Review: Life of Riley Tavern

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.

Life of Riley on Urbanspoon

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. Apollo says

    I have been a number of times for lunch, but oddly enough never for drinks in the evening. I live on the other side of the neighborhood, so I usually get suckered into going someplace closer. Next beer night I will make the trek. Maybe I will see you there ;)

    Oh, and my verification word for this post, appropriately enough, is “BEERS”. I much prefer this new system FD. I suck at math, but I can read… However, are these authentication phrases or suggestions? I feel the need for a cold one…

  2. Food Dude says

    Apollo: they are subliminal suggestions. Those who submit lots of comments, will soon find themselves craving Nacho Crunchwrap Supreme Burritos and a beer.

  3. Kris says

    I like Life of Riley b/c it is non-smoking. I’m curious about the rec room type thing they are working on.
    Low Brow is what it says it however, the beer (and food) menu at LoR is much better plus I am relieved not leaving (err… more like stumbling) out of the bar smelling like a carton of Marlboro’s.

  4. Suds Sister says


    Had a beer at the Life of Riley last night and wanted to post the changes.

    First of all, their ‘game room’ is open downstairs. Pool, shuffle board, darts another bar and w/c. It was full on a Friday night, I suspect because all of the games are free of charge.

    The main bar was busy last night too, with a nice mixed crowd. I was there at around 11pm.

    The big news is that they lowered prices on all of the beers to $4 (save for Paulaner and Chimay). I don’t remember their tap list from the original review, but now they have 20 taps.

    They have a sweet little cocktail list list now, with some old school throwbacks. Pimms Cup, Sidecar and an Old Fashioned made with Maker’s. I could have a fun time sipping my way through that menu!

    Life of Riley is a nice reprieve from the ‘beautiful people’ places in the rest of the Pearl. I will definitely be back.

  5. Michelle says

    I am very disappointed in this place. I was excited to finally try so the hubby and I wandered in Sunday evening. We took a seat at an empty table and we waited. And waited. And waited some more. The ONE girl working the entire place glanced over at us a couple of times but never even acknowledged us. She didn’t bring menus, or even ask us to wait a minute. She completely ignored us. After 10 minutes we gave up and left.

    I don’t know what gives but I will never go back to this place. How unbelievably rude!

  6. A regular says

    Life of Riley is amazing!!! There food is terrific and the service is friendly and down to earth… We have been there multiple times this month and are really enjoying the atmosphere and the people!

  7. nate says

    So, are the darts electronic or steel-tip? There’s been a serious need for steel-tip boards downtown since the Elephant & Castle closed up shop. The closest I know of are at the NW Lucky Lab.

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