1. THE QUEEN’S HEAD
19 SW 2nd Ave., 503-206-6293, thequeensheadpdx.com. 5 pm-midnight Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday; 5 pm-1 am Friday; 5 pm-2 am Saturday.
Just opened at the end of November, the Queen’s Head is an English-style pub and lounge heralded as an overt return of the LGBTQ+ community to Ankeny Alley. The Queen’s Head hosts drag shows and burlesque performances five nights a week, but also offers a shifting menu of bar snacks and comfort food drawn from across the U.K.’s Commonwealth: cucumber and watercress sandwiches, baked Brazilian coxhina dumplings, curry hand pies, and customizable charcuterie boards.
2. BOCCI’S ON 7TH
1728 SE 7th Ave., 503-234-1616, boccison7th.com. 4-9 pm Friday-Sunday.
Bocci’s on Southeast 7th isn’t hip, but it avoids being stodgy. It’s not gourmet but is still wonderfully delicious. Walking in, you’ll be greeted by super-warm staff, and possibly the sounds of Bob Dylan floating in from the kitchen before being set up with free house-baked bread—dense and soft with a crusty, salty edge—served with olive oil and vinegar. The star dish is the chicken Marsala: a generous chicken breast lightly breaded and still very moist, served piping hot over spaghetti and a Marsala wine sauce that was buttery and rich without being painfully decadent.
3. PIZZA THIEF
2610 NW Vaughn St., 503-719-7778, pizzathief.com. Noon-9 pm daily.
The dual gem of Pizza Thief and its adjoining Bandit Bar is a newcomer that fits into its surroundings perfectly, serving up big, New York-style slices, quality craft beers and unpretentious cocktails under the neon lights of the Montgomery Park sign.
727 SE Morrison St., 503-893-2614, cloudforest.shop. 10 am-7 pm Thursday-Monday (outdoor seating only).
A visit to the Cloudforest shop reveals an abundance of fine chocolate, ranging from the vanilla-infused Orchid bar to the Holy Wood: flavored with woodsy-herbaceous and reputedly medicinal palo santo. The namesake Cloudforest bar is refined solely from Nacional-type cacao beans grown in Ecuador’s Camino Verde orchard. Owner Sebastian Cisneros has also begun to extend his reach beyond bar chocolate. Summer brought ice cream made from cacao pulp, tasting of fruit with the barest whisper of chocolate flavor, and a hazelnut-chocolate spread suited to spoon right on top.
3520 SE Powell Blvd., 503-239-5221, denicolasitaliandining.com. 4-9 pm Sunday-Thursday, 4-10 pm Friday-Saturday.
An institution on Southeast Powell since 1978, DeNicola’s remains family-owned to this day. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a booth under a framed portrait of current owner Donata, who runs it with her sons and brother. There are red-checked tablecloths and a map of Italy on your table, and your order of cheese-laden eggplant Parmesan will come with a side of spaghetti, just as God intended.