Pearl District Federale

By Sylvan Goldberg May 19, 2009 Published in the June 2005 issue of Portland Monthly

Americans have DC; Mexicans have DF (pronounced day EFF-ay), short for District Federale, the familiar term for their capital city. Like DC, DF embraces its role as an international seat of power, nurturing a thriving cosmopolitan community.

Taking a page from its namesake, DF—the new Pearl District restaurant from Taqueria Nueve owner/chef Billy Schumaker and Stephen Speiser—serves up Mexican cuisine with an ample helping of multicultural influences. “We wanted to try something a little bit different,” says Schumaker, who found inspiration in Mexico City restaurants that juxtapose dishes like risotto with their tradicionales. “We’ve already done the taqueria. This is what I would consider a contemporary urban restaurant in Mexico City.”

The crisp interior includes bright orange chairs that complement the sunlight from huge windows, but the truly illuminating feature here is the menu, where expanded seafood offerings help distinguish DF from its eastside cousin. Spanish Fideo noodles liven up the caldos (soups); when paired with cabbage and cilantro and served with chopsticks, they take on a faux pho appeal. Such international collaboration can only serve as a positive example to the powers-that-be in the original DF—not to mention DC.