835 SW 2nd Ave.
Portland, OR 97204
When I first learned about Luc Lac’s happy hour, I thought it was way too good to be true. 20 different small-ish plates at only $2-3 a pop? And it’s also one of the most talked about Vietnamese spots in the city? And they have some pretty inventive and delicious cocktails? How? How could this be real?
But it is real, and we feasted and drank while enjoying the first rain Portland’s seen in a long time!
We waited in a short line until 4:00, when Luc Lac opens its doors. It’s an order at the counter, get your own water and utensils kind of place, which I like. I’m also glad we got here early, because it filled up fast! I ordered the Sassy Sour, made with four roses bourbon, a house-made Thai tea-kaffir lime leaf syrup, fresh mango, and lime. If you’re a fan of Thai tea, you will love this. It was creamy and tangy and had a subtle spice. I like that all the cocktails Luc Lac offers are made with fresh Thai and Vietnamese ingredients. Definitely not your typical happy hour experience!
We basically ordered everything on the happy hour menu since it’s really hard for me to make decisions. The basic cream cheese won-tons were a step above your typical Chinese restaurant fare. They were hot and melty and even a little bit earthy. The pork and shrimp spring rolls (below) were some of the best I’ve ever had, and the bite of fresh mint surprised me. The peanut sauce was perfection.
The La Lot was a spiced grilled ground beef mixture wrapped in betel leaves, which are known for their healing properties. It was pleasantly hearty, and the beef had a lot of great flavor and was very tender. The mussels, steamed in a luscious garlicy tamarind-lemongrass broth, (below) were out of this world. This dish was both of our favorites. Luc Lac is known for its pho, so it’s no mystery that they know how to make a great broth. This dish proves it at a fraction of the price! $2? Are you kidding me?
My least favorite dish was the coconut shrimp. It was still really good, but it didn’t have the same kick as the other dishes. The steak rolls (below) on the other hand, were tender and flavorful and stuffed with sweet red peppers and other sautéed vegetables. The broth was swimming with green onions and tangy fish sauce. Superb!
I can say without a doubt that we’ve found a gem here, and we are certainly not the first to find it! Happy hour is 4-7 daily, with $4 beers, $6 special cocktails, $2 small plates, and $3 salads. Even without the generous happy hour, the pho is reasonably priced and the menu looks delicious. Service was quick and friendly and I cannot wait to go back. If you’re in Portland even for one day, you should not miss this place. And, call me so I can come too!