Back in 2019, chef Kyle Christy, formerly of Northeast Killingsworth neighborhood restaurant Dame, started a pop-up called Gusto, specializing in seafood. Christy and fellow Dame alum Jessie Manning hopped from wine bar to wine bar serving dishes like salt cod fritters or fish sandwiches, as well as more dry-land dishes like lamb meatballs with labneh and strawberries. The two began looking for a restaurant space, and — you know where this is going — the pandemic hit.
After that point, a new era of Christy-Manning pop-ups emerged, ones that accrued a good amount of local attention. Street Disco was a drastic departure from the ethos of Gusto: The pop-up served dishes like cheeseburger pizzas and lamb chorizo hard-shell tacos, hyper-nostalgic, fun dishes from a chef that didn’t take himself too seriously. “It became a little less precious than Gusto was,” Christy says. “I like that people think Street Disco is cute and fun, but I’d never want it to come across as ‘precious.’”
When news broke that Street Disco would open as a restaurant in Foster-Powell, one might assume it’d be more informed by this new era of offbeat pop-ups as opposed to Gusto. That is not the case, but don’t worry: It’s better.
This is a stretch, but follow me for a second: Street Disco sort of feels like the conclusion of Christy’s own hero’s journey. During the pandemic, the chef left the known world of his polished seafood pop-up, and adventured into the unknown (the pandemic). Now, Christy is back where he started, serving seafood dishes and Oregonian meat and produce, but he’s not the same chef he was. Street Disco the restaurant comes from the perspective of a chef who has grown under pressure and learned from years of resourcefulness; the resulting restaurant, which opened in mid-October, is restrained but relaxed, thoughtful but not precious, with an ever-rotating menu of well-executed seafood and meat dishes informed by Western European culinary traditions. Nothing is too intricate or too simple. For a restaurant that opened a few weeks ago, it’s remarkably dialed in, and there’s nothing like it in the neighborhood.
Located within the former Char Pizza building, Street Disco is unrecognizable. Castelvetrano-olive-green banquettes line the wall separating the bar from the restaurant, punctuated by small tables ideal for dates. A gargantuan, curved, heavily lacquered support beam almost feels like something out of a medieval tavern; in this context, it exudes a rural, mid-’70s lounge aesthetic. The space doesn’t seem rustic, however; the combination of mint green tables and a white marble chef’s counter give it the look of a contemporary wine bar.
That comparison is a fitting one: Street Disco’s by-the-glass list is incredibly strong, considering its length. The emphasis is not specific to a part of the world, but rather low-intervention techniques; the list includes Slovenian rosé, Willamette Valley wines from lesser-known producers, and Sicilian orange wine, rotating often with the food menu. “Jessie has crushed it,” Christy says. “We’ve worked together basically our entire careers at this point. I can tell her a dish I’m putting on, and she’ll know exactly what to pair with it.”
That instinctive approach translates to the food menu, as well. For example, for a beef marrow dish, Christy layers thin slices of beef tataki, grilled over the restaurant’s yakitori grill, on top of a bone split lengthwise, with marrow akin to butter in texture (as opposed to the more rendered preparations). “I really like bone marrow, and I got sick of bone marrow being served with bread,” he says. “I thought, ‘What if we dipped beef in the beef?’”
The menu changes frequently, depending on what comes in from Portland farms like Wild Roots and Mora Mora; however, a few items will remain on the menu consistently, namely a whole-braised lamb neck with yogurt “au poivre,” a black-garlic kale Caesar with smoked sprats, and a deceptively simple pile of meatballs, a highlight on the menu. The meatballs — two-thirds beef and one-third lamb, to deepen the flavor — are mixed with dried tart cherries for a brooding sweetness, dressed in a refreshingly bright tomato sauce. “Since December, I’ve been managing 5 & Dime, built out a food program there, and I got to know the neighborhood really well,” he says. “We want to do some fun, intricate stuff, but I felt it was super important to have simple, approachable stuff on the menu.”
Down the line, Street Disco will introduce a late-night menu, running until 12:30 a.m., with things like croquettes and burgers. But for now, the team is just trying to not overthink it.
“Food and wine are meant to be enjoyed and not studied as much,” Christy says. “If we serve the food we want to eat, the wine we want to drink, people are going to have a good time.”
Street Disco is located at 4144a SE 60th Avenue.