711 NE Dekum St., 954-1702, firehousepdx.com.
[LADDER UP] The firemen in the black-and-white photos hanging on the dining-room wall of this Woodlawn neighborhood restaurant—taken back when "firehouse" was true to its name—had no idea fire and smoke would one day be celebrated here, rather than fought. The 100-year-old brick firehouse digs, across the street from Breakside Brewery and Good Neighbor Pizzeria, feature a large, central wood-fired oven turning out everything from lightly smoky roasted mussels and roasted beets with salsa verde to 12-inch bubbly, charred, thin-crust pizzas. The menu is short but solid, with several small plates, salads and pizzas, and a handful of entrees. Two of the most popular entrees: the wood-grilled tuna with roasted tomatoes and padron peppers, and the wood-grilled hanger steak with crispy potatoes and arugula. Beyond the always tasty food, Firehouse has one of the most charming, stay-a-while dining rooms in Portland: encased in brick, furnished with beautiful, old reclaimed wood. The place smells welcoming, like a campfire, sans the smoke in the eyes. And when the sun is shining, there's seating in the sweet garden patio off the dining room.
Ideal meal: Bottle of rosé, risotto- and chicken-stuffed grape leaves, fire-roasted beets, housemade fennel sausage and onion pizza and salted caramel- and hazelnut-topped pots de creme.
BEST DEAL: Super-tasty $3 fried cauliflower, $3 roasted beets and more at the happy hour from 5-6 pm.
Pro Tip: If you're looking for an after-dinner drink, Breakside Brewing across the street makes a number of very interesting beers including a passion fruit sour and an aquavit barrel-aged braggot.
5-9 pm Monday-Thursday, 5-9:30 pm Friday-Saturday, 5-8 pm Sunday. $$.