Tuesday, July 14, 2009


2811 NE Glisan
Portland, Oregon 97232
la Hora del Amigo: weekdays, 2 to 6 PM

I'm not sure what it is exactly that pulls me pack to Pambiche again and again. The drinks, perhaps. The exceptional prices during what they call la Hora del Amigo (otherwise known as a very extended happy hour), possibly. Or, maybe it is the vibrant coloring working its magic to grab my attention (and the attention of my taste buds) and keep me wanting more. Whatever it may be, it's working.

Having eaten at Pambiche so many times has given me what I like to call the "frequent consumer's authority" to determine that the very best time to enjoy the Cuban cuisine is during happy hour. (And when I say happy hour, I mean every weekday from 2--yes, two!--until 6 PM and again on Friday and Saturday from 10 PM until midnight.) For dinner, it's a tight squeeze. For breakfast, I would expect the same. But, during a sunny afternoon (or even one with a little more gray) the outdoor seating seems to stretch on, providing ample seating for all those who wish to take advantage of the cheap eats and sensationally refreshing cocktails.

My favorite beverage, of course, is the Palm Beach Cooler. At only five dollars, it's a steal. It's similar to a mojito but made with white wine. And the sugar cane used as a garnish is saturated with the flavors of this South Florida favorite. I am no longer embarrassed to pull mine from the glass to enjoy while sipping on my beverage. Other drinks are made with cherries, olives, or fresh citrus and I won't waste those either.

The menus for all meals, including la Hora del Amigo, are quite extensive. I find myself going back and forth--using the dinner menu as a resource--to better understand the afternoon offerings. As a vegetarian, my choices are limited, but I have yet to order everything Pambiche offers during happy hour. I try something new each time I visit and have yet to be disappointed. Just in case, though, I always order what I like to think of as the perfect Cuban accompaniment. Labeled the Ensalada Caribena, the blend of cabbage, carrots, citrus and fresh herbs seems to be just the right mix to go side by side with a bite of just about anything else on the menu. Today it shared space on my fork with the spinach and cheese empanada. Last time, it did the same with the Yuca con Mojo.

I am committed to trying new locations for happy hour this summer. That, however, does not mean that I won't be back to Pambiche before the school year starts.

Food: Exceeds
Drinks: Exceeds
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets



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