The Little Joys of Summer

Here's What You Need Right Now to Party at a Distance

Celebrate local eateries and drink makers with your own backyard feast of homey takeout, icy drinks, and vividly flavored market finds.

By Kelly Clarke August 1, 2020 Published in the August 2020 issue of Portland Monthly

Neighborhood potlucks may be on hold this summer, but that’s no reason to skip the mix-and-match food fun. Celebrate local eateries and drink makers with your own backyard feast of homey takeout, icy drinks, and vividly flavored market finds. Socially distanced party, started.

Image: Mike Novak

Freeland Spirits Canned Gin & Rose Tonic

Portland’s women-owned and run distillery simplifies summer with a fizzy botanical blast of its heady gin mingled with rose and citrus-whispering tonic, available for preorder “Booze Thru” pickup at the distillery or curbside pickup. Still thirsty? The crew sells epic cocktails kits too ($45-$140), like a Watermelon Cooler box stocked with a full bottle of Freeland Gin, fresh-squeezed watermelon-cucumber juice mixer, limes, lemons, and a bottle of housemade hand sanitizer. Freeland Spirits, 2671 NW Vaughn St, 971-279-5692,, $16.95 for four

Abbey Creek Winery Flip-Top Rosé

For years, locals have motored out Highway 26 to sip Bertony Faustin’s wines, surrounded by good conversation and thumping hip hop in Abbey Creek’s North Plains tasting room. One of Oregon’s only Black winemakers, and the force behind Red, White, and Black, a 2018 doc about the experiences of our state’s diverse winemakers, Faustin throws open the doors of a second tasting room in downtown Portland this month. Score flip top, refillable growlers of his crisp, mineral-tinged rose at either spot, it's perfect for drinking six-feet away from friends, or, as Faustin notes, all alone in the sun if that’s what you need right now. “We’ve sold more flip-tops than anything else since COVID started,” says Faustin. “I think people like the connection; knowing that they are gonna come back.” Abbey Creek Winery, 31441 NW Commercial St, North Plains & 912 SW Morrison St, Portland,, $30

MexiRican’s Piña Colada

Alfredo Climaco makes a perfect pina colada: not-to-sweet and impossibly fresh, garnished with Salem cherries, and served in an actual, hollowed out pineapple--a sweet, sustainable way to reuse the fruit leftover from whizzing up his tart, creamy drinks. Climaco says he got the idea from a bar near his childhood home in Puebla, Mexico that served cocktails in pineapples. But he serves his blended stunners with and without rum so everyone can join in the fun. He’s been selling his goods at the Portland Night Market and other events for a few years, and now offers COVID home delivery for pina colada frappe and margarita mixes (sans pineapple cups and booze). This month brings the opening of his Caribbean-leaning small plates spot Avenida Tropicale in NE Portland’s the Ocean micro restaurant complex, where you can score those amazing pina coladas (with and without booze), spicy mango-pineapple margaritas spiked with HAB hot sauce, and more. Check opening details and delivery menu on Instagram @MexiRicanPDX or text orders to 503-975-4742, 2337 NE Glisan St, $12-18

Honeybee Lemonade Syrups 

Bursting with true fruit intensity, former teacher and West African-Caribbean food cart owner Andrea Wade’s line of all natural, low sugar syrups are flavor magic; Rhubarb Strawberry Raspberry Lime Lemonade to Jamaican Sorrel to “Bougie Summer” (that’s a mix of pineapple, passionfruit and mangosteen). Use the rainbow bright purees in cocktails (Peach Lychee with whiskey lemonade, anyone?), mix with sparkling water, drizzle over ice cream or snow cones, or just lick ‘em off a spoon. You can’t go wrong. Find syrups at New Seasons, Tender Loving Empire or at, $14

Image: Mike Novak

Barbur World Foods Deli Salads and Vegetables

The venerable Attar clan has overseen this Southwest Portland grocery and deli for more than 15 years now (plus a newer NW location), a go-to for Middle Eastern staples, take-and-grill kabobs, and spice-imbued veggie salads. You can’t go wrong with just about anything from the generous deli case, but don’t sleep on light, bright tomato bulgur salad, charry-spotted sumac green beans, and pretty rainbow carrots glazed in tart, sweet pomegranate syrup. 9845 S Barbur Blvd & 830 NW Everett St, 503-244-0670,, $6.99-7.99 per pound

Matta VFC Family Meal

The first salvo from Matta cart co-owner Richard Le’s new Việt Kiềuforeign born Vietnamese” food series is an herb- and coconut milk-fueled homage to his childhood fast food fave: KFC. Honoring both his Vietnamese roots and “the America I grew up in,” he reimagines the takeout buckets he once giddily devoured with his busy working mom as a family-sized feast of juicy, rice flour-dredged, shatter-crisp skinned legs and thighs, scallion-showered spuds drowned in nuoc cham gravy, herby slaw, and fluffy, celadon-hued pandan milk buns. Check Matta’s social feeds to spot when the VFC is next on offer. 1533 NE Alberta St, @MattaPDX, text orders to 971-258-2849, $50-60

Southern Kitchen Ribs & Mac n Cheese

Maurice Fain’s and Jermaine Atherton’s eats live up to their North Mississippi outfit’s motto, “from the cart to your heart,” and then some: messy spareribs (“we like it sweet and a little spicy,” says Fain), smooth, sweet relish-tanged potato salad, huge, cornmeal-dusted fish fillets, and upsettingly creamy four cheese mac, stretchy with pepperjack and smoked swiss. A pair of former restaurateurs who were both priced out of North Portland brick and mortars, Fain and Atherton’s year-old cart now holds the title of the only Black-owned businesses on the historic street. They keep the faith though, in part through their self-funded project Next G, mentoring kids in business and cooking each summer. “We’re passing the torch to the next generation,” says Fain. 3503 N Mississippi Ave, 971-325-8701, $4-20

Creole Me Up Pickleez

If mild mannered cabbage has a superhero alter ego, it’s Haitian-born chef Elsy Dinvil’s line of scratch-made pikliz, which vaults slaw to heroic fresh crunched and vinegar-slapped heights in increasing levels of fiery heat. Stick to medium-heat “Pickleez with Little Sass” for a pleasing habanero wallop, nibbled straight as a side or tossed with veggies or meats. Dinvil, who has also penned a cookbook and recipe-assisted memoir Cooking With My Mother, introduced red cabbage-based Pickleez Sassy in Purple last year--it should be legally required to side pulled pork. Visit or pick up jars at the Beaverton Farmers Market, $10-12

Ice Queen

Lifelong “ice cream-head” Rebecca Smith’s rotating lineup of popsicles remix fun kid flavors for the vegan set, from Cookies ‘N Cream to Rocky Road, plus tastes reminiscent of her Chicana identity. Her standout “Oatchata” bar, a take on Mexican horchata made with oat milk, is a creamy, toasty cinnamon dream. Ice Queen’s storefront is slated to open mid-July—next door to the city’s vegan junk food HQ Food Fight. Follow @IceQueenPDX on Instagram for opening updates, 1223 SE Stark St, $3.50-6

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