Perhaps you’re looking to cap off a day of strolling through nearby Forest Park or shopping in the Brewery Blocks. Or you’re venturing out with friends for dinner and drinks, seeking someplace with both a memorable vibe and stellar food. Kicking off your repast with a well-crafted cocktail (or two) can make your evening all the more relaxing and fun, and the Pearl District positively overflows with notable watering holes. Here are four natty establishments where you can count on delectable food and booze. —Andrew Collins
Portland ’s current outpost of tiki-themed Trader Vic’s (1203 NW Glisan St, 503-467-2277) delights fans of big, foofy cocktails and Polynesian kitsch—note the chunky hand-carved figurines and vintage paintings of hula dancers. Crab Rangoon, shoyu fried chicken, and Murgai spicy duck curry are among the tasty nibbles. Bottoms up: The beloved Kama’aina (featured above)—with gin, coconut juice, triple sec, and just a hint of citrus—will put you in a beachy state of mind.
Cast in sexy red lighting and serving boldly seasoned Nuevo Latino cuisine, vivacious ¡Oba! (555 NW 12th Ave, 503-228-6161) is one of the Pearl’s favorite see-and-beseen restaurants. Artfully plated dishes like wild king salmon with banana-lime mojo and shellfish-studded paella are top draws, but you could also make a meal of several tasty tapas y pinchos (sautéed octopus with chorizo, seared ahi with mango salsa).
Bottoms up: Go local and international with the caipirinha— the house version of this delish Brazilian cocktail is made with oak barrel–aged Leblon Cachaça, lime, sugar, and Oregon marionberries.
Beneath Union Station’s iconic clock tower and glowing “Go By Train” sign, classy Wilfs (800 NW 6th Ave, 503-223-0070) draws travelers and locals to its high-ceilinged retro-swanky dining room, complete with curvaceous leather banquettes and sweeping red drapes. Chef Deb Serkoian’s contemporary American menu utilizes locally sourced ingredients in updated traditional favorites like steak Diane flambé and savory truffled–wild mushroom bread pudding.
Bottoms up: Sit back and enjoy one of Wilf’s outstanding nightly jazz performances while sipping a refreshing, salted-rimmed Diana Krall, comprising Stoli Blueberry Vodka, lemonade, and pomegranate juice.
Set in an inviting, historic warehouse, Paragon (1309 NW Hoyt St, 503-833- 5060, paragonrestaurant.com) is the quintessential neighborhood gastropub— the sort of place that strikes a perfect balance between chichi and comfy. On warm nights, the garage door–style windows open to create a breezy indoor-outdoor ambience. Huitlacoche risotto with smoked cheddar and roasted sturgeon with chanterelle jus stand out among the creative dinner dishes.
Bottoms up: Belly up to the bar for some of the coolest craft cocktails in the neighborhood, including the barrel-aged Bon Temps with whiskey, Heering Cherry Liqueur, Domaine de Canton Ginger, Pacifique Absinthe rinse, Regan’s Orange Bitters, and orange zest.
Photos by Amy Ouellette