Where to Drink This Week

Toro, the new Mexican eatery inside the former Pearl District Tilt space, has a delightfully bright and flavorful cocktail list.

1. Toro Mexican Kitchen

1355 NW Everett St., Suite 120, 503-673-2724, toropdx.com. 4-10 pm Sunday-Thursday, 4-11 pm Friday-Saturday.

The former Pearl District Tilt space is empty no more. Toro, a Mexican eatery operated by the ever-expanding Urban Restaurant Group (Bartini, Brix, Swine), has transformed the dark, industrial-themed space into an airy cantina. The initial food offerings we’ve sampled have all been satisfying—but the delightful surprise was the lengthy cocktail list. Early favorites were the sunny Passionfruit (vodka, passion fruit puree, pineapple juice and a Tajín rim) and Ocean (vodka, lemongrass and basil syrup, cucumber), which is a shade of turquoise so alluring you’ll wish you could swim in it.

2. Grape Ape

77 SE Yamhill St., 503-261-3467, grapeape.wine. 11 am-bedtime Tuesday-Sunday.

Sorry to break it to fans of the ‘70s Hanna-Barbera cartoon of the same name, but you won’t find a 40-foot purple primate at this new Central Eastside bar. However, much of the décor is from that era, and the lineup of fine natural wines should soften the blow. The curated list highlights selections from low-intervention labels, including Oregon’s Hooray for You chardonnay, California producer Populis’ sauvignon blanc and a Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme gamay from France. Pair one with marinated white beans and mayo on toast or a jamon baguette and pretend you’ve made an escape to Paris for the afternoon.

3. Zula

1514 NW 23rd Ave., 503-477-4235, zulapdx.com. 11:30 am-9 pm Wednesday-Sunday.

We now know what Rotigo’s reimagining looks like: Roasted chicken is out and Mediterranean cuisine is the focus. Although we haven’t had a chance to sample the food just yet, the brightly colored collection of cocktails should transport you to the coast of Israel. Not only are they named after neighborhoods in Tel Aviv, where Zula owner Tal Tubitski once lived; the concoctions are made with ingredients from the region. The tequila-pomegranate blend of the Levontin, or the Montefiore, made with date-infused rye whiskey, would be our first picks.

4. Little Hop Brewing

4400 SW Garden Home Road, littlehopbrewing.com. Noon-8 pm Saturday.

Most homebrewers dream of going big, and Zak Cate achieved that goal working as a pub brewer for McMenamins Kalama Harbor Lodge before deciding to scale back and launch this nano operation with his wife, Lisa. In April, they started a teeny-tiny taproom inside a trailer, which is open just one day a week while the couple prepares to move into a larger space nearby. For now, come drink at the state’s smallest tap house, which thankfully can squeeze in more people than you’d expect due to a decent-sized beer garden.

5. The Shaku Bar

3448 NE Sandy Blvd., 971-346-2063, theshakubar.com. 4 pm-midnight Tuesday-Thursday, 4 pm-1 am Friday-Saturday, 3-10 pm every other Sunday.

This year-old spot proves that good things come in small packages. The closet-sized bar serves cocktails with big flavors, like the Princess Peach, which is a refreshing mix of local Aria gin, Aperol, St-Germain and lemon juice topped with a half-centimeter of creamy-white Fee Foam (Google it!). We’re definitely coming back for a Kvothe the Bloodless—pickle juice, hot sauce, lime and a secret sauce. Shaku calls it a bloody mary “without the blood.”

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.