I love men as much as the next girl (as in not very much but somehow I keep going out with them), but sometimes you need to get the heck away from testosterone and kick it with your girl friends. I’m not talking Boys on the Side gal pal quality time — I just mean going out for a night on the town sans dudes.
Whether you’re gay, straight, married, in a relationship, in a stupid Facebook “it’s complicated” relationship, or crazy single, time with your lady friends is important. Mostly, my ladies’ nights consist of drinking, eating, and dancing. And since Portland ranks among the top U.S. cities in restaurants and bars per capita, Maine is kind of a perfect place for such an outing. Here are some of my favorite Portland girls’ night out hot spots. Warning: there will be chocolate, jello shots, and most likely some pretty weird dancing.
1. Fore Street
I’m a huge believer that dessert should come before the meal. Especially on ladies’ night. The bar/lounge at Fore Street is a fantastic place to begin your ladies’ night endeavor; you can order some fancy shmancy “girly” beverages while you gorge on any of their delectable desserts. FYI: The biggest mistake you can make on ladies’ night is wearing tight clothing. I can’t stress this enough. I know you want to dress to the nines in your “hot girl” outfits, but consider ones with elastic waists and/or flowy tops because there will be eating. Dessert’s just the tip of the iceberg.
I realize some women may think this “dive” bar is an odd choice for a ladies’ night stop, but I assure you it’s not. One of the key aspects of any successful girls night out is stuffing your face with greasy food. And boy, does Ruski’s have greasy food. They have, I kid you not, some of the best onion rings I’ve ever had in my life. Add to that the chili cheese dog (this is girls’ night, order all the gross food you want and make no apologies), darts, and a jukebox, and you’re never going to want to leave. Furthermore, the beer specials and the food are very, very cheap. And let’s get real: Fore Street’s expensive so your wallet could probably use the break.
If your girl friends aren’t the beer drinking, fried food snarfing types (why do you hang out with these people?), perhaps you need a slightly swankier dinner spot. Full disclosure: I hostess at Pai Men on the weekends. However, I assure you this has been my roommate’s and my go-to girls’ night spot long before I started work there. This place is a fantastic and very reasonably priced restaurant for dinner. With a menu including everything from ramen noodles, to sushi, to yakitori (skewers), it’s perfect for ordering a bunch of things to share. Also, the drinks are creative and delicious. The yuzu lemondade truly is a delight on a warm night and they’ve always got loads of sake for the tasting.
Now that you’ve filled your bellies with food, you need a low-key spot to mellow out for a drink and emerge from your food coma. Grace is an old church turned into a bar/restaurant. The place is huge and beautiful. You can grab a seat at the downstairs, centrally-located bar, or sit upstairs to get a bird’s-eye view of the entire place. A little out of the Old Port on Chesnut Street, the crowd is slightly older than the typical downtown hot spots–late 20s to 40s–so it’s usually bro-free. This means you can enjoy your drinks without being accosted by the lame come-ons of Sox cap-wearing undergrads.
After you’ve pretended to be classy at Grace, it’s time to put things in full throttle and bust a move. I’ve seen many a friend turn their nose up at Oasis–citing Jersey Shore-looking dudes, too many Ke$sha songs, and spray tans as evidence of its foolishness. But I say, embrace the foolishness. It’s ladies’ night, and contrary to what some girls think that means, you aren’t out to pick up dudes. You aren’t even out to dance with dudes. This is a night to hang with your ladies, only. And that means full blown absurdity. You can dance the night away in an exclusive dance circle of your girls and straight up laugh at the clueless men who try to get up in that ish. Also, this place has the largest outdoor patio in Portland. And a tiki bar. A tiki bar, OK? So get over yourself and spend the last hour in town tearin’ up the dancefloor, giggling at all the gelled hair, and taking jello shots. You just might have fun.
Ok, so now it’s 1 am (yes, you must stay out ’til closing on ladies’ night; I’m pretty sure it’s a law), you could go home and go to bed. But we both know that’s not happening. No, after spending the past hour or so being too bootylicious for your own good, there’s only one thing on your mind: late night eating. And lucky for you, we know just the places to get your after-hours fix.