July 19, 2012

Bar Guide: Rivalries is a champ in the sports-pub arena

The Cotton Street establishment has been serving patrons for 10 years.


Rivalries Sports Pub and Grill celebrated a milestone last month -- the establishment has been serving the people of Portland for 10 years, and isn't slowing down.

click image to enlarge

Owner Lance Meader pours a draft at Rivalries, a short walk from the Civic Center in Portland.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer


WHERE: 10 Cotton St., Portland; 774-6044, rivalriesportland.com

HOURS: Open daily starting at 11:30 a.m.

PARKING: On street

SPECIALS: Subject to change. Food specials are served from 3 to 7 p.m., while drink specials are good all day. Monday features half-price buffalo fingers and $1 off Long Trail drafts; Tuesday has two-for-one wings and $1 off Shipyard drafts; Wednesday features half-price ribs and $1 off Samuel Adams drafts; and Thursday features half-price pizza and 20-ounce Bud Light drafts for the 16-ounce price. You can get half-price starters on Friday and $1 off Harpoon IPA drafts. Saturday is the day for 20-ounce Miller Light drafts for the 16-ounce price, and Sunday is dedicated to $4 Bloody Marys and mimosas.

SCENE: Rivalries is hands-down a sports pub, but with flare. With black tables and chairs contrasted with light walls and exposed beams upstairs, the pub's decor makes a nice place to gather and watch a game.

AMENITIES: No sports pub is complete without televisions, and Rivalries has 30 big-screen HD-TVs. There's a large upstairs that's good for large parties, and a patio to enjoy the outdoors when the weather is good.

My cousin and I were trying to coordinate a trip to the pub for a drink while he was on vacation. He said it was his favorite sports pub in Portland, and the wings there are amazing. Unfortunately, my part-time schedule clashed with his golfing schedule, and we never did make it there together.

I've been to Rivalries a couple of times, and I think it's a pretty neat place. The pub is tucked away on Cotton Street just a short walk from the Cumberland County Civic Center. It's the perfect spot to grab a drink before or after a game or concert.

Right as you walk in, there's a wall of black chalkboard with specials written in brightly colored chalk. Admittedly, I immediately like a place that writes specials in bright chalk on black walls. I don't know why.

These specials are updated frequently and offer not only good drink specials, but some great eats as well.

The pub has 10 beers on tap, ranging from $3.25 to $5.25, but catch a good special and you could get $1 off that beer.

There are also a number of canned and bottled beers, wines and a fully stocked liquor selection.

Rivalries is where I first tried Porkslap Pale Ale. This beer was something I saw pictured on a friend's Facebook page. Served in a can, the label illustrates two pigs belly-bumping.

This pub was the first place I visited that had said beer, so I had to try it. Sadly, it was a little warm, and the undertones of pork taste mixed with beer threw me off a bit. But you never know how you'll feel about a beer until you try it, so I'm glad I did.

One of the times I was at Rivalries was for a large gathering. We met upstairs, a great space for parties, with long picnic-style tables and exposed wood beams. It's also fun to look over the balcony to the crowd downstairs.

Like any good sports pub, Rivalries has ample televisions throughout the building. The stations featured include NFL Sunday Ticket, MLB Extra Innings, NHL Center Ice, NBA League Pass, NCAA Mega March Madness, ESPN Full Court and ESPN Game, to name a few.

So if there's a game you want to watch, there's a good chance Rivalries will have it on.

With summer here, people are itching to drink outside and Rivalries is one of the many places that has an outdoor patio to do just that.

The only thing that could make this particular patio better is if it were situated right on the water.

Emma Bouthillette is a freelance writer who lives in Biddeford.


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