Location: SE 12th and Hawthorne
Hours: Tues-Fri, 4pm-3am; Sat/Sun, 12pm-3am
Description: Ahh, 2am and you’ve had a couple of beers. Now what? You could stop on by any one of the late night 24hr fast food joints for “4th meal” and pay for it in the morning, or you could head on down to SE 12th and Hawthorne and get some Belgian style fries. Potato Champion has been slingin’ them with poutine since 2008 and is going strong.
Potato Champion is Portland’s only late night fry cart and from my experience, the only cart in town specializing in Belgian style frites. Belgian style frites are peeled, cut, washed, then blanched with a first fry before frying again. This creates a crispy outside while staying fluffy inside. I don’t know about all that techno mumbo jumbo, I just know that they are what the doctor ordered at 2am.
Mike McKinnon opened Potato Champion back in 2008 on the corner of SE 12th and Hawthorne. Every night, he would sit there and wait for customers. There were quiet, rainy, cold nights, but Mike stuck it out and defined his cart as one of Portland’s premier late night food carts. The lot blossomed with vendors and is known beyond the city as a place to nosh after 2am. Mike has tinkered with expansion, opening a second cart a few years ago, yet for now, the cart at Cartopia is his focus. The menu has changed to with the addition of such treats as Chili Cheese Fries, PB and J Fries, Pulled Pork and Fries and a new favorite of mine, Palak Paneer Fries with curried spinach and paneer cheese served over fries and toped with a cilantro chutney. Wow! Brilliant.
Mike was a pioneer when the street food scene was changing and is still plugging away. Open now for evening and late night along with lunch on the weekends, you don’t have a reason to not visit and check out some of Portland’s best fries. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
[This article was originally published in October of 2008. Updated May, 2014]
- Fries – Small: $3; Large: $7.00
- Choice of sauces: Horseradish Ketchup; Rosemary Truffle Ketchup; Mayonnaise; Pesto Mayo; Tarragon Anchovy Mayo; Remoulade; Dijon Mustard; “Harder” Hot Mustard, etc.
- Poutine: Small: $5; Large: $10 (Vegan and Vegetarian available)
- PB and J Fries – fries topped with satay sauce and smokey chipotle raspberry jam – sm, $5; lg, $10
- Pulled Pork Fries – sm, $6; lg, $12.50