Spring sprang in Portland in May with lots of businesses opening up shop in districts all over town. Again, new restaurant openings led the charge including a pair of sandwich and sushi spots, as well as eateries featuring waffles, fresh fish, and German, Mexican, Northern Italian, and Cajun-Creole cuisines. Also new to town are a microbrewery, a whiskey room, a shoe store, an outdoor lifestyle store, an indoor-outdoor mountain bike and BMX track, a vast indoor playground for the wee ones, and a pair of vintage furniture and apparel stores. Plus, we now even have a new dojo for aspiring ninjas of all ages.
Concordia, Alberta Street
Audie Smith may be one of those rare finds in Portland: She's young, she's actually from the city, and, in opening her first business, she's putting her college education (in fashion design) to work. After gathering threads from estate and yard sales and selling them online and to vintage dealers all over town, Smith decided to open her own shop, a 500-square-foot men’s and women's vintage apparel store stocked with boots, shoes, pants, sweaters, dresses, hats, purses, and jewelry from the 1940s to the 1990s, as well as carefully selected 1980s concert rock tees.
Bristlecone, 4932 NE 30th Ave., 503.358.3395
Francesco Solda was born and raised in Venice and has cooked in several Michelin-star restaurants in the City of Canals as well as California. And now, only six months after moving to Portland, Solda has opened his own kitchen, a modern trattoria, he calls a "comfortable place to enjoy the food and friendships of other people." All his pastas are made by hand daily, and Solda also works with local farmers, making weekly trips to farmers' markets to ensure his seasonal ingredients are as fresh as can be. Ever wanted to try squid ink risotto, catfish ravioli, or burrata, a creamy mozzarella? Here’s your chance. The 70- to 80-seat dinner spot also serves brunch on the weekends—order an entree and mimosas are only $1 each.
Carpaccio Trattoria, 3500 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd., 503.972.4252
When winter comes, golfers in the Midwest head indoors to practice their swing in large, domed warehouses. It makes sense then, that, when the rains fall here, Portland's BMX and mountain bike enthusiasts can skip the muddy trails and ride the hilly, twisty, turning man-made wooden trails at The Lumberyard’s 60,000-square-foot indoor and outdoor track. Owner Michael Whitesel says he and his business partner, Will Heiberg, also have plans to provide riders with rental bikes, including a few state-of-the-art demo bikes, as well as a space to store your own wheels, a place for large meetings, and a spot to eat and drink at their Pub at the Yard.
The Lumberyard, 2700 NE 82nd Ave., 503.252.2453
Martial arts master Eddie Arnold's new dojo offers a variety of self-defense classes that span age and gender. According to Alexis Arnold, Eddie’s wife and business partner, the new school specializes in the South Korean art of hapkido, but integrates other martial arts forms as well, like tae kwon do and jujitsu. Alexis Arnold says each class is "intimate," meaning there are never more than 20 students in a class, and adds that the techniques taught will keep practitioners physically fit, mentally alert, and balanced. She also says to expect self-defense classes for women and two-week-long ninja summer camps for kids.
Ninja School, 6019 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd., 503.442.3299
The Shoe Store.
Vernon, Alberta Street
Allan Fish says he and his business partner, Kelly Dorius, hadn't set out to open a shoe store, but after visiting San Francisco and strolling into the "coolest one either [of them] had ever been to," they realized that what Portland needed was a proper shoe store with stylish, casual, colorful lines by brands Portlanders can't readily find. In addition to a wide range of sneakers from Puma, Saucony and Keds, the shop sells flip flops and a wide array of fun, playful socks. Plus they have a sock raffle every Last Thursday. Buy a pair of socks and they'll enter you into a drawing to win a new pair of sneakers.
