Not Your Mama’s Food Court

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Pick from the superstars of the Portland food scene at the new Pine Street Market.

I’ll admit it. As a teenager there was nothing I dug more than strolling through the mall, then grabbing a table at the food court to gossip with my friends about the cute guys who worked at Foot Locker. Of course, the allure of the food court took a nosedive when I hit adulthood and then parenthood. Warming trays of mediocre Asian food, fried food on a stick, overly sweet swirls of cold, dairylike substances? Hard pass.

Enter downtown’s new Pine Street Market. I think it’s my new happy place. My family visited during its “soft open,” and I fell for it the second I walked in and smelled the waffle cones from Wiz Bang Bar. Pine Street gives you the food-cart-pod experience of several high-quality vendors, but in an indoor setting.

A few things for families to consider before going: It was crowded — even before it was officially open — so visit during off-peak times. Seating is first come, first serve at long communal tables. It’s loud and busy, so littles with sensory issues may get easily overwhelmed. They seemed to only have two high chairs. (Although the developers have assured me they now have more.)

Okay, now to the good stuff: the food. Pine Street Market houses Olympic Provisions’ hot dog and sausage creations (think crazy combinations like peanut butter, banana and bacon) at OP Wurst, French/Vietnamese fusion at Common Law, coffee at Brass Bar, Ken Forkish’s bread and pizza at Trifecta Annex, veggie-centric Israeli street food at Shalom Y’All, tapas and rotisserie chicken at Pollo Bravo, slurp-worthy soups at Marukin Ramen, and lastly the soft-serve of your dreams at Salt & Straw’s Wiz Bang Bar.

My husband and I happily chowed down on bowls of shoyu ramen from Marukin topped with pork, half a soft-cooked egg and nori. (My 1-year-old son ate most of my noodles, which had a nice spring to them — luckily I’d ordered some tasty bites of gyoza, too.) It’s worth noting that Marukin servers bring your order to your table, so there’s no juggling hot soup and wrangling kiddos. And the wait time was very short. My 3-year-old daughter and mother-in-law tried the pizza from Trifecta Annex. A word to the wise: the mozzarella, celeriac and white turnip pizza didn’t list red chile flakes as an ingredient, but it was doused with ’em. The meatball pizza was an all-around pleaser though.

We wrapped up our visit at Wiz Bang Bar. They serve up plain cones (my 3-year-old was completely enamored with her Woodblock Chocolate swirl), but the true stars of the show are the imaginative concoctions with handmade candies and treats. I tried the salted malted chocolate chip cookie dough “concrete,” which is essentially a DQ blizzard — only the best blizzard you’ve ever tasted, ever. My server mixed in all the handmade goodies with vanilla bean soft serve and plopped it in a cup. Pro tip: Ask for a kiddie size, it’s still big enough for two adults to share. Gramma tried the hazelnut butter crunch concrete and it was even better. Pine Street Market is our new go-to place for taking out-of-towners — and treating ourselves.

126 SW 2nd Ave., 6 am-11 pm daily. pinestreetpdx.com.

Denise Castañon
Denise Castañon

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