Cackalack’s Hot Chicken Shack

dieselboi
Cackalack's Hot Chicken Shack

Cackalack's Hot Chicken Shack

Location: SE 43rd and Belmont – Good Food Here
Hours: Mon-Thurs, 12-9pm; Fri/Sat, 12-10; Sun, 12-6pm

The Story:

When you say the name, Cackalack’s Hot Chicken Shack, it just rolls off your tongue as if you’ve said those words every day for the last few years. I’m pretty sure that is the first sign of a successful food cart.

It was a quiet day at the lot when we visited Cackalack’s which allowed me to have a great conversation with the owners, Jeff and Stephanie who moved to Portland from Ashville, NC in order to open their cart. It just took one visit in spring of 2010 to convince them that Portland was where they wanted to live. (Jeff even got one of those iconic state of Oregon with the green heart in the center tattoos on that visit.) The two aren’t newbies to food, having worked in restaurants and been around food for years. Their goal though was to bring well made crispy fried chicken to the masses for a reasonable price. Portland only has a few places doing real southern fried chicken and as restaurants, they charge a pretty penny for the experience. Jeff stated his recipe was inspired by a Memphis Nashville restaurant, Prince’s, which is known by many as a prime fried chicken haunt.

Hot fried chicken from Cackalack's

Hot fried chicken from Cackalack's

At the shack, you can put together a meal with numerous options for chicken including cuts, spiciness and sides. Start out with portions – breast, leg quarter or wings and then the heat – naked, mild, hot or XxX hot. Lastly, you can choose from either potato salad or cole slaw for your side. Each dish has the chicken served atop a slice of Texas toast with a sliced dill pickle. The leg quarter seemed the appropriate size to check out what they were cooking up and I wanted it spicy, but edible, so chose hot instead of XxX hot. Like I said, I wanted to enjoy it. The presentation was spot on with a large piece of chicken, battered and deep fried to create a thick spicy crust surrounding some excellent juicy meat – all atop a slice of white bread. I picked up the pickle first which was skewered atop the chicken and took a bite, immediately tasting the spice from the chicken – cayenne and habanero. My lips burned, but I kept going and took that first bite. Wow! So that is what southern hot chicken tastes like? The crust was crunchy, it burned my tongue, but in a good way; the chicken juicy and flavorful. For $6, it will sure to become a return trip when I get hungry. The chicken does take a few minutes to make and they do warn you about that when ordering, so be prepared to hang out and chat or relax in the covered seating area.

Cackalack’s Hot Chicken Shack opened in April as one of the first carts at the new Green Castle Food Pod. Head on down and welcome Stephanie and Jeff to Portland and try some of their hot chicken. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

[update: Cackalack's moved to SE 43rd and Belmont in October 2011]

Sample Menu:

All chicken served atop a slice of Texas toast with a pickle slice

  • Chicken portions: Breast – $7; Leg quarter – $6; Wings – $5
  • Heat: naked, mild, hot, XxX hot
  • Sides – potato salad or coleslaw
  • Chicken and Dumplings – cup, $3.50; bowl, $5
  • The Blazer – boneless fried breast on a bun pickles, smokey slaw and garlic herb aioli – $6.50

Hours: Tues-Thurs, 12-8pm, Fri/Sat, 12-9pm
Phone: 503 388 1772
Website: Cackalackshotchickenshack.com
Twitter: @Cackalacks Facebook: Cackalack’s Hot Chicken Shack

INSERT_MAP

Comments

  1. SilverWings says:

    How would you feel if you were at some burger joint, ordered a burger rare, and were given a burger well-done? That was my experience when I ordered my food ‘mild’. The mild at this place is spicy.

    Spice aside, the $7 Blazer sandwich tasted decent overall. There was a good size portion of chicken included and the other ingredients (pickles, coleslaw) were enjoyable. Towards the end, the sandwich started falling apart making for messy fingers. It was a strange experience as afterwards gulping down water the food gave a bad aftertaste.

    I think what really pushed me over the edge was the amount of excess fried oil on the Blazer. About 15 minutes after I left the lot I felt grossed out. I went home, drank more water, and ate some ice-cream to kill off the taste. Then I took a nap for two hours.