The Shoe Store., 1603 NE Alberta St., 971.271.8926
The Waffle Window
Concordia, Alberta Street
A half-dozen years ago, Brendan Fishback and his brother Max traveled to the Netherlands to visit their uncle. While there, they fell in love with Liege-style sugar waffles, a common street food, and they begged their mother Mary, a practiced pastry chef, to learn to make them. Once she’d perfected them, she got an idea. For years, she'd been trying to figure out a way to utilize a back window, literally a hole in the wall, in the side of the Bread and Ink Cafe, owned by her husband, Bruce. That grab-and-go spot became The Waffle Window. Now five years later, the family just opened their first true brick-and-mortar, an 18-seat restaurant that offers a variety of sweet and savory waffles made with seasonal ingredients, like the three Bs: bacon, brie and basil (served with peach jam).
The Waffle Window, NE Alberta St., 503.265.8031
The Whiskey Room
Concordia, Alberta Street
Looking for a place to twist that newly waxed mustache on your freshly shaved face? Well, just sally on upstairs. The Whiskey Room, the second-floor bar run by the folks who run Modern Man Barber Shop on the first floor, is a place to get a whiskey shot, a Scotch chaser and a ploughman's lunch (artisan cheeses, meats, bread and grapes). At night, they project games and matches on their big screen, otherwise, you can expect the screen to be filled with the images of black-and-white westerns. And because Emily Turgesen and Chris Espinoza, the folks behind both businesses, are themselves modern, ladies are encouraged to hang out, as well. The only rule, Turgesen says, is "no troublemakers." You're free to get reasonably rowdier while watching games, she says, but ultimately the men shall be gentle and the women shall comport themselves as ladies. Plus, for every shave you get, you receive a complimentary cigar and either a beer or a selected shot of whiskey, rye or Scotch.
The Whiskey Room, 5018 NE 22nd Ave., 503.284.6008
Boise, Historic Mississippi
Niles Armstrong's new business is almost an accidental one. He used to make himself necklaces from found, natural objects. His friends and colleagues liked them so much that they requested he make some for them, and so, Armstrong turned his creative outlet into a side business. Then he took that project and let it evolve into what's now a new retail store reflecting all things outdoors, including skateboards, surfboards, shoes, bag and backpacks, houseplants, pocket knives, sunglasses, books on foraging and, of course, Armstrong's signature handmade necklaces featuring driftwood and the teeth of coyotes and buffalo. His mission, he says, isn't just to sell stuff, but to sell stuff that inspires you to get outside and enjoy nature so that you will ultimately become invested in it enough to help protect it.
Worn Path, 4007 N Mississippi Ave., 503.208.6156
There's good news for those craving creamy sweets from the Pearl's recently shuttered Mio Gelato. You can still get some in the exact same spot, because Bob Lightman (Mio Gelato) and Kenny Giambalvo (formerly of Bluehour) just opened the city's newest sit-down, take-out sandwich shop specializing in hot and cold sandwiches, soups, salads, beer, wine, tea, juices, liquor (soon) and, of course, gelato. But their crown jewel, says General Manager Vince Brown, is the Morso turkey sandwich, made with organic turkey prepared "slow and low," meaning it's brined for 48 hours, and roasted for another 18, it's topped with fresh mozzarella and a spicy, peppery red sauce that Giambalvo's grandma used to make. Morso also has a spartan breakfast menu, which Brown says is perfect for early morning commuters on the go.
Morso, 25 NW 11th Ave., 503.226.8002
The Pearl's recently opened New Orleans-inspired lunch-and-dinner spot, courtesy of Tobias Hogan and Ethan Powell, the fellows behind North William’s oyster bar EaT, promises lots of Cajun- and Creole-inspired dishes, as well as plenty of The Crescent City's municipal drink: The Sazerac. Hogan says his kitchen team will focus on seafood, whole game birds, and hand-stuffing a variety of NOLA-style sausages. He also says diners should expect dishes liberally seasoned with their specialty house-smoked bacon. And if lunch or dinner isn't in the cards, The Parish is also open on weekends for brunch, during which the restaurant hopes to host live musical performances.
