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Ava Gene's Executive Chef Launches Tusk Middle Eastern Restaurant

Chef Joshua McFadden lists youth culture and Fleetwood Mac among inspirations

The former Levant restaurant
The former Levant restaurant
Dina Avila/EPDX

After a month of rumormongering, Portland Monthly confirms it: The talented team behind the LaMama's pop-up, headed by chef Sam Smith, will take over the former Levant restaurant space on East Burnside.

The new restaurant is named Tusk, apparently after a Fleetwood Mac album, and it will serve a Pacific Northwest take on Middle Eastern food in a youthful setting. Here's another twist: Ava Gene's chef Joshua McFadden serves as creative director for the project, and it will be the first project from his newly minted restaurant group, Submarine Hospitality, founded with New York restaurateur Luke DirksHere's what you need to know:


Projected Opening:

  • mid-June 2016

The Players:

  • Joshua McFadden, executive chef of Ava Gene's and Roman Candle. McFadden says his role at Tusk is to serve as creative director, and he'll let Smith do the cooking. "It's time for Sam to shine," he says.
  • Luke Dirks, co-founder of Submarine Hospitality with McFadden and the former managing partner of Happy Cooking Hospitality, a New York restaurant group. Dirks brings years of experience developing restaurants in New York's West Village, and he was born in Vancouver, Canada, and went to school in Salem, Oregon.
  • Sam Smith, former chef de cuisine at Ava Gene's and one of the country's preeminent Middle Eastern restaurants, Zahav, in Philadelphia. Smith will serve as chef partner at Tusk.
  • Wesley Johnsonformer chef at Castagna Cafe and part of the team that opened Zahav
  • Tyler Stevens, renowned mixologist with experience at one of the city's cocktail institutions, Teardrop Lounge
  • Nora Antene, quickly rising pastry chef with experience at Le Pigeon and a 2014 Eater Young Gun's Semi-Finalist
The Food:
  • Dinner and a happening bar scene nightly; Middle Eastern brunch weekends
  • Among the dishes confirmed by PoMo are playful "snacks," cooked-to-order flatbreads, house-made coucous and tagines, and skewers of hearth-roasted meats
The Space:
  • Around 44 seats in the front dining room and bar; 24 seats in the rear dining room; and 24 seats on the patio
  • indoor and outdoor spaces


2448 East Burnside Street, , OR 97214 Visit Website


2448 E Burnside Street, Portland, OR 97214 503 954 2322