Staff Picks: A Sampler of Portland’s Nerdiest Venues

What will you do with your one nerdy and precious life?

It’s the year 2023 and nerd culture is having a moment. Superhero movies pack the theaters, there’s a remake of your favorite nostalgia thing coming out and gaming just might be the new American pastime. Life is good.

There are so many ways to get your nerd on in Portland that the classic “geeks vs. nerds vs. dorks” debate only scratches the surface. Common comic connoisseur? Marvel maniac? Anime aficionado? Career Cosplayer? Are you loud and proud, or did you use your kid as an excuse to go see Detective Pikachu a third time? 

Whatever your nerdy subculture flavor, Portland's got something for you, from veteran neighborhood staples to fresh new hangout spots. Usually our staff picks are a bit…briefer, but we got excited. So excited, we had to split it into two parts! Just doing our part so you can build your dream itinerary whenever you’re in Portland. Enjoy part 1, you nerd.

Roleplay & Tabletop Games

The 4th Wall

Wander into the 4th Wall on any given day and you’ll find a completely different experience – it’s a coffee shop, pizza joint, comedy venue, D&D space, and movie theater wrapped into one tiny package. 4th Wall also does trivia nights – a great place to meet friendly new faces, maybe find your new tabletop crew.

The 4th Wall PDX

1445 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214

Mox Boarding House

A massive restaurant in Northwest Portland that doubles as an extension of your living room – gather your friends (and maybe some strangers) for an elevated tabletop gaming experience, complete with a burgeoning dinner menu and a full bar at your disposal. 

Mox Boarding House

1938 W Burnside St, Portland, OR 97209

The Portland Game Store

Closing in on ten years in business, the Portland Game Store is a community staple, especially for Magic: The Gathering players. Always full of friendly faces, you’ll find something new to take home and maybe a new gaming buddy!

The Portland Game Store [IG]

922 N Killingsworth St. Portland, OR 97217

WYRD Leather and Mead House

Why roleplay a viking warrior in your living room when there’s a meadery, like, right here? It’s got a hearth and everything!

“One of the oddest and coolest vibed places I have been to in Portland. They make their own Mead and also sell a number of other meads from around the world. ALSO the place just feels like a tavern from D&D or WoW was dropped into the city.” - Andrew

WYRD Leather and Mead House

4515 SE 41st Ave, Portland, OR 97202

Modern Gaming

TOTL Games

A relatively new addition to the Central Eastside, TOTL is your go-to for all things gaming. Statues, figurines, artbooks, Amiibos, plushes, and yes…even games, going all the way back to PS1 and beyond. Stop by on Saturdays to play Warhammer, or bring your friends for a few games of Yu-Gi-Oh!

TOTL Games

1037 SE Ash St, Portland, OR 97214 (around the corner from Jupiter!)

Hawthorne Game Exchange

Further proof that Southeast Portland is a gamer’s paradise. Hawthorne Game Exchange keeps a treasure drove of cult hits, one-hit wonders, and unknown gems. Still got a Sega Saturn? They’ve got games for you. Wish you still had one? Call in; they might have a Saturn for you, too.

Hawthorne Game Exchange [IG]

1428 SE 36th Ave, Portland, OR 97214

Classic Video Games

Retro Game Bar

This is the place to be for a truly nostalgic gaming experience. Play classic video games on their original consoles from the 70s, 80s, and 90s (sorry millennials; 90s is “classic” now). They serve craft beer, creative cocktails, and a colorful and delicious menu. Plus the new mural really ties the place together. ✨

Retro Game Bar

6720 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Portland, OR 97211


Hop in! Hopscotch is more of an interactive art museum than a gaming space, but we think it still counts. Wrangle your friends for drinks and hot snacks at the bar before touring exhibits that offer a little bit of everything: dancing, trampolines, jungles, ball pits, binaural beats…and there’s art, too! Hopscotch is a trip, and a new experience every time you visit.


1020 SE 10th Ave, Portland, OR 97214 (a ten-minute walk from Jupiter!)

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