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Olympic Provisions—House-cured chorizo

Olympic Provisions

107 SE Washington St; 503-954-3663
Small-plates format; lunch and sandwiches $5–8, ?dinner $6–$15

Find It!

Hidden among the giant cardboard boxes and forgotten furniture in the Central Eastside’s warehouse district is a creative expression of communitarian Portland. Olympic Provisions has eight owners—a collective of friends and couples, all but one in their 30s, who operate less like traditional restaurateurs and more like a jam band of good musicians playing all original tunes. Call it a kind of “post-restaurant” that blurs the boundaries of eatery, salumeria, wine shop, and art happening in a candlelit space that feels like an out-of-the-way find, even though it’s just a bridge crossing from downtown.

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Owners Jason Barwikowski (from left), Carly Laws, Elizabeth Gaston, Eli Cairo

Among the players: Swiss-trained game chef and exciting charcuterie voice Eli Cairo, who has built Oregon’s first USDA-approved facility for dry-curing and distributing sausages in Olympic’s back room; edgy chef Jason Barwikowski, riffing on Cairo’s meats and rustic Spanish-European flavors; and undiscovered sommelier Carly Laws, pairing everything with a well-considered international wine list.

Mastermind Nate Tilden plucked most of these talents from the hipster chaos of his Clyde Common, putting them where they wanted to be—in a more personal place, cooking the stuff they want to eat. This isn’t food to analyze. There are no big culinary statements here—just an interesting, ever-?changing collection of small pleasures presented in an intimate, handcrafted hideaway where the scent of salami welcomes you at the door and the vibe is great, especially at lunch. Hunker down at handsome wood tables set with elegantly folded linen. Shop the wine wall or the tiny meat counter. Soak in witty touches, like the big, blinking “MEAT” sign that seems rescued from a neon graveyard in Vegas. Traditions are curing here; new ideas, fermenting. Edith Piaf is on the soundtrack, and it’s music to our ears. —KB