When Widi and Jason Kupper first met, the two chefs had ritzy fine dining jobs — he at the Charlie Palmer Steakhouse, she at the Four Seasons. But in their early courtship, the couple didn’t spend dates over elaborate seafood towers or prix fixe menus; they ate street food. “When we were dating, we would gravitate toward trying different gyros,” Jason Kupper says. “It became our go-to meal.”
When the couple moved to Oregon, they decided to open a business together that felt representative of their shared story; yes, Jason had worked for lauded chefs like Thomas Keller, and yes, Widi had spent time with Hubert Keller at San Francisco’s now-closed French destination Fleur de Lys. But the couple wanted their business to be about them, and the creativity they share. “What we serve our guests, our customers, it’s what we want to eat,” Jason says.
So the couple opened Twisted Gyros, a traveling food cart that sold pita stuffed with chicken shawarma and lamb, but also pulling from a wider culinary canon — one pita, for instance, arrives stuffed with bulgogi beef, crispy onion, vegetables, and a gochujang sauce. Throughout its years open, Twisted Gyros has offered specials like a “piña colada” shrimp, marinated in rum before frying them with a coconut-bolstered dredge, or bratwurst with cabbage-bacon fondue. Soon, the couple will open their own restaurant on Northeast Cornell Road in Hillsboro, where they can continue to broaden the spectrum of gyros they offer.
The restaurant, which is set to open in the late fall or early winter, will offer all the consistently available gyros from the cart: standards like Greek lamb, chicken shawarma, and falafel, as well as some options specific to them. The Bacon on Top of My Bacon combines gyro meat, bacon, and pork belly, saucy with both tzatziki and bacon jam. Accompaniments like salads and “twisted fries” — topped with a choice of meat as well as cotija cheese, queso, garlic sauce, Hot Cheetos, pickled red onion, and a pineapple, corn, and tomato salsa — will also appear on the menu.
But the restaurant will also expand its offerings from what’s available on the cart, adding a few popular specials to the mix. For instance, the mango habanero chicken will land on the opening menu at the restaurant: The chicken hits the grill after a bath in a habanero marinade, finished with mango salsa, shredded cabbage, and cilantro. Part of what excites the Kuppers about the new space is the extra room to play; as opposed to just adding more items to the standard menu, they hope to include more sandwich specials, as well as soup specials in the winter and plenty of beer and wine.
Some may know Twisted Gyros from its appearances at events like the Portland Hot Sauce Expo or the Portland Night Market, but primarily, Twisted Gyros — and the Kuppers — are based in Hillsboro. So when picking a location for their restaurant, staying within Hillsboro proper was important to them.
“We live here, and we really feel like the city itself is changing for the better,” Jason says. “I think you can see that some bigger names moving into the city, but even those are still Oregon-made, the companies are from Oregon. … The food scene here already has its special character, all those global influences here, and I think it can expand.”
Twisted Gyros will open at 2401 NE Cornell Road, Suite P.