May is always a busy month for restaurant openings, and despite the foul economy, May 2009 is turning out to be no different. Three new eateries have popped up in the past week, and another is slated to open any day.

As reported last week, the Laurelhurst Market debuted last week, and it’s already becoming the talk of the town. Across town, a new coffee and pastry shop called Cartola debuted at 2723 NE Seventh Ave. I haven’t had a chance to try either one just yet, but hope to later this week.

Today, the Original was unveiled by the folks at Sage Hospitality, the group also responsible for Depatures and the Urban Farmer restaurant at the Nines hotel. Calling itself a “dinerant,” the Original is a playful and modern take on the traditional American diner. The menu boasts nine types of pancakes, a duck confit hash, a classic Cobb salad, lobster and mascarpone macaroni and cheese, steak frites with bone-marrow butter, and a lot more. There aren’t many decent sit-down food options in the northern end of downtown, and there are hardly any on the bus mall, so I imagine the Original will do pretty well on the corner of SW Sixth Avenue and Oak Street.

Any day now, bartender Kevin Ludwig will debut his long-anticipated cocktail bar and restaurant, Beaker and Flask. Located at the intersection of Sandy Boulevard, Washington Street, and Seventh Avenue in Southeast Portland, Beaker and Flask will feature the types of excellent and classic cocktails for which Ludwig earned his reputation as lead bartender at Wildwood, Paley’s Place, and Park Kitchen. For his own project, Ludwig has teamed up with Portland liquor expert Tim Davies, most recently bar manager at Clyde Common, and Benjamin Bettinger, a talented chef and longtime sous-chef at Paley’s Place. The restaurant has been completed for several weeks and is only waiting for its liquor license.

Beaker and Flask joins a neighborhood already populated by many great Portland restaurants headed by chefs and restaurateurs still in their twenties and thirties. With Bunk Sandwiches, Biwa, Le Pigeon, Kir, Simpatica Dining Hall, and now Beaker and Flask, there are few Portland neighborhoods that compare to Lower Burnside and SE Morrison Street. Please don’t call it “LoBu.”