The Parish, 231 NW 11th Ave., 503.281.1222
Eighteen months after moving to Portland, New Yorkers and restaurateurs Ken and Jennifer Q. Norris have just opened their first eatery in the space once occupied by 50 Plates. Inside, you can sample all sorts of meaty options, like veal schnitzel and roasted bone marrow, but the Norrises say their menu primarily reflects daily, "catch-inspired," fresh fish specials, as well as raw options (black bass tartare, oysters on the half-shell). The bar menu features a twist on the shandy cocktail (elderflower, lemon, fortified wine, and draft IPA) and the late-night menu, in addition to listing small plates of nibbles (olives, caviar, chowder), spotlights an almost-$20 Roquefort cheeseburger, made with chuck, short rib, and the trimmings from dry-aged prime sirloin and rib eye, all sandwiched on a brioche bun.
Riffle NW, 333 NW 13th Ave., 503.894.8978
Boxer Sushi's slogan—"Strictly sushi. Maybe some whiskey."—is a little misleading, mostly because this bare-bones sushi spot carries a not-so-diminutive list of 36 whiskeys, as well as beer, sake, white wines, and other spirits. Other than that, the menu is strictly sushi, although you can get bowls of edamame and miso soup. Experienced head chef Ian Skomski, who attended a sushi academy and a sushi institute in Los Angeles as well as helming the kitchen at Yakuza for two years, says Boxer's specialty is the "omakase," or the chef's choice, which lets you to sample plenty of options from a menu dreamt up daily by Skomski and his crew.
Boxer Sushi, 1524 SE 20th Ave., 971.271.8635
Gigantic Brewing Company
Van Havig says his new brewing venture, which will produce 1,000 barrels of beer annually, isn't in the food and bar business. But, that doesn't mean you can't stop by the brewery and try a pint or two. Havig says he and his business partner, Ben Love, both longtime professional brewers, plan to focus on the suds, releasing one strong, yearlong IPA as well as seasonal specialties (like a smoked hefeweizen) in bottles and limited-release draft kegs. So far, Havig says the response has been good. "It's not important that I get excited," he says. "I'm a lot more interested to hear that other people are excited." And if you like a pint enough to take some home, and happen to have a growler handy, they'll fill it up for you.
Gigantic Brewing, 5224 SE 26th Ave., 503.208.3416
Hokusei’s space is open and modern with a vaulted ceiling, exposed beams, skylight windows, and a garage door that rolls up when the weather's warm. But the sushi is traditional, executed by a kitchen team lead by Tokyo-born Kaoru Ishii, who has worked in kitchens in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City. Hokusei prepares almost 30 different varieties of rolls, nigiri and sashimi, as well as hot plates (roasted pork shoulder with squash purée and seared bok choi, miso-marinated black cod) and desserts (ginger crème brûlée). Of course, Hokusei has a full bar stocked with Japanese whiskey, shochu (which bartender Casey Saechao describes as a Japanese vodka), plenty of sake by the glass, carafe or bottle, and specialty cocktails, like the Karasu Collins (a vodka sour with muddled kumquat).
Hokusei, 4246 SE Belmont St., 971.279.2161
Terri Zgolli ran a coffee cart for a long time. Then she had a baby. When her baby was no longer so small, she was ready to go back to work. Teaming up with another mother, Dawnidia Holscher, the two aim to provide an imaginative playground for little ones, as well as a place of respite for their moms and dads. Kidopolis is what it sounds like: a 4,000-square-foot, fun-filled city just for kids with thematic rooms built to let their imaginations run wild, hopefully enough to eventually tire them out before that afternoon nap. There's also a private room for birthday parties and, on those hot days, air conditioning too.
