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Oh, That's Why Ken's Artisan Pizza is Always Crazy Busy

On an unremarkable Monday evening, we waited 40 minutes for a table for four at this bustling Buckman pizzeria.

On an unremarkable Monday evening, we waited 40 minutes for a table for four at this bustling Buckman pizzeria. That tells you everything you need to know about Ken's, an airy space filled with soused couples in matching Patagonia fleeces, kids running to and from the restroom, and two separate (adult) birthday parties, all presided over by an enormous wood-fired oven.

The focus here is on owner Ken Forkish's pizzas, the crust crisp with just the right amount of char, and chewy enough to brace against generous helpings of sauce, cheese and seasonal toppings. If you see it, we'd recommend the cherry tomato pancetta bomb ($18), with perfectly ripe cherry tomatoes bursting in a creamy blanket of buffalo mozzarella, and the bacon pizza ($16), because the smoked guanciale against the smoked provolone is just too good.

But if you're a heartier eater, don't pass up the pulled pork ($12), a colorful creation whose bright slaw piled atop the crispy corn cake makes it look more like a party favor than an appetizer. And the whoopie pie ($8), two cookie-shaped pieces of devil's food cake stuffed with cheesecake ice cream, drizzled with chocolate sauce, and studded with toffee, is worth skipping your last slice of pizza.

A small but thoughtfully curated drinks list includes a variety of local, French and Italian wines, as well as four local draft beers. But as perhaps befits a restaurant so clearly kid- and family-friendly, the drink our waitress recommended the most enthusiastically was the housemade lemonade ($3).

Kens

Eat: Sit at the bar and split a greens salad ($9) and cherry tomato pancetta bomb ($18).

Drink: A pint of the Commons' farmhouse ale ($6.50) goes with just about everything.

Most popular dish: The Caesar salad ($9) and prosciutto pizza ($16) are legends.

Noise level: 84/100:—on a Monday!

Expected wait: Forty minutes for a table for four. Ken's doesn't take reservations.

Who you'll eat with: A comprehensive cross section of the city and tourists taking Ubers from downtown.

304 SE 28th Ave., 503-517-9951, kensartisan.com. 5-9:30 pm Monday-Thursday, 5-10 pm Friday-Saturday, 4-9 pm Sunday. $-$$$.

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