The Cheerful Tortoise
The Cheerful Tortoise in downtown Portland is nestled within a patch of high-rise dorms warehousing scads of Portland State University students. It is a bona-fide dive bar, but firmly under the subheading of college dive bar.
Slinging beer and food since 1951, the space is a rabbit warren of maze-like attached rooms of inexplicably odd shapes and sizes. Like maybe it started off as one small room and then more spaces kept being opened up and connected.
Somehow there is even a pool table, shuffleboard and 2 indoor fireplaces wedged in there. Plenty of big screen TVs showing all manner of sports. 18—count ‘em, 18!—taps. 3 crap and 2 ciders.
Our kind bartendress, Jessica, somehow managed to cover this entire crazy large space by herself with grace and a smile while mixing drinks and serving food. The menu is large, like a crazy range of food but all pretty predictable bar stuff: burgers, pizza, mac and cheese with various optional add-ins, hot dogs, fried stuff.
Known for their wings, we had to sample. They are solid, fried well with a vast selection of sauces and seasoning rubs to customize for individual tastes. Dejected to be denied poppers on our visit (fresh out, maybe a pepper shortage?), we opted for fried cheese which were crispy and yummy.
The mac and cheese, though a touch bland, was livened up a bit by the suggestively-shaped kielbasa chunklets.
The patty melt was on special the day we visited and did not disappoint. The Tortoise has solid food and drink specials every day, befitting a college kid budget.
If I were in Portland staying downtown for a convention or something and wanted a spot to watch the game and have some wings, this would fit the bill.
Address: 1939 SW 6th Ave – [Google Maps]
Happy Hours: Daily food and drink specials
Full Kitchen: Yes
Jalapeno Poppers: Yes
Outdoor Seating: No
Distinguishing Features: College dive bar, good wings
Photos by Steven Shomler
Website Wizardry by Arthur Breur
Cheerful Tortoise Photos