Bars and restaurants once again dominate the list of new businesses that opened their doors last month. Portland is now home to a new breakfast-and-lunch spot, a bakery that serves Spanish tapas, a bar that specializes in whey-based cocktails, and a bottle shop/bar that serves up almost exclusively Pacific Northwest IPAs. A pair of Vietnamese restaurants opened, as did a pair of Mexican restaurants, and two local burger mini-chains each added another store to their growing empires. And if that weren't enough, there are three additional restaurants featuring menus that change daily.
24th and Meatballs
Why would the owner-chef of a modern Mediterranean restaurant turn his attention to meatballs? "I've always wanted to do this," says Tabla's Adam Berger, who frequented meatball spots as a kid growing up in New Jersey. His new 26-seat, lunch-and-dinner restaurant features all kinds of meatballs (Italian, chicken Parmesan, pork piccante, vegan, and experimental daily specials) served in a variety of ways (on panini, sliders, heroes and, of course, atop a pile of hand-cut spaghetti). Berger's menu also includes plenty of drink options, listing more than 20 ciders and beers, as well as one that's gluten free, and non-standard, non-alcoholic beverages, like ginger lemonade and peppermint iced tea.
24th and Meatballs, 2341 NE Glisan St., 50-EAT-BALLS
Grant Park, NE Broadway
Blair Reynolds has been making craft tiki cocktails for years—he even distributes B.G. Reynolds' Hand-Crafted Exotic Syrups, his own line of simple syrups. He jokes that he's a tiki "nerd," but says it's more accurate to consider him an "obsessive and passionate" enthusiast of island cocktail culture. So, it makes sense that he's just opened his first-ever cocktail lounge in the space formerly home to Thatch Tiki Bar. Hale Pele (pronounced HAH-lay PAY-lay) is named after the Hawaiian volcano goddess, and offerings will focus on maintaining the integrity of the original tiki-era drinks, Reynolds says. (Think Hurricanes, Mai Tais and Zombies.) The bar also offers island-inspired small plates with roots in Portuguese, Japanese and Philippine cuisines.
Hale Pele, 2733 NE Broadway, 503.427.8454
The Original WOW! Burger
According to Isa Dillingham, marketing coordinator for WOW!, the quest for a good burger begins in your own backyard. That's where it started for owner Craig Knouf, a retired businessman who enjoys building burgers on his home grill. And once he found the perfect one, he wanted to share it. But, as Dillingham, points out, his ideal burger might differ from yours. That's why you build your own burger when you visit WOW!—choices include five meat and meatless options, four bread and bunless options, six cheeses options, and 34 condiment and topping options—until it’s just the way you want it. WOW! also serves milkshakes and sides, including onion rings, chili fries and sweet potato tater tots.
The Original WOW! Burger, 10107 NE Cascades Parkway, 503.841.5948
Pix Pâtisserie/Bar Vivant
Kerns, Burnside East
Earlier this year, Pix owner Cheryl Wakerhauser shuttered her Boise and Richmond shops in order to move her operations into one large 3,000-square-foot space. In addition to offering French pastries and desserts (including the ever-popular French macaroons), the reborn Pix includes a bar, with an emphasis on Spanish tapas and sherry cocktails, that features hundreds of bottles of new- and old-world wines, beers from across the globe, and an overall atmosphere that's lively and boisterous. “It's the kind of place where you come to have a good time," says General Manager Rachel Schaefer.
Pix Pâtisserie/Bar Vivant, 2225 E Burnside, 971.271.7166
Annastacia Weiss and Eloise Augustyn are both native Portlanders and have each spent the last decade working in various local kitchens, most recently, The Farm Cafe. Now, the pair have teamed up and opened a small, well-lit breakfast-and-lunch spot with an open view of their kitchen where you can watch all the action taking place. Everything on the menu is farm-direct, says Augustyn, and, save for some of the breads, made from scratch, including favorites like egg sandwiches, breakfast burritos, lunch sandwiches, and homemade pies. As for the name? Augustyn says it's a nod to Astorian singer-songwriter Michael Hurley's song "Sweedeedee," in which he sings about a good woman of whom he could tell, just by the way she hung her laundry, that her cooking must be fine.
