Oregon is home to a lot of restaurants, bars, wineries, and breweries, but there are tons of hidden gems that the majority of Portlanders aren't unearthing. To help guide us to these potential discoveries, we've enlisted some of our city's many food players to share their recommendations for a weekly feature dubbed Dining Confidential.
Sasha Davies is the chef and co-owner of Cyril's — the eastside wine bar and restaurant connected to Clay Pigeon Winery. Davies started her work in cheese as a wholesaler and retailer at Artisanal and Murray's Cheese, and also worked as the buyer and manager at famed Brooklyn restaurant Marlow & Sons. Since her move to Portland five years ago, she has added book author and educator to her resume, which now also includes a stint as cheesemonger at Steve's Cheese (now Cheese Bar). That's how she found one of her favorite "secret dining spots," Bete-Lukas Ethiopian Restaurant.
I owe my discovery of Bete-Lukas to Cheese Bar owner Steve Jones. He warned me that it was wonderful and weird in a charmingly Portland way. He was right. The location alone is enough to make you question it: the restaurant is upstairs in a building that seems more like new construction residential than commercial, and it's on a less traveled block of SE Division Street, just south of SE 50th Avenue. The decor is an awesome dichotomy, the lights are up high, the room is casual and open, and yet there are white tablecloths. The service is efficient and just to the right side of friendly. Then there's the food — I'm partial to the vegetable combo platter especially after a long week of not eating nearly my quota of green and fibrous things, and a cold pint of Mac & Jack Amber.
The Fosolia (green beans sauteed with carrots and onion) is my favorite — I've been known to double down on those alone, but everything on the plate is delicious, including those vegetables that I've always thought that I hated& #8212; like big hunks of cooked cabbage and carrots. The simplicity of this place, as a customer, is such a relief. I don't have to think about the meal or the experience at all — it's easy, familiar, and consistent — a combination that is often overlooked and undervalued in the business.