Pambiche brings a spot of cheery brightness to often-gray Portland. Heated outdoor seating, upbeat Cuban music, brilliant tropical flavors and bright colors add up to an instant party yet somehow manage to not seem annoying or cheesy. Traditional, rustic dishes are full-flavored without being too heavy or fussy. Tangy sauces, savory beans and rice, and crispy empanadas abound. The contents of the outrageous dessert case are studded with decorative parrots, bananas and cigars. These folks know how to use meat to its best advantage, whether it's a tender slab of snapper or beans flavored with bacon sofrito. While there are few "plato" options for vegetarians, one can easily make a meal of apps, salads, drinks and desserts—which is more fun anyway. And everyone can salivate over the excellently starchy-crispy appetizer menu, full of various kinds of tubers and plantains. Pair them with the luscious sangria—like fruit salad in a glass—during la hora del amigo, and you'll never have a happier hour.

IDEAL MEAL: Sangria, Yuca con Mojo, Pescado con Coco, tres leches cake.