If November was an indication, December's going to be awfully quiet, because it looks like our mouths are going to be full... of food. And beer. And wine. At least 13 new restaurants and cafés opened in the last 30 days, celebrating a mélange of handmade Japanese noodles, Vietnamese sandwiches, smoked meats, tacos, tequilas, and Thai comfort food, as well as gluten-free vegan chocolate truffles and gluten-free vegan biscuits and gravy. If you're out on the town looking for last-minute gifts for the impossible-to-buy-for, consider that two flower shops just sprang up, as did a handful of fashion boutiques, including a retail shop specializing in bras for women who really need them. Here are your November openings.
Anna Mara Floral Design
You may have already seen and been completely unaware of Anna Mara's work. After 11 years of working in the floral trade in Connecticut and New York City, she moved to Portland and has, for the last three years, been independently designing and composing floral arrangements for weddings and other special occasions. Mara's new studio, newly nestled in the northwest's recently re-purposed Schoolhouse Electric Factory building, is also a showroom and retail space, which will now give those without a special occasion the opportunity to take home handmade floral arrangements. In addition, Mara plans to soon launch a spring-and-summer "flower share program," which she likens to a CSA that, in lieu of vegetables, will bundle flowers instead. "I think it'll be fun for people to get a taste for what's going on around here at that time of year." For those interested, all you need to do is sign up for shares and pick up your weekly, local, seasonal and freshly cut arrangements at to-be-determined pick-up spots throughout the city.
Anna Mara Floral Design, 2181 NW Nicolai St., 503.758.4986
Northwest District, Nob Hill
The city's fourth Blitz bar is open for business in the space recently occupied by Indish on 21st Avenue. The company's director of operations, Tim Becker, says that he expects this location to draw a "more mature" crowd. Unlike at the other locations, customers must be at least 21 years of age to enter. There's also a well-lit lounge area in the front of the bar, complete with leather sofas on which to stretch out. Eaters and drinkers will recognize most of the menus from other Blitz locations, but Becker says there will be fewer televisions here. The idea, he says, is for Blitz 21 to be a bar with some TVs, rather than a sports bar with many. Becker says his team has also dreamt up signature cocktails specific to the new location.
Blitz 21, 305 NW 21st Ave., 503.208.3227
Dicks's Kitchen NW
Northwest District, Nob Hill
Just a month after opening a seventh location near the PSU campus, the brains behind the cosmically inspired Laughing Planet Café focused their attention on the expansion of what might no longer be a mere side project buy: Dick's Kitchen. The newest Dick's, the brain trust's second, is now open for business at the corner NW 21st Avenue, at Irving, and offers up the same "Paleolithic diet"-inspired menu southeasterners have come to enjoy. But don't let that fool the vegetarians. In addition to offering plenty of meaty creations, including burgers, sandwiches and sliders, Dick's also serves vegan-friendly tempeh burgers and Reubens. Plus, they serve the hard stuff, including a roster of signature cocktails.
Dick's Kitchen NW, 704 NW 21st Ave., 503.206.5916
Northwest District, Nob Hill
While the likes of Portlanders, in particular, and Oregonians, in general, are well-documented (we like coffee, bikes and craft beer), there is one thing so gauche that unspooling it will mark you as either a transplant or a tourist: an umbrella. So, raincoats, it is. And when hard rains fell, local designer Hillary Day realized that, even when she was going out on the town for an elegant evening, the only water-resistant coat she had was her ski coat. So in 2009, she began designing and selling online a line of women's raincoats that are sleek, durable, fashionably timeless, without season and, most importantly, truly waterproof. Now, she has opened her first brick-and-mortar spot, a studio-retail space in the Film Exchange Building, where shoppers can see her at work and try on the coats she designs. For her coats, Day uses blended materials from Schoeller, a Swiss company that specializes in waterproof fabrics. Often, Day says, such fabrics are used only by international designers for high-end men's outwear lines, something she thinks is silly, because "women are the people who buy coats." Swing by her studio shop and see for yourself. Hours are Wednesdays through Fridays, and by appointment.
