Brews, families and ’90s nostalgia mix at Division Street’s Grixsen Brewing Company.
What on earth is a Grixsen?
It’s a made-up word, according to the Grixsen Brewing Company’s website, hybridizing the family names of three friends who founded this Division Street tap room in 2016, and it describes someone who is honest, righteous and celebrates uniqueness in others.
But was this family-calibrated food-and-drink stop really ready to celebrate the righteously untempered honesty of a hungry 3-year-old on a weeklong nap-strike?
Our family headed to Southeast Portland on a recent Saturday afternoon to find out.
The open-plan taproom oozed chill vibes from the moment we wandered in: Soft breezes flowed through the eating area, courtesy of roll-up garage doors, while speakers (not-too-loudly) pumped out ’90s superhits from The Backstreet Boys, Alanis and Mariah, cueing instant nostalgia for this Millennial couple.
Our 3-year-old, Gabi, made straight for the raised play platform in one corner, scattered with preschool-friendly toys and viewable from anywhere in the eating area, and we seated ourselves and perused the menu.
Grixsen bills itself as offering “pub classics with a Northwest flair.” Pro tip: Their daily 4 pm-6 pm happy hour offers tasty, budget-friendly shareables like locally sourced soft pretzels with house queso ($6), nachos ($6) and fries ($5). A separate kids’ menu offered GF, vegan and veggie-friendly options — music to the ears of this wheat-sensitive family.
I chose the Saint Ricky cocktail ($9), the husband ordered a house beer flight ($10), and for food we went with the fried chicken sandwich ($14), wurst plate ($11) and carnitas tacos ($11). Gabi remained absorbed by the toys, so we ordered her the GF grilled cheese with fries ($6).
The drinks were a mixed bag: My spendy cocktail tasted like it had been sitting in a pitcher, but my husband, Emiliano, loved his six-flavor beer taster, especially the Kiss the Sky IPA (“not too big or hazy”) and the pilsner (“refreshing”).
Gabi’s GF grilled cheese arrived served up on a puffy hamburger bun instead of sandwich bread. She took one look, worked her face into a pout and pushed the plate back, announcing, “I wanted a big sandwich!”
When I threatened to eat it for her, though, she came around and eventually gobbled the entire thing up, no more objections. The tacos and chicken sandwich were lovingly presented, but the taste wasn’t a homerun, and the portions were small for the prices. The standout: The Weiss-wurst, with its assortment of pickled/fermented accompaniments, was our fave.
Still, we liked Grixsen enough to return for brunch (available till 2 p.m. on weekends), and though the GF offerings were modest, the chicken and waffles ($14) and half-portion breakfast burrito (only $5!) were tasty, and Gabi dug the accompanying hash browns. (My bacon-garnished Bloody Mary ($10) was also solid, but again, expensive for its size.)
The best part: taking our time with the meals. Gabi let us linger for almost two hours while she played, and thanks to the spacious no-fuss layout and low-key servers, we never felt like a bother. Pro tip: Per the sign pegged to the wall, anticipate the affections of “well-behaved dogs,” which are allowed inside. This being Portland, they roam, so prepare for occasional unsolicited knee licks.
If you fancy a low-key lunch date, but don’t want to spring for a sitter, this is your spot. And the space would also work well for a multi-family meet-up. (And, yes, clean changing tables and high chairs are on hand.) Bring the kids and the dog — everybody really is welcome at Grixsen.
Grixsen Brewing Company, 1001 SE Division St., Suite 2. Wednesday and Thursday, 4 pm-10 pm; Friday, 4 pm-11 pm; Saturday, noon-11 pm; Sunday, noon-9 pm. 971-347-3100, grixsen.com.
Three more surefire family pub picks.
Ancestry Brewing recently added a Hawthorne Street tap room to its low-fuss lineup (they’ve also got a neighborhood pub in Sellwood), but we’re partial to the Tualatin flagship space, which adjoins Ancestry’s brewery and overlooks a wetlands. ancestrybrewing.com.
In Hillsdale, grab a brew at Sasquatch Brewing Co.’s brewpub, which cultivates a relaxed neighborhood vibe and offers a special (and surprisingly cheap) “Northwest Menu” just for kids under 12. sasquatchbrewery.com.
Have a pint and change the world at Dekum’s nonprofit Oregon Public House, whose spacious back end is often claimed by a small herd of feasting families. Pro tip: Tables near the play area are scarce; get there early or be prepared to hover. oregonpublichouse.com.
Erin J. Bernard, PDX Parent’s managing editor, developed a wheat allergy at midlife but is grateful that at least she can still drink Bloody Marys.
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