Sweedeedee, 5202 N Albina Ave., 503.946.8087
The way bartender Jamal Hassan puts it, why would Ox owners Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñonez Denton settle for a simple waiting room for their Argentine steakhouse when they could turn such a space into a small cocktail bar instead? Hassan says the new "waiting room" is an intimate one—Whey Bar seats about 25, with space for another 25 outdoors when the weather's warm—where you can sample small plates (truffle-ranch corn nuts, house-baked ricotta cheese with chimichurri) while waiting for your table. In fact, it's the whey left over from the homemade ricotta that inspired Hassan to dream up whey-based drinks like The Whey We Were, a gin fizz-like cocktail made with whey, gin, aquavit and lime juice. Hassan says he's also excited to showcase something else that he's particularly proud: barrel-aged Fernet Branca, on draft. The barrel aging softens the digestif's harsher qualities while bringing out its many herbal notes, a process, Hassan says, that "makes a better Fernet,” in his opinion.
Whey Bar, 2225 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd., 503.284.3366
Eugene native Signa Cheney has practiced yoga for 25 years, teaching it for 14 before taking a job as a middle and high school Spanish teacher for Portland Public Schools. She has since returned to the meditative practice and has opened her first studio with classes designed for novices and longtime students, ranging from song, dance and Nia, to more advanced practices, like Kundalini yoga, which requires discipline to build physical, emotional and spiritual strength through movement, meditation, balance, and control of breath. Cheney says her studio offers drop-in rates for the curious as well as classes sold in batches. The more classes you sign up for, she says, the lower the fee. You can also gift classes to friends, and once your batch has been paid for, it never expires.
Mandala Yoga, 6833 SE Belmont St., 503.206.5041
Mt. Scott-Arleta, Foster
The reason Daniel Huish gives for opening a dine-in bottle shop that spotlights nothing but IPAs is simple one: "IPAs are what we [Pacific Northwesterners] do well," he says. Yet, his shop isn't just a place to grab a six-pack on the way home, but rather an amalgamation of everything Huish and his friends like. Besides IPAs, guests can snack on cheeses from Rogue Creamery, charcuterie from Chop butcher shop, and ice cream from Salt & Straw. The menu at this 41-seat, place-your-order-at-the-bar spot also features daily sandwich specials, hot dogs and four, always local, draft beers. So, if you like what you're drinking and want to stock your fridge with something fresher than that sixer, ask your bartender for some draft beer to go. They’ll send you home with tap beer in reusable 64-ounce growlers and 32-ounce Mason jars.
N.W.I.P.A., 6350 SE Foster Road, 971.279.5876
Every week, Wafu chef and owner Trent Pierce travels to the Oregon coast to forage for shellfish, seaweeds and edible blossoms "that you've never heard of." Whatever he brings back, he says, is used as ingredients for dishes at Roe, his new, reservation-only dining room nested in the back of Wafu. The space accommodates 30 guests at a time, but Pierce says he expects two full turns a night, meaning 60 diners can enjoy the dishes he and his team dream up. Pierce also says that the drinks menu, including coastal wines, sherries, Basque ciders, light beers, and signature cocktails, are chosen to match the food. Roe is open only three days (Thursday-Saturday), and the reservation book fills up quickly, so call early to get your table.
Roe, 3113 SE Division St., 503.232.1566
Buckman, Central Eastside Industrial
Jesse Skiles entered the food and beverage industry with the aim of running his own kitchen. But for the last four years, he's been making wine instead. His urban winery, Fausse Piste, annually produces 3,200 cases of wine that can be found on specialty market shelves and restaurant menus all over town. Now, he's back in the kitchen preparing seasonal dishes to complement his own wines—as well as the flavors found in an extensive slew of old world varietals—in his new 32-seat, winery-adjacent dining room. Skiles says his menu reflects what he considers modern farmhouse cuisine, which means the dishes will change often—about every month or two. But Skiles adds that there will be at least one item available year-round: house-smoked chicken wings. Also, for the adventurous and curious, Skiles and his team prepare three- and five-course, chef's choice "mystery dinners" each night.