Hillary Day, 925 NW 19th Ave., Studio B, 503.913.0933
Oven & Shaker
After months of planing and execution, Nostrana's Cathy Whims' and Aviation Gin's Ryan Magarian's Oven and Shaker has officially opened in an elevated spot in the Pearl District where the shuttered Bella Gioia once used to be. Whims designed the menu, which is comprised of salads, starters, desserts and as many as a dozen pizzas, which are cooked in a wood-fired brick oven in the Neapolitan tradition and playfully topped with locally sourced regional and seasonal ingredients. Magarian's bar, which measures about 40 feet in length, has three wells, and the bar menu has an impressive roster of eight mostly local taps, Italian wines and a list of inventive cocktails. At present, they say their most popular drink is the pineapple train wreck, which is made with freshly squeezed pineapple juice, rum and a housemade spicy ginger simple syrup. They'll be open every day, from 4 p.m. to midnight.
Oven & Shaker, 1134 NW Everett St., 503.241.1600
Northwest District, Nob Hill
Stroll up NW 21st Avenue, and you can smell what's cooking (specifically beef, pork, chicken and fish) in the smoker parked outside the entry of what was once home to Tanuki. Now the man behind the smoker, former Original executive chef B.J. Smith, is hoping to win over locals and tourists with a spare menu of brined, rubbed and smoked platters and sandwiches, each of which are paired with a variety of Southern-style sides (braised greens, mac 'n' cheese, pickled vegetables) and four accompanying sauces. To compliment the meat-centered menu, Smokehouse 21 also offers one of the most comprehensive canned beer menus in the Pacific Northwest. In addition to dine-in and take-out options, Smith says he's considering offering bicycle delivery in the coming weeks, including the possibility of delivering of those craft cans of beer to your doorstep.
Smokehouse 21, 413 NW 21st Ave., 971.373.8990
Taste on 23rd
Northwest District, Nob Hill
The newest bottle shop, the fourth to open in the last month, occupies a well-lit Victorian-era building at the corner of NW 23rd Avenue at Johnson Street and specializes in old-world reds and whites. Stocking more than 200 labels, Taste also offers a simple salad dish, daily soups and meat and cheese plates. In addition, they also stock their wine not by region, but rather by tasting notes, making it simpler for shoppers to pair a wine with whatever dinner ingredients they've just bought from the market. They also sell stemware and decanters and offer happy hour daily, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Expect outdoor seating during the warmer months.
Taste on 23rd, 2285 NW Johnson St., 503.477.7238
Luc Lac Vietnamese Kitchen
In a city of foodies, Portlanders respect almost nothing more than a good phở, and, for three years, Phở PDX, owned and operated by the Ho family downtown, was one of the places they went to get it. But earlier this month, the Hos closed that kitchen and moved next door, opening Luc Lac, which serves an expanded menu of traditional Vietnamese dishes, including versions of the family phở recipe that traveled from Saigon across the ocean, courtesy of their grandmother's hotel kitchen. In addition to serving everyone's favorite bowl of noodles, Luc Lac also offers báhn mì sandwiches, vermicelli rice bowls and a peanut curry stir-fry. And it's not just for lunch and late nights anymore, because the Hos have added happy hour and dinner menus, as well as a cocktail menu consisting of a line of traditional Vietnamese drinks that they spike with various liquors.
Luc Lac Vietnamese Kitchen, 835 SW 2nd Ave., 503.222.0047
For the last several months, Justin Waddell has been designing botanical arrangements for corporations who wish to show off their lobbies and homeowners who need 20-foot Christmas trees strung with 20,000 lights each and hung with handmade ornaments. What he didn't expect was that he'd be going into retail. But after moving his workshop from East Burnside to the corner of NE 28th and Sandy, he realized that he didn't have a choice. In fact, he says, because his neighbors responded so positively to his work, he chose to turn the front of his workshop into a storefront where customers can pick up flowers and houseplants on their way home from the market, or quiz him about some of the larger, grander home and corporate designs that they've probably already seen (think the Heathman, Genoa and Kuni BMW).
