Old Town's Ankeny alley looks after its own. For nearly 20 years, Greek-owned bar and venue Berbati's was host to some of Portland's most legendary shows, but over the past half-decade the block-long space has been parceled out to friends and neighbors of the Papaioannou family.
The lobby is Voodoo Doughnut, owned by the former Berbati's booker, and the stage is now a strip club owned by the people from neighboring Dante's. And as of March, the bar has turned into Tryst (19 SW 2nd Ave., 503-477-8637, bartryst.com), co-owned and run by a former manager of the bar next door.
The old Berbati's Pan sign remains, hung on the wall inside, but everything else in the once-ramshackle pool hall has gotten hefty upgrades, from patterned tile floors to pressed copper wainscoting to plush black booths and electric-blue paint on the walls.
The if-'60s-were-'90s lounge aesthetic recalls, more than anything, the films of Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai—also the namesake of a refreshing low-cost $7.50 rum-lychee-lemon cocktail.
The food is equally Asian-inflected, including a deliciously buttery $11 hoisin-Sichuan burger ($7 at happy hour) that comes with furikake-spiced fries. The biggest revelation on that plate, though, is the fry dipping sauce, a green "ketchup" that tastes like ginger-lemongrass Marshall's Haute Sauce but comes glopped on the side instead of costing $9 at Whole Foods. The same people will soon also open a breakfast nook called Opaline's next door, in the annex that used to house Berbati's poker room.
But as summer approaches, there's a problem: Tryst doesn't have a patio license yet. In the meantime, Tryst's six future alleyway tables are occupied likely enough by denizens of Valentines across the alley—owned by Estia "Opie" Papaioannou, daughter of Berbati's founder Ted Papaioannou. Old Town's Ankeny alley looks after its own