When Ami and Brian Shannon opened their Happy Valley beer bar, Valley Growlers, they thought it would be more of a growler station — people would come in and take home some beer for the week. But Happy Valley was looking for a good beer bar, and saw Valley Growlers as an ideal option.
Soon, the Shannons outgrew their beer bar, and started looking at new, larger options. But as they were doing so, they started thinking about what Happy Valley was looking for, not just what they needed. “We wanted to create a destination out here with some Portland style dining,” Ami Shannon says. For them, what made more sense was to create a real food hall in the area, with Portland talent: They could handle the drinks, and serious chefs would handle the food. It was a long process to make it happen, but next week, Valley Public House opens on 162nd, housing both Tamale Boy and Ranch Pizza alongside its 84-tap bar.
The Shannons have known Jaime Soltero Jr., the owner of longstanding Mexican staple Tamale Boy, for years; Soltero grew up in Clackamas working for his parents’ restaurant La Costita, so a Happy Valley Tamale Boy made a lot of sense. “It’s going back to my roots,” he says. “Bringing our food and concept to Clackamas — there isn’t anyone close to what we do in that area... It’s exciting to go back over there, and see how much it’s grown.”
Soon, another business from that corner of 18th and Dekum jumped on board the Happy Valley train: Ranch Pizza. “We kind of had Beaverton on the mind, just because i have family out there. I don’t think I’d ever been to Happy Valley,” says Ranch co-owner Eric Wood. “Once we went out there, we went, ‘This is as good of a demographic as Beaverton... and it’s even more underserved by local Portland restaurants than other suburbs.’”
So, Soltero and Ranch tackled their own mini restaurants. Soltero’s menu at the new Tamale Boy includes its popular tamales, as well as a whole new menu of seasonal, regional Mexican dishes. “Sometimes we recycle some dishes from here and there, but with this one we really wanted to do something completely unique,” Soltero says. The menu includes things like Guerrerense green pozole, Jaliscan-style carne en su jugo, and Veracruzana minilla, or fish cooked down in tomatoes, olives, and capers.
Ranch will serve its iconic Sicilian-adjacent thick squares, topped with things like pepperoni, ricotta, and roasted jalapeños. However, Wood sees the menu at Ranch potentially expanding, considering the extra space. “The kitchen space is a slight upgrade,” he says. “We can possibly have some time and some room to play around with other things, possibly play with other desserts.”
The Shannons have dedicated the other side of the space to two bars. Valley Public House, the expanded beer bar, will have a whopping 84 taps, with 70 taps in regular use; the extra 14 will be set aside for pop-ups and tap takeovers. The draft list includes nine cocktails, kombuchas, wines, ciders, and, of course, plenty of beer, which customers can drink out on the patio, indoors, or on the mezzanine set aside for private events or watching sports.
Down the line, a second, subterranean bar will open on that side of the building: Whiskey Barrel Lounge will be more of an upscale cocktail and whiskey bar, with its own food menu and seating. Executive chef Russ Langstadt is tweaking a menu of Oregon seafood, grass-fed steaks, and some casual pub fare; the restaurant’s seafood platter, for instance, includes grilled spot prawns, albacore ceviche, oysters, and caviar-dotted deviled eggs. Ami Shannon is particularly excited about the steamer clams, which come in a broth of pilsner and chorizo with sourdough for dipping.
All three restaurants will serve brunch on the weekends: Ranch is still tweaking its menu, but Tamale Boy’s menu is set, with classics like chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, and a hulking breakfast burrito. The menu also includes things like enchiladas Suizas and a croissant breakfast sandwich, stacked with chorizo, potatoes, avocado, over-easy eggs, queso Oaxaca, pico de gallo, and chipotle mayonnaise. Valley Public House will handle mimosas and bloody marys, and once it’s open, Whiskey Barrel Lounge will offer its own version, with huckleberry pancakes, Benedicts, and an open-faced buttermilk biscuit sandwich topped with citrus-brined fried chicken.
The whole space has three patios, including one for the bar, one for the lounge, and a family-friendly patio outside the restaurants; the bar patio includes four fire pits, with a covered-and-heated family-friendly patio on the north side. The space will have around 200 seats total, indoors and outdoors, and is naturally spacious for social distancing. “It’s going to be the only space, once we open, where you can actually get Ranch Pizza for dine-in,” Wood says. “Just because of the sheer size of the space, we have a safe way to seat people inside.”
Valley Public House will open October 28, but it will still have vacancies for lease; Ami Shannon wants to see Portland bakeries and cafes land in the food hall, as well, because in her eyes, there’s a huge demand for more Portland brands in Happy Valley. “We’re hoping to bring more people out here. We have great potential for more Portland businesses,” she says. “We have the population that doesn’t want to leave, but they don’t have anywhere to go.”
Valley Public House is located at 12960 SE 162nd Street.
• Valley Growlers [Official]
• Tamale Boy [Official]
• Ranch Pizza [Official]
• Valley Public House [Facebook]
• The founders of Valley Growlers partner with Ranch PDX, Tamale Boy, and others to bring a novel concept to Happy Valley. [NWBG]
• With Happy Valley expansion, Tamale Boy set for an eventful year [PBJ]