Summer Eats: Fun in the Sun

11 Amazing Ways to Savor Summer in Portland

Garden bowers. Yacht-side patios. Slurping banana pudding milkshakes and swilling beers with llamas. We’ve got ideas.

By Karen Brooks, Kelly Clarke, Rebecca Jacobson, Sam Pape, Benjamin Tepler, and Sarah Williams June 19, 2018 Published in the July 2018 issue of Portland Monthly

It's mezcal season at Xico.

Image: Thomas Teal

As the sun shines on Portland, you must ...

... Devour Mezcal and Grasshoppers in Xico’s Garden Bower

Three reasons you ought to be at Xico, Division’s playful house of refined Mexican cooking: 1. The 48-seat patio is a treasure—outfitted with Italian designer chairs, crisscrossed with lights that twinkle like frosted jewelry, overflowing with blooming plants. 2. Spring’s Oaxacan staff trip extended Xico’s years-long descent into mezcal madness, with new scores brought back in suitcases. The best move here: order a flight of three with paired bites, and share it with a friend. Each pour is different, flirty to fruity-smoky to head-expanding. The bites are just as interesting. Fried grasshoppers seasoned with chile salt? You bet. 3. Xico’s chef Kelly Myers is recovering from a massive stroke, but the restaurant is still charging ahead. Portland’s food community has responded, as always, impressively. Join them. 3715 SE Division St —KB

... Slurp Revival’s Craft Cocktail Slushies Until Your Brains Freeze

Sellwood speakeasy Bible Club has a summer-only secret: its seasonal patio bar, Revival, spends the warmer months doling out top-shelf cocktail slushies. The roster’s crowning glory riffs on the ubiquitous Penicillin cocktail, showcasing an aggressively smoky Ardberg Ten Years Old scotch, backed by fresh lemon, ginger, and honey slush. Imagine drinking a citrusy, frozen campfire. Need a less charry slurp? Try the Last Word, heady with London dry gin, green chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, and lime: sweet, sour, and dangerously refreshing. 6716 SE 16th Ave —SP

... Ride Your Bike to Cartlandia (and Drink Beers with a Llama)

Food carts are great. Even better? Food carts after a few miles on your bike. As a mid-ride refueling stop, no Portland cart pod outshines Cartlandia, just off the Springwater Corridor at SE 82nd and Harney. Just across the Willamette from downtown, catch the paved multiuse trail around OMSI. You’ll hug the river before cutting through Sellwood and over McLoughlin Boulevard, soon reaching the lush green stretch along Johnson Creek. After eight mostly flat miles, Cartlandia’s bounty awaits: 32 carts, from Mongolian to Moroccan to Hispanic-Indian fusion (yep: tikka masala enchiladas are thing now). Plus a sports bar, the Blue Room, which welcomes cart food, pours 12 tap beers, and serves up its own Jell-O shots ($1.50) and mystery shots ($3; caveat emptor). Need further enticement? Beloved Portland celeb Rojo the Llama, is slated to pop by for “Llama Llibations” on select Fridays this summer. 8145 SE 82nd Ave —RJ

Pie o'clock at Ranch Pizza

Image: Thomas Teal

... Get Square with Ranch Pizza x 2

In a year, Ranch Pizza has expanded from a cult delivery-only pop-up to slinging pies at Modest Mouse front man Isaac Brock’s junk-shop dive Poison’s Rainbow and launching its own brick-and-mortar in Woodlawn. What’s behind this doughy meteoric rise? Square-cut Motor City-meets-Sicily pizza, perfect for dunking in house-made ranch dressing. Fluffy-centered pies with shatter-crisp edges take cues from not only trendy Detroit deep-dish but Sicilian-style grandma pies, too—an inspired combo that results in pure, garlicky, inverted sauce-on-cheese-on-bread, comfort. Devour a quarter-pie with a “scoot” (1 oz shots with wee chasers) at one of Poison’s vintage-lit tables. Or, starting this month, cart the whole family to Ranch’s new NoPo digs, next door to Tamale Boy. The shop shares the Mexican restaurant’s giant fire pit and sun-umbrella-strewn patio—one of the prettiest outdoor dining rooms in town. 344 NE 28th Ave & 1760 NE Dekum St —SW

... Drink in the 360-Degree View on Revolution Hall’s Roof Deck

To the west: sweeping views of downtown Portland. To the east: trees on trees on trees. In one direction, it’s as if we live in a, like, real-life big city—one where rooftop patios feature picnic tables shaded by big umbrellas, pretty string lights, and yoga blankets for that post-sunset chill. But then you pivot 180 degrees, and wha-bam! We live in a forest! A forest with $4 happy hour pints. 1300 SE Stark St —RJ

