The pandemic chaos that upended restaurants settled down over the past year. Although labor shortages and supply chain disruptions continued to plague the industry in 2021, the return of indoor dining created a sense of normality.
As Gov. Jay Inslee relaxed some COVID- 19 precautions, interesting new restaurants opened. These places harken to pre-pandemic times by treating dining as an experience, not merely a means to get food into mouths.
DosAlas (777 Waterfront Way, Vancouver) opened its doors in late May, revealing a Las Vegas level of glitz and glamor inside. The restaurant feels like a celebration. Its big, bold, beautiful space offers a destination for those eager to dress up and indulge in elegant refreshments after more than a year of eating cold takeout while wearing sweatpants and streaming Netflix.
The Sedgwick (801 Washington St.) and The Cove (5731 S.E. Columbia Way) both opened in Vancouver in the fall. The Sedgwick, with its eclectic menu of shareables, feels like a speakeasy. The Cove overlooks the Columbia River and serves craft cocktails and fresh seafood.
Magnolia Tavern (8611 N.E. Ward Road) opened in November near Hockinson. In contrast to the surrounding fast-food joints, Magnolia Tavern’s sophisticated decor transports you to New Orleans for a bowl of gumbo and a whiskey cocktail.
Smash burgers have arrived on this side of the river. Many food trends die on the trip north from Portland, but thankfully these pressed-meat patties with crunchy edges survived the voyage. Goon Burger operates a weekly pop-up shop at The Hungry Sasquatch (2110 Main St., Vancouver) on Tuesdays from 4 p.m. until the hamburgers sell out.
For all these gains, Clark County also lost restaurants in the past year. I’m sad to see Gogi Grill in Camas close, for one. The Park family had served Korean food for many years.
Despite the lingering pandemic, 2022 looks promising. Ridgefield appears to be the place to watch. A growing food-cart pod called Carts by the Park (219 Pioneer St.) has already drawn some great trucks like Little Conejo Norte and Sugars Barbecue. Little Conejo Norte’s breakfast burrito was one of the best things I ate all year.
The Neighborhood Refuge, slated to open in downtown Ridgefield’s little white church complete with a whiskey and cigar bar, will add another interesting gathering place for food, drink and entertainment.
Ruse Brewing plans to serve Detroit pizza at The Waterfront Vancouver. Be Well Juice Bar expects to open there as well.
I look forward to visiting both places, but I would like to see more attention focused on another part of Vancouver that offers a diverse and delicious mix of food and drink: the international business district along East Fourth Plain Boulevard.
Fourth Plain Forward and other community groups have promoted the area by organizing community activities and adding beautiful murals to the buildings. Nonetheless, investment by public and private organizations to create a more pedestrian-friendly neighborhood would help more customers discover the treasures such as Su Casa Marquez, Mi Casa Pupuseria and Dulce Tentacion that line Fourth Plain.