This month, Nicolle Dirks and Pepe Arancibia will celebrate the one-year anniversary of Epif, a vegetarian restaurant and pisco bar inspired by the Andes Region of South America. They opened the restaurant at 404 N.E. 28th Ave. in the Kerns neighborhood last fall.
“We owned a vegetarian restaurant and bar in my husband’s hometown of Valparaiso, Chile for six years before we moved to Portland,” said Dirks. “Our menu is unique because we take traditionally meat-centric dishes from the Andes Region and prepare them as 100 percent vegetarian – with 90 percent of that being vegan. We use local, organic ingredients with a focus on fresh herbs and accents of vegetable powders. Our chef, Daniel Vargas, is an artist and it shows in his beautiful and bright presentations of each dish. Pepe and Daniel have a shared passion for music and food. They’ve been creating music together for years, and that artistry translates into the kitchen.”
Epif is short for epifania, the Spanish word for epiphany. The menu includes a mango mushroom ceviche, red wine-raspberry soaked tempeh and portabellas served with purple potato mash and empanadas fried with morzarella, sauteed onions and chives or baked with soy curls, barbecue sauce and dill.
“We built the building from the ground up right next to our house,” said Dirks. “The experience was a fun test of our creativity and patience. The building was designed around a beautiful catalpa tree that now shades the restaurant’s entrance – an antique door that my parents bought when they lived in Peru in the 1970s. We wanted the space to have history even though it’s a new construction. Our guests sit in banquettes made from old church pews and repurposed gym bleachers serve as our tables. The bar is handcrafted from reclaimed skateboards.”
Behind the bar, Epif offers the largest selection of pisco – a brandy made in Chile and Peru – available in Portland, with classic pisco cocktails, new and creative pisco cocktails and weekly pisco cocktail specials.
For more information, call 971-254-8680 or visit www.epifpdx.com.