Hotly anticipated La Luna Cafe to open this week

Where there’s a will, there’s a doorway.

La Luna Cafe, the hotly anticipated seven-day-a-week brunch spot taking over the former Simpatica Cafe space, will open its doors Wednesday after a remodel that required a full design review.

That’s because the cafe, which sits near Biwa in a subterranean space in the old Pine Street Theater/La Luna venue, sports a brand new staircase and door on Southeast Ash Street.

“It wasn’t crazy painful,” said co-owner Ben Dyer. “Just time consuming.”

With the new entrance in place, Dyer & Co. (Laurelhurst Market, Ate-Oh-Ate, Reverend’s BBQ) are ready to reopen what was, as recently as five years ago, widely considered one of Portland’s best places to brunch.

At La Luna Cafe, some of the old Simpatica Cafe favorites will remain — The Logger, a breaded pork loin served with gravy and a baked egg. But an early look at the menu (see below) shows a deep vein of healthier options, including veggie bowls, fresh juices and smoothies. Coming hard on the heels of Roman Candle’s “plant-based” reinvention, could a wave of lighter breakfast options be headed Portland’s way?

There’s no need to put on life jackets just yet. For now, just count us excited for La Luna Cafe’s pain perdu, with its two slices of butter-griddled brioche, strawberry compote, powdered sugar and chantilly cream.

Dyer, David Kreifels, Jason Owens and Benjamin Bettinger — the quartet behind the Your Neighborhood Restaurant Group — have more big news on the horizon. Big’s Chicken, their beloved smoked chicken and JoJo shack that sadly burnt to the ground last year, will reopen at its new suburban location, 4570 S.W. Watson Ave., Beaverton, at the end of June.

La Luna Cafe will throw its new door open on Wednesday, May 16 at 828 S.E. Ash St. Take a look at the opening menu below. Read more about the history of Simpatica Cafe here.

— Michael Russell

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