Sometimes when you cross the threshold of a business, and you just know: a combination of elements all leading to the conclusion that a place has not only hit its mark, but in it is something special, something that makes people jump on their bikes and make their way across the city just to visit it.
Happy Sparrow is one such business. Run by the amazingly friendly Danny and Mary Quach, this little cafe is a breath of fresh air on a stretch of SE Belmont that desperately needed it. Occupying the space which has had several incarnations, Happy Sparrow is a warm, bright and inviting space with nooks and crannies perfect for sitting with a laptop, book or playing cards.
The main attraction here is the kolache. Round doughy balls of magic, the Kolache has a rich yeasty flavor but isn't as sweet or stomach-trashing as a doughnut. Offered in a wide range of options from the very savory Tillamook cheese and sausage to the much sweeter Nutella, kolaches fit nicely as breakfast, late morning snack, lunch or even an after lunch treat. While kolaches are common place in other parts of the country (especially Texas where the Quach's moved from), they were virtually unheard of in Portland. This was one of the main reasons the Quach's decided to open their cafe and bring the kolache to Portland.
Thank God they did. Fresh from the oven, the Happy Sparrow Kolache is the kind of food to lust after, melting in your mouth with a yeasty yummyness that must be experienced. Happy Sparrow offers a few regular options including breakfast sausage, sausage with Tillamook cheese, and a Vegan kolache with seitan loaf, and a rotation of a number of daily specials including Nutella, cinnamon cream cheese, smoked salmon and cream cheese, andgarlic chicken sausage. Future daily specials will include combinations suggested by customers.
Happy Sparrow's menu is reasonably priced, with regular kolaches priced at $1.65, vegan and daily specials at $2.85, smoothies for $3.50 and fruit spritzers at just $1.65.
On the beverage side of things, Happy Sparrow specializes in iced Vietnamese coffee, a nice strong coffee drink. They also offer fresh fruit smoothies with fruit harvested from local farms, fruit spritzers, and they plan to offer milk tea (aka Bubble tea).
The wifi at Happy Sparrow is super fast and all the times I've been at the cafe there have been several people also using it.
As good as their kolaches are, they aren't the only reason to make your way to the Happy Sparrow Cafe. Owners Danny and Mary Quach are some of the most friendly and inviting coffee shop owners in Portland. They go way out of their way to make their customers feel at home and create a warm and inviting environment that feels good to just be a part of.
Happy Sparrow rewards the early bird, with hours starting at 7 a.m. Early risers are rewarded with kolaches that are fresh from the oven, an experience not to be missed. The only downside is that the cafe closes early (around 2 p.m.). The owners are looking at expanding the hours, but in the true Portland spirit they close early so they can enjoy all the things that the city offers.
It's hard to recommend Happy Sparrow enough, with amazing food, friendly service, speedy wifi, and a warm and inviting environment. I can't imagine what more you could possibly ask for.
Watch our interview with Happy Sparrow owners Danny and Mary Quach:
Video © 2009 Geoff Kleinman
View the slideshow for more photos of Happy Sparrow Cafe or visit our Flickr Gallery: