Radio Room1101 NE Alberta St Portland, OR 97211
Located in: Northeast Portland - Visit Website
BarFly's Review of Radio Room
I’ll say it: Radio Room has maybe the best happy hours within a square mile of itself. This has, as it goes, been something of a rehabilitation. As it first opened, the only thing stylish about the place was its architecture—an old Texaco converted to faux vintage radio station—because it immediately skidded right into the douchiest dirt Alberta Street had to offer, appealing mainly to the new condo dwellers along the crime-riddled church district in the street’s teens.
It would appear, however, that this was merely a bad case of the hiccups. The staff uniforms are long gone, and the bar has rebounded, since, into deserved popularity, with reliable brunch, dirt-cheap happy hours ($1 High Life flutes!), a heated smoker’s lounge, bimonthly trivia nights, and some of the best bar food on the street—thank god, not vegan.
It’s like a backwards Horatio Alger story, wherein the bar descended from lonely and rarefied air back down to the agora and the hungry mob, who embraced it. Maybe it’s more a John Hughes morality fable, who knows? Cusack would seem comfortable here, in one of the big cushy booths.
Not to be confused with a sports bar, but they do show the "big games" (Super Bowl, etc.) on their pull-down big screen, with the sound on.
$2-5 food menu + $3.50 wells & micros 3-6pm, every day.
Sat-Sun Brunch (9am-3pm) with Bloody Mary bar.
SIN Sundays - $1 off all drinks (except $1 champi flutes) with OLCC or Food Handler's card
Mondays: $3.50 micros all day
Tuesdays: $1 off top shelf liquor
Wednesdays: $3.50 wells all day
Tuesday: Trivia at 8pm.
First Thursdays: DJ Ghost Train (a.k.a. Sean Croghan) at 9pm.
Open 9am-2am every day. Open all holidays, regular hours, except Thanksgiving (open at 5pm-2am) and Christmas Day: 9am-9pm (Xmas brunch served 9am-3pm, dinner 3:30-9pm).
Radio Room's Happy Hours
|Monday||Micro Monday - $3.50 micros all day|
$2-5 food menu, $3.50 wells & micros 3pm-6pm
|Tuesday||Top Shelf Tuesday - $1 off all top-shelf liquor all day|
$2-5 food menu, $3.50 wells & micros 3pm-6pm
|Wednesday||Well Wednesday - $3.50 wells all day|
$2-5 food menu, $3.50 wells & micros 3pm-6pm
|Thursday||$2-5 food menu, $3.50 wells & micros 3pm-6pm|
|Friday||$2-5 food menu, $3.50 wells & micros 3pm-6pm|
|Saturday||$2-5 food menu, $3.50 wells & micros 3pm-6pm|
|Sunday||$2-5 food menu, $3.50 wells & micros 3pm-6pm|
Getting to Radio Room
Terrible trivia night. The sound quality on the PA system is awful, the hosts are disorganized, and the entire event caters to the bar's regulars. Apparently they take category suggestions from the resident teams and use those suggestions to make questions for the next week's game. It means that each team suggests niche knowledge and no one else has a chance to compete. Not fun at all. At least the drinks were good.
I live a couple hundred miles to the north of this place but always manage to swing through when I am in town. The staff are fun and the food is quite good. I have to admit that I am hooked on the habanero infused vodka Bloody Marys. By all means stop by this place and enjoy.
I've planed many events at the Radio Room over the last year. They have never left me or my guests down. The servers are the best in town; the atmosphere is great and the drinks generous. What more do you need have a wonderful night with friends and family?
A couple of friends and I met at the Radio Room for dinner and a drink or 2. I ordered a mixed drink for $5.00 which was very weak and there wasn't much of it. (And I'm usually the person who complains that the drink is too strong) I'm not sure they make too many drinks like this so I couldn't complain too much, our waitress did take it back and get it adjusted, but it just wasn't right. I also ordered a white wine for $5.00 and it came in a small drinking glass, not a wine glass. I don't think I'll be ordering these drinks again, maybe next time I'll get a beer. I don't think Radio Room was ready or knew that there would be over 40 motorcycle folks invited tonight. It was pretty busy, filled with bikers around 8:30pm and then the young hipsters seemed to take over around 9:30pm. Our waitress was really nice, but in her own words, overwhelmed. She was getting confused with what we had asked for and seemed all over the place. (Totally understandable considering) My friends said their burger and blt were very good. I ordered the Beet Salad with horseradish, greens and goat cheese. The presentation was great and it was a different taste but I enjoyed it. For $6.00 I'm not sure I'd get it again however. I ordered the Ahi Tacos but my order was not heard correctly by my waitress. She brought out Ahi Tuna and asparagus and although it looked great, it was not what I'd ordered. I waited maybe 10 more minutes for my ahi tacos which was not a bad wait. The presentation was great and they had a great flavor and crunch to them. The only thing that was missing on this entree is a sauce for the greens that were in the center of the plate. For $8.00 I would definitely get them again. I'd have to say I'd visit again, but I don't think I'd go when I knew they would be slammed with people. I would try other things on the menu as they had some unique things that sound tasty. I snagged some of my friends fries and they were really good. And I think I'll stick with beer or coffee next time. I do think this restaurant/bar seems to be a 20's hang out.
