No fusion, but not really authentic, the Latin American inspired restaurant Mestizo is a celebration of different cultures, which the name and menu are meant to reflect. Owner Ketsuda “Nan” Chaison serves a menu of dishes from Latin American countries – chifles from Ecuador, a vegan Cuban ropa vieja made with jackfruit, Peruvian ceviche – and each piece is both gluten-free. and soy-free.
“A lot of people think it’s a trend, but I don’t… I see this as an alternate way of eating and I want to be able to adapt to it all,” Chaison said.
In addition to making its food accessible to diners of all stripes, Chaison strives to be community-oriented. (And indeed, Chaison has opened up her space to host pop-ups from some of Portland’s fastest rising stars, like Mitate, Plant Based Papi, Tume, Kumare, and HeyDay.) She is also the food program manager at The Midnight, offering an abbreviated menu of Latin American inspired vegan and vegetarian bites. On Division’s ‘food street’, the self-taught restaurateur dominates an entire block – her first restaurant, Thai vegan / vegetarian restaurant Kati, is right next door.
“I am an immigrant from Thailand, but I am really passionate about Latin American cuisine. I wanted to open a gluten-free restaurant, and this type of cuisine fits perfectly into this concept, ”said Chaison.
Mestizo opened in December 2019 and performed well until COVID hit a few months later; they’ve been through the same roller coaster of 2020 as the rest of the industry, making the same takeout / dinner back and forths that have proven fatal for some restaurants. During this time, Chaison also separated from the business partners she started the restaurant with, citing creative differences.
Chaison currently runs the kitchen, but thanks former executive chef Kanani Mahecha for coming in and refining the restaurant’s opening menu. Drawing on her Mexican-Filipino heritage, Mahecha brought her personal touch to the dishes, bringing Chaison’s vision to life with an infusion of the home cooking she makes for her family. Chaison draws inspiration for her menu from her travels, as well as the restaurants she enjoys frequenting in town.
Mestizo’s games on traditional dishes are bearing fruit. An already bright shrimp ceviche is made brighter with juicy chunks of grilled pineapple. It’s served with homemade chips, but an extra dollar and a half will give you a bunch of homemade golden chifles, fried plantain chips that are addictive in themselves but kill when used as a vehicle for the ceviche. .
The banana blossom tacos, three per serving, are substantial. It’s not your delicate squash blossoms, oh no. Chaison compares them to artichoke hearts, but they are larger and have a subtle banana flavor. Fried to crispy perfection, the rice flour breaded flowers are nestled with crispy coleslaw on Three Sisters tricolor corn tortillas and finished with a tangy orange habanero sauce and a drizzle of walnut cream. coconut.
If you are more into bowls, Mestizo offers rice and salad bowls with your choice of grilled jumbo prawns with Caribbean spices, seared rockfish or Pals oyster mushrooms with garlic. The rice bowl is hearty and well rounded, with yams, tomatoes, corn, black beans, Haitian pikliz and a nice spice of chipotle aioli.
Mestizo’s popular patio will soon be heated for the cooler months to come. Janey Wong
I advise you to save a little space and to cross your fingers as the pumpkin! Spice up! Flan! is available during your visit, as it is a must see. Even though we had it at 80 degrees one day, savoring it gave me visions of jumping into a pile of crunchy leaves and frolicking through a square of pumpkins floating in my head. This will send your overpriced PSL back to you in the middle of next week. And now that the colder months are upon us, Chaison is currently working on installing the heating for the restaurant’s large terrace.
Métis, 2910 Division SE, (503) 384-2273, mestizopdx.com