Kidopolis, 6927 SE Foster Rd., 971.200.4662
Lovejoy Bakers Wholesale Bakery and Café
Hosford-Abernethy, Central Eastside Industrial
Within months of opening their Pearl District location, Lovejoy Bakers' Marc Frankel says he and his wife, Tracy, knew they were going to need a bigger space to satisfy demand. Ergo, the recent opening of their new, much larger wholesale bakery. In addition to supplying bread to markets across town, the bakery sells bread by the loaf and prepares daily sandwiches (like the lamb meatball with rose petal harissa aioli on a ciabatta) for those in need of a quick bite. Expect extended dining options soon, including soups, pastries and breakfast sandwiches.
Lovejoy Bakers, 2523 SE 9th Ave., 971.229.0984
The Slide Inn
Eugen and Lenor Bingham recently shuttered their Italian restaurant, Il Piatto, only to refashion it into a Bavarian restaurant reminiscent of the eateries Eugen Bingham worked at during his time in Germany. He says the space, designed by Lenor Bingham, has been completely remade and now includes bamboo floors, Sputnik light fixtures, and a main dining area that resembles a Bavarian gasthaus. In addition to serving up Austrian pancakes, spätzle, cheese fondue, goulash, and schnitzel, the Binghams make their own Bavarian pretzels, brine their own sauerkraut, and stuff their own sausages. They also serve plenty of German drafts, Austrian wines, and, despite all the meat, offer many gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options, including a gluten-free beer.
The Slide Inn, 2348 SE Ankeny St., 503.236.4997
Downtown, West End
Grüner chef Chris Israel's new West End Mexican restaurant and cantina won't feature Mexican fusion dishes found in Texas or Southern California. Instead, as chef de cuisine Roscoe Roberson says, the kitchen will borrow from many of Mexico's regions to prepare authentic, "straightforward Mexican food." In other words, the kitchen makes its own cheese, pickles its own vegetables, and grinds its own corn to make tortillas, which are "made by hand just minutes before they hit your mouth,” Roberson says. Corazón even uses lard. The bar program, led by bar manager Brian Gilbert, also practices a DIY ethic, augmenting a mezcal-centric menu (think "mezcal sippers,” Gilbert says) with housemade aguas frescas, tepache (fermented and seasoned pineapple juice), and cocktails like the Lupita, which features mezcal, Clear Creek pear brandy, lemon juice and ginger syrup, served up.
Corazón, 1205 SW Washington St., 503.241.1133
When mother of two, Shamaine Coffee, was ready to go back to work, she says it made perfect sense to put her 15 years of retail experience to use by birthing her third baby, Coffee Kids, with her husband, Ben. The new children’s boutique carries all sorts of fun, little things for wee ones, including dress-up costumes for all the budding ballerinas and shining knights in addition to apparel, diapers, socks, toys, and books. If that’s not enough, Coffee Kids even sells nail polish and clip-on hair feathers for older girls, as well as vegan lotions and body washes, and a line of locally made vegan shoes.
Coffee Kids, 7373 N Burlington Ave., 971.255.0839
St. Johns Vintage
Robert Lawrence has 30 years of experience in vintage retail and most recently owned Used Vintage Emporium in St. Johns. Now, he's putting that experience to work with his new "vintage lifestyle store" in the commercial heart of the same neighborhood. With the help of Kaci Fitch, the store's creative director, Lawrence has created a shop with a 20th-century focus, featuring desks, dressers, sofas, artwork, jewelry, trunks, birdcages, and men's and women’s clothes, dating from the 1940s to the 1990s. "Basically," he says, "If [we find] something we think that is cool and we like the aesthetic, we'll put it in the store."
St. Johns Vintage, 8416 N Lombard St., 503.327.4505
Two Rivers Vintage
North Portland has a new artisan gallery of sorts, just down the stairs from Weir's Cyclery. According to manager Cindy Gray, as many as 15 to 20 vendors will display a variety of antiques, collectibles and other vintage goodies, including antique books from Rose City Books, jewelry and apparel by Salty Teacup, and an assortment of locally made watercolors, photographic prints, games, toys, and handmade furniture. And if you're looking for antique fishing poles, there’ll be a few of those too.
Two Rivers Vintage, 8247 N Lombard St., 503.575.8311