Cully Central is a Lao beer bar that turns out dishes you can’t find anywhere else.
1. Miami Nice
2117 NE Oregon St., 818-200-5571, miaminicepdx.com. Noon-9 pm Wednesday-Sunday.
At Miami Nice, you may not immediately realize you’re eating vegan. The croquettas are fried up tightly, and the Cubanito is neatly pressed. Many menu items are versions of street/comfort food that owner Valerie Espinoza loves—with a vegan twist. The chop salad comes with marinated soy curls on top instead of chicken. The dish’s bright yellow sauce draws stares; it’s a mixture of curry, mustard and mayonnaise she worked on to get just right. Other menu items stand out for their Mami-specific flavor, like the Big Papi, which has green olives in the picadillo instead of raisins. The starchy food works well to stave off the high ABV in beers at Culmination Brewing, where Espinoza runs the kitchen.
2. Cool Moon
1105 NW Johnson St., 503-224-2021, coolmoonicecream.com. Noon-10 pm daily.
For conventional ice cream, we’ve long loved Cool Moon best. The chocolate flavors are more Valrhona than Hershey’s, and there remains a solid core of unusual—but consistently creamy—naturally flavored and well-balanced offerings. Definitely order the kulfi, redolent of cardamom and rose water, Thai iced tea and Mexican-influenced horchata cookie.
4765 NE Fremont St., 971-319-1134, nacheauxpdx.com. 4 pm-8 pm Wednesday-Thursday, noon-8 pm Friday, 10 am-4 pm Saturday-Sunday.
At Anthony Brown’s relatively new brick and mortar—formerly a garishly teal-colored food truck—, Mexican favorites get hitched to Southern food and Cajun-Creole flavors. You can find “Mexicajun” food in both Louisiana and Southeast Texas, but it’s a rare concept in Portland, if not entirely unheard of. The “Nacheaux nachos” start with a big pile of fresh-fried chips and also feature carnitas that could just as easily be cochon au lait, while a cheesy “crunchwrap” comes stuffed with red beans, dirty rice and fried chicken.
4. Cully Central
4579 NE Cully Blvd., 503-206-8911, cully-central.business.site. 4-10 pm Monday-Friday, 11 am-10 pm Saturday, 11 am-9 pm Sunday.
Cully Central is something unique in Portland: a Lao beer bar with 20 handles, boasting favorites from Breakside and pFriem. It turns out dishes you can’t find anywhere else, in particular a subtle khao piek sen chicken noodle soup with thick and chewy rice noodles and a light cinnamon and pepper broth.
1250 NW 9th Ave., 971-275-2762, cooperativapdx.com. 7 am-8 pm Tuesday-Saturday.
Cooperativa has a lot of what you need in a beautiful, air-conditioned environment—it’s a grocery store, a coffee shop, an ice cream place, a sandwich shop, a bar, a restaurant and a pizzeria, infused with the vibe and flavors of Bologna, Florence, Rome and the Italian “slow food” movement. Never go outside again!