From August 20-26, you have a new mission in Portland, Ore.; support all the black-owned restaurants that call the city home. In the same vein as Black Restaurant Day and Black Business Month, the next seven days will shine a light on all the culinary magic originating from African and African-American-owned businesses in the city. To make your job easier, here’s a short and sweet preview of some of the restaurants participating:
912 SE Hawthorne Boulevard | Portland
Head chef and owner Salimatu Amabebe hosts Naija Flavor, a weekly four-course vegan Nigerian cuisine pop-up dinner and Black Feast, a monthly vegan pop-up that celebrates black artists and writers through multi-course vegan and gluten-free meals. You can expect dishes such as egusi (a stew made with ground melon seed and fresh greens that she learned from her father), beans and dodo, mango coconut cabbage salad, guava cheesecake, cassava home fries and other surprises. Hosted at Feastly PDX, her last pop-up included yam spinach bitterleaf stew with coconut rice and tigernut pudding so you know you are in for a foodie treat of epic proportions when you sign up to dine here. Definitely a treat if you are in the area.
7238 SE Foster Road | Portland
For a taste of Haitian cuisine, head straight for the Portland Mercado and you will find Mathilde’s amid a colorful line of outdoor eateries. The aroma of fresh garlic, herbs such as thyme, parsley and cilantro, Scotch bonnet peppers and sour orange should guide you to just the spot where distinctly flavored meats build the foundation for a hearty plate of Haitian mushroom rice and green Congo pea. Owner Mathilde Aurelien Wilson, originally from St. Croix, Haiti, also learned the cuisine of Cuba and the Dominican Republic when living there. Take your pick from pork griots to fried green plantains, goat, oxtail and beef stew to a myriad of vegetarian dishes. Proceeds from this restaurant help build a school and sponsor other education projects back in her home country.
3601 NE Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard | Portland
Brace yourself, in a good way of course, for the kitchen flair of Fatou Ouattara from Bouake, Cote D’Ivoire. The West African delicacies served here include traditional food from the Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso such as okra stew, attiéké (made with cassava, vegetables and couscous) and many other staples that she learned from her mother. This menu will have you looking for descriptions if you aren’t familiar with the cuisine – everything from mafe (peanut stew) and gofu (tofu and veggies in a tomato stew) to veggie yassa (veggies in an onion and Dijon sauce) and shosho (black-eyed peas in an onion sauce) are here for your gastronomic adventure. You will also find a few different varieties of fufu (a ball of dough-like consistency) made from corn, yam or fermented cassava and corn.
16755 W Baseline Road | Beaverton
Nope, not a typo – this isn’t the Hyatt but Hayat. Somali cuisine is in the cards at this small family-run restaurant where chef Ibrahim runs the kitchen and specializes in East African, Somali and Middle Eastern food. The chicken and beef suqaar (sautéed meats) are traditional preparations but the mandazi – a form of soft fried bread shaped in a triangle, also known as African donuts – is also available here. A variety of stews and skewers comprise the bounty of the entrée selection here, but the beef kofta (made with ground meat and spices) and the coconut fish stew are sure to impress with cumin, cardamom and clove seasoning in just the right amounts to play with your taste buds. This is a meal to remember, especially with Somali cuisine being a rare restaurant find in most major American cities.
2625 SE 21st Avenue | Portland
Ethiopian and Eritrean dishes are on the menu at this cozy bungalow-style restaurant that’s one of Portland’s best Ethiopian dining destinations. Get your fill of doro wot (chicken stew in berbere sauce) and awaze tibs (beef chunks in awaze sauce) to savor with injera as you share an authentic meal on traditional platters that are served family style. The injera is gluten-free, as it is made from teff, and all the stews (veggie, lamb and fish options included) are prepared using fresh ingredients, locally sourced produce, quality meat products and original spice blends made in-house. The family-owned establishment is a favorite among locals and comes highly recommended if you ask around. Chickpea stew, red and yellow lentils, veggies and collard greens are the vegetarian options available here.
Around 85 black-owned eateries are participating in this year’s event, marking the fourth year in a row that it is being organized. If you live in Portland or are headed that way over the next week, get adventurous and embrace a few new flavor profiles as you support black-owned restaurants and eateries that bring cuisines of faraway lands closer home to us here.