Portland is a magnet for cool, chic, and artsy types, but the challenge is actually meeting new people that’s the issue. With the rise of digitization in our lives and the unfortunate realities of our post-pandemic world, the current dating scene in Portland can be unrewarding and confusing. Is there any good news for those that are getting frustrated with dating in Portland? Absolutely!
With some effort on your part, finding a date in Portland is actually much easier than in other cities in the Pacific Northwest. The catch is that you’ll have to explore different neighborhoods and take a deep dive into the Portland dating scene. And while it may seem scary to check out new bars and places to hang out, you’ll be surprised at the quality of singles and experiences you can find if you approach dating in Portland with an open mind.
In this in-depth guide, you will learn some of the best suggestions on where to meet Portland singles, great date ideas in the city to help you find your bearings, and some of our favorite date spots around Portland that have been the backdrop for some successful dates.
Table of Contents
What Dating in Portland Is Like Right Now
Here’s what the Portland dating scene is actually like:
In all honesty, the dating scene in Portland has always been pretty competitive - and the pandemic made things worse. Many young singles choose Portland for its unique culture geared towards art and the outdoors. From foodies to chemists, artists to plumbers, Portland’s diverse set of industries makes it an exciting city for those looking for a place that has something for everyone.
Portland has plenty of business, academic, and governmental entities calling Stumptown and its surrounding areas home. Singles can expect to find other singles because of companies like Intel, PSU, Providence Health & Services, and more - not to mention artists and influencers that call it home.
There is also quite a bit of diversity in the type of partners you can find here, especially for Oregon, which makes finding exactly what you are looking for more attainable - that is, if you’re willing to put in the effort.
If you look at the total number of singles out there right now in the Portland dating scene, you might be surprised to realize just how much opportunity is out there. Currently, Portland has 107,000 single women and 112,000 single men, accounting for nearly 33% of the total population. That's PLENTY of singles out there, and you only need to find the right one to get the ball rolling.
You’re probably thinking: Why am I still single? If there are a lot of options in Portland.
The truth is that having tons of dating options doesn't mean that dating in Portland is going to be easy, but a more realistic outlook will keep your disappointment at a minimum. There are plenty of options, but you just need to be looking in the right places.
Where to Meet Someone to Date in Portland
The truth is, it's near impossible to make a list of the best places to find someone to date in Portland. There’s just so much going on any given day. And depending on the type of person you're looking for (ie. artsy, traditional, outdoorsy, etc.), your search will take you to different neighborhoods in Portland and venues geared towards similar things.
But, I'll share some of the best places that make it much simpler to meet Portland singles that are looking for more than just a one-time thing (we have a comprehensive list of suggestions on where to find Portland hookups if that’s your goal). These places tend to have the following criteria in common for finding serious relationships in Portland:
- Lots of singles
- Fun atmosphere
- Easy to mix and mingle with new people
- Quiet enough to actually hold an engaging conversation
- Alcohol is a big plus for social lubrication
- A relatively inexpensive night out
These six criteria are useful when trying to meet up with other available Portland singles looking for the same thing. Now, before we get into some specific recommendations, let's quickly turn our attention to apps:
Why you should be using at least one app
You should be on at least one app right now. If not, then you're really missing out on today’s Portland, Oregon dating scene. With all the social distancing guidelines that have happened over the course of the pandemic, more singles are relying on apps to gain a competitive advantage and reach the largest amount of candidates. What makes it worse is that a lot of people are ONLY using apps to meet people…
Are dating apps the only way to go? There’s always trying your luck in person, but it can be a real struggle if you have a busy life, value your free time, and want to save some cash.
If you've struggled in the past with choosing which dating app works for you, check out our rankings of the best dating apps in Portland. The article will give you a sense of what apps are the best fit for the type of partner you’re looking for. From professional types, religious types, or just those looking for the most compatible option they can find, there are a lot of options that have their own unique user base.
If you're too lazy to read the full article, generally speaking, these apps are the best first choice:
- eHarmony offers a free trial so you can experience the app with the best track record of all long-term dating apps. If you're really just looking for a long-term partner eHarmony is the option you should try first.
- AFF is the best choice for more casual fun - comes with a free trial, too! We've tried out over 100 different apps and sites at this point and this is the best one if you're looking for something physical or just casual. Single guys tend to really struggle on most apps and AFF is where we've seen them find the best results.
After trying out dozens of popular dating apps in Portland, we have a pretty decent idea of what's working out in the “real” world and what’s not. Check out our full rankings above for what works best for you. Now, let's talk about our favorite spots around town.
The best singles bars in Portland
Getting back to the six criteria we outlined above, we narrowed down our shortlist of the best bars in Portland for singles. These best-of-the-best bars offer the best chances for single men and women to meet up, have a drink (or two), and enjoy getting to know each other.
