117 SE Taylor #101
Mon-Fri 11am – 10 pm
Sat-Sun –10 am-10 pm
Shalom Y’all is a name that not only makes you feel like smiling. It also sparks curiosity as to what type of food is being served. The Southeast Examiner spoke with one of the three owners, Kasey Mills, Executive Chef, and received this update on this recent restaurant addition at 117 SE Taylor in the Central Eastside Industrial District.
One of the partners, Ron Avni, is from Israel where he helped his father with the family restaurant/dude ranch overlooking the Sea of Galilee. The place featured his dad’s love of the American cowboy culture and cuisine.
After serving the mandatory Israeli military service, Avni immigrated to Texas, got an education in electrical engineering and a taste of what remains of the wild west. In 1999 he sold his software development business and moved to Oregon to attend Culinary school – a fervor that was always incubating. Then Avni met John Gorham working at Simpatica Catering.
Gorham is a well known local chef and co-owner of several popular Portland restaurants. Gorham and Kasey Mills (working as the sous chef) started the restaurant Toro Bravo.
Mills’ backstory was one of a small town kid from Sioux Falls, South Dakota who happened to discover his love of and talent for cooking.
“At one point my parents sat me down and said, figure it out, obviously college is not for you so what is?” In 2001 he went to culinary school and started working for a friend learning the restaurant business from the ground up. His journey eventually brought him here.
Seven years ago their first endeavor serving innovative eastern Mediterranean cuisine was to open the Mediterranean Exploration Company (MEC). Then in 2016 the first Shalom Y’all on Pine St. and in 2018 in the industrial neighborhood.
Avni had vanity plates that read Shalom Ya’ll and when the three of them were thinking of a name for this new restaurant, they realized they had the name. What could be better to describe Mediterranean inspired cuisine here in the Pacific northwest?
Avni really wanted chefs Gorham and Mills to experience authentic Israeli cuisine, so in 2014 the three of them took a trip to sample the food and experience the culture of Israel.
“There are so many influences in Israeli food, flavors from Spain, Italy, Greece, Arabic food – everywhere around the Mediterranean,” Mills said. “We ate Ron’s favorite dishes, met with a lot of the chefs and then brought that information to our own recipes.” They even learned to make a falafel that “makes Ron truly happy.”
Opening here six months ago, their menu has a strong focus on vegetarian dishes such as falafel, hummus and house-made pita, a variety of salads, and the classic Israeli morning meal: shakshuka.
One of Chef Mills’ favorites is the hummus, “We make an amazing creamy, nutty tasting hummus, a flavor that for me has redefined what it is supposed to taste like.” Another recommendation are the kebabs especially the Nazareth Kebab – beef, lamb, freekeh salad, tahini and sumac onions.
Desserts weren’t as big a deal in Israeli culture as say the French, but they do have offerings that sound great, especially the challah bread pudding topped with a chocolate ganache.
Mills has returned to Israel several times since the original trip to learn new ways to prepare the food. “Israel has a very trendy culture. They are always aware of what’s new.”
The country is influenced by a lot of different cultures, and there, Mills can pick up the nuances and flavors of the next big thing.
Don’t let the lack of parking put you off. There is an inexpensive lot kitty corner from where they are located. Free on street parking after five o’clock and weekends is no problem. Shalom Y’all is a great place for a little adventure in the increasingly urban chic industrial district. To see the whole menu, visit shalomyallpdx.com.