Venture inside Pacific Crust Pizza Company downtown for inventive, delicious pizza enveloped in a fun, campout setting.
After a trip to the Portland Art Museum, I talked my family into walking 10 blocks to Pacific Crust Pizza Company. I was intrigued by the outdoorsy, Pacific Northwest-themed menu, and curious to see if their pizza lived up to their wit. Given their commitment to local ingredients on a slow-rise crust, expectations were high.
You can’t miss it, thanks to the giant Bigfoot statue at the entrance. The interior doesn’t disappoint either. The canvas tent lining the ceiling and walls, the lanterns and even the climbing cables built into the tables make you feel as if you’ve stepped out of downtown and into the great outdoors (or at least a fancy yurt).
The front room has three tables, but there is another room in the back. Pacific Crust, however, encourages you to eat your pizza “in the wild.” It was raining and cold, and we’d just spent 10 blocks in the drizzle, so we opted to stay dry in the tent. (There are no high chairs on site, so bring a booster if your child needs one.)
The pizza menu is divided into Easy, Intermediate and Expert. My family has a hard time agreeing on toppings, so we usually order halved pizzas. They seemed willing to make it happen for us, but it’s not something they do regularly. If you order in the “Easy” category and pick pizzas with the same base sauce, it’s manageable. But since no one but our youngest was interested in “Easy,” we ordered a slice of cheese ($4) for her and opted for two 14-inch pizzas. Our son chose our Intermediate pizza, the Mountain Goat ($24), topped with boar bacon, elk fennel sausage, mushrooms, green olives, roasted onions, mozzarella and red sauce. That honestly sounded more “Expert” to me, but the flavors were subtle and mild. My 12-year-old loved it. The grown-ups chose the Traverse ($23) with blue cheese, truffle, mozzarella, corn, arugula, black pepper honey and red sauce. It was fantastic. Once they cool a bit, the pizzas are foldable and can be eaten by hand, even with the generous toppings. We also tried the garlic-truffle-cheese bread ($10), with crispy sides that my kids were crazy about.
Before our pizzas arrived, however, we received the showstopper of the lunch — the S’mores Brownie ($4). The marshmallow topping was warm, so we reasonably ate dessert first. Don’t be fooled by the cupcake liner: it’s a dense, chocolate-forward brownie, not a cupcake. By the time we divided the treat between the four of us, our hands were as sticky as if we were actually camping. Pro tip: Grab extra napkins. Just as we began the meal, we ended it with another dessert: the trail mix cookie ($3), which leaned more granola bar than cookie in my opinion, but my husband loved the tart cherries paired with the chocolate.
Powell’s City of Books is only four blocks away, if you want to make an afternoon of it. Not excited about parking downtown? They deliver. Pacific Crust also offers dairy-free cheese and gluten-free cauliflower crust for an extra charge ($2 for each substitution).
Both clever and delicious, Pacific Crust Pizza Company is worth a stop if you are in the neighborhood, whether you choose to eat in the tent or in the wild.
Pacific Crust Pizza Company, 400 SW Broadway.