This isn't a complete list of all the bars in Portland, just the ones worth trying:
- Triple Nickel Pub in Belmont - 3646 SE Belmont St #4326, Portland, OR 97214
- Sandy Hut in Kerns - 1430 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland, OR 97232
- Bar of the Gods in Hawthorne - 4801 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97215
- Holocene in Central Eastside - 1001 SE Morrison St, Portland, OR 97214
- The Goodfoot in Sunnyside - 2845 SE Stark St, Portland, OR 97214
- Visit the Horse Brass Pub if you want to meet a Portland cougar - 4534 SE Belmont St, Portland, OR 97215
Start with these and then see where you get the best results. It’s our sincere aim to provide you with plenty of options from all of the best neighborhoods in Portland. You should also know that there are plenty of bars that work depending on the time of day (ie. happy hour, ladies' night, no cover), whether they have live events, or when they change ownership. If you have any suggestions for other Portland bars you think we missed, feel free to leave them in the comments below.
A few other great places to find a date in Portland
Bars can be a great place to meet other Portland singles, but there are other options that offer fun without the booze. You can still find success in finding a date in Portland outside of a traditional bar setting - even during the humid summer season and rainy winter months.
Being open-minded and focusing on fun is certainly an advantage when it comes to finding a date in Portland. Don't take things too seriously and give yourself the mental space to relax, knowing that spending time in the following places can improve your odds of success:
- Tov Coffee & Tea in Hawthorne - 3207 SE Hawthorne Blvd #5044, Portland, OR 97214
- The Waypost in Eliot - 3120 N Williams Ave, Portland, OR 97227
- Guilder Cafe (inside Powell’s Books) - 1035 W Burnside St, Portland, OR 97209
- Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Downtown Portland - 128 SW 3rd Ave, Portland, OR 97204
- Whole Foods, New Seasons, or Trader Joe’s are all great choices to meet attractive people shopping upscale and organic!
- Meetup groups - There are tons of Portland Meetup groups that have eager singles looking to share their hobbies and interests, including music, tech, sports, and even singles mixers
- Again, apps and sites are a good option for just about anyone (check out the best dating sites in Portland here)
What about speed dating in Portland
If you thought speed dating is not a thing anymore, think again! Speed dating has become more and more popular ever since the beginning of the pandemic - especially for virtual speed dating by streaming video (safer choice!). If you're busy and have some spare cash (it usually costs about $40 - $80 to attend an event), speed dating in Portland can be a very effective way to meet between 15 to 20 other hopefuls in a rather short period of time.
Most speed dating events in Portland follow the same pattern with a few variations. First, you show up after preregistering and go on a bunch of "mini-dates" that last for about 5 minutes. Once the time is up, the men then move to the next table where a woman remains seated. The idea is that first impressions tend to be good indicators of whether there’s a spark. As the event progresses, both participants make a list of the people they want to see again. If both singles want to see each other again, the speed dating organizer gives you the other match’s contact info (usually by the next day).
If this sounds like a fun and efficient way to meet new singles in Portland, the following are the best Portland speed dating groups worth checking out:
Now that we’ve covered the essentials, let's jump into how to have a great date in Portland!
Our Best Date Ideas in Portland - and Why They’re Great
Once you've met someone, it’s time to plan a great date to get to know each other better. Many people default to the “classic dinner and a movie” and that's a big mistake for modern dating in Portland! Here’s why:
- A dinner date between two people who just met often turns into a pseudo-interview.
- And a movie doesn’t require any conversation, making it pretty bad if you’re with someone you’re not actually liking that much.
Instead, we have a few rules that all of our date ideas in Portland generally follow. Or, you can use these to come up with some new ideas yourself - or at the very least avoid going on boring dates. A great date idea in Portland tends to be one that:
- Doesn’t require too much travel
- Has fun and upbeat energy
- Things are going on around you that you can talk about
- Doesn't involve you sitting face-to-face for long periods of time
- Involves some moving around to keep up energy levels
- Isn't too expensive or requires your own equipment
- Doesn't last for hours and hours so you can cut it short if there isn't any chemistry
- Allows both of you to feel comfortable
- Has a little friendly competition
To make your date more successful, it helps to know what your date prefers to do before the date or what activities you may be good at. For example, if your date is a foodie, you can enjoy a brisk walk around Portland’s Saturday Market to sample organic produce. Or, if you know that your date enjoys some physical activity, enjoying an hour at many of Portland’s parks is a guaranteed fun time.
To get you started, here are a few dating ideas in Portland for you to try:
- Ice skating
- Take a dance class together
- Shoot some arrows at an archery range
- Go to the driving range
- Hit up the zoo or wildlife refuge
- Check out a street fair (Portland has tons)
- Going to a farmer’s market
- Axe throwing
- Escape rooms
- Take a walk with your dog somewhere fun (if you have one)
- Painting class (preferably with some adult beverages)
- Botanical garden
This is just a short list, but these should give you an idea of where to start in Portland. All of these activities are somewhat active, and fun, and don't require any significant skills to enjoy, so there’s no pressure to be good at any of them. Set your expectations beforehand that you're just going to have fun and fool around. Who doesn’t love to fool around!?
