Put It In Your Mouth: Le Happy

What’s that you say? Where do you go this winter to dine, to laugh and to be among other sensitive human beings on all those impending cold winter nights? Where will be the backdrop to your next first date, anniversary, birthday party or game night? Where do you go that is distinctly Portland? Go someplace original. Go somewhere dark, sweet and creative. Go to Le Happy, at 1011 N.W. 16th Ave.

Since 2000, Le Happy has gently amused its clientele with creative, simple and quality crepes. On a recent Thursday night I visited Le Happy and, in a room not much bigger than a studio apartment where a disco ball dangles from the ceiling, reflecting red specs onto paint-smeared walls of rich red and decadent gold, people seemed happy.

A glance around the room revealed eaters huddled around plates steaming with delicious crepes and half-empty bottles of wine. Somehow, all seems well in Portland – we may be a blue state living in a red nation, but at least we have Le Happy and wine.

Off the beaten path of the heavily trafficked Northwest 23rd Avenue and next to the buzzing I-405 freeway protrudes a little yellow box-like building that is Le Happy. Started by the manager of another Portland gem, Pink Martini, Le Happy exists in what I like to call the "cute league" of Portland dining spots. Similar in its creativity to Southeast’s Pix Patisserie and Northeast’s Colosso, Le Happy contributes to a legacy of high-quality niche dining. In Le Happy’s case, it’s all about the crepes.

Presenting a menu split into two categories, savory and sweet, Le Happy offers a balanced variety of simple condiments in delicate and consistent crepes. All of their savory crepes are prepared with Buckwheat flour, which adds a heartiness to this otherwise light culinary sect. I recommend one of my favorites, the Demi Vegan Tofu, which includes tofu, cilantro, cucumber, onion and a peanut sauce – a selection that delivers simple Thai flavor in a sexy French wrap. But with other offerings for the carnivores, like Le Spicy Chorizo-Oeuf, with chorizo-sausage, goat cheese, sriracha hot sauce and egg, or Le Trash Blanc, with bacon and cheddar for $4.50 ($5 with a PBR), Le Happy’s got the "mealness" of crepes covered.

But what I think about, more often than not, are their sweet crepes. Le Happy is really one of the better dessert houses in Northwest Portland. With a sweet menu that offers a variety of ingredients, including poached pears, roasted apples, an array of preserves and, of course, Nutella, Le Happy makes dessert something to dream about. Combined with the perfect glass of wine (bottles range in price from $20-$40, and glasses start at $5), Le Happy becomes the ideal place either to engage in conversation or to play a board game such as Operation, Candy Land, Sorry or Clue.

Oh, and they’re open late (till 1 a.m. Monday – Thursday and 2:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday) and they’ve got booze as well as beer and wine. If you just want to get wasted, it’s cool, but please don’t be like, "Do you have, umm, a Red Bull and vodka?" You should try one of their specialty cocktails. Personally, I like whisky, a lot, and they make this drink with Maker’s Mark and fresh ginger ale, and it’s so fucking good.

All in all, your baby would probably like you more if you went to Le Happy more often. So go on, support Portland’s cute little places, eat here and be Le Happy.