    I think the basic idea for the Blazer is a good one. However, the spice level and the excess deep fry really ruined it for me.

  2. I tried this cart out on my first visit to “Green Castle” and was instantly greeted with friendly smiles and we struck up a conversation. I chose the “Blazer” sandwich and chips. Tried to pass on the slaw and potato salad, because I usually don’t like them. But they talked me into trying them, and I was pleasantly surprised and glad I gave them a try. Also the chips are made in the cart, and are super tasty. I opted for “mild” spice, and the portion of fried chicken was larger than the huge bun they use. Its super crispy, and juicy of course. It’s fried chicken. And “mild” has quite a kick to it, its not called “hot chicken” for nothing. So I would recommend starting with “mild” unless you really want to test your pain threshold. I will definitely be back for more.

  3. I tried the “mild” upon my first visit to Cackalack’s last Friday, and upon having a very good conversation about the hopes for spring (instead of the chill in the air after last week’s rainy weather), I had the sandwich. Yes it was spicy, but I ordered the mild because I wanted to taste the quality of the chicken and not have it overwhelm what may have been bad chicken. It was not, and mild is a perfect starting point for the heat. I don’t know about the next two levels, haven’t made it there, but “mild” is great.

    I also highly recommend their corn fritters (hush puppies). It looks burned but they are not, and they look fairly calm. There is a dipping sauce as well, but the fritter itself has a nice kick to it that you’ll experience about 5 to 10 seconds in. Cole slaw, at least for me, was a mixture of slightly sweet (but not overly so) with a nice twang.

    I believe I said this elsewhere, but after I made my order, another lady walked up and ordered three Blazer sammies and I assume brought them back to her co-workers.

    I’m not sure if this is how they do it in North Carolina, but I will definitely return to Cackalack’s.

  4. Wow great review and we are so glad to be here. Thanks Dieselboi for dropping by the cart and we are happy you liked it. We are new and glad to be getting all the support we have gotten thus far. We are planning to be around for a while and appreciate all of the people who show us love. Glad you enjoyed your meals Josh and John. Thanks Silverwing for your opinions also, sorry you didn’t like your meal.

  5. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack is actually in Nashville and is as good as they say.

    Cheers

  6. I have yet to get out to Portland to try the Cackalacks, but I can’t wait. I have known Jeff for a while, worked with him in a restaurant, and can tell all who care to listen that he is not only one very creative and gifted foodie/chef, but he’s also a pretty righteous dude and well worth knowing. I’ll get out there soon, and in the mean time best of luck to Stephanie and Jeff! Way to rep NC y’all. Just hope I can get a glass of sweet tea with some awesome chicken when I come!

    Cheers!

  7. Yep Princes is in Nashville and is quite delicious.

  8. dieselboi says:

    Thanks guys for the clarification. For some reason, I thought I had heard Memphis.

  9. Thanks Dieselboi! Had plenty of people today let us know food carts Portland sent them. Busy day and happy to be a part of the food cart scene.
    @ chris What up Chris! Got your sweet tea waiting to be brewed.

  10. @Silverwing: your comparison of meat temp to spicy level is auspicious at best. Doneness is objective whereas spice is subjective.

    That said, I find the fact that people are saying the mild is even spicy a selling point. It gives hope that the spicy is in fact, spicy.

  11. SilverWings says:

    The night before the profile on Cackalack’s Hot Chicken Shack was created here at FCP, I commented about my personal experience at Cackalack’s on another site. Shortly afterwards, I received the email below from Cackalacks H.

    “Hi,

    Well after you left we tried the sauces and had discovered that we had mixed up the spice pastes. We apologize a million times and I understand completely why you left the review you did. We have new bread coming in tomorrow from portland french bakery that won’t fall apart. We are a new food cart as of the beginning of this month. Working out the kinks and sorry the kinks got worked out on you.  We are very sorry that we ruined your day and even though we doubt you would want to try us out again, the next ones on us if you choose. Just let us know.  sorry.”

    Apparently, the spice paste used on my food was not the mild I requested. I appreciate the email that was sent to me and the acknowledgement of the kinks or problems. While it was a decent gesture to offer the next one on them, I am going to pass. BTW, my day was not ruined just some hours of feeling over-spiced and fried-out.