I'm new (again) to NE Portland after a few years way down in SE, so this was my first venture into the Radio Room on NE Alberta. I enjoyed a couple of nice pints from local brewers and enjoyed their Happy Hour cheeseburger and roasted beet salad. The burger was cooked medium as asked and topped with a Roma tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and a decent aioli. The fennel topped bun was soft and ample like a nubile virgin's posterior. A few snappy dill chips added to the texture.
As for the salad, though I'm not normally a beet salad kind of guy, I enjoyed the mix of goat cheese, horseradish, fried parsnip garnish, spring mix lettuce, and the crunchy/sweet beets. The flavor and texture combo made it a fresh alternative to the savory burger. Total ticket for 2 beers + food = $16.
The staff on this slow Tuesday were cheerful and outgoing. I'm heading back later tonight for their 11-2 cheep-food Happy Hour and try the $2 fries.
What is there, really, to complain about? I've been in there quite a few times and think it's great! Not too pricy, yet good comfort food. Down to earth, yet classy. There's a completely different vibe going on here, than at the Doug Fir. I think it's a matter of taste. If you don't like it, find something else you're looking for. I'm sure they'd rather have customers, who aren't so negative, anyways...
My date mentioned this place, so we stopped in. I totally loved it! We sat upstairs, and the heaters kept me nice and toasty. The food was fabulous, generous servings and really reasonable price. I had the Ahi, which was perfectly rare in the center, with perfectly done green beans and some yummy au gratin potatoes. My date had the steak which was ever so tender. We had beers, so I don't know about the drinks, but I will certainly try that out the next time I am there...which is a for sure! The service was wonderful, and the music was great! All in all, one of the better restaurants in Portland. A perfect 10, in my book.
I've been to Radio Room a few times now, and for the most part it seems to be improving. I was in last night and was pleased to see they added some lights to their upper patio... About time. The drinks were fucking awesome and our server was very punctual. On the other hand it would be nice to see art put up on the blank walls, I asked our server and they said that they were currently talking to artist's and that it was on the way. However, I do highly recommend you check this place out though... Bitch's!!!!!
Great service, less than mediocre food. RR needs a rotating menu, and to beef up the very small glasses they use for wine. In short, the place has an identity crisis. It looks like it's trying to be a 50s diner, but it does not have 1950s diner food, and it's too slick to evoke any nostalgia for that era. What is this place? It needs a re-branding. Start with a website, then add a new menu (not just a veggie burger during happy hour for godssake). Give people a reasons to go there instead of the 30 other restaurants on Alberta.
Sorry I missed you on Friday. Next time. Business has been very good. And growing. Many repeat customers and great feedback. We may roll out the brunch again next spring. We own the building and will be here for the long haul. Open just seven weeks and continuing to evolve. It is the customers and employees that make a great neighborhood restaurant/lounge....so we pay attention. Stay tuned for more good stuff ahead.
Yep another Radio Room update/review. So! There was this weird rumor that the part owner who came from Doug Fir had been fired. I went in tonight and found out that wasn't true. Radio had changed their hours significantly - now open at 3pm, not 9am, and closing at 2am not,12am. They've done away with their uniforms/dress code, and added a vegetarian burger to their happy hour - though it's more expensive than a beef burger which makes not much sense to me.
It seems as though they're listening to the complaints and doing their best to make it better. Still, on a Saturday night, it was entirely dead there.
Thanks Brian for reading this and doing something. I have no idea if we actually had an input. I *did* come by on a Friday, but you weren't there.
Just what we need, another Radio Room review! So I came here because Alberta St. Pub wasn't open yet. That's so funny how those guys got so offended, because this place is so the Fir! Even the employees look similar. Which made me think, drinks must be tasty. They were. Spendy, but look at the place. I felt like I should have dressed nicer. I'll go here instead when the Alberta Pub is having one of their gay poetry nights.
I'm a resident of the neighborhood and am quit happy the Radio Room has arrived. What a refreshing, authentic experience. Don't listen to the complainers on this site. Radio Room doesn't represent yuppies moving in...it's just good Oregonians bringing quality food and drink to NE Portland. I give my visit an A+. Great service. Good food. Interesting environment. I'll definitely be back. Bravo. Thank you!!!!
