Luc Lac Vietnamese Kitchen

Pho PDX’s new, full-scale restaurant brings fantastic cocktails and Vietnamese flavors to the late-night dining scene.

By Benjamin Tepler January 25, 2012

Parasols decorate the ceiling at Luc Lac

Pink parasols hang over Luc Lac Vietnamese Kitchen in Southwest Portland, highlighting a tremendous mural of Chinese lion dancers towering over pho-slurping patrons, just in time for the Chinese New Year. In the center of the room, co-owners and brothers, Adam and Alan Ho, dressed smartly in slim black vests, shake up frothy cocktails and run steaming bowls of beef broth to their customers; some bleary eyed and ravenous, others excited just to be eating great pho at two in the morning. This is the late-night scene at Luc Lac Vietnamese Kitchen, Pho PDX’s remade, full-scale restaurant with great pho and killer cocktails to boot.

Two months ago, the Ho brothers made the jump from a cramped food court to a soaring late-night restaurant near the corner of SW 2nd and Taylor. Their loyal lunchtime and after-hours devotees have followed suite to try the sprawling, expanded menu of small plates, pho, vermicelli bowls, and banh mi.

Pho with round steak and brisket.

The real upgrade is Luc Lac’s cocktail menu; a wacky and wonderful list of creamy Vietnamese influenced flavors and classic ingredients. Adam Ho whips up a mean be dep, a sweet soda of kaffir and tea with a salty whirl of whipped coconut cream on top, reminiscent of a traditional diner egg cream. The bo say, while frightening at first with its mix of Grand Marnier, avocado, cardamom and tapioca (among other things), is like a knock-out milkshake: boozy, thickened judiciously with avocado and the chew of tapioca pearls.

The sweet-boozy mélange goes well with Luc Lac’s pho: a sweet beef broth, full of springy rice noodles and dark anise flavors. The family recipe still holds up with plenty of renditions, from brisket and tripe to a vegan tofu and Thai, tom yum version. Go during their generous happy hour (4-7pm) when you can try just about everything on the small-plates menu for $2, from gnaw-worthy sugar cane shrimp to Pok Pok-esque chicken wings caramelized in fish sauce and garlic.

Luc Lac is a new kind of Vietnamese restaurant, a rock n’ roll till 4 in the morning, cocktail conscious pho joint. Whether you are grabbing an after-work drink with friends, tucked away in chic red banquettes, or stemming an impending hangover at the bar with a bowl of pho, Luc Lac is already turning out to be a downtown gem.

Luc Lac Vietnamese Kitchen
835 SW 2nd Ave
(503) 222-0047
Lunch: Mon-Fri, 11am-2:30pm
Dinner: Mon-Thurs, 4pm-12am, Fri-Sat, 4pm-4am

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