Grandpa's Cafe (3832 N. Interstate) is open two days a week for a total of 10 hours. It's in the basement of a Polish church. These two limiting factors are why hardly anyone I know has heard of this great little deli.
Yet Grandpa's has survived for years now blocks away from Overlook Park, mostly supported by Portland's Polish community centered around the church that shares it's space. With a total of five items on their hot menu (pierogi and the like at ridiculously reasonable prices) served from 4 to 9 pm on Fridays and 10 to 3 pm on Sundays, Grandpa's is run by Polish couple Jarek and Ala. Jarek gave me some great recommendations for candy when I stopped in last time, although his initial answer when I asked for his favorite was "I like all of them." We kind of hit it off, and now I know that raisins are actually delicious in chocolate (don't knock it til you try it).
You will hear more Polish than English being spoken in the cafe, and all of their deli wares are straight from the home country... meaning ask the reserved but friendly proprietors to translate labels and guide you around. You feel like you're walking into someone else's community because you are, but if you're interested in trying something new and learning about another culture, it's worth the effort. Also worth the effort is the outstanding selection of cookies, pickles, sauces, kielbasa, candies, and yes, Polish beer you will find crammed onto the limited shelving.
Next time you happen to find yourself around North Portland during these odd hours, do NOT miss stopping in for some kielbasa and some sweets you can't pronounce the names of. I mean, how much do you really know about Polish food? NOT AS MUCH AS YOU THINK!
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!