Started by a trio of dads with serious brewing cred, Level Beer in outer Northeast Portland has created a laid-back space for beer lovers to enjoy great brews and food — and bring their kiddos to the party.
Level Beer hosts three food carts: Bam Pow! Burgers, Mexican food cart Flor De Guelaguetza, and Nature’s Old Time Meats featuring barbecued pork, beef and chicken, salads and bowls. Inside there’s a tasting room with an extensive menu.
After ordering from the carts, we headed to the large covered seating area that’s partially enclosed. One corner is a dedicated kid’s play area that my 2-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter promptly investigated. Knowing they were busy making food in the play kitchen, driving around trucks and checking out the books made it much easier to relax and enjoy a beer.
I ordered a burger ($10) and Plain Jane hot dog ($7) from Bam Pow! The burger’s thin patty with a nice crust, zippy sauce and especially good bun made it one of the best burgers I’ve had in Portland. My son didn’t come close to tackling the enormous ¼–pound hot dog, but gave it a good shot.
My husband tried a tlayuda from Flor ($14). Think Mexican pizza — a giant, thin, griddled tortilla topped with beans, cheese, lettuce, tomato, avocado and your choice of meat. It’s a specialty from Mexico’s Oaxaca region and utterly delicious. It was also huge. We could have easily split it between us and had leftovers. He ordered my daughter a quesadilla with some carne asada on the side ($7). Again, a super-big portion that we could have easily had the two kids share.
For drinks I tried the Dot the O kölsh, a collaboration with Ex Novo brewing ($5). It was refreshing and easy-to-drink. My husband enjoyed his Level Headed beer, a collaboration with Fat Head ($5).
My only critique of the experience: Picking up our orders was a little tricky since the food carts faced toward the parking lot, not the seating area. We couldn’t really supervise the kids in the play area while going to check to see if our food was ready. It was a bit of a juggle going in to order beer, too. We kind of tag-teamed, to make it work, but having the pick-up windows face the seating area could have smoothed things out.
5211 NE 148th Ave. Go to levelbeer.com for brewery and food cart hours.
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