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Jun 25, 2006 09:26 AM

Portland Middle Eastern (or Cuban?)

Expect to spend 3 nights including Fourth and plan on Wildwood, Bewon, and Ya Hala, Al Amir, or Karam, or, perhaps, the Cuban spot--the name of which escapes me--instead.

My computer has been out of whack for a few days so I haven't been able to save much of what I've read: Did I read about wholewheat pita?

And can anyone tell me if the repeated mention of "parsley" on Al Amir's menu is really cilantro?

I see Y-H doesn't take reservations; does it tend to have long lines around 8?

I chose Wildwood because, unlike some of the other highly touted "local food" places, it really did seem to have a menu primarily of local (and sustainable) items. Has anyone tried the "Sunday Family Supper"? Any comments?

Many thanks.

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  1. The name of the Cuban place is Pambiche.

    Ya Hala can have a wait around 8 pm, but I haven't seen it for more than 10-15 minutes, which gives you just enough time to peruse the international grocery store next door (with entrance directly into the restaurant).

    1. Karam over Al Amir...Karam has whole wheat pita, but you have to request it.

      Cuban spot is Pambiche, and yes, good choice. Save room for dessert!

      Personally, I'd pick Carlyle over any other high end place in town that serves local bounty...yep, even Wildwood and Paley's. Chef Dan and pastry chef Steve Smith work wonders with local products, but Mr. Goldberg keep a fairly low profile in terms of marketing the restaurant. Wildwood has been around longer and does a lot more with PR.

      Enjoy your visit, and try to make it to a Farmers' Market while you are here! Best berries you'll ever eat.

      1. I grow Canby raspberries in my SF garden, so have at least a glimmer of how good Oregon berries can be. (My late, great native Oregonian friend used to come eat them off the vine each year and always say, "Very good, but not as good as Oregon's!")

        Just checked Carlyle menu--for my taste, too "gussied up" with foie gras and cheese and not quite as sustainable or conscious of those values I most cherish these days in terms of environmentalism and kindness to animals.

        Haven't seen "milk-fed veal" on an SFBA menu in 10 years! I suspect there would be pickets outside.

        Which is not in any way to imply I don't appreciate your taking the time to make suggestions. (Folks on SFBA boards know my predilections by now!)

        One more comment: Those of us old enough to have wined and dined in the bad old days before consciousness was raised probably find it a lot easier to renounce certain "gourmet goodies" we now realize are not such a good idea to consume since we long since had our fill of them anyway!

        1. Karam would be my first choice. I wouldn't even put Al Amir in my top five Lebanese/Middle Eastern in Portland. I think Karam is better than Ya Hala, but Ya Hala is still one of the better ones. However, if you want a choice you won't see mentioned here too often with probably the best pita in town, try Aladdin's Cafe (6310 NE 33rd Ave). About half the distance from downtown as Ya Hala. They may close a little early, though, like 8 or 9pm. The menu isn't that extensive, but it's very cheap and every item I've had has been very good.

          I have reported on a few Lebanese places here (focusing on mezza):

          While I like Carlyle plenty, I don't find their menu especially local. However, I don't think Wildwood is that less gussied up, really, in exection. So if you want something even more casual, but just as local, you might want to check into Park Kitchen. If local and sustainable is your main goal, then there is Higgins. No place is more committed to the cause, though I think their food (for the most part) is a modest step down from the others mentioned.