Nobody in Portland likes to leave their neighborhood. That was especially true during our recent troubles, but it isn't that much less true on a weekly basis. How many people do you know who haven't left their quadrant in a month or so except for work?
One side effect: It seems like every successful fast-casual pop-in in this city is destined to have siblings—which is why Southeast Division and Northeast Alberta streets both have Little Big Burger, Salt & Straw, Petite Provence and Bollywood Theater. In the past few months alone, we've seen several notable spinoffs, from rotisserie chicken joints like Pollo Norte to the city's best fro-yo spot, Eb & Bean.
Pollo Norte Sur
2935 NE Glisan St., 503-719-6039, pollonorte.com.
11 am-10 pm daily.
I never had much use for the original Pollo Norte. The juicy chicken and ultra-bright salsa verde were solid, sure, but until the teensy-tiny Mexican rotisserie coop upped refrigeration capacity, it was often bereft of birds by late afternoon, meaning you could leave empty-handed. No cocktails, a cramped dining room and the far-flung location were deal breakers. (If you're venturing all the way out to Cully, why not Gresham?) But Norte Sur, in the former Kerns Kitchen location on Glisan, is a marked improvement. The chicken is better than ever—crisper skin, juicier flesh—the room is spacious but warm, and you can now drink margaritas. Also, a kitchen 10 times the size means the new location has been able to add specials like a very tasty tinga tostada. And if you still want carry-out, note that it stays open till 10, a rarity in the neighborhood.
5200 SE Woodstock Blvd., 971-865-5984,
ate-oh-ate.com/woodstock. 11 am-9 pm daily.
Have I been sleeping on Ate-Oh-Ate? The original location of Ben Dyer's "cheffy" Hawaiian plate-lunch place on East Burnside has been around for seven years, meaning it might as well be Stanich's. Not being much of a plate luncher, I'd kinda forgotten it existed until this new outpost popped up in Woodstock, near the new Double Mountain and fresh-caught fried fish window. The flavors here are admirably aggro. Just before close, the flavors had swelled in the wonderfully smoky, salty and tender Kalua pig plate ($10.95), some of the best pork I've had in a long time. A chicken teriyaki plate ($11.95) showed a deft hand with caramelizing the sweet sauce with a light touch of char—if it's not Du's, it's not too far off. Oh, and it has tiki drinks. Stiff ones, made fast.
What's the Scoop South Waterfront
0664 SW Gaines St., 503-719-5308, whatsthescooppdx.com. 3-10 pm Monday-Thursday, 3-11 pm Friday,
noon-11 pm Saturday, noon-10 pm Sunday.
Hot take: The South Waterfront is Portland's most underrated neighborhood. The glass towers south of the Ross Island Bridge get a bad rap, but the vibe there is great—everyone responsible for gentrifying the historic gravel pits that used to stand here signed up for exactly what they're getting now, and there's no angsty mossbacks around to complain about it. What's the Scoop, which opened on North Williams Avenue back in 2012, plunked down a second location here over the summer. It's eerily similar to the original, with the same ultra-smooth ice cream made by freezing cream with liquid nitrogen. The flavors are constantly rotating as at the original, and servers still encourage you to sample several before fitting your scoop for a bowl and a magic shell.
Eb & Bean Division
3040 SE Division St., 971-242-8753, ebandbean.com.
Noon-10 pm daily.
Froyo gets a bad rap, and not without good reason. Most of the stuff you buy by the ounce at strip malls comes from pre-made mixes. Well, forget all that with Eb & Bean, which makes its own froyo from local, organic dairy and tops it with small-batch baked goods and housemade sauces. The downside of that process is it's tougher to get it right. Just as our first visit to the now-stellar Northeast Broadway location was a letdown, our first visit to the new Division Street shop found yogurt with rough, sandy texture riddled with ice crystals. Owner Elizabeth Nathan has been tweaking her process since opening in the former Koi Fusion space, and a second visit found the froyo extra creamy. This is a competitive neighborhood—Salt & Straw, Pinolo Gelato and Fifty Licks are all just blocks away—but come summer, I'll be a regular here.
Kim Jong Smokehouse
413 NW 21st Ave., 971-373-8990, kimjongsmokehouse.com.
11 am-9 pm Sunday-Thursday, 11 am-10 pm Friday-Saturday.
Kim Jong Smokehouse had one of the more unexpected and rapid expansions in recent memory. In September, Smokehouse Tavern boss BJ Smith teamed up with Han Ly Hwang of the Kim Jong Grillin cart to create a mash-up at Pine Street Market. Two months later, Smith rebooted the birthplace of his empire on Northwest 21st Avenue as Kim Jong Smokehouse, axing the traditional 'cue in favor of bibimbap bowls and steamed buns. It seems a smart move. The tiny Nob Hill space was a tough place for a full smokehouse menu. But it's fine for making these delightful bowls, which are served in steaming cast-iron pans. The bibimbap is basically what you get at the original cart on Division—scorched rice, japchae, a fried egg, kimchi, pickled mango and sesame seeds—but here they're served with smoky pulled pork or kalbi short rib, plus one of the house sauces. As at the old Smokehouse 21, picking your own sauce is half the fun, but I personally favor the spicy, pungent gochujang. All 'cue should come with gochujang—and given how fast these Portland restaurants expand into mini empires, it soon might.