It was 2nd January in 2017 when I got to know about this historic dive bar named Club 21 in the Kerns neighborhood of north-east Portland. The search result on my laptop reminded me of my school days when I used to paint castles – it looked nothing less than that with the red sloping roof and conical pillars contrasting the whitewashed walls. While I stood in awe outside this decrepit castle, or dive bar, the cheerful locals coming out of it quite clear that something more was waiting for me inside. From veggie burger to the wide sandwich selection, including build-your-own sandwiches –there were lots to try.

Club 21 in the Kerns neighborhood of north-east Portland

Dating back to 1958, upholding the retro glam, Club 21 was a hotspot for delicious brunch menu offered throughout the week and the happy hour. The fateful day was 15th January in 2017 which was the last day the dive bar opened as Club 21.

Continuing The Royalty – Lay Low Tavern

Not enough “structurally sound” –that is why the owners Marcus Archambeault and Warren Boothby decided to close down the old building of Club 21 and come up with the all new Lay Low Tavern while much of its old employees and menu remains the same. With the retro pictures posted all over the wooden paneled walls it looks like a graffiti museum dedicated to Club 21.

lay low tavern
The old building of Club 21 was closed down and come up with the all new Lay Low Tavern

The Look –Fit For A King

The new look of Club 21 aka Lay Low resembles a plush booth bar of Montana during 1970’s. If not for the new addition of the Elks Lodge flag from Lebanon, the dive bar looks almost the same with old decors like framed photos of Elvis, cast-metallic guns, raunchy velvet paintings and collection of trophies won by Club 21.

Coming to the outdoor patio, I sat on the large hexagonal table to ruminate in my memories gathered from my last visit to Club 21. It never seemed to me as a revival bar, but a regular beer house like Apex. Know more about Apex and its beer varieties.


Throughout the week, Lay Low offers its drinks and food during 11.30 AM – 2.30 AM while the Happy Hour is throughout Sundays and 2 PM – 7 PM from Monday to Friday. Food, wine, wells and drafts are available at 1 USD during Happy Hour.

What To Expect

The signature fried chicken, grilled chicken, beef burger, veggie burger, homemade sandwiches, homemade sauce with wings etc are worth trying out. Dixie Chicken and fried egg as well as Biscuits with gravy are the Saturday-Sunday specials.  The Mimosas at 3 USD are your best bet.

Warm Pretzels and Buffalo Cauliflower from snacks, Burritos, Chicken Fried Steak and Corned Beef Hash in brunch and sandwiches like Strip Club and Western Bacon Burger are local favorite dishes here. You can also build your own burger with choice of sauce –Teriyaki, Marionberry Habanero or Asian BBQ; Bread choices like Hoagie Roll, Texas Toast or English Muffin; Cheese varieties like Swiss, Pimento or Cotija, Veggies like jalapeno, lettuce or tomato, condiments like mayo, ranch or spicy aioli and extras like sautéed mushrooms, bacon or Habanero salsa. There are also sides like tater tots, Caesar salad or fries.