Local chain Atlas Pizza opens a new, kid-friendly spot on Southeast Foster Road.
Story and photo by Denise Castañon
Big changes are happening on Foster Road, a long-overlooked thoroughfare in Southeast Portland mostly known as home to one of the city’s most celebrated strip clubs — and as a way to avoid traffic on Powell Boulevard. But recently the city’s Foster Streetscape project has narrowed the lanes from two to four, expanded the bike lanes, and added decorative street lights and new trees. This gussied-up Foster has attracted new businesses appealing to the neighborhood’s large population of families with young kids. Those same neighbors did shed a tear or two when the dive bar/pizza joint O’Malley’s shuttered in May 2018, but the announcement of Atlas Pizza moving into the old space (along with the cool 21+ hang Five & Dime) quickly cheered most everyone up.
Since we live in the neighborhood, my family walked over to Foster to try the latest Atlas Pizza outpost on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Right as we walked in, I spotted the small play area to the right, which held a play kitchen, several little tables, toys and a scattering of books. I was about to point it out to my 4-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter, but they were already scampering over to the four pinball machines on the opposite side of the restaurant. My husband and I left them to ogle the machines while we placed our order at the counter.
Atlas offers both a range of slices, from pepperoni to vegan ($3.25 to $3.75) and whole pies (starting at $13 for a small and $21 for a large). I wanted to try the veggie pizza with artichokes, which I knew would be a hard sell to the kids, so we went with slices.
While waiting for our order, we doled out quarters for the kids to play pinball. There was a stool that helped them get to a better height to see all the action. Another sign they truly welcome families: We spied highchairs and a changing table in the bathroom.
Our slices, along with garlic knots (6 for $3.50) and a Greek salad ($9), did not take long to come out. The slices were surprisingly good and made us think that a whole pie fresh out of the oven would be even a notch up. Atlas’s crust has a bit of flakier texture than other pizzas we’ve had around town. The salad (easily big enough for three adults to share) was fresh and crisp and packed with artichokes, in addition to traditional Greek salad ingredients. My 4-year-old, the carb addict, scarfed down two of the garlic knots. They had that same slightly flaky texture and came out hot and buttery.
After we had eaten and the kids were back at pinball, I ducked through the door connecting Atlas to Five & Dime. The super cool space, with a massive old-school bar, walls splashed with local art and American Gods-themed drinks, will be going on our list for future date-night stops.
On our way out, the kids stopped to check out the play area and could have happily stayed longer. And that was true of our whole experience. Atlas Pizza’s whole atmosphere is inviting for families, and set up so you can linger on a sunny afternoon and enjoy an unrushed meal.
6535 SE Foster Rd. 11:30 am-11 pm, Sunday to Thursday. 11:30 am-midnight, Friday and Saturday. atlaspizzapdx.com.
FoPo Family Favorites
As the neighborhood has evolved, Foster-Powell families have many more options for food and fun in the hood:
Coming soon: Pizzeria Otto and Favela Brazilian coffee shop.