Bloke, 914 NE 28th St., 503.841.0138
Four years ago, Melissa Berry, a local naturopathic doctor, began gifting her mother homemade truffles. Because her mother has certain dietary restrictions, those confections were vegan and gluten-free. Her mother liked them and told her friends; those friends told their friends. By 2008, just six months after Berry incorporated her venture as a home kitchen confectionary, her Meyer lemon explosion truffle took home first prize at the Northwest Chocolate Festival. You can still order her truffles online, but she's since opened a brick-and-mortar/factory shop in the northeast. There, the sweet-toothed can see how her truffles are made, and they can choose from a selection of up to a dozen truffle varieties to take home, along with chocolate-covered pretzels and jars of caramel sauce. Of course, everything in the shop remains vegan and gluten-free. But the best part may be Berry's mission behind Missionary Chocolates: The company's profits go toward building an in-patient, holistically oriented hospital.
Missionary Chocolates, 2712 NE Glisan St., 503.961.3262
The Pencil Test
Concordia, Alberta Street
As fourth-generation Oregonian Holly Powell explains it, there comes a time in every young woman's life when she is asked to take the "pencil test," a no-wrong-answer exam loosely based on the suspension of gravity. Depending on what answer her body gives, she just might finally need a bra. However, Powell says there is far too often a dearth of choice for the more shapely and buxom shoppers in need of a bra. That's why Powell decided it was time to open a proper bra shop for women "who really need them." "Basically, when a buxom beauty walks into my shop, she will be surrounded by bras she can't wait to try," Powell says. "She won't have to wade past beautiful tiny bras or bras with prosthetics to get to the awesome product made just for her. I hope these women will come to appreciate that they are not a special size or circumstance, but rather that they are worthy of beautiful, well-fitted bras and swimwear in every color of the rainbow." She'll also help you with fittings, too, every day of the week but Monday.
The Pencil Test, 2728 NE Alberta St.
Vernon, Alberta Street
Stacy Maiano spent 11 years in the nation's capitol, where she earned her fine arts degree before taking a production design job at the influential economics magazine, Foreign Policy. But after a while, she grew tired of staring at a computer all day and decided to begin working again with her hands. It wasn't long before she started making her own line of jewelry known as Daily, which she sold online and in D.C. boutiques. Then she moved to Portland, where she was pleased to find that locals wanted to know what she did, not for whom she worked. And so she kept making jewelry, with the goal of one day opening a storefront to showcase it. Now she's done it. At Red Sail, you can find not only the latest in Daily lines, but Maiano is now a sort-of de facto curator, selling the goods of other like-minded designers who make everything from belt buckles, coasters, flasks and teapots to tote bags, children's toys, vases and organizational hooks. Moreover, she wants to offer well-designed materials at affordable prices and aims to her keep price tags under $100.
Red Sail, 1723 NE Alberta St., 971.266.8472
Buckman, Central Eastside Industrial
Portland's first and only bar exclusively featuring champagne and sparkling wines has officially opened in Buckman, where bubbles experts and novices can mingle while sampling the fizz from nearly 60 different sparkling wine labels, most of which are imported from France's Champagne region. And since we all know that bubbles on empty stomachs can quickly go to our heads, Ambonnay offers small plates and snacks, like cheese plates, truffle popcorn and seasonal salads comprised of fresh ingredients procured weekly by owner David Speer form the city's various farmers’ markets.
Ambonnay, 107 SE Washington St., 503.575.4861
Two years ago, Dan Harding was a writer specializing in sustainable energy practices, and Ashley Arthur was a behavioral specialist for Clackamas schools. But the two vegetarians (Dan's actually vegan) always pined for a food cart that made good old-fashioned veggie burgers. So in September of 2010, they opened what is now the popular food cart Off The Griddle. Within a year and a half, the duo has taken its vegetarian mission brick-and-mortar, opening a new breakfast and food joint, the A.N.D Café. Among the more unusual options available on the menu are gluten-free blue corn waffles, a plate of hazelnut-sausage biscuits and gravy, as well as a savory Thai waffle, topped with carrots, zucchini, red chilies and peanut satay sauce. They also offer a full selection of espresso drinks and a kimosa, a kombucha-orange juice mimosa. Plus they're getting a full liquor license, so expect to sample some vegan signature cocktails.
