As a recent Foster-Powell transplant, I have to admit I’m kind of falling in love with the neighborhood. It’s still a little rough around the edges—mostly auto repair shops with three letter names like “Red’s,” “Bill’s,” and “Bob’s”—but its formerly nonexistent food scene is rapidly growing. And with 5 & Dime (6535 SE Foster Road), opened last month, FoPo finally has a legitimate, upscale cocktail bar that doubles as a community center for Blazer games and pizza nights.
The swanky, green and gold-hued drinking den is the brainchild of Colin Carroll, the former bar manager at Trifecta Tavern, and co-owned by Alex “Goose” Gesler, also from Trifecta. Their original vision for a “bodega-inspired bar... influenced by the family-owned, hoagie-selling East Coast corner stores” as first reported by Eat Beat last year, seems to have gone by the wayside. Instead, it’s a Portland-chic, 60-seat space that feels dark and secluded enough for date night but inclusive enough to bring your kids (until 7 p.m. at least) to watch playoff games on the big screen above the bar.
The two-part cocktail menu is broken into classic and rotating themed sections. This is definitely the first bar in FoPo to design a themed drink list based on Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. It might be a little heady for a neighborhood watering hole, but if the Wednesday—a terrifically refreshing summer swill of aquavit, grapefruit oleo saccharum, lemon, and bitters—is any indication, the packaging doesn’t really matter.
More impressive is the lengthy classic cocktail menu, which ranges widely from a Rob Roy to a Mexican Firing Squad, at $7 a piece. Technically, any good bartender should be able to pull these off on request, but to have them written down kind of feels like cherry-picking from The Savoy Cocktail Book. Based on a very evenly-keeled daiquiri, I’d say this is the best place to have your cocktail needs met south of Powell, with shockingly good prices in line with the neighborhood’s dirt-cheap dives.
During dinner, most tables are loaded with big, cheesy pizzas from next door: 5 & Dime shares a kitchen with Atlas Pizza—a greasy, New York-style pie shop with locations on Killingsworth and Division. It’s a fine foil for heavy drinking, but not one of the city’s main pizza contenders.
The bar’s own menu is a short list of lighter fare, with boards, salads, and skewers. On first visit, things were still uneven: a fish board included stale bread and tough, over-pickled shrimp, while the over-wrought broccolini salad was covered in layers of caramelized onions, hot peppers, pickled shitakes, and seed crackers. Your best bet is those skewers: juicy morsels in various sauces and spices—especially the Wagyu flank steak in some kind of mustardy spinach dip.
5 & Dime is proof that craft cocktails—and upscale food and drink in general—can thrive in FoPo with the right balance of neighborhood service and ambition. With any luck, this is just the beginning of a booming new food culture south of Powell.