How bougie did I feel pulling up to Island Cafe aboard a boat owned by some dear friends and fellow dive bar enthusiasts?
Pretty damn bougie! But, Island Café rapidly brought me down several notches. Despite the enviable waterfront location smack dab in the middle of the Columbia River and abundance of daylight, this is a dive bar. Or at least something close to it, maybe dive bar-ish or dive bar lite.
Tropical themed with palapas perhaps, but also sticky floors, rickety tables and stiff drinks. My only significant complaint was the disappointing size of the margarita. Where’s my fishbowl??
8 taps, one for sure crap and one cider, others of questionable origin. They have great food and a solid happy hour menu.
On second thought, this imminently enjoyable Portland bar may just be too nice to technically qualify as a dive. At minimum however, it is worthy of an honorable mention here. Our advice – go see for yourself whether Island Cafe is a true dive bar. We look forward to the debate!
But don’t go looking to visit this spot in the winter – it is open air, which means only open May through October in these parts.
Watch out for the surly boaters aggressively docking their making-up-for-other-deficiencies vessels out front!
Address: 250 NE Tomahawk Island Dr, Portland – [Google Maps]
Quadrant: NE (emphasis on North) Portland
Happy Hours: 2-6 pm Monday-Friday
Full kitchen: Yes
Jalapeno Poppers: No
Outdoor Seating: Tons
Distinguishing features: A floating dive bar you can dive from into the Columbia River, and it’s a Portland bar that’s on a real-life island.
Photos by Steven Shomler