Way back in the day, like in the 1920s, taking a drive on the Columbia River Highway was the thing to do. And any good drive ended with a nice dinner at a “roadhouse.” The Multnomah Hazelwood drive-in served ice cream from the Hazelwood Cream Co. at a spot near Multnomah Falls. The Chanticleer Inn made a creamed chicken dinner to die for, until it burned down in 1930.
Here’s an update on that tradition: Hop on your bike and ride up the bike path on Marine Drive toward downtown Troutdale for afternoon poke bowls and soft-serve.
In 2018, Emily Cafazzo and Ryan Domingo, two industry vets, opened the charmingly retro Sugarpine Drive-In at Glenn Otto Community Park, right along the banks of the Sandy River, and immediately drew Moda Center-sized crowds. And recently, the pair bought the site of Shirley’s Tippy Canoe, which, like the Chanticleer, burned to the ground last year.
The Sugarpine Roadhouse, as they’re planning to call it, won’t be ready until 2022. Until then, though, they’re trying out recipes at Da Pine Grinds, a food truck across the parking lot from Sugarpine. The focus is Hawaiian food: Domingo’s family is from Kauai, and his brother Darrin runs the grill. There’s kalua pork with pineapple barbecue sauce, beef short ribs and char siu cauliflower, but the early recommendation is the ahi shoyu poke, which places a generous helping of marinated tuna alongside cucumber, edamame, scallion, daikon, shoyu and ginger over rice. Add in a P.O.G.—a frozen mixture of passion fruit, orange, and guava juice that beats the hell out of Gatorade after a long ride—then take your food to an oversized picnic table above the Sandy and, boom, a perfect afternoon.
Want to make it more perfect? Hit Sugarpine afterward for ice cream, ideally the Larch Mountain, a literal peak of vanilla-chocolate swirl surrounded by blondie chunks and capped with purply blueberry-lavender sauce. You’ll need the extra fuel for the ride home, especially if there’s a headwind (and there’s always a headwind).
1208 E Historic Columbia River Highway, Troutdale. 11 am-3 pm Tuesday-Friday.