Happy New Year! Despite the many blows dealt to the restaurant industry in 2020, the Portland food scene is already off to a strong start in 2021: The vegan comfort food sensation Plant Based Papi has launched a brick-and-mortar restaurant, Andy Ricker's Thai izakaya Ping makes a comeback, a new "virtual food hall" has come to town, and a new location of Tea Chai Té opens today. Plus, Hungry Tiger says goodbye, and to-go cocktails have arrived. Read on for all that and more essential updates. For more ideas, check out our food and drink guide.
According to a press release, the restaurant group and catering business ChefStable officially launched this new collective of seven new "chef-driven, delivery-only concepts" on January 4, with more planned to come. Similar to other "virtual food halls" like Central Kitchen, the collective offers the ability to order from several differently branded "restaurants" in a single transaction (a convenient option if you and whoever else you live with are experiencing different cravings). The concepts currently include Charlie's Hot Chicken (a Nashville hot chicken concept that chef Doug Miriello launched in September), Abuelita Lupita (traditional Mexico City-style machetes, a type of long oval- shaped taco, and more from chefs Salvador Cristobal and Araceli Alvarez), Cruzer Burrito (SoCal-style burritos with crinkle-cut fries from chef Alex Jackson of Kex and Dóttir), Jackson's Smoked Sandwiches (shredded beef, cheddar cheese sauce and pulled pork from Alex Jackson), Lumo Teriyaki Grill (teriyaki with local kimchi and choice of protein from chef Lucas Morales), and Waldorf and Cobb (fresh salads and wraps with homemade dressings from Doug Miriello). A concept called Chill Noodle serving Asian-influenced vegan noodle bowls from Alex Jackson is also set to join the group soon. The restaurants are available on DoorDash, Postmates, and Caviar, and will soon be available on GrubHub and UberEats as well.
Chop Chop Chicken Sundaes & Salads
The popular pop-up-turned-food truck soft-opened its first brick-and-mortar location in Bridgeport Village on Saturday, November 21 and will have its grand opening this Saturday, January 9, according to a press release. The brand is known for its savory "sundaes" (two scoops of rice and a choice of chicken or tofu, with a variety of toppings like crushed pineapple, crispy chow mein noodles, and cheddar cheese and a drizzle of chicken gravy or vegetable broth) served in takeout containers. The new location expands the menu to feature chopped salads, with options for Cobb, Mediterranean, Caesar, Far East, Southwest, and build-your-own. The restaurant will give away free 16 oz mini chicken sundaes to celebrate its grand opening (limit one per customer) and will partner with other Bridgeport Village vendors and local businesses to offer prizes throughout the day.
Birria, the spicy Mexican stewed meat dish that's enjoying a surge in popularity thanks to Instagram and Netflix's Taco Chronicles, is having a moment in Portland. Following the recent openings of similar spots like Carlos Beltran Birria Food Truck and Birreria PDX, a food truck called OG Birreria has opened in Hillsboro. The menu includes birria in tacos, burritos, tortas, gorditas, and even ramen, plus a quesadilla-like "pizza" with cheese.
The demise of Andy Ricker's legendary Thai franchise Pok Pok was one of the COVID-19 restaurant casualties that hit hardest in 2020, but all is not lost. On December 17, ChefStable revived the chain's "Thai izakaya" spinoff Ping as a delivery-only concept in the former space of Holdfast Dining. Chef Michael Kessler, who previously took over the restaurant when Ricker left in 2011, is overseeing the menu, which consists of some of the restaurant's greatest hits that are most suited to takeout, such as yakitori skewers, kha muu thawt (Thai braised pork leg), and noodle soups.
Pickup or delivery
Plant Based Papi
Following the recent trend of vegan pop-ups like Mirisata and Mama Dút spawning brick-and-mortar restaurants, Jewan Manuel's vegan comfort food pop-up Plant Based Papi, which serves dishes like truffle mac and cheese tacos and crispy fried "chick'n" sandwiches, opened as a permanent restaurant in the former space of Floyd's Coffee Shop on December 19.
Tea Chai Té
The well-respected tea shop chain Tea Chai Té opens a new location in the former space North Portland today, according to a press release. The company also celebrated its 17th anniversary in December. Like the other locations, the new shop will feature high-quality loose-leaf tea, bubble tea, and six flavors of kombucha from the brand's sister company Happy Mountain Kombucha.
