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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Modern, Sandwiches
Counter service

Tue–Sat 8:00am–2:00pm
Sun 9:00am–2:00pm

Features Outdoor dining, veg-friendly, Wi-Fi
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx


North Portland
4823 N. Lombard St.
Portland, OR
(503) 289-0120
Little Red Bike Café
A plucky, sincere little café that’s hard not to like

As many self-published authors know, if you want to create a fan base before your book goes to press, start a blog. This is what the owners of Little Red Bike Café did, and the result was an eager crowd on opening day that already felt as if they were intimates, confidants, and—most advantageously—predisposed to loving the place. Every otherwise-griped-about misstep, each potentially damning shortcoming, was washed away by the rose glow of goodwill generated by the adorable musings and confessions that humanized the restaurant’s tender early days. Which is not to say the love isn’t earned. One blog post debates whether bagels should be toasted, a sign of passion and dedication that makes this café stand out from the crowd.

The interior of the jaunty turquoise storefront is gently festooned with bicycle paraphernalia—there’s even an air pump for bicyclists in need of a boost. Otherwise, it’s quite spare. You order at the counter (or bike-through window) and sit at simple tables and chairs adorned only with Tapatío bottles and napkins. A wooden bar with stools faces the street, and although the traffic here isn’t particularly interesting, it does invite overcast-day musings.

What the menu offers sounds pretty typical, but it’s tweaked up a notch in complexity and excellence. For breakfast, a “Paper Boy” is a simple fried-egg sandwich elevated above the mundane with the addition of Beecher’s Flagship cheese on freshly baked ciabatta. Add caramelized onions and pasilla pepper aïoli and you have a “ZooBomb.” Others benefit from homemade apple butter or fig jam to give them added interest. Three-egg scrambles—like one with Cypress Grove chèvre, fresh herbs, homemade tomato jam, and multi-grain toast—will set you right without setting you back. Fleur de Lis pastries, croissants, and scones are also available, including some downright addictive sticky buns.

At lunch, toasted sandwiches come with your choice of chips or a much-better-than-average salad of organic dressed greens. Even prosaic turkey becomes special and texturally intriguing with bacon, homemade onion relish, Beecher’s cheese, sun-dried-tomato mayonnaise, and apple slices. A grilled cheese sandwich is given depth with just a kiss of white-truffle oil and some decent brie and jack cheese. But best of all is roast beef, thick and moist with wonderful caramelized onions, roasted tomatoes, crumbled blue cheese, and rosemary aïoli.

All this for about $10, including a good coffee. Blog or no blog, we’re followers.

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