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News / Life / Clark County Life

So far, Clark County’s new year looks tasty

Vancouver area’s new dining trends are becoming apparent only a couple of weeks into 2023

By Rachel Pinsky, for The Columbian
Published: January 13, 2023, 6:00am
4 Photos
The smash burger leads the menu at Bless Your Heart Burgers, which recently opened in Vancouver.
The smash burger leads the menu at Bless Your Heart Burgers, which recently opened in Vancouver. (Contributed by Sesame Collective) Photo Gallery

It’s difficult to predict what will happen in food and drink during the coming year, but several trends are already apparent and promise an interesting dining scene for Clark County in 2023.

Southeast Asian treats

Sonny and Linda Mouy opened Short and Sweet (1001 Main St., Vancouver; 360-931-3759) in the space formerly occupied by Rosemary Cafe.

I’m looking forward to trying The Crazy Drink with a variety of toppings ($6.59) and Okinawa creme brulee milk tea with creme brulee and egg pudding ($6.50).

In addition to boba tea, the menu features banh mi sandwiches filled with proteins ranging from pork belly ($9.98) to lemongrass tofu ($7.98).

But what I’m really excited about is Short and Sweet’s mochi doughnuts, which the Mouys plan to debut at a grand opening in late January or early February. I’m a fan of Mikiko Mochi Donuts (300 N.E. 28th Ave., Portland), which serves beautiful, airy, gluten- and dairy-free doughnuts with flavors like strawberry lemonade or Thai tea with black sesame drizzle. It will be nice to have mochi doughnuts on this side of the river.

Tiny Tasties (500 S.E. 192nd Ave., Vancouver: 360-326-4410) opened late last year with a full menu of bites like Thai sweet wings ($6), small dough balls called takoyaki ($5), waffle corn dogs ($4) and banh mi sliders ($6), as well as sweets such as bubble waffles with fruit and ice cream ($9.75) and shaved ice ($8.50).

Kuya’s Casa  (612 N. Devine Road, Vancouver; 360-314-2127) will be opening in the former Duck Tails space to serve Filipino classics like lumpia and pork adobo along with Mexican food. The owners have a Gresham, Ore., restaurant called Kuya’s Islander Cuisine, which serves Hawaiian and Filipino food. It will be interesting to try Kuya’s take on Filipino and Mexican cuisine.

Portland transplants

I’ve been to Grassa (780 Waterfront Way, Vancouver; 360-360-4687) repeatedly, and it’s become one of my favorite spots for a glass of wine or a cocktail and a chopped salad followed by fresh pasta. I plan on trying other Portland transplants in the new year.

The recently opened Bless Your Heart Burgers (7910 E. Mill Plain Blvd., Suite 120, Vancouver; 360-952-4593) offers smash burgers ($8.95-$13.75), hot dogs ($7.95-$8.50), a veggie melt ($8.50), fries ($3.75-$8) and a couple of cocktails, as well as a kids’ menu with burgers, hot dogs and grilled cheese (all $4.50). Rumors have swirled about another smash-burger place opening downtown. I’m hoping they prove to be true.

The big question is whether El Gaucho (510 Waterfront Way, Vancouver; 360-583-9001) succeeds. So far, El Gaucho seems to be off to a prosperous start. Weekend reservations at prime times are tricky to get.

I’m looking forward to sampling seafood, 28-day dry-aged Niman Ranch Prime Certified Angus Beef ($47-$155) and tableside Caesar salad ($17 per person) at this fine-dining spot. If El Gaucho flourishes, it will prove something that we already know: Beaverton, Ore., isn’t the only suburb that can support quality restaurants in the Portland area. This may lead to more interesting dining on this side of the river.

Ridgefield newcomers

For years, I’ve said downtown Ridgefield is a place to watch for food and drink in Clark County.

Little Conejo owners Mychal Dynes and Mark Wooten will offer their take on pizza in the space formerly occupied by Vinnie’s Pizza. The new restaurant, Bunnie’s, has yet to open at 205 N. Main Ave. The name ties this restaurant to the rabbit theme of Dynes’ and Wooten’s other businesses. (“Conejo” means “rabbit” in Spanish.)

When I last saw Wooten months ago, he was working on a Roman-inspired crust that looked like pizza al taglio, a thin-crust pizza sold in rectangular slices by weight in Italy’s capital. Dynes’ and Wooten’s new venture will likely draw high-quality food businesses to Ridgefield, just like Little Conejo did after opening in downtown Vancouver in 2017.

Rachel Pinsky: couveeats@gmail.com