Cover Story

Eat Outside: Up in Flames

Fire pits worth a visit.

By Kasey Cordell July 22, 2011 Published in the August 2011 issue of Portland Monthly


Settling in around Nel Centro’s fire pit.

Image: Neil DeCosta


Nel Centro

$$ 60 ^

1408 SW Sixth Ave; 503-484-1099
Take a vacation from your regular post-work watering hole at this bar and restaurant in downtown’s Hotel Modera. Between the living wall—a grid of plants growing amid concrete panels—excellent happy hour dishes (a wood-fired Italian sausage, caramelized onion, and fennel pollen pizza for $7, for example), and an evening-extending black marble fire pit filled with flaming stones, your “vacation” might just turn into a full-fledged sabbatical.

Kennedy School

$ 48 H

5736 NE 33rd Ave; 503-249-3983
Perhaps more famous for its water feature (the 36-foot-long outdoor soaking tub), the Kennedy School’s signature mosaic fireplace, in the inner courtyard, sometimes get overlooked. Which is just fine with us, since it means a little extra rump-warming room on the fireplace’s wraparound brick bench.

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Casa Naranja

$ 50 H

4205 N Mississippi Ave; 503-459-4049
Catch summer on a string at this “orange house,” where hammocks, swinging seats, and a tapas menu with treats like garlic and sherry-soaked green beans and smoked wild boar ribs create an actual movable feast. Should you miss out on one of the seats surrounding the sandstone fire pit in the corner, the dozens of dangling tiki torches can light up your night, too.

A Roadside Attraction

$ 60 ^

1000 SE 12th Ave; 503-233-0743
Hidden behind a weatherworn wooden fence, the entrance to this funky bar and restaurant is easy to miss. The smell, however, is not: the scent of campfire emanating from Roadside’s courtyard wraps the entire block (and you) in a cloak of smoky goodness so thick that, after a pint of micro and a smoked-sausage baguette, you’ll leave with a musky souvenir of your own.

Del Inti (Now Closed)

$$ 56 H ^

2315 NE Alberta St; 503-288-8191
If spicy Peruvian fare like picante de pulpo (octopus stew) or rocoto relleno (peppers stuffed with pork adobo) doesn’t heat up your evening, Del Inti’s front-patio fire pit certainly will. Nuzzled up against Alberta Street, the patio’s cushion-covered wooden benches offer a well-padded perch for staring into the flames—or out at the equally mesmerizing street scene. —KC

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