TAPPED IN: When Travis Preece took over the onetime Coalition Brewing taproom on Southeast Ankeny Street in July, he had a problem. The name. The interim owners had left behind a sign calling the place "Tap That!"—a none-too-subtle double entendre comparing beer kegs to attractive women. So Preece announced a community naming contest. The bar is now, humbly, Ankeny Tap & Table (2724 SE Ankeny St., 946-1898, ankenypdx.com).
And that's precisely what the place is: a deeply wholesome bare-bones beerhouse with a tiny bar space no bigger than a studio apartment, but with a huge kitchen in the back. The wall art is sparse save for whatever staffers draw with chalk. On a blackboard taking up one wall, they've drawn a dramatically intricate tree. And behind the bar, with impressive speed, we watched a bartender freestyle the logo of beers on the tap list as kegs swapped out. And Ankeny digs deep for those beers: Recently, the bartender told me she'd procured the only Portland tap from Vancouver's new Fortside Brewing, a pleasant, malty imperial IPA ringing in at 9 percent ABV.
At Ankeny, I also had my first-ever beer brewed by beer cart Scout, which tasted exactly like an oatmeal-raisin cookie, and my first from Portland's brand-new Rosenstadt, an excellent Kölsch. The kitchen, meanwhile, serves a flat-iron steak with potatoes and carrots ($18) and about seven different burgers on brioche ($10-$12) but announces Brussels sprouts ($8) as a specialty, and serves a different kind of hummus every day. After a year, the tiny bar seems always at least half full with regulars, and there are no seats open on packed Tuesday Trivia nights. Having stopped announcing the intention to tap whoever walks by, Ankeny has tapped the neighborhood instead.