Food News

This Week In Portland Food News: Grace Cafe Opens, The Cart Blocks Pod Arrives, and The Nacheaux Team Plans a Speakeasy

July 23, 2021 Edition
July 22, 2021
The new restaurant Grace Cafe mixes influences from Korean, Middle Eastern, North African, and Japanese cuisine. (Grace Cafe)

This week, a Michelin-starred restaurant alum from San Francisco and a former Top Chef contestant open Grace Cafe, the long-awaited Cart Blocks pod has its grand opening, and the Nacheaux team plots an upcoming speakeasy called Bourbon Street, featuring crawfish boils and beignets. Read on for all of that, plus fun events for this weekend, like Mercato Grove's Grand Opening Party. For more inspiration, check out our food and drink guide.


Cart Blocks
Two years ago, over 50 carts were ousted from their home, the popular pod at Southwest 10th and Alder, to make way for the swanky Ritz-Carlton hotel. Then, this spring, City Council voted to use $269,000 to help relocate the displaced carts to the Ankeny Square in the North Park Blocks. Now, that plan is coming to fruition as the new pod celebrates its grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony this Saturday, July 24. Over 20 of the carts that were previously forced out, including Drunken Noodle, Tito's Burritos, K-Bap, Love Verona, and Shanghai's Best, will be back in business. Meanwhile, ostensibly as a gesture recognizing the pod it displaced, the Ritz-Carlton has revealed plans for a food hall with up to nine vendors on its ground floor. 

Grace Cafe
Brian Han, an alum of the Michelin-starred San Francisco restaurants Lazy Bear and Aziza, has teamed up with former Top Chef contestant BJ Smith to open Grace Cafe, a new restaurant blending Korean, Middle Eastern, North African, and Japanese influences. (The duo previously was running the establishment under the name Dirty Habit and is rebranding.) The spot, which launches today, will offer lunch, dinner, and happy hour and features creative, tongue-in-cheek dishes like the "Mmm Bap" (a take on bibimbap with maitake mushrooms, fermented Brussels sprouts, purple carrots, bean sprouts, and housemade gochujang) and the "Purple Reign" (Okinawan purple sweet potatoes, avocado, seared oyster mushrooms, and mustard greens with ume tzatziki and shiso chermoula). The menu also features a selection of seasonal banchan. 
Pickup, outdoor seating, indoor seating

The local brewery will open its debut taproom inside a converted church (formerly Metropolitan Community Church) in Sullivan's Gulch today and will expand its hours on July 31. Not only that, but they're already planning a second taproom in a warehouse space in Hillsboro, set to open in late 2021 or early 2022.
Sullivan's Gulch, Hillsboro

Swiss Hibiscus
The Swiss and Euro-inspired bistro is hosting its soft reopening this weekend and is accepting a limited number of reservations for the outdoor patio via phone or email. They're also taking a limited number of takeout orders and walk-ins depending upon availability.
Pickup, outdoor seating

Tea Bar
The popular tea shop reopened its Park Avenue location on Wednesday.
Pickup, delivery, dine-in

Wasabi Sushi
The local sushi chain has permanently closed its Sandy location and is hosting the grand opening for its new location at 151 N Failing Street this weekend, from Friday-Sunday. During the celebration, the restaurant's Las Vegas Roll (tuna or salmon, jalapeño, cream cheese, avocado, and cucumber with spicy sauce) and "Wasabi Cheetos Sushi B-Ritto" will both be discounted to $10.


Bourbon Street
Married couple Anthony and Stephanie Brown, the team behind the craveable "Mexicajun" cart-turned-restaurant Nacheaux, plan to open a speakeasy-inspired bar and restaurant called Bourbon Street, inspired by Stephanie's Louisiana roots, in September. The surreptitious spot will be located in a small room off the main Nacheaux space, and you'll need a code word from the restaurant's Instagram to access seafood boils, gumbo, beignets, classic cocktails like Sazeracs and hurricanes, and more.

