Location: SE 21st and Division
Falafel. It sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? A popular Middle-Eastern specialty of chickpeas and/or fava beans and spices fried or baked up into balls or patties, most often served with yogurt or a tahini-based sauce. However, its nuanced flavors and the variety of shapes, sizes and side dishes make it almost elusive. Filling, satisfying and abundantly tasty balls of fried goodness, that’s my primary motivation when seeking it out, to be honest. I’ve happily charged myself with sampling the city’s vast array of falafel, and it’s been a fine ride. And there is definitely some great falafel in this town, make no mistake. Last week it was brisk and slightly drizzly, so, while walking in SE Portland with a friend, we decided we wanted some falafel. Quickly! And that’s when we happened along Portland mainstay and falafel slinger extraordinaire, Al Herre and his Fat Kitty Falafel cart on the south side of 21st and SE Division, in front of Mirador Community Store. It’s not just falafel, it’s an experience.
Al’s menu is simple and straightforward. $5 will get you a fresh hot falafel wrapped in a pita with lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and your choice of tahini (plain, cilantro and spicy) and optional hot sauce. Beverages available for an additional $1. The end.
The best part may be Al’s crispy falafel is served up with some of the best conversation in town. Go for the falafel, stay for a little bit of Al’s philosophy of life in Portland, his escapades in New York City, or his insight on the burgeoning Portland food cart scene. Al is here to stay, and so is his falafel (voted several years in a row by the Williamette Week as the best falafel in the city, incidentally.)
I encourage you all to judge for yourselves. Crispy, flavorful and an ample serving for $5; I’ll definitely be coming back. Al is a Portland fixture that you will not soon forget. He’s friendly, open and full of conversation; I guarantee you will not leave without an opinion of Al and his falafel. Fat Kitty is why I love this city! All vegetarian, all the time, with vegan tahini sauce available upon request.
Normally open 5 days a week for lunch, 11am – 5pm, call ahead if you’re not sure he’s open. He’ll take your order by phone and have it ready for pick up. 503-995-2724. www.fatkitty.biz. Al is seriously considering Twitter, and I hope he does it soon, as I’d happily follow his falafel anywhere. When you visit, tell him Food Carts Portland sent ya.
[Updated 6/2010 – Fat Kitty moved from SE 21st and Division to E Burnside at 7th]
- Falafel: fresh hot falafel wrapped in a pita with lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and your choice of tahini (plain, cilantro and spicy) and optional hot sauce – $5
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 11am-5pm
Phone: 503 995 2724