in Portland, Maine
This somewhat hidden beer cafe has 33 taps and over 400 bottled varieties of beer! That’s a lot of beer.
They focus on offering hard-to-find local and international brews. Tap takeovers by local and statewide breweries are also a common occurrence.
Don’t sleep on their food, either! They have a surprisingly large a diverse menu to nibble on.
Novare Res is located in a renovated historic brick basement with several rooms and a huge outdoor deck. There’s something for everyone on the drink menu, and you’re sure to find a new brew to try and love.
Our pick for: Best Speakeasy in Portland, Maine
You’ll have a great time at this classic speakeasy… if you can find the entrance. Figuring out how to get in is half the fun – the other half is that all of the drinks are only $5!
The low-lit atmosphere with couches and chairs will make you feel like you’re really back in the prohibition era.
Don’t forget to bring some dough though, as the bar is cash-only. There is an ATM nearby, but I suggest avoiding the fee and crowd by stopping at the bank ahead of time.
Address: Treasure hunt!
Our pick for: Best Live Music Bar in Portland, Maine
Blue hosts live music every day (except Monday, they’re closed).
There is no cover charge however, there is a minimum purchase of at least one item per person. They also pass around a donation basket in which all proceeds go to the musicians.
This is less of a bar with music, and more of a music venue with a bar – it feels like a concert! Catch everything from jazz to bluegrass to electro-funk and Irish music.
They keep an updated calendar of musicians on their website.
9. Independent Ice Co.
Our pick for: Best Whiskey Selection in Portland, Maine
This upscale whiskey bar has an entire library of whiskeys for you to sip on and admire behind the bar. You can find really expensive specialty bottles, as well as your run-of-the-mill regular rye, bourbon, and scotch.
If you’re more into mixers, Independent Ice Co. has some excellently crafted cocktails available, as well as some delicious bourbon sangria (YUM). Non-whiskey drinkers are welcome to indulge in beer, wine, coffee, and tea, as well as some light snacks and desserts.
10. Taco Escobarr
Our pick for: Best Margarita in Portland, Maine.
If you’re looking for a quality and flavorful margarita, look no further.
Taco Escobarr makes their own house-made liquor infusions with flavors like Orange Mango and Strawberry Habanero. Their uniquely flavored margaritas will keep your taste buds happy and wanting more.
While the drinks are certainly worth the money, beware that the food is good, but a little pricey for the portions.
11. Regency Hotel Garden Cafe
Our pick for: Best Outdoor Bar in Portland, Maine
Open seasonally during warmer months, the Garden Cafe is the absolute cutest outdoor area to grab a drink in Portland. It’s like being at a quaint European cafe with excellent drinks.
In addition to beer, wine, and cocktails, food is also available from the indoor restaurant at the Regency Hotel, if you’re feeling hungry. Stop here to catch up with the girls over cocktails or enjoy a romantic drink with your significant other after dinner downtown.
The Garden Cafe is a delightful outdoor escape from the city while still being right in the middle of it.
12. Ri Ra
Our pick for: Best Irish Pub in Portland, Maine
Ri Ra is a classic Irish pub located in the heart of waterfront Portland on Commercial Street. Catch some football (soccer) and rugby games whenever they’re on in the side bar room – they frequently have watch parties.
They host live music on the second floor every weekend and serve classic Irish dishes for lunch and dinner. Grab a Guinness or, my personal Ri Ra favorite – Bloody Mary, and get a little rowdy this weekend!
13. Dock Fore
Our pick for: Best Local’s Bar in Portland, Maine
There are several local dive bars scattered throughout the popular and hipster downtown. Dock Fore hides under an unassuming canopy that attracts locals after a long day of work.
Now, since many streets downtown are closed so restaurants can have outdoor seating (thanks COVID!), they have an awesome outdoor seating space during the summer.
They have happy hour specials Monday – Friday that features a different beer every day, along with awesome weekend specials as well.
Dock Fore has amazing jello and pudding shots! They usually have one or two flavors available every day. This is a great place to escape the tourists and get cheap beer and drinks.
14. Vena’s Fizz House
Our pick for: Most Creative Cocktails and Best Mocktails in Portland, Maine
Vena’s makes their drinks with many unique and flavorful bitters and shrubs. They literally have any bitters flavor you could ever dream of!
The variety of flavors available make for some pretty crazy, but superbly delicious, concoctions.
The unique thing about Vena’s is that they have as many non-alcoholic “mocktails” on their menu as they have alcoholic drinks. Unlike most bars, visiting Vena’s is truly an experience the whole family can enjoy!