1. NICO’S ICE CREAM
5713 NE Fremont St., 503-489-8656, nicosicecream.com. 3-9 pm Wednesday-Friday, noon-9 pm Saturday-Sunday.
Ice cream in February? Where do you think we are, New Zealand? At Nico’s Ice Cream, yes. The Northeast Portland shop’s only item, vanilla ice cream blended with berries, has its roots in the land of kiwis. It also requires its own appliance to prepare—a Little Jem Elite Real Fruit Ice Cream Blender that combines plain vanilla Tillamook with your choice of frozen fruit. Once the ice cream is finished mixing, you have something with the butterfat richness of hard-pack, but the airiness and mouthfeel—plus the delightful swirl—of soft serve.
2. SUNSHINE NOODLES
2175 NW Raleigh St., Suite 105, sunshinenoodlespdx.com. 5-9 pm Monday-Thursday, 11 am-3 pm and 5-9 pm Friday-Sunday.
Diane Lam, the former chef de cuisine at Revelry, is back in full force with Sunshine Noodles, a relaunch of her pandemic pop-up that now has a brick-and-mortar home in Slabtown. Snag a seat at the countertop, where you can watch the kitchen team work the wok station, then dig into the catfish spring rolls. Though not a noodle dish, it’s the current standout. The fish is blackened, then rolled into rice paper with herbs, vermicelli noodles, a slice of watermelon radish, and then topped with a citrusy nuoc cham sauce that’s a mixture of bitter, sweet, salt and funk.
411 SE 81st Ave., 503-841-5905, sebastianospdx.com. 11 am-3 pm Wednesday-Saturday.
As we continue to ride the Omicron crest, Montavilla’s Sicilian deli, Sebastiano’s, has launched a take-and-bake dinner program to keep you cozy through winter. Specials rotate, but the extra-large, Catanese-style arancini are a must-have. Each order includes two goose egg-sized fried balls of rice mixed with Olympia Provisions mortadella, Tails & Trotters ham, and mozzarella. Add a radicchio salad, a bottle of wine, and a slice of olive oil cake, and you’ve got yourself a nice little weeknight meal.
4. PASTIFICIO D’ORO
8737 N Lombard St., doropdx.com. 5-8 pm Monday-Tuesday.
Pastificio d’Oro is a restaurant inside another restaurant in St. Johns. But its heart—and thus, your stomach—is in Bologna, the Northern Italian city known for its handmade pasta, meat ragù (aka “Bolognese”) and mortadella (which America turned into, yes, “bologna”). Chef Chase Dopson had never cooked this style of cuisine until he caught “the pasta bug” at the start of the pandemic. With just a single induction burner to boil water and Gracie’s Apizza’s wood-fired oven, Dopson generally builds his menu around just two pastas, most frequently a tagliatelle ragù and a filled pasta in the tortellini family. It’s very heavy food, but incredibly soul-soothing.
5. UNICORN CREATIONZ
4765 NE Fremont St., 971-319-1134, nacheauxpdx.com. 4-8 pm Wednesday-Thursday, noon-8:30 pm Friday, 10 am-4 pm Saturday-Sunday.
Despite its name, Unicorn Creationz is more of a tricera-corn. The bar/restaurant is split into three concepts inside the former Alameda Brewhouse space: food cart favorite Nacheaux—whipping up breakfast, lunch and, if you make it there in time, weekend brunch—as well as a bakery/dessert shop called Karnival Kreations, and Bourbon St. Bar. The cart is the heart of this food hall, so get there early on a Saturday to ensure owner-chef Anthony Brown has a spicy chorizo burrito left for you.