Kick off those Manolos girls, and take off those ties gentlemen, because the Pearl’s got a new laid-back bar. Life of Riley Tavern opened just about a month ago in the old Jimmy Mak’s location. Our group of six Suds Brothers and Sisters visited the other day, and here’s a quick hit based on that one visit.
In case you don’t notice from the relaxed vibe of the crowd, the menu has the Tavern’s mission statement all spelled out, “Life of Riley: The good life; a comfortable existence.” And that’s the feeling you get when you walk in. It’s a neighborhood bar, just in the wrong neighborhood.
They didn’t do much in the way of remodeling, but it’s amazing what a good cleaning and a coat of paint has done for the old Mak hole. They have a few shaded tables outside. Inside, it’s comfy, with tables and booths and a couple of couches. They are nearly finished remodeling the basement, which they plan to turn into a game room of sorts with pool tables, darts, video poker and big screen TVs showing all the games.
There are more than two dozen beers on tap, including a few adventurous choices — Paulaner Salvator is one nice one. And even though they the dub themselves a neighborhood pub, beers have Pearl prices, $4.25 to $4.50. Chimay is $6.50. They also have a full bar, and 8 or 10 unremarkable wines.
The menu is strictly pub grub, and over-all it is good and inexpensive. They serve a sandwich called a Hogwich, which is like a piece of pork schnitzel topped with bacon and ham. It was, well, very meaty. Also meaty, in a good way, was the Italian sub. Over-stuffed with salami, capicolla, ham and Swiss, heated and served with pepperocini. All of the sandwiches are served with house-made kettle chips, which tasted like they had been fried in oil from the Jazz days. Salads are $8-$9 and are fresh and huge. Sandwiches are also very large and also $8-$9.
Service was spot-on. As soon as a glass was emptied, offers of more beer came coming. The owner, a friendly guy named Todd, came by to check on our table. The interior wasn’t very full, but the tables outside were. The crowd was after-work types, couples and buddies drinking beers. It’s blessedly non-smoking.
The Life of Riley has a few kinks to work out yet, the lighting was too bright for a bar. And I would lower the beer prices to $4 on all the taps, save Paulaner and Chimay. But they do offer a happy hour from 4-7 with half-off appetizers and $1 off drinks. It also lacks personality. It’s the kind of place that should have ‘regulars’, but it’s still too new for them.
The Pearl needs a casual place like the Life of Riley. The menu is reasonable enough that you can afford dinner, a few beers, and your Pearl condo mortgage. So head over there and become a regular.
- Phone: 503-224-1680.
- Address: 300 NW 10th Ave., Portland. Google Map. On the streetcar line.
- Hours: Monday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. until midnight. Sundays 4pm until midnight. The hours will be extended after their grand opening in September when they will serve brunch on Sundays and stay open until 2:30.