Thanapat Namsri, Thipsuda Phatumratanachot, and Ammy Nguyen have opened this Thai restaurant on NE Broadway, serving Thai dishes that are less familiar to the mainstream American palate, such as khao soi haeng (a dry variation of the popular noodle soup khao soi) and gaeng hung lay (a pork belly stew from Northern Thailand).
Pickup or delivery
Star bartender Estanislado Orona, known for his striking original cocktails, plans to open his own bar in the former space of the Liquor Store on SE Belmont in early spring. The bar, which will initially open for limited outdoor dining and takeout, will also feature a food menu with vegan and vegetarian tapas.
Pickup or outdoor dining
Jacqueline, the stylish seafood restaurant named for Bill Murray's submarine in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, will rebrand as a brunch restaurant called Fair Weather at the end of January. The retooled menu will feature dishes like cedar plank salmon with potatoes and scrambled eggs, and Dungeness crab toast with a poached egg.
Pickup or limited outdoor dining
Alvin Wang, Phumitas Kaewklang, and Raymond Chau, the owners of the Vietnamese deli Lotus Kitchen, plan to open a restaurant called Lúa in the former space of Las Primas in February, serving Vietnamese noodle soups, banh mi, cold-pressed juices, and scratch-made boba drinks.
Pickup or delivery
According to a press release, two former employees of the Tasty restaurant group (Tasty N Sons, Tasty N Alder, Tasty N Daughters), chef Mike Kessler and manager Faye Crosswhite, have partnered with ChefStable to purchase the brand from its founders John and Renee Gorham and will open a new location called Tasty in Lake Oswego on June 1. The new location will have a 3200 square foot space and a menu focused on "all the Tasty classics." Pastry chef Katherine Benvenuti, who previously worked as executive chef at the now-closed Bakery at Bar King and opened the filled doughnut shop Fills Donuts with chef Leather Storrs in 2020, will join the team to help perfect the brand's well-known biscuits and baked goods.
Fatou Ouattara's West African restaurant Akadi closed temporarily on December 31, but there's no need to panic: The restaurant will reopen in a bigger location, possibly by June. When the new location opens, Akadi's previous location will be repurposed to host a cooking school with classes for high school students and children of West African immigrants. In the meantime, fans can find the restaurant's meals and bottled hot sauce at Green Zebra Grocery.
After service on December 21, this bar known for its vegan corn dogs and other plant-based comfort food closed indefinitely. In an announcement on Twitter, the bar wrote, "We don’t know if this is bye for now, or bye forever."
According to a Facebook post by the building's manager, the space previously filled by the old-timey Western-themed dive bar Watertrough Saloon is now up for sale.
To-go cocktails have arrived
Rejoice: To-go cocktails are now legal with the purchase of a "substantial food item" in Portland! Celebrate by checking out our list of new drinks available for pickup or delivery, from bottled Negronis at Montelupo Market to fun libations from Eem, and read about Suzette Smith's to-go cocktail picks in the latest edition of her Takeout Club column.
Shake Shack and In-N-Out headed to the Portland area
The wildly popular burger chains Shake Shack and In-N-Out are both eyeing expansion in the Portland area. Shake Shack is set to open locations downtown and in Cedar Hills, while In-N-Out is considering opening outposts in Bridgeport and Beaverton-Hillsdale. The plans are still in the preliminary stages, so opening dates for the locations are still unknown.
POP-UPS AND EVENTS
This weekend, the Cambodian pop-up Sunshine Noodles will be dishing up brunch, with dishes like char siu bacon and eggs, French toast dunkers, and avocado toast toad-in-the-hole.
Deadstock Coffee, Saturday-Sunday
The native- and Chicana-owned plant-based frozen dessert shop accidentally made too many piña colada popsicles, so they're selling them for $2 a pop all weekend long.
The wacky doughnut mainstay has at last put the flavors of everyone's favorite toaster pastry in their doughnuts with their new strawberry Pop-Tart doughnut, filled with strawberry jelly and topped with vanilla frosting and rainbow sprinkles. A portion of proceeds will benefit the nonprofit HERA Ovarian Cancer Foundation.
Pickup, in-person, or delivery