Lottie & Zula's
The hip New England-style deli and sandwich shop, which opened for takeout and delivery last October, announced on Instagram that it will fully open for the first time in September. The spot is also currently accepting wheatpastes and stickers from artists to put up on its walls.

The pop-up Pasture, which is focused on whole-animal cooking, plans to open a butcher shop and restaurant on Alberta in late 2021 or early 2022. The pop-up, which can currently be found at Tails & Trotters on Sundays, butchers retired dairy cows that they buy directly from farmers, a sustainable practice that yields less waste than the standard American practice of turning older cows into ground meat.


Jojo will give away a $250 gift card to a newly vaccinated customer
Hoping to offer an additional incentive to those who have not yet gotten their COVID-19 shot, the popular fried chicken truck Jojo will enter customers who show proof of being vaccinated from July 19-25 into a raffle for a $250 gift card. If the promise of protection against COVID-19 won't entice them to get vaccinated, maybe the prospect of crispy poultry and potato wedges will? If you haven't gotten vaccinated yet, you can find a location to do so here.

Willamette Valley Vineyards plans to expand
The longtime Oregon winery Willamette Valley Vineyards announced this week that it will introduce three new locations in the Portland metro area over the next year: a Lake Oswego location with a fancy patio and dining room opening this winter, a restaurant on the Vancouver waterfront opening next summer, and a Happy Valley restaurant opening later in 2022. After that, the winery is eyeing downtown Bend for an outpost opening in 2023.


Good AF Times Patio Party
The local alcohol-free cocktail specialist For Bitter For Worse will unveil their shiny new production facility with a bash that includes spirit-free cocktail samples, zero-proof cocktails from Suckerpunch, music by Kasey Anderson, food from Barkada PDX, a raffle, and an appearance from local celebrity Caesar the No Drama Llama.
For Bitter For Worse, Saturday, 7-10 pm

Dirty Radish & Friends Dinner
The 18-acre, third-generation Star Mooring Farm will host its debut public event, a "farm-to-fire" omnivorous dinner by the boutique catering company Tournant, complemented by a selection of wines from the Willamette Valley, Beaujolais, and Champagne.
Star Mooring Farm, Saturday, 5 pm

Grand Opening Party
The Lake Oswego development Mercato Grove will celebrate the openings of Tasty, Lac St. Jack, Oven and Shaker, Lardo, Grassa, and Fills with a patio party featuring live music and free wine and beer tastings. Plus, try free mini donuts, enjoy balloon art, get face paint and/or airbrush tattoos, and meet a pair of alpacas named Jean Pierre and Napoleon.
Mercato Grove, Saturday, 1-5 pm

Verdant Paired Tasting Lunch
Enjoy a leisurely multi-course tasting lunch by chef Will Preisch, who will devise menus sourced primarily from produce from Abbey Road Farm, paired with wines from the farm's winery.
Abbey Road Farm, Fridays-Saturday through October 2, 1-4 pm

Portland Mercury's Summer of Slushies
The coolest, most delicious event of the summer is finally here! The Merc and Jim Beam present Summer of Slushies, which brings boozy, frozen, custom-made treats to the frugal and thirsty denizens of Portland at just $5 a pop. Check out this convenient slushie map to see which bars have the goods.
Various locations through July 30

Zuckercreme Presents: Summer Camp
Embrace your inner child at this summer camp-themed weekend series, where you'll find purveyors of sugary sweets, a bakery and camp store with morning treats and craft supplies, Sunday brunches, and more.
Kuchenhaus, Thursdays-Sundays through July 31


If you want a frosty summer treat with a healthy dose of probiotics, Fermenter is currently churning up kombucha slushies in flavors like jasmine golden raspberry and lavender hibiscus strawberry.

St. Beatrix
For an elegant teatime treat, the bakeshop is currently offering pastries filled with almond and pineapple vanilla bean jam and topped with candied thyme and edible flowers.
Pickup, delivery