Here's a good chunk of all the food news you may have missed in the past week, and COVID or not, there's a lot of it! Let's get started.
• Full disclosure: I've written several glowing reviews about Shift Drinks over the years, so this loss strikes me as particularly sad. EaterPDX reports that the beloved downtown cocktail bar where the bartenders go to drink is packing up shop and taking their "magnanimous all-day approach to happy hour" with them. I yearn for that $5 mom’s grilled cheese with caramelized onions like I yearn to see my friends and family again. Alas.
• Another classy spot, NW Portland's Bluehour has been a staple of NW Portland drinking and dining for almost 20 years, and now is no more. Via an interview with EaterPDX, Portland restaurant owner Bruce Carey said he and his partner Joe Rogers plan on reopening their other ventures soon. They're looking to reopen Clarklewis within the next few weeks, 23Hoyt in August, and then Saucebox afterward. “We are taking one step at a time, one restaurant at a time,” he said.
• Moonstruck sent out an announcement last week that they are permanently closing down the Alma Chocolate brand which they acquired in 2018. Their Alma Chocolate storefront at 140 NE 28th will not reopen, but fans can continue to order select Alma favorites on the website while supplies last. Moonstruck stores are also still closed at this time, but the company will institute phased re-openings later this month.
• An era comes to an end with Food Fight Grocery's announcement this week that they're closing their SE Stark location to focus on their Parkrose Heights store on NE Halsey. That store isn't currently open for in-store shopping, but it's doing online ordering and contact free pick-up. "The overhead of two locations has proven to be just too much for us," Food Fight! wrote on its social media accounts. "We’ll miss being a part of the vegan mini-mall old schoolers. It’s wild to think of how much the landscape has changed these past 13 years there." The SE Stark store will hold a number of clearance sales—while following social distance guidelines—the first of which starts today and runs through Saturday.
• Just when vegans across Portland are mourning the loss of Food Fight!'s famous frozen soft serve machine, vegan ice cream and paleta shop Ice Queen arrives to SAVE VEGAN SUMMER—or at least for those visiting the vegan mini mall. Ice Queen opened their storefront last weekend, in the old Scapegoat Tattoo space, right next door to where Food Fight is packing up shop. If you're cruising the clearance deals—as Portland brushes up against 80 degrees this weekend—consider trying on what Ice Queen has to offer.
• Okay! Bad news first: Psychic, the extremely hip bar on North Mississippi that REFUSES to give me a palm reading, won't be reopening UNTIL Winter/Spring 2021. But the very good news is that in the meanwhile Mississippi Pizza Pub is taking over Psychic's outdoor seating—including the free standing bar—so they can host live music through the fall! Hell yes! Mississippi Pizza is calling this new outdoor show space the Atlantis Annex, and it's open every evening from 5 pm-10 pm.
Related: Mississippi Pizza made sure to stress they aren't sitting anyone inside at this time, but they've also expanded their existing outdoor patio to the North, and are looking to expand it again to share with their neighbors, the Spicy Spoon. It's not really a comeback per say as Mississippi Pizza never fully closed during the stay home order—they've been providing takeout and delivery this entire time. But it is a very promising solution to the cravings Portlanders undoubtedly feel for live music.
(BONUS: Every Thurs-Sat, 11 am-3 pm, the pop-up Cambodian noodle bar—from chefs Diane Lam and David Sigal—Sunshine Noodles calls dibs on Psychic's patio while they offer delivery and pick-up from the Psychic Bar building.)
• There's a vegan in my life who currently sings the praises of the tinga jackfruit guisado at NE Alberta's new vegan Mexican street food cart, Chilango. It's a tough time to start a business no doubt, but Chilango started strong with a small assortment of delicious options like esquites, tacos, salsa in mason jars, and the hotly desired meal kits you can buy and heat up at home. Though a new business, it's worth noting that the first thing they did was give back: On a recent weekday, Chilango raised $1200 for Don't Shoot PDX through profits from their meal kits!
• In other intrepid new business opening news, Portland Monthly penned a profile on the not yet open Kimura Toast Bar. Kayoko Kaye of Kayo’s Ramen Bar and her husband Matt pivoted from their pre-pandemic plans—they wanted to open a Japanese kissaten style coffee shop in the former Ristretto Roasters space on N Williams—to instead create their own answer to shokupan "pizza toasts." These toasts both include and venture outside traditional pizza toppings, even into realms like cheese toast with beef curry on top or Boston crème banana dessert toast. Expect to see that open in July or early August. While you wait, Kayo’s Ramen Bar is open for take-out and delivery.
• Parting note: This Food News round-up was awfully vegan. That's good! We love vegans! But make sure to send us all your hot meat news and tips as well: firstname.lastname@example.org.