When is a business more than a business? This month’s selection of new spots reaffirms the ideal that local businesses can, and should, do more than simply sell things. Portland now has a restaurant-quality kitchen space for community members to rent as well as a barbershop that will provide free haircuts for job seekers in need. We also now have a café that will function as a neighborhood gathering space and another sushi bar with a commitment to sustainable ingredients. It should make any resident proud that Portland’s new businesses cater to the city’s specific tastes but do so with the greater good in mind.
Hala's Lebanese Grill
Northwest District, Nob Hill
Proving that you can never represent enough ethnicities on one menu, Hala’s Lebanese Grill features a host of Lebanese favorites along with carryout standards like pizza, calzones and French fries. Adventurous eaters can take on the kibbee-syneya, ground beef with onion, bulgur and Lebanese spices. Picky folks can stick to safer options like chicken shawerma and baba ghanouj. Those even pickier can munch on a pepperoni pizza with some fries on the side. With a wide range of options, most of which are priced reasonably, Hala’s is likely to be a crowd pleaser for a while.
Hala's Lebanese Grill, 1203 NW 23rd Ave., 503.464.9222
Yama Sushi & Sake Bar
Located in the Pearl, Yama Sushi & Sake Bar is the latest Japanese eatery to make a commitment to food that is sustainable and environmentally conscious. This can be a tricky proposition when it comes to seafood, but local behemoth Bamboo Sushi has proven that it is certainly doable. Yama has a large menu comprised of traditional Japanese favorites like teriyaki and udon, but it’s the fresh sushi that’s the real draw. Recent offerings include ivory salmon and Hawaiian kampachi. There is also live sea urchin for those into such things. Yama’s prospects are bolstered by its large, sleek space that will likely be crawling with raw foodies in no time.
Yama Sushi & Sake Bar, 926 NW 10th Ave., 503.841.5463
First Harvest: A Craft Community Kitchen
King, Alberta Street
First Harvest combines two of Portland’s favorite things: collaborative community space and cooking. The Alberta Street space is available for rent by community members and businesses alike. “The idea behind the kitchen is that we would like for it to be a combination of a micro-enterprise incubator for folks that are looking to establish their own business but don’t have the money to pay for a huge commercial space to produce their goods,” says manager Inger McDowell. First Harvest will also offer cooking classes and other food-related events in its large kitchen space that can be rented for a half-day or six hours per week. When it comes to cultivating the group DIY mindset, PDX stays on the cutting edge.
First Harvest: A Craft Community Kitchen, 915 NE Alberta St., 503.267.1472
Mac! Mac & Cheesery
Boise, Historic Mississippi
One of Portland’s best food trends is the prevalence of Southern food favorites all over the city. Biscuits and gravy is a staple of many breakfast and brunch menus, and the city’s BBQ scene is burgeoning. Arguably the best result of this country-fried phenomenon, however, is the glut of mac & cheese options that have popped up recently. The latest gooey addition is Mac! Mac & Cheesery on N Mississippi. Gourmands and elementary schoolers alike will delight in the wide range of mac & cheese options, including the Greek, with sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives and feta. The crème de la creamy? The truffle, which features shaved prosciutto, peas, mushrooms, and truffle oil. If you’re feeling a little heavy from all that richness, Mac! has a couple of salads as well, most of which, unfortunately, don’t include cheese.
Mac! Mac & Cheesery, 3969 N Mississippi Ave., 503.200.5787
Portland’s food scene is lacking on only a couple of fronts. One of the most notable gaps is tasty, affordable pizza. Sure there are plenty of well known, gourmet spots available, but the price of a large pie at these spots is difficult to stomach. Fortunately, the tide is turning, with neighborhood spots like Pizza Nostra opening around the city. Pizza Nostra offers straight-ahead pizza at reasonable prices. Their large plain is an East Coast-esque $13. More adventurous eaters can create their own pie with groovy toppings like smoked bacon strips and artichoke hearts. Portland isn’t a pizza town quite yet, but with shops like Pizza Nostra opening, that may soon change.
Pizza Nostra, 4831 NE Fremont St., 503.281.9592
Sullivan's Gulch, Northeast Broadway
Don’t let the name fool you. Skyline Burgers, brought to you by the folks behind the classic Skyline Restaurant, offers a whole bunch more than burgers. The vast menu recalls old diners that serve just about everything. Grab a reuben sandwich or some clam strips with fries, and wash it down with a chocolate shake. If you’re feeling a little more health conscious, Skyline has plenty of salads and somewhat more nutritious sandwich options. The name isn’t completely misleading, however; Skyline Burgers offers a plethora of burger options. One highlight is the everything burger, which includes bacon, cheddar cheese and a fried egg. Because who doesn’t like a diner breakfast on top of their diner burger?