The first date idea that we always recommend
The ideas above can be great first dates but we have a better idea. When people ask our team what the best first date in Portland is we always tell them the same thing, meet up at a laid-back lounge or coffee shop and get to know each other a bit.
A full-blown date is a lot of pressure and isn't cheap. It takes time to plan and might involve you taking a bus around town to get there. Before you make that kind of investment you want to know that you and your interest have at least some level of compatibility. The last thing you want is to get stuck for hours on a date that you knew 10 minutes in wasn't going anywhere.
Instead, tell them that you're really busy but would love to meet up for a drink to get to know each other a bit. If things go well you can always extend the date to one of the activities above. If it doesn't, you haven't lost much. This also takes a lot of pressure off both of you so you can both relax and be yourselves.
Best Date Bars in Portland (Especially for Fun First Dates)
Going out to bars in Portland is a great way for singles to relax from the workday and drop their inhibitions over a couple of drinks. With a generally neutral atmosphere, bars serve as a backdrop to fun dates in Portland.
Finding a great bar in and around the Portland metro area is pretty easy when you consider the number of choices you have. Whether you’re looking for a comfy dive bar that’s been a part of Portland’s history for decades or a chic new lounge with a great atmosphere, Portland has no shortage of great places for your next date.
To help you find these bars, let’s look at a collection of bars that have great drinks and feature a fun crowd. After all, spending money on cocktails with a stranger can get expensive!
Here are a handful of the best date bars around Portland:
- Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade and Bar in the Pearl District - 115 NW 5th Ave, Portland, OR 97209
- Shanghai Tunnel Bar in Downtown Portland - 211 SW Ankeny St, Portland, OR 97204
- TUBE in Downtown Portland - 18 NW 3rd Ave, Portland, OR 97209
- King’s Hookah Lounge in Northwest District - 1806 NW Couch St, Portland, OR 97209
- Nalu Kava Lounge Tea House in Humboldt - 722 N Sumner St, Portland, OR 97217
- Aalto Lounge in Belmont - 3356 SE Belmont St, Portland, OR 97214
- Spaceroom Lounge in Mt. Tabor - 4800 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97215
- Vintage Cocktail Lounge in Montavilla - 7907 SE Stark St, Portland, OR 97215
Remember that Portland has its share of places that only locals know about. Don’t be afraid to go bar hopping if the vibe isn’t right (call an Uber!) or be ready to bounce just to keep up the excitement of the date going.
Best Date Night Restaurants in Portland that Should Be Your Firs Choice
When it comes to the first few dates, we tend to recommend avoiding a traditional dinner date in Portland until you know your date a little more. Dinner dates tend to be pretty boring and difficult to establish a connection with someone who is still a stranger. Plus, being locked in a face-to-face conversation for a couple of hours in a typically loud setting means that there are plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong! Even if you're a world-class conversationalist, dinner dates can get a bit stale (pun intended).
Nevertheless, if you’re up to the challenge and feel you’ve got some rapport with your date before doing something more conducive to fun, we've got some solid choices that won't break the bank.
The following are the best date night restaurants in Portland that offer delicious food, an inviting atmosphere, and the perfect setting for a new romance:
- Papa Haydn in Nob Hill - 701 NW 23rd Ave, Portland, OR 97210
- Serratto Restaurant and Bar in Slabtown - 2112 NW Kearney St, Portland, OR 97210
- Nicholas Restaurant Lebanese and Mediterranean Cuisine in Buckman - 1109 SE Madison St, Portland, OR 97214
- Shandong Restaurant in Hollywood - 3724 NE Broadway, Portland, OR 97232
- Thai Peacock Restaurant on West Burnside - 219 SW 9th Ave., Portland, OR 97205
- Duck House Chinese Restaurant by PSU - 1968 SW 5th Ave, Portland, OR 97201
- Sckavone’s Restaurant in South Tabor - 4100 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97202
- Matador NW in Nob Hill - 1438 NW 23rd Ave, Portland, OR 97210
More Date Spots in Portland We Love
As you probably already know, the quality of your date in Portland is more than just eating food and/or drinking. With all that Portland has to offer, there’s no shortage of activities to develop chemistry and create memories with your date outside of bars and restaurants. Plenty of people have great dates at the following places in and around Portland, and we're confident you can do the same:
- Go ice skating at the Lloyd Center
- Watch the Timbers play at Providence Park
- The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) and Portland Art Museum offer day and night events for adults (drinks, too!)
- Check out some fascinating wildlife at the Oregon Zoo
- Go dancing to the ’80s at the Crystal Ballroom
- Shoot some targets together at Washington Park Archery Range
- Stroll through vendor booths at the many art fairs throughout Portland
- Shop for fresh groceries and taste homemade food at the Portland Farmers Market
- Solve a puzzle at Mental Trap Escape Room Games
- Catch live music, comedy, ballet, and more at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
Bear in mind that the time of year will make a difference with some of these recommendations (being outside for hours in the rain doesn't always make for a great date), so you've been warned!