Restaurant Openings

Viking Soul Food Expands to a Restaurant in Woodstock

The Scandinavian food cart in Southeast Portland has found a second home.

By Isabel Lemus Kristensen December 2, 2022

Co-owners Megan Walhood and Jeremy Daniels outside their brick-and-mortar restaurant. 

After 12 years of serving lefse—handmade Norwegian potato flatbread baked on a griddle—with sweet and savory fillings, chef-owners Megan Walhood and Jeremy Daniels of the Viking Soul Food cart, a longstanding Portland institution, are bringing their beloved, Scandinavian-inspired dishes to a brick-and-mortar location in Woodstock.  

The restaurant continues to offer the Viking Soul Food cart’s fare of Norwegian meatballs, smoked steelhead, pølse sausage, or mushroom hazelnut patties enfolded in lefse. Plus, there are sweeter options like lefse with tart lingonberries and a generous coating of cream cheese.  

But with the restaurant’s bigger kitchen space, Walhood and Daniels also plan to bring back smørrebrød (Scandinavian open-face sandwiches) from the Wild Hunt—an eatery they briefly operated out of a converted school bus at the Teutonic Urban Winery in 2016—and a variety of soups, including seafood chowder in a saffron-shellfish cream and Troll Hunter Stew, which consists of Swedish pork sausage and braised beef finished with gjetost. 

The restaurant's Norwegian meatball lefse is probably Viking Soul Food’s most iconic wrap. The meatballs are smothered in a Norwegian caramelized goat cheese, or gjetost gravy—a recipe from Walhood’s childhood—which is served inside of a lefse wrap paired with surkal, a style of sweet and sour purple cabbage pickled with apple cider vinegar and caraway.  

Viking Soul Food's meatball lefse wrap.

Walhood grew up eating lefse during Christmas, when her family would make it by hand and eat it the traditional way with butter and sugar. It was one of these family gatherings, when Walhood introduced Daniels to her family’s traditions, that sparked the concept behind Viking Soul Food. “Jeremy was the one who had the idea to take the lefse and put the meatballs inside, which was kind of taboo, because you normally just have lefse with butter,” Walhood says. “And then we just thought, ‘Wait, this totally works. Like, this is street food.”  

In early 2010, Walhood and Daniels began creating a menu and purchased a Streamline Duchess trailer, which they named Gudrun, meaning “she who knows the secrets of battle.” By August of that year, Viking Soul Food opened at the Bite on Belmont (4255 SE Belmont St), where it remains to this day.  

Now, Viking Soul Food is setting up shop at 4422 SE Woodstock Blvd, formerly the home of El Gallo Taqueria. It’s a cozy hole in the wall, painted deep red and blue, with seating for 16 diners at most.  

With a kitchen facility at the new location, Walhood and Daniels plan to introduce more Scandinavian desserts, some of which are Soul food-Scandinavian fusion, such as a banana pudding-filled krumkake, rhubarb trifle, and mini pecan pies topped with whipped lingonberry goat cheese.  

The restaurant will also feature a deli-like setup of jars of lingonberries, packages of herring, and mustards. Walhood says they are looking to sell house-made products out of the deli case as well, including Troll Spread (garlic confit, mustard, aioli, and Jarlsberg cheese) and a beet-based hot sauce called Mjolnir, named after the Scandinavian deity Thor’s hammer. And once the restaurant has acquired its liquor license, nearby Wyrd Leather and Mead is creating a mead exclusively for Viking Soul Food.  

Walhood says the Woodstock neighborhood could not be more inviting and enthusiastic to have them. New and regular customers are beginning to drop by the restaurant, some of whom have been coming to Viking Soul Food since the very beginning.  

“It's been a pleasure to be around so long and to know people for so long, because folks have been so supportive,” Daniels says. “It’s just been an incredible experience.”   

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