Irvington Corner Table owners Tony and Pamela Karais have revamped La Prima's Broadway pasta site into a Sullivan's Gulch bistro that whips up (they swear) one killer portabella mushroom Wellington. Up on North Mississippi Avenue, Renaissance woman Nicole Davis, (interior designer, artist, wood worker and stone mason) has carved out the Bold-Sky Cafe in a former church. The new public house now preaches the gospel of live music, art and cedar plank-broiled salmon.
On the weedy edge of Southeast 7th Avenue, Cafe Pasión cooks carnitas y frijoles basics. But the new joint has kept the stylish Miss Havisham lace doilies and filigreed mirrors of the former Creative Cafe. Vege Thai's healthy, flavorful vegetarian fare has already caught on in a big way with neighbors, Green Peace volunteers and even committed carnivores like the Bite Club. Why? The fake pepper steak--a ropy, fiery faux-beef that really sets off Vege's thick wheat noodles and hot tosses of crisp peppers and onions.
And the best news of all? Foodie friends pastry chef Cheryl Wakerhauser (Pix Patisserie) and John Taboada (Navarre) are joining forces to create Bar Pastiche, a nightspot featuring Wakerhauser's sugary delights and Taboada's toothsome dishes, located inside one of Pastaworks' three Hawthorne Boulevard storefronts.
Looking up from the chocolate-brown, basement dining room of Vitis Enoteca, all you can see are remodeled Pearl District warehouses. What you don't see are the concrete barriers of I-405, only a football toss away from this Italian wine bar. While the just-opened haunt still feels as sterile as a new car, charm can be found in its menu of 80 Italian and Northwest wines by the glass. A knockout Italian cheese plate ($5.95) is the best way to enhance your sippage.
Salad World's purple-spotted neighbor, the Gorilla Cafe, cooks up its Middle Eastern and Asian standards with a caterwauling side of Foreigner on the radio. Yeow. A few blocks away, Steamers provides a kind of "Chinatown with training wheels" experience for the business crowd. Exuberant servers explain the mystic world of chicken and shiitake dumplings and hoisin pork steamer buns in a nonthreatening Starbucks-y setting.
And while Bite Club has learned late-night spot the Spirit Room, has given up the ghost, we've also spied the dusty beginnings of H20, a new martini bar that will soon call the corner of Southwest 2nd Avenue and Yamhill Street home.
Irvington Corner Table, 1700 NE Broadway, 331-1200.
Bold-Sky Cafe, 3943 N Mississippi Ave., 287-0154.
Cafe Pasión, 1728 SE 7th Ave., 236-9486.
Vege Thai, 3274 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 234-2171.
Vitis Enoteca, 535 NW 16th Ave., 241-0355.
Gorilla Cafe, 835 SW 2nd Ave., 227-0204.
Steamers, 504 SW Madison St., 796-0111