Portland gains modern Jewish deli with Beetroot

Photo: Bagels and borscht (and a whole lot more) are on the menu at Beetroot Market & Deli. Photos by Sonya Sanford

A modern Jewish deli and specialty food store opened in Northwest Portland Aug. 21.

Beetroot Market & Deli owner and Executive Chef Sonya Sanford describes the deli as “a warm, nourishing and safe space for all people – while sharing our Jewish heritage through food.” Sonya and her Chef de Cuisine Risa Lichtman share the traditional Ashkenazi favorites they both grew up with as well as the Israeli cuisine they each grew to love while each lived in the Jewish state. They also incorporate seasonal, organic produce, locally sourced as much as possible. The menu features pastrami and lox, artisan boiled bagels and rye bread, and Israeli-style chicken schnitzel sandwiches and za’atar roasted vegetables.

“We are sourcing bread from different artisan bakeries,” says Sonya. The bagels are from Puddletown Bagels.

Sonya, who fell in love with Portland as a student at Reed College, considers Portland the perfect place to bring her dream of a modern Jewish deli to fruition.

Beetroot owner and Executive Chef Sonya Sanford welcomes patrons from behind the deli counter. Photo by Deborah Moon

“Portland is a place that cares about food and ingredients,” says Sonya. “I feel the Jewish community is growing … (and) there is room for more Jewish food in Portland. It is an embarrassment of riches.”

Sonya says she chose the name Beetroot for multiple reasons, but primarily because, “I think of beets as the vegetable of ‘my people,’ which involves its link to borscht. I learned to make borscht from my grandmother, and it one of my favorite things to make and serve, and also one of the first things I really learned to master as a cook.”

Sonya was the first member of her family born in the United States after her parents moved from what is now the former Soviet Union.

“That definitely influenced my cooking,” she says.

She added Israeli cuisine to her experience when the family moved to Jerusalem when she was 10 while her mother earned her Ph.D.

Risa also spent time in Israel. Her father survived the Holocaust in France as an infant.

“We have a strong Ashkenazi background along with other Jewish cuisine influences,” says Sonya.

The market portion of the business will feature all the foods used in the deli as well as packaged specialty foods. Sonya describes the market portion as a work in progress; on opening day only a couple of stands held packaged products, but she plans to expand as she finds suppliers for foods she wants to share with her customers.

Though the deli is not certified kosher, some of the packaged items are kosher. Deli foods are kosher-style with lots of vegetarian and vegan options. The deli is closed on Shabbat, but will provide catering for Kiddush and simchas on Saturdays. The deli website includes a form to request catering information.

The two Jewish women also want to ensure their business is inclusive and rooted in social justice. Sonya uses inclusive hiring practices and offers a living wage – not because it’s easy, but because she believes in the importance of balancing business with ethics.

BEETROOT MARKET & DELI

1639 NW Glisan St.

Portland, OR 97209

503-227-2154

beetrootmarketanddeli.com

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