Had breakfast there for the first time today. Had the chicken fried steak with a biscuit on the side with some extra gravy (I know how unhealthy that sounds...) Potatoes were good and the home made gravy was good as well. The chicken fried steak itself was a little too crunchy for my taste, maybe even a little bit dry. On the flip side the bloody mary was above average (the pickled green bean was crunchy and delicious). Service was prompt and the coffee was stumptown. All in all I'd give it a 8 outta 10
My advice to the owners of the Radio Room: take steps to warm it up a bit. The most popular places on Alberta generally have a living room comfort vibe. Radio Room is a bit sterile, all black and white. It's a cool space. Just add some some soul to it.
I don't know if casual diners (i.e. Portland fleece and jeans) are going to feel comfortable there. That's kind of the neighborhood at that end of Alberta.
We bought the building in 2005 after it had been cleaned up a bit by the previous owner. Unfortunately, our project was delayed after we purchased it (I wont bore you with details but it was a bit more complicated than expected to convert a dilapidated gas station into a restaurant. Live and learn.). During that time, we did find the building to be a decent place to play some poker, listen to music, imbibe and plan the renovation.
As for the patios, a good portion of the upstairs is covered and heated and will remain the prefered spot for our smoking friends and other patrons. The downstairs patio will not get much action in the rain, but we will keep the roll up doors open as much as possible, even when it rains, as long as the temperature is agreeable.
If you come by on a Friday, ask for me. Happy to bore you with even more detail over a refreshment and compare notes about the best bars in Portland, past and present.
It's nice when owners of establishments post here, especially when they identify themselves. I'll check out the Radio Room again soon. Questions - What will you guys do with the patios during the rainy season? Merely wondering. Also, are you the guys who started the original renovation of of the station like 3 years ago?
Strack (and others), thanks for the comments. I am Brian, one of the owners of Radio Room. I have enjoyed reading all the comments. I have agreed with many of the positives and some of the negatives but thought it might be helpful to provide a few facts. We have been open a month and will continue to work hard to make it a great choice for our Alberta neighbors.
1) Radio Room is owned by three individual partners without any corporate backing. Two of us are lifelong friends and native Oregonians (I lived on N.E. Sumner St. as a kid, just a few blocks from Radio Room, my partner Mike currently lives minutes away). All three partners are close-in, east side Portlanders. This is the only restaurant/bar we own and we hope to make it a great addition to the neighborhood.
2) We appreciate the Doug Fir and, as you pointed out, one of our partners was the original general manager there. There are some fair comparisons to be made between the two spots, but we hope you will return over time to discover that Radio Room is very much its own place.
3) Radio Room was an old gas station that we restored, keeping all of the original 1949 Texaco building and adding on the lounge and bathrooms. It would have been easier to tear down the gas station and start over, but we thought it important to reuse as much material as possible and to keep the old building alive. Due to city requirements (most of which we support) we were not able to simply convert the existing station into a restaurant for the neighborhood without dealing with all the storm-water runoff issues, adding a sidewalk, restrooms and kitchen, all of which left the exterior looking a bit too new and commercial. So we are continuing to add trees, shrubs, softer lighting, and will be toning down the signage and other steps to establish the space with the neighborhood. The basic space is great and over time the newness will wear off and we will continue to work towards making Radio Room as comfortable as an old converse high top.
4) We share your appreciation for great Portland bars and restaurants and consider ourselves lucky to be next door to one of our personal favorites, the Bye & Bye.
5) Most entrees priced between $8 and $12, with a lot of appetizers and sides for much less. Happy hour pricing is $2-$5, with drinks priced very reasonably as well.
We hope you'll check us out again Strack, and that Radio Room becomes a neighborhood joint with all the character, good food and drink and great service that you enjoy. Happy to share a beverage or two with you anytime. Your comments are helpful.
Thank you. I said they are copying what Doug Fir does well. I didn't make a bad reference there, did I? I was at the Fir last night. Not a bad bar by any means.
I never said it was "soul crushingly corporate," did I? And well, your opinion is obviously biased, as you know the owners. No, it doesn't fit the street. That's the general opinion of everyone I know who's lived and/or worked on the street for years, including some of the residents of the houses NEXT DOOR. Most thought when the Bye and Bye opened, that Alberta had gone to hipster hell, but that was absolutely not the case. Those guys are lovely and support everything that is Alberta Street and Portland. They don't even have a freaking sign. Now take Radio Room. One foot large (maybe even larger?) insignia on the west side of 11th. Nothing on Alberta has been this ostentatious. EVER. You can't argue with that. The clown house at least added character. This place lacks it entirely, unless you count an owner in a suit strutting outside on the patio through all operating hours.