Sauvage, 537 SE Ash St., Ste. 102, 971.258.5829
Whoever said that wine doesn't pair well with Mexican food hasn't met Xico's Kelly Myers and Liz Davis. The duo, both formerly of Nostrana, have carefully selected wines, by the bottle and glass, to pair with their homemade Mexican dishes. Inspired by fare from regions like Oaxaca, Vera Cruz and Sonora, expect liberal use of southern chilies (16 varieties in total), freshly ground masa for hot tortillas, chicken dishes, and, when available, dishes spotlighting locally raised goats. The staff also mixes up plenty of mezcal and tequila drinks, and offers imported bottles of Mexican beer and local drafts on tap. Can't make it for dinner? Xico also serves on-the-go lunchtime crowds a limited menu via their walk-up, carry-out window, and, should you decide to call it a day early, you can even buy to-go bottles of wine and beer from the same window.
Xico, 3715 SE Division St., 503.548.6343
Ben Bui, the owner of downtown yogurt spot Skinnidip, says the goal for his new airy and well-lit restaurant is "to bring Vietnamese family food to the public." In other words, he wants to share with you what he ate while he was growing up, literally. If you sit at the bar, you can watch his mother and aunt dusting off family recipes as they cook your lunch and dinner. Think fried chicken, vermicelli noodles with lemongrass pork, bánh mì, and phở (made with filet mignon and meatballs). Bui says he also got help from Gruner mixologist Tommy Klus, who designed the spot's specialty cocktails and chose Portland drafts to complement the food. And Bui adds that, to keep the flavors fresh and natural, the entire menu is MSG free.
Fish Sauce, 407 NW 17th Ave., 503.227.8000
Little Big Burger
Northwest District, Nob Hill
The newest Little Big Burger—the second in NW Portland and the fifth Portland location overall—features the mini-chain's now familiar and intentionally pared-down menu of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, veggie burgers, fries, sodas and floats, all of which go for less than $4 a piece. And for the beer lovers, northwest manager Lindsey Zarr says the new space is stocked with more than 30 kinds of 12- and 16-ounce cans of craft beer. Zarr also says there's good news for those who like dipping their fries in owner Micah Camden's specialty catsup, too. You can now take home 16-ounce bottles of the stuff for just $3 a pop.
Little Big Burger, 930 NW 23rd Ave., 971.544.7817
Taqueria Los Gorditos Perla
Ordering something to eat at the newest Los Gorditos is easy: You order at the register, get a number, help yourself to silverware and napkins, take a short trip to the salsa bar, grab a seat, and then simply wait for your food, which will be delivered shortly. The hard part, though, is choosing what to eat. The new spot—the third for Los Gorditos' Cruz family—features vegan, vegetarian and meat menus listing a variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner items, including vegan soyrizo tacos, vegetarian chilaquiles, pancakes, crêpes, tortas, sopas, and specialty plates like vegan fajitas and chicharrón (fried pork in a green sauce). Of course, you can always ask for a rather large, meaty, vegetarian or vegan burrito, perhaps the item for which Los Gorditos is best known.
Taqueria Los Gorditos Perla, 922 NW Davis St., 503.805.5323
As its name implies, Market's menu is determined by what's fresh and what's available right now. What results are dishes made with a variety of pastas, seafood, meats, and vegetables, and prepared using French and Italian cooking techniques. And while you should expect the menus to change every other week, there a few staples (like waffle fries with a buttermilk vinaigrette dipping sauce) as well as four rotating craft beers and a signature cocktail menu that includes creations like the Campfire Fairytale, a cleverly designed drink made with Scotch, pine liqueur, honey and lemon juice.
Market, 200 SW Market St., 503.248.0004
For a few years, the Baowry food cart occupied a space in front of a derelict home where unsavory practices, often of the illicit drug-related variety, once occurred. But then owners Ross Skomsvold and Molly Scott left the cart scene, and teamed up with their friend and service industry veteran, Alan Torres, to clean up the home and turn it into a new bar and Vietnamese small plates restaurant. Torres says to expect jicama salads, noodle dishes, sizzling rice soup, and savory Korean-style buns. And rather than design a cocktail menu that strictly honored or reinvented old classics, Torres experimented with a variety of ingredients and flavors to come up with a list of vibrantly colored drinks made to complement the food, employing spirits like soju, a rice-based Korean liquor similar to vodka, and creating housemade lime, lychee and wasabi simple syrups.
Baowry, 8307 N Ivanhoe St., 503.995.4005