A.N.D Café, 5420 E Burnside, 503.233.4550
Buckman, Central Eastside Industrial
Restaurateurs often open their kitchens to the public with a certain amount of anticipation, but few open eateries with an already existing following. The fellows behind Boke Bowl (Brannon Riceci, who used to pilot private jets for a living, and longtime chef Patrick Fleming) have been at this a while, and, prior to opening their brick-and-mortar this month, the duo spent the last year in a dozen kitchens throughout the city, refining their menu for potential guests through one-night-only pop-up shops. Specializing in traditional handmade Japanese-style noodle making, Boke Bowl has a simple and sparse menu and a large area from which to sample it. Most of the dining space is taken up with a long community table that seats dozens. They also sell cocktails, beer, sake and soda. And while the seat-yourself joint focus primarily on lunches (they're open daily, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.), they'll be serving Korean barbecue chicken dinners every Thursday night.
Boke Bowl, 1028 SE Water Ave.
For those who appreciate the art of well-made sandwiches and pine for ever more variety, yet another of your prayers has been answered. Double Dragon, specializing in Vietnamese báhn mì sandwiches, is the creation of Rob Walls, who, after putting in time at David Chang's Momofuku in New York City, spent time honing his skills at Beast and Bunk before venturing out on his own. And Walls says he's definitely found a home in the city of bridges. "I can't think of another town with as strong a food scene that's surrounded by wilderness as beautiful as you find here," he says. Offering both lunch and dinner, Double Dragon features a small menu of sandwiches, including roasted duck and meatball (made with, the menu tells us, beef, pork and secrets), all of which are dressed with aioli and garnished with cucumbers, pickled carrots, jalapeños and cilantro. Pair one with some jicama slaw and one of two draught beers. Or, if you want a long, lingering lunch, try one with Double Dragon's housemade spiked punch.
Double Dragon, 1235 SE Division St., 503.230.8340
Buckman, Burnside East
Justin Machus, owner of the clothing store Local 35, which just celebrated its eighth year in business, comes from a long line of retailers (in fact, he's his family's fifth-generation retailer). Building on the success of his first shop, Machus has opened his second shop, the eponymous Machus, in Buckman. Machus sees his new store as a compliment to his old store, and he says that the new one will offer more exclusive and high-end lines of men's and women's fashion, as well as jewelry collections and accessories crafted by locals.
Machus, 542 E Burnside, 503.680.3868
Nik Merrick and his wife, Jib, say the name of their newest venture translates, from the Thai, as "to bring good things." Partnering with former Mee-Sen owner, Akkapong Ninsom, the Merricks, who still own and operate Kinara, in Goose Hollow, wanted to provide Portlanders with samplings of what they call Thai comfort food made with "Thai family recipes" that will leave diners feeling sustained and full. Nik also says that they locally source the ingredients that make up their dishes, and all the meats they use come from hormone-free animals naturally raised on regional farms. In addition, all of their noodles are made from scratch, as is PaaDee's curry sauce.
PaaDee, 6 SE 28th Ave., 503.360.1453
A while back, Tara Swenson and Will Bennett decided to start up their very first business. Swenson, who has been selling vintage clothes online at her Etsy store, and Bennett then went about scouring the garage sales, estate sales and flea markets of California, Washington and Oregon, picking up plenty of secondhand and mostly vintage clothes now on sale at Reunion. For a while, Swenson says, few people knew about the shop, and the marketing was done by word-of-mouth. But the word's now out that their little shop is open for business in a discreet little space tucked away on SE Morrison Street, between 17th and 18th avenues. In addition to clothes, Reunion also sells a few housewares and locally made 'zines and will exhibit on their walls the works of local visual artists.
