North Portland neighborhood bar Red Fox is back and they have Fernet Branca on nitro!
North Portland neighborhood bar Red Fox is back and they have Fernet Branca on nitro! Suzette Smith

Happy Friday, Portlanders! As the week's weather finally releases us from a 100-degree-day heat grasp, you're doubtlessly excited to read about what's new to eat this weekend. Stay tuned for several sad restaurant closings, even more delicious openings, and some drama about Otter Pops? Let's batter and fry all this savory food news!

CLOSINGS

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• This week, much beloved bistro Aviary announced via Instagram that its last day of service will be Saturday, August 29. So you have a little time left to sample the crispy pig ears Mercury writer Tony Perez raved about or the Szechuan clay pot chicken that Mercury Food Editor Andrea Damewood once dedicated a whole column to.

• Southeast Portland Ethiopian and Eritrean restaurant Abyssian Kitchen also announced it would close, due to coronavirus restrictions. "After carefully weighing in on COVID-19 restaurant operating guidelines," they wrote on their Facebook page, "we're resigned to the fact that it would be nearly impossible for us to operate safely and successfully in the current space we occupy.

Eater PDX reports that Neat Whiskey Bar in SE Portland has quietly closed, taking all its mustachioed lady art with it. “I still respect Kate Brown a hell of a lot,” Neat bartender Robert Volz said. “But I had to close.”

• We're also forced to bid a fond farewell (for now) to Grixsen Brewing, which Mercury writer Brian Yaeger described as the dog-friendly, "southern terminus of Southeast's mile-and-a-half-long 'Brewers Row.'" Grixsen delivered the news via Instagram, noting that they'll still be serving through Sunday, August 23, and that hopefully "once the dust settles" they'll be back to give it another shot.

OPENINGS AND SWITCHEROOS

• Northeast Portland izakaya restaurant Yakuza is becoming a worker-run collective. Eater PDX reports that Yakuza's owner Dayna McErlean will step away from operations of the business due to anonymous accusations of poor management from the 86dlistpdx Instagram account, economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic, and a "years-long" desire to get out of the industry." Yakuza will move a block north, to the space formerly occupied by another of McErlean's restaurants, Nonna.

• And moving into the Yakuza space is the delightful Goose Hollow vegan pan-Asian restaurant Ichiza Kitchen. This is terrific news for everyone on the Eastside who has been craving that Lan Zhou broth, but was was tired of trekking to Southwest. Cyrus Ichiza’s Charleston-style brunch spot Brunch PDX will also move into the space.

• Well-known restaurateur Micah Camden and NFL player Ndamukong Suh—whose combined efforts brought you Bae's Chicken last November—just took over the East Burnside Boxer Ramen location to launch their latest fried delight, a fish and chips spot named Rock Paper Fish. Eater PDX has the scoop on Rock Paper Fish's Pacific Northwestern takes on New England favorites, like artichoke “crab” cake rolls for vegetarians.

• North Portland neighborhood bar Red Fox quietly reopened this month for takeout food, beer, and shot specials. For now, their outdoor booths are off-limits, but chilling in the large Red Fox corner yard looks very inviting—mind your manners, Portland! The bar's owner Charles Westmoreland recently—in a moment of clear brilliance—put digestif amaro bitter Fernet Branca on nitro, resulting in a smooth, creamy herbal shot you never knew you craved. Even more eccentric are the shots Westmoreland is currently theming after films by Chilean avant-garde filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky. Red Fox is also accepting dollar-off coupons from their two neighbors, Cherry Sprout Produce and Mississippi Records, to encourage one-stop shot/record/grocery buying bliss.

• Another beloved Portland bar Hungry Tiger—which could be considered a destination spot for their infamous vegan corndog basket—just recently reopened for takeout, lunch, and dinner, via online, phone, or walk-up order.

• For even more open patios, check out the Mercury's Patio Pages. We've also been rounding up all the info on restaurants offering dine-in and outdoor dining here.


NEWS AND GOSSIP

• Oh, the excruciating highs and blood sugar lows of this week's Otter Pops debacle. I first heard about it in a darkened park, on a 95-degree night, from some excited protesters. Otter Pops were a regular occurrence on the increasingly warm evenings. And a water and snack distribution volunteer—who tweets from PDX Hydration Station—seemed to have a love for the icy treats, so he frequently had them on hand. Although they're essentially nothing but sugar, water, and food coloring in a tube, they are easy to freeze and unfreeze as the situation demands. The kids were chuffed that Otter Pops had tweeted they would donate a bunch of freezer pops to the cause.

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But by the next day, the deal fell through. Otter Pops rescinded their generous offer and deleted their account! For more backstory on this strange tale of donation woe, check out Willamette Week's interview with the PDX Hydration Station volunteer, in which he discusses the people/persons who may have been responsible for directing a right-wing internet mob onto The Otter Pops brand.


• Hey, we love you! We want you to eat something. So make sure to send us all your food news and tips: food@portlandmercury.com.

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