... Jump-Start the Day at Cloudforest with Cookies and Chocolate Milk

In our world, summer means chocolate for breakfast. (Because, why not?) Follow us now to Cloudforest, a neighborhood chocolate factory and quality espresso bar from rising star Sebastian Cisneros. Cisneros’s bean-to-bar chocolate figures in nearly everything here, from iced drinking chocolate to cacao water. But we’re hooked on the simple charms of cold chocolate milk ($3.75–4.50), whisked to order with 70 percent chocolate and Cloudforest’s house-made vanilla extract, “just enough to open up the chocolate’s floral notes,” in house parlance. More of that good stuff ripples through the house chocolate cookie ($2.75), making the whole package a dunker supreme. 1411 SE Stark St —KB

... Discover Happy Hour in Tusk’s Fancy Parking Lot

Veg heads, adventurous eaters, and hard-core cooks all feel at home at this Oregon farm–meets–Middle Eastern outfit—which means it can be tough to get a prime-time table at brunch or dinner. Early this summer, Tusk quietly launched a weekend-only happy hour, 2:30 to 5 p.m., with a dozen-plus food options in the $3–14 range. Best scores: the six-item “happy mezze” (silky signature house hummus and famed flatbread included) and a delightful date soft-serve sundae, layered with deep, dark date syrup, and crowned in chewy-sticky fried dates and sea salt. Head for the back patio—a parking lot transformed into an open-air “dining room” with chic tableware and ceiling fans—and rub elbows with flowering plants all round. 2448 E Burnside St —KB

Cornhole on the lawn, Portland-style, courtesy 3 Sheets’ yacht-rocking scene

Image: Thomas Teal

... Get Yacht-Rocked at 3 Sheets at the Harbor’s Columbia River Brunch

This hotel-chic spot hidden behind a monolithic Hayden Island condo serves up large two-for-one mimosas, omelets stuffed with whole Dungeness crab cakes, and aspirational Columbia River views. Weekend brunch at 3 Sheets is all about luxe maritime chill, a few yards above the Salpare Bay Marina. Split a generous plate of frizzled-onion-and-fried-egg-topped French toast on the breezy patio. Survey luxury watercraft you may or may not own. Toss a game of cornhole on the AstroTurf lawn, extremely stiff tropical cocktail in hand, bien sûr. And gently sway as a DJ named Mike spins Michael McDonald, Paperboy, and Spandau Ballet (Sundays only, sadly). All that’s missing is a pair of Sperry Top-Siders and a cameo from T-Pain. 11505 NE Yacht Harbor Dr —KC

... Play Snow Queen on Departure’s Sky-High Patios

Downtown’s 15th-floor Asian fusion dining room uses summer as an excuse to unleash icy wonders on its pair of SPF-50 worthy rooftop decks. The sprawling West bar is packed with selfie-seekers downing prosecco slushie-spritzes. Meanwhile, culinary drama unfurls on the more serene East Deck, where gold-flake adorned ice cream cones and towers of shocking-pink shave ice pull focus from its vista of the Willamette River. Chef Gregory Gourdet promises wild flavors like Thai candle-smoked coconut with durian for the return of his house ice cream program (and vegan waffle cones!) while the kitchen’s inaugural go at Japanese shave ice tops fluffy piles of frozen strawberry juice with green tea mochi. Plus, no one in town lavishes as much attention on nonalcoholic drinks: the coconut-milky Yu the Great, laced with Thai basil and matcha, tastes like a worldly piña colada. Zero booze, all the fancy. 525 SW Morrison St. East Deck reservations available on Open Table thru mid-October. —KC

Palomar's sun-flooded space

Image: Michael Novak

... Take a Havana Vacation at Southeast Portland's Palomar

With waiters in matching button-down seersucker shirts, gold-flecked tables, and a sunny color scheme—right down to the hardbound, cheerfully illustrated menus and the customized Bic pens—Palomar plucks you out of Portland and drops you into an exceedingly well-designed version of midcentury Cuba. The kitchen is still working out the kinks, but owner and star bartender Ricky Gomez has masterminded a list of daiquiris both classic and cruise-ship-worthy (plus plenty of other tropical-tilting cocktails). Best bet? Slide in between 4 and 6 p.m. weekdays for a $6 rotating frozen daiquiri—a recent passion fruit number was perfectly puckery and balanced, far better than anything pulled from a machine had any right to be. 959 SE Division St —RJ

... Load Up on Bark City BBQ’s Pit Master Nap and Banana Pudding Milkshake

You’re liable to see white, fabulous-smelling smoke billowing from a 15-foot chimney before you see Bark City BBQ. Chef Michael Keskin, a Podnah’s Pit alum, smokes his meats over Oregon oak in the parking lot of the cozy Killingsworth Station cart pod, which boasts a fire pit and a covered pool table. Go straight for the “Pit Master Nap” sampler, a bonanza of bark-shrouded ribs, pulled pork, turkey (though we opted for the crazy-tender brisket), and snappy Crux Pilsner beer links. The banana pudding milkshake deserves a visit of its own. Keskin makes his own banana pudding, blends it with ice cream, and tops it with vanilla wafers and a brûléed banana. Dear lord. 1331 N Killingsworth St —BT

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