Reunion, 1737 SE Morrison St., Ste. B, 503.752.4015
Jason Price and Jeff Sprague have known each other for more than a decade, and both have diverse culinary backgrounds. They've waited tables, managed fronts of house and have, of course, worked in countless Portland kitchens. Their new venture, Robo Taco, inspired by traditional Mexican-style street food, features a menu comprised of build-your-own lunch plates, huevos rancheros and tacos made with, among other things, carne asada, chorizo and lengua. But their real draw may be the tacos al pastor (made from the marinated pork shoulder rotating upon their vertical rotisserie). Price says the rotisserie is a nod to the Lebanese immigrants who brought the concept with them when they settled in Central Mexico, thus "fusing" old world spices with new world ingredients. Perhaps most importantly, though, Robo Taco aims to stick to the main rule of the street food ethos: make it affordable. Price says they're shooting to keep everything on the menu under $10. In the future, you can expect to see plenty of new menu items, including beer, wine and cocktails, as well as barbacoa and possibly even cabeza-inspired dishes.
Robo Taco, 607 SE Morrison St., 503.232.3707
Sacred Root Acupuncture
Joshua Green has practiced massage since 2008. The former Lewis & Clark basketball player has since specialized in treating sports-related and traumatic injuries. Now, with a freshly minted license to practice acupuncture, Green has opened his first office in Sellwood. To augment his practice, Green uses other ancient methods to help you be well, drawing from Qi Gong, herbal medicines and Chinese medical astrology. In addition to offering acupuncture and massage therapy, Green will make house calls and offer limited sliding scales of payment for students, seniors and veterans.
Sacred Root Acupuncture, 7913 SE 13th Ave., No. 4, 503.896.9802
Tea Chai Te
A long time ago, Dominic Valdes and his classmates took a collegiate business course. One of their assignments was to dream up a plan for an imaginary business. They brainstormed and wrote up a plan for a tea shop. Their professor was not impressed; he told them a tea shop wasn't viable way to earn capital. As any young rebels would when told they can't, Dominic, his wife, Angela, and his classmates opened Tea Chai Te in the Alphabet District in late 2003. Less than eight years later, the Valdeses have opened a southeastern location, taking over the neighborhood's red caboose, which until recently was home to an independent book store. And you can find the same items in the southeast as you can across the river, including 120 varieties of loose leaf tea and more than 80 handmade blend infusions, as well as soups from Souper Natural and cookies, pies and pastries from Two Tarts, Pie Spot and Black Sheep Bakery.
Tea Chai Te, 7983 SE 13th Ave., 503.432.8747
St Johns, North Portland
Lisa Lavochkin used to live in New York City, where she worked for years in restaurants. Then, in 2009, she moved to Portland and worked for a while in a specialty section of a local Whole Foods outlet. This month, she opened Barrel, her first business. Specializing in small vineyard wines, local and regional craft beers and a soon-to-be expanding selection of hard ciders, Barrel is more than just a local beer-and-wine shop. Lavochkin sees it as a neighborhood bottle shop, an alternative to local grocery stores where the selections are often limited and, more often than not, stagnant. She plans to offer seasonal wine and beer selection, keeping bottles of wine priced at $20 or less.
Barrel, 7401 N Burlington Ave., 503.208.3164
Overlook, Overlook Village
In 2010, chef Oswaldo Bibiano was a semifinalist for the 2010 James Beard Award based on the menu he put together for his Mexican restaurant, Autentica. Now, he's opened a second kitchen in NoPo, a lunch-and-dinner spot featuring small plates of authentic and creative Mexican dishes. The name Mextiza is a play on the term, "mestizo," which means a mixture of ethnicities, signaling that diners will have the opportunity to sample plates from different Mexican regions and cities, including Tijuana, Yucatan, Toluca, Oaxaca and Guerrero. Keep in mind, though, that when Mextiza opens up for dinner at 5 p.m. (they close for a couple of hours after lunch), minors will not be permitted. You'll understand why when you see their drinks menu, which lists 78 tequilas and mezcals, as well as a healthy sampling of red and white wines, four mostly local and seasonal draught beers, as well as the Mexican staple brew, Modelo Especial.
Mextiza, 2103 N Killingsworth St., 503.289.3709
Disclosure: Chad Walsh works part-time at Smokehouse 21.