I’ve somehow managed to live just off of 82nd street, the Pho capital of Portland, for 24 years without ever trying any Vietnamese food. Having celiac disease, my restaurant options are very limited and I’d been sticking with Thai food because their peanut sauce and rice noodles are generally safe. I hadn’t considered other Asian cuisine based around rice and rice noodles until a date took me out to Lúc Lác on SW 2rd and Taylor.
As a newbie to this cuisine, I’d describe Vietnamese food as similar to Thai food because of their sweet sauces and similar staple ingredients, but with more cilantro and more broth. Its very light and healthy without sacrificing any flavor.
I had a chicken salad, which consisted of shredded unseasoned chicken on a bed of shredded lettuce, cilantro, a bit of red bell pepper and a clear, sweet sauce. With an added side of white rice this ended up being a very filling dinner. I took home plenty of delicious leftovers!
Overall, Lúc Lác’s happy hour is a screaming good deal and their regular menu is reasonably priced. We got to dinner entrées and two cocktails for a total of $31. You also pay before being seated, which speeds up the exit process. I hate waiting for a check!
Our food was served within 10 minutes and the only thing that suffered was the chicken, which arrived on the dry side. There was only one waiter for the whole place, and still he was very courteous in answering my questions about gluten.
There was quite a mixture of people eating out that Thursday night, from first dates and married couples, to parents with their kids. I think the happy hour crowd leans more toward the hipster and starving artist side.
I’d rate Lúc Lác an overall 4 out of 5, same as their Yelp rating. If you’re in gluten intolerant or allergic and living in Portland, this healthy, tasty and affordable joint should be a staple spot for you.