Fried cauliflower and hummus from Shalom Yall
Fried cauliflower and hummus from Shalom Y'all Suzette Smith
The southeast location of Israeli restaurant Shalom Y'all is in one of my favorite areas of Portland: Central Eastside. The district is composed of tightly-built warehouse spaces, which lend dramatic shadows at dusk. It's also bisected by an uncompromising train thoroughfare.

Sponsored
Helping you create a space uniquely yours for work or play, with style and art, your way.
Custom framing, photo frames, printing on metal, paper and canvas.

So the first tip of eating at Shalom Y'all SE is to know what side of the train you want to be on, otherwise you may find yourself within eyesight of your dinner's desire with only the bells of crossing signs to fill your belly. It happens every time, and I never ever think about it in advance. Don't be me.

But once the train cleared, Shalom Y'all's romantic, streetside patio rolled into view. Despite their proximity to all that bonging, the guests seemed largely inoculated by large glasses of wine and good conversation.

Kebab with grilled pita from Shalom Yall
Kebab with grilled pita from Shalom Y'all Suzette Smith

At the Shalom Y'all price point, it's tempting to go with either an entree or mezze, as each exist in the $15-20 range, but you really need both to enjoy what the restaurant has to offer. You can't subsist on a kebab when Shalom Y'all is known for their indulgent, beautiful bowls of hummus topped with lamb, chickpeas, or other seasonal ingredients.

Splitting is a great way to handle it. But if you're skating solo the Chicken Schwarma bowl will give you a little taste of tahina and green s'hug along with tender grilled chicken and pita. The downside is it's also nowhere near as adventurous as other menu items, like the lamb chops (don't you dare request any adjustments) or their recent menu addition of fried cauliflower hummus—which caused my ears to perk up like a cartoon fox.

The fried cauliflower hummus comes with healthy portions of mango amba, but you won't taste much sweetness. At first, I almost mistook the pickled fruit for squash, because the texture is similar. Shalom Y'all's mango amba has an understated, earthy taste. It didn't stand out, but it worked well with the cauliflower, tahina, and pumpkin seeds.

Orders of hummus, labneh, or tahina come with a single fresh pita flatbread, which—if you're observing the correct hummus to bread to proportions (lots!)—will suit you fine. But another pita puff will only set you back three bucks. Adding on fresh cucumbers is another good approach to scooping up the leftover labneh.

My only real criticism about Shalom Y'all is that their takeout time is often over an hour. When I saw the streetside patio's attentive and dutiful servers, it struck me that Shalom Y'all may not be very focused on takeout. They'd rather give an awesome outdoor dining experience.

Support The Portland Mercury

BUT THEN, on Monday, Shalom Y'all announced their intention to temporarily close their downtown location, at SW Alder and SW 12th, and recreate it as a grab-and-go, takeout-focused enterprise that they're calling Lil’ Shalom.

So for now, my critic advice is go to Shalom Y'all for milestone outdoor dinners, when it's time to treat yourself. And follow Lil' Shalom on Instagram, until the day when we can burst through their downtown doors and demand all the to-go beet tahina ASAP.

Shalom Y'all, 117 SE Taylor, (503) 208-3661, shalomyallpdx.com; Lil’ Shalom, 1128 SW Alder, (503) 333-6123, lilshalom.com