But wait! It’ll be different this time, I promise.
If you’ve come this far because you think food and drinks and the places they’re served are interesting, you might get something out of this. And wouldn’t that be fun? Because a) everyone loves presents, and b) this review is written by someone who has worked on and off in all parts of restaurants and bars for a (really) long time. Plus the only thing I find more gratifying than food is the feeling of being held when I’m scared or sad (which actually can sometimes be replaced with food) (kidding) (maybe).
So anyway, I’m pretty confident in what to look for in a joint. Of course it starts with the food, and without consistently high quality on the menu most places won’t make it. But the very best places also have creative intention in every nook and cranny.
And SE Portland’s Venezuelan and gluten-free gem Teote has very intentional crannies (side note- anyone want to open a restaurant with me called “Intentional Crannies”?).
It would be enough that the food and drinks are awesome, and the fact that the folks running it are a joy, but in addition to those things (which I’ll talk more about in a sec) the whole experience is definitely that of getting to go see cool art, literally and figuratively.
The name “Teote” is an acronym for “The End of the Earth” and is interpreted as referring to the final leg of a journey. It’s speaking to that moment where after enduring something strenuous one can finally see the upcoming chance to rest and reflect, and this vibe is absolutely achieved throughout the space.
The impression you get when first arriving is actually a little deceiving. It’s a small dining area in front of a counter that sits between guests and the kitchen. You grab a menu at the entrance then get in line to order at the counter (think ¿Por Qué No? style), but after you decide on your fare you’ll most likely want to head upstairs where the real party’s at. Tons of seating both inside and out is waiting overhead, in addition to lots and lots of eye tiramisu which is just like eye candy but more elegant and interesting.
Local artist Richard Cawley has pieces both functional and decorative showcased throughout the building, and one glance out at the back patio reveals an extraordinary amount of love and effort in designing the space. I don’t mean to sound like a doe-eyed-unicorn-lover but really it’s just super enchanting to feel engaged everywhere you look. I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking about that.
There was a buddy system happening at the counter, with one friendly and impressively patient employee taking orders while another made drinks and helped bring out food. Both were happy to answer all our questions and make recommendations without causing us to feel rushed or silly for not knowing, for example, what Bico is.
And by the way, wanna know? Because now I know and can tell you: You know pico de gallo, right? Bico is a Venezuelan spin on pico de gallo where it’s made with beets. Bico de gallo.
And in that same fashion, the rest of the menu carries the same authenticity.
At the advice of staff we chose the items pictured below (descriptions pulled from their menu), our favorite being the shredded brisket. The place was packed when we showed up and though the kitchen was likely at maximum productivity, we still left happy with a plan to return.
Located at 1615 SE 12th Ave (between Clay and Market just south of Hawthorne) Teote is open from 11am to 10pm Sunday through Thursday and 11am to 11pm Friday and Saturday.
Smaller arepas mixed with jalapenos and cheddar cheese, topped with habanero lime crema and cilantro, yum!!
Painted Hills shredded brisket braised with sweet peppers, and onions, topped with black beans, verde sauce, plantain sauce, smoked gouda and cilantro.
Street Stew $6
Draper Valley shredded chicken grilled in our masa based stew, topped with crema, smoked gouda, green onions and cilantro.
Grilled Lamb Plate $16
Two Anderson Valley lamb chops marinated in a morita chili sauce and grilled to perfection.[/clear]