Everything about Ken's Artisan Pizza is remarkably consistent. That starts with the line, which forms upon opening every night of the year. It continues with the pies that come out of the Le Panyol wood-fired oven master baker Ken Forkish had installed, which sits among tables built from the remains of the roller coaster that once clicked up a track at the now-disappeared Jantzen Beach amusement park.
The city has changed a lot since 2006, when wood-fired pies like Ken's were a novelty. But nothing really changes at Ken's, which sits just southwest of the leafy Laurelhurst neighborhood and amasses a crowd that could double as a Patagonia catalog. The salad options include greens and Caesar. The pies are built with perfect dough and bake in about two minutes. They're never burnt or undercooked—the dough has a delightful tartness and tears like layered-up tissue paper. Toppings trend toward classic, with the most exotic offerings being pickled jalapeño and sweet onions. On a midsummer visit, we got what might be the restaurant's most adventurous pie, topped with kernels of fresh sweet corn, pickled jalapeño and ricotta.
And yet, despite an influx of competitors, Ken's still stands as the best wood-fired pizza in town, second in our hearts only to the electro-perfectionist Apizza Scholls.
Boring? Very. As much as I like Ken's, I keep hoping someone will knock him off so there's a new spot to write about. And yet, here we are. Again.
Pro tip: Among the exciting new developments Ken's has seen in the past year: opening an hour earlier on Saturday and the addition of what's been described as a "small but appropriate" list of Italian cocktails, including several different Negronis. Slow it down, buddy!