Oregon is home to a lot of restaurants, bars, wineries, and breweries, but there are tons of hidden gems that the majority of Portlanders just aren't unearthing. To help guide us to these potential discoveries, we've enlisted some of our city's many food luminaries to share their under-the-radar recommendations for a weekly feature dubbed Dining Confidential.
Eugen Bingham was just a child when his family opened a small inn, called "the Slide Inn," in the Sierra Mountains. Flash forward to 2012, when Bingham reopened and modernized the former Il Piatto into the new Slide Inn: Having apprenticed in Germany and cooked in America, Bingham creates a balance between the two cuisines in his newest restaurant, even keeping a garden on site from which he yields swiss chard, arugula, and kale. But when Beingham isn't busy in the kitchen he frequents Celerina's — a small, unassuming Mexican restaurant on SE 82nd Avenue.
I found this place one day while driving down 82nd and decided to stop in for a quick bite. I am always looking for unknown and authentic places. I liked the vibe of Celerina's because it reminded me of one of my favorite locations south of the border, Copper Canyon, Mexico. Celerina's has just four tables, and a menu consisting of strictly traditional fare. When I'm eating out I want to feel like the food and the environment are one. Over the course of my infatuation with this spot I have tried most of the menu. My favorite dish is Birria de Res, a beef stew served with rice and beans, which I always eat alongside Celerina's house made horchata. All the tacos are stellar, with my favorites being a tie between the tacos de rez and the tacos de pollo (beef and chicken tacos, respectively). I love trying new things and have yet to find a dish I am disappointed with. During my most recent endeavor I opted for the pollo mole (chicken mole). Mole has chocolate in the sauce, yet this dish wasn't overpoweringly sweet as is the case in many Americanized versions. I always know when a mole sauce is traditional by the sweetness; authentic mole is made with well over 30 ingredients so the sauce shouldn't be like hot chocolate. This place is a family-run restaurant, with the chef doubling as waitperson, and Celerina's kids helping out on the occasional lunch. Despite the rainy Portland weather and cool temperatures, I can count on Celerina's to transport me to the feel of a Mexican marketplace.
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Image of Slide Inn courtesy Avila/EPDX