Comfort is king at the line-up of West End eateries that have opened recently in downtown Portland. For those who believe in dessert first, Blue Star Donuts offers unexpected delights like blueberry-bourbon-basil glaze over a raised puff of goodness (made fresh with organic and sustainably certified ingredients for guilt-free indulgence) and Saint Cupcake features scrumptious fresh-baked cupcakes (including vegan options). Just down the street, renowned sandwich purveyor Lardo is settled into a second brick-and-mortar incarnation since its days as a celebrated food cart. In summer 2013, Lardo chef Rick Gencarelli also opened adjacent fresh pasta-focused Grassa, focusing on fine dining-quality pasta in a more casual dining atmosphere.
Across the street, Cheryl’s on 12th offers homestyle cooking and a chocolate-caramel tart worthy of repeat visits. Meanwhile, John Gorham’s much anticipated Tasty n Alder features the famed restaurateur’s signature small plates with Korean and Mexican twists. Farmers market favorite Petunia’s Pies & Pastries opened a bakery café, bringing owner Lisa Clark’s splendid gluten-free sweets and savories (as well as coffee, cocktails and local gluten-free beer) to her fans from morning ‘til night. Ración features modernist Spanish cooking in a lounge or at the U-shaped table surrounding a wide open kitchen.
Grüner – and connecting bar Kask – serves its take on “cozy alpine cuisine” and stellar handcrafted cocktails. The food and drink power team of Nate Tilden and Jeffrey Morganthaler is behind the acclaimed Clyde Common at the stylish Ace Hotel, and plans are in the works for a subterranean speakeasy in the same spot; Pepe le Moko will host many late nights in what is sure to be a hot urban hangout when its doors open.