1221 NW 21st Ave., 248-9663, wildwoodrestaurant.com.
[HAPPY 21ST] Wildwood is a refuge of sorts. These blocks of Northwest 21st Avenue feel Pearlier by the moment, the influx of new condos in the Outer Westside Light Industrial district clogging conservative pasta houses like Caffe Mingo and Serratto with hordes of young brand managers. Wildwood is aging comparatively gracefully—even if pan-seared rockfish and miso-glazed eggplant might as well have Kerry/Edwards stickers on them. Matsutake mushrooms with spinach and basil ($14) both make good use of the piney, woodsy little toadstools and show that Wildwood's chefs maintain an interest in contemporary food trends. The coal-roasted leg of lamb ($26) was both a little too chewy and acidic from the accompanying tomatoes, but a small prosciutto-topped pizza benefited greatly from salty mozzarella, umami-intense Romano and sweet grape halves. It's also a great place to get a beer—last year's barrel-aged version of Black Butte on our visit, wine or a well-made cocktail with locally distilled spirits. Grab a spot in the bar looking out on the street—you'll be happy to have landed inside this little preserve.
Ideal meal: You'll want a cocktail made with Aria Gin, one of Portland's best spirits. From there, look for the freshest and most seasonal ingredients.
Best deal: Ken's bread with sea salts ($3).
Pro tip: Happy hour is 4:30 to 6:30 pm and includes $3 draft beers, a $10 burger with fries and $7 kimchee fried rice. It's right around the corner from the WW office—why don't we go here more often?
11:30 am-10 pm Monday-Thursday, 11:30 am-10:30 pm Friday-Saturday, 5-10 pm Sunday. $$$.