You guys need to stop being so butt hurt about the Doug Fir comparison. I can think of much worse bars you could be compared to.
I read Strack's review and never would have gone to Radio if I hadn't read the follow-ups that disagreed. Glad I went: the service was friendly, fast and attentive, the pegu clubs were strong, and the food was tasty and served hot, including the fries (it's rare to get them while still scalding.) So yeah, the menu's a bit like Doug Fir's: it has meatloaf and croque monsieur. Big deal. The interior's completely different, and tastefully done w/o being uncomfortable. Prices were perfectly in line with the portions and quality. Best yet, the crowd there on a warm Friday night wasn't obnoxious: no shirt guys or Paris wannabes, minimal Bridge & Tunnel crowd, a wide range of ages (including chaperoned teens in the dining area), and it was busy but not a mob scene. As for being "by far the weirdest place on Alberta Street"... compared to the freakin' Clown House??? Maybe incongruous to Alberta five years ago, in no way out of place today.
BTW (and full disclosure): I found out right before I was leaving for the next spot that Radio is owned by an old college acquaintance (I've spoken to him probably twice in the last 20 years) and his high school buddy (the ex-Doug Fir guy.) Opening a place together was their long-held ambition, and they were able to finally pull it off. You can't get more soul-crushingly corporate than that, can you?
you might want to actually walk in to a spot and read the menu before you comment on price points...there is not a single food item over $15in fact...there is only one that is $15...and that is a rib-eye...everything else is significantly lower...dumbass
maybe it's judgmental assholes like you that ruin a neighborhood
It does NOT fit with the neighborhood. I live two blocks away and was real excited to see what they'd do with the old gas station, which was dormant for at least a few years. then we see they're adding an addition... and an upper floor... and recessed lighting. No, that doesn't fit on Alberta at all. But I'm sure the Last Thursday looky-loos will love it. Big-dollar refurbs like Radio-- with their pseudo-deco exterior and $15+ entrees-- are steering what was once a cool neighborhood off the cliff to Belmont + 33rd style yuppiedom.
So, one experience at the RR, which is incredibly close to my home. My experience was during Happy Hour so it was somewhat limited. However, here is what I came up with. First the good. The server was very attentive and nice, however I imagine she was getting quite the workout from going up and down the stairs for everyone a bazillion times. The beer was good, but there definitely could have been more of a selection. Wine prices seemed right on. The fries were alright, but its hard to eff up fries. The shroom soup was okay too. Now the not so good. The mac and cheese kind of sucked. It was a tiny portion that was really greasy. Also, a veggie burger would be a goof option for Happy Hour. I know they have them somewhere in the kitchen cause they are on the dinner menu, but they are not available nor can they be substituted for the Happy Hour Cheeseburger. What a bummer. Overall, the menu seemed really boring. Too bad. There are so many creative places on Alberta with great food. There are also lots of veggie oriented folks, I would hope that some changes are made to be creative and aim for the veggie folks.
We came to "Last Thursday" and had dinner and drinks at Radio Room. It was a great experience -- I think the building fits in nicely in the neighborhood. There are four seating areas, each with their own feel--the bar area (beautiful, dark and cozy), the inside dinerish area (Doug Fir does not come to mind), and two very nice (and very busy) patio areas. A cool menu, fun to read, and offering a variety of usual and unusual choices. The prices are absolutley not too expensive. Loved the radiocakes, crab cakes were excellent, didn't have a burger but someone at our table did and it looked so good I wished I'd ordered that. Mac/cheese was yummy, tender calamari, good greens in the salad. The drinks are top cabin. They serve breakfast and lunch too so we'll definately be back to check that out.
I went to Radio Room Friday night and was pleased! I'm confused with the review stating that the prices are higher than most places on Alberta. They seemed very comparable to places like Tin Shed, Francis, and Alleyway Cafe. I also disagree with the upscale comment, since when does clean equal upscale?
What I'm saying is simply that the Doug Fir comparrison doesn't make much sense to me or my neighbors. Neither does the comment about Starbucks or Radio Room being expensive (?). From what we learned from our bartender, rather than bulldozing the old gas station, they built onto it and renewed the whole property (which used to be a contaminated brown field). We actually think that is pretty cool and un-Starbucks-like. Is it the architecture or something that you think is like Doug Fir?
Do you mean that you don't understand why I said that? Or do you mean that Alberta Street doesn't want a Doug Fir? Please make it clear, as your comment was a little confusing, and I just explained the comparison in my new review. Thanks!
Overall Rating of Radio Room
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