By Nedra Rezinas | Contributing Writer
The graffiti art on the building in the alleyway at Alberta Alley (3003 NE Alberta Street) is playful, depicting children holding hands, walking along the street. I’ve been watching with curiosity to see the unfolding of this space. Currently there are three new restaurants: Boxer Ramen and Baes Fried Chicken opened early this year; Kinnamons, a bakery that sells cinnamon rolls and soft serve, opened this summer. I decided to take my family to check out these new businesses.
One standout feature is the covered alleyway itself. Framed by a large wall of plants, the alleyway connects all the storefronts and allows customers to eat outside, rain or shine. There’s also bench seating outside of the restaurants to enjoy during sunny weather that connects via a pedestrian walkway.
Ndamukong Suh and Micah Camden own Baes and Kinnamons together. Suh was excited to develop the space along Alberta. A native of Portland, Suh has watched Alberta change and evolve in the last decade and investing in building on Alberta was his way of creating the Portland he wanted to experience as a kid. According to an April interview in Eater, Suh wants Alberta to be a safe place to walk and encourages people to support the ever changing arts district.
The first thing I noticed walking through the front door of Baes was the tropical wallpaper with pineapples. Plants, elegant mirrors, and natural light fill the space.These features would make any Portlander perk up on a rainy day. Large jars of pickled cucumbers and green beans fill the shelves, serving as a reminder that Baes appreciates quality ingredients in their food.
At Baes, you can have your fried chicken three ways: traditional, hot, or honey butter. Salads, mac and cheese, waffle fries, biscuits, sandwiches and slushies are also available. My husband, daughter and I sit down. We order waffle fries and chicken sandwiches.
The smell of the waffle fries brings back memories of the county fair. They are delicious, crispy and pair well with Bae’s custom hot sauce. The chicken is tender and juicy with very flavorful housemade pickles. Open 7 days a week, Baes also offers a brunch menu.
Kinnamons has a very clean, open feel with lots of space to eat indoors or out. It has a delightful selection of cinnamon rolls in flavors such as maple bacon, raspberry pistachio, coconut key lime pie and of course, the simple classic cream cheese. What you won’t find online is their soft serve menu with flavors that mirror their cinnamon rolls. If you aren’t craving something sweet, Kinnamons has a selection of drinks including cold brew coffee, kombucha on tap and Steven Smith teas.
At the front counter, we order a raspberry pistachio cinnamon roll and when it arrives the first thing I notice is the size of the raspberries: they’re huge! It’s a great pairing that’s light and airy. Being fans of raspberry, we also try the soft serve raspberry chocolate combo. I love the crunch of the chocolate pearls and discovering the hidden hot fudge at the base of the ice cream.
Crave ramen on a cold or hot day? Boxer is your answer! Boxer offers a number of plates such as classics like chicken karaage as well as bowls and potstickers. Their ramen bowls include spicy red miso with pork belly and vegetable curry. They have a number of cocktails on hand and saké by the glass and by the bottle.
Ramen is such a comfort food and being a meat eater, I enjoy Tonkotsu Shio with the pork belly. The broth has a nice savory flavor and pairs well with the noodles. The delicate, yet delicious poached sliced egg with a bold yellow yolk complete the dish.
Be sure to check out the delicious food at Alberta Alley. I encourage you to order in and enjoy the open environment, indoors and outside.
Nedra Rezinas lives near U of O in Concordia. She does marketing strategy for small businesses, is a mom, drinks tea, is a birder, and is passionate to build community.