Angela Cash
5101 N Interstate

If you're a North Portlander, you know that special feeling of excitement when you spot a new restaurant or bar in your neighborhood. Several times, I've nearly swerved into oncoming traffic while gawking at, say, Mio Sushi, or Echo, or Wax. And while I first curiously ogled Wax about six months ago, they've only recently found solid footing--emerging not only as a center for breakdancing, emcee battles, and hiphop music, but as a legitimate dining establishment.

A friend and I met for breakfast mid-morning on a weekday to find Wax's comfortable hodgepodge dining room completely empty. No big surprise considering its home on Interstate Avenue, but after sampling the fun and deliciously solid food, it seems like a shame. The menu boasts tons of flavors of fresh fruit smoothies--made vegan or dairy--which can be concocted with up to three different fresh fruits and two juices. Finding five choices to be far too many to make, my cohort and I tried a simple vegan strawberry mango smoothie, which was thick, icy, tart and just as good as anything Jamba Juice can blend up.

Some breakfast items are very kid-friendly--Wax is run by and primarily for young people--but I find their youthful vigor charming. For example, if you haven't yet been diagnosed with adult onset diabetes, you can make sure this is the year by ordering Wax's "One Big Pancake" topped with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers, M&Ms, or Butterfinger. Likewise, Wax's tasty milkshakes come in flavors like White Chocolate Snickers or Carmel Butterfinger; flavors my teenaged sister would go crazy for, but that would make me puke. I was much more interested in the Caffeine Fiend coffee shake and the tart and creamy Pineapple Colada.

Besides the items that will send you into sugar shock, Wax offers tasty standards like egg or tofu scrambles served with lovable seasoned potatoes, French toast layered with mixed berries and cream, pancakes with fresh banana and hearty walnuts, and breakfast sandwiches that should send you running by Wax before work. Try the Breakfast BLT made with the standards plus egg, or the Portland made with cream cheese, tomato, and egg on a wheat bagel. For fans of Junior's potato medleys, Wax has an item called The Works, which lets you choose two vegetables and two cheeses (cheddar, mozzarella, or muenster) that are fried up with bell peppers, onions, and a heap of potatoes.

The lunch menu is a little more sparse, but has tempting items like the Hypocrite (a garden burger with pork or turkey bacon), a bacon cheeseburger, or a grilled three-cheese sandwich with ham or turkey. For an extra three or four bucks you can add chips or potatoes and a shake and assure yourself a mid-day coronary.

Quite obviously Wax's menu was conceived by people who have yet to wrestle with the Freshman 15, the I Just Got Out of a Relationship 20, or the I'm Cripplingly Depressed 25. Good for them, I say. Spending an hour or two at Wax reminds you of being a hopeful teenager who loved candy, skaters, and Danielle Steele novels--before real life started and you learned about STDs, credit card bills, and the South Beach Diet.