Skyline Burgers, 2200 NE Broadway, 503.808.1553
The Modern Man Barber Shop
Concordia, Alberta Street
In a clever bit of wordplay, the Modern Man Barber Shop actually harkens back to the days of yore, when haircuts came with dark liquor. The NE barbershop offers a range of complementary scotch, bourbon and other libations (also espresso, but where’s the fun in that?) to customers who come in for a haircut. “I wanted to create a shop that my dad would enjoy,” explains owner Christopher Espinoza. After your cut, which should cost you around 18 bucks, grab a quick splash of cologne from the fragrance bar and take a free cigar for the road. Espinoza says that all of these amenities were common in barbershops decades ago, and that the Modern Man hopes to bring fellas together in new ways. “I want to facilitate that whole long-lost tradition of fathers and sons going to the barbershop together and talking about things that they didn’t necessarily talk about when mom was around,” he says. It’s also important to note that for anyone with money woes who has an approaching job interview, Modern Man will provide a free haircut. Talk about a timeless act of kindness.
The Modern Man Barber Shop, 5018 NE 22nd Ave., 503.284.6008
Having worked under star chef/empire builder Andy Ricker at Pok Pok and Ping, chef Ekkachai Sakkayasukkalawong (people call him Chef Chew) knows a thing or two about bringing authentic Thai food to the masses. Manao, which means lime or lemon in Thai, serves family-style dishes that may not sound or taste too familiar. Consider the pad wuun sen khai khem, which features stir fried salted duck egg with glass noodles, ground pork, carrots and scallions. No, this ain’t your average Thai joint. For Ricker loyalists, Manao offers som tam, the sweet/spicy papaya salad made in the traditional pok pok mortar and pestle. Chef Chew also has his own take on chicken wings that features oyster sauce and cucumber salad on the side.
Manao, 7202 SE Milwaukie, 503.236.0008
Owned by the folks who run the adjacent Cup & Saucer Café, Proof is a bar for the buttoned-up set who crave something beyond basic diner fare. The fashionable little space has a fashionable little food menu, with offerings like fried tofu with candied pecans and cilantro and a house-made black bean burger. The drink list is small but packs a punch, with concoctions such as the tripple A- (yes, with two p’s), which combines dark rum, lemon juice, almond syrup and fresh nutmeg. No, this will not be an after-show haunt for one of Hawthorne’s roving jug bands, and that’s exactly why it figures to be a success.
Proof, 3564 SE Hawthorne, 503.236.6001
The Gemini Lounge is the latest in a long line of Portland bars that are somewhat classed up but still maintain a healthy level of funkiness. Consider the food menu, which features pub grub standards with a gourmet twist. The list of Gemini “twin” sliders is an array of horoscope-themed mini sandwiches (yes, there are 12 of them) such as the Leo pulled pork and the Taurus grass-fed cheeseburger. The drink menu is also well crafted and includes the delectable sounding rock & rolla, which is made with Bombay Sapphire gin, prosecco, and fresh-squeezed orange juice.
Gemini Lounge, 6526 SE Foster Road, 503.772.1117
Swift, a new gift shop in Kenton, is another nice example of a local business making the jump into retail. Husband and wife co-owners Miranda Layton and Scott McCarty have opened a store that features their own jewelry along with an array of handmade gifts from other artisans. “We’ve been in this space for a year, using it as a studio,” Layton says. As for the collection, “It’s a wider range,” she says. “We mostly carry vintage-inspired jewelry.” In addition to the goods made in-house, Swift carries glassware from Bread and Badger, as well as gift cards from local artists.
Swift, 2020 N McClellan, 503.360.1447
The Arbor Lodge
Arbor Lodge, Interstate Corridor
While coffee is one of the best creations of all time, it tastes even better when there is a good cause behind it. The Arbor Lodge provides joe and snacks you can feel good about, since nearly everything it serves is produced locally. According to owner Scott Davison, the café is “trying to focus driving as much business through the neighborhood and through small businesses as possible.” Along with providing local products, The Arbor Lodge will also function as a gathering point for the area. “We’re hoping to get the space up and going as a community and neighborhood space as well, so that in the future we can actually support events here that support the neighborhood,” says Davison.
The Arbor Lodge, 1507 N Rosa Parks Way, 503.289.1069