    Lesson learned: always keep vanilla ice-cream in my freezer for emergencies.

  12. juanita jonez says:

    You know what “silverwings” you are just plain RUDE. go on and eat your vanilla ice cream all day long and leave the small businesses who rock this city (and they do ROCK, harder than you will EVER know) ALONE. you didn’t even deserve such a gesture.

  13. It is pretty inappropriate to post a “private message” that we sent to you.

  14. It was the hot instead of the mild and we tried to resolve it. Anyways, The new buns are working out great and as of next week we are making our own fresh pickles. Great things in the works and a thanks to everyone who enjoys our food for the support.

  15. penny royal says:

    wow, that seems like a perfectly reasonable response to your issue there, “sw”. but i agree with cackalacks, soooo inappropriate to be posting that on a public site. btw, i get my blazer hot everytime, and it is deeeeeeelicious:) thanks, cackalacks. and keep up the good work!

  16. Chrystal says:

    This morning I had the chicken biscuits with bacon gravy and it was wonderful! The chicken was moist and spicy and the bacon was crispy! The food is amazing, and the service is great!

  17. Mike Stanislawski says:

    It was my wife’s turn to choose the food cart pod for lunch today and she picked cackalacks. After checking out the other carts in the pod, I agreed it was what sounded best. I ordered the Blazer mild and she ordered the chicken breast also mild. For us, the mild was pretty spicy. They did offer to make it “naked” and we maybe should have gone that way but all in all, we were very happy with the food. I was sweating a little eating it and chugging some coke but never thought about putting down the sandwich. Great chicken well cooked. Loved the fact it was Draper Valley chicken. And the people running the cart were great to talk to. Very friendly and looked like they loved what they were doing. We will recommend cackalacks and we will be back.

  18. Chris in Nashville says:

    If you want some info on the original hot chicken shack, Prince’s, see this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72xXxV9qIPg

  19. kay in nashville says:

    As Nashville’s former mayor and biggest Hot Chicken promoter Bill Purcell says, “It’s not called Mild Chicken. It’s called Hot Chicken.” That being said, some levels of hot chicken can be too hot. Andre Prince, the current queen of Prince’s Hot Chicken, says that their Super Hot is way too hot, but some people want to prove their manhood. Hot Chicken was created in Nashville and is our pride and joy. In fact, we even have a festival for it. If y’all happen to be in Music City for the 4th ,come on by and say hey. Here is the link that gives the hot chicken story. Glad to know the gospel of fiery fowl is speading…but buns? Say it ain’t so. Wonder Bread is the best..it absorbs the grease and is a mighty fine finish. Milk or lemonade are best beverages with hot chicken, and a piece of chocolate is good to salve the fire. Can’t help with the after-burn though. It can be brutal
    http://www.nashvillehotchickenfestival.com/

  20. That was epic & funny thanks,Kay I’ll be laughing all day

  21. CACKALACKS says:

    @Kay It ain’t so. We use white bread under the bone in chicken to sop up the delicious. As we are a food cart we decided to make hot chicken portable also so folks can eat it on the run. That is where the bun comes into play w/ the Blazer Sandwich. Hope to attend the festival one of these years. Glad people in Nashville have noticed us in PDX.

  22. Foodcartsster says:

    First, I highly recommend their fried chicken. But closed on a Sunday – especially during the small window of Summer when everyone is out – is a very questionable business decision.

  23. I had the leg and ordered it hot. Came with leg and thigh, dark and crispy. It was so good. I grew up on hot, spicy food back in Malaysia and heat level was up there. Really enjoyed the flavor and heat and will be back for more.

  24. The Chicken Biscuit is even better than the Blazer as I’m not a fan of the latter’s bun (both original and revamped.) The owners are very cool. If they are closed on Sunday during this small window of great weather, then I suggest selecting another day.

  25. Oh its hot and good every time i have had it. Jeff does not hold back the heat at all and does not pick his nose either so remember to keep Portland weird

  26. I’m still enjoying this cart, but the “sold out” sign seems to be on the rise. Maybe a good thing as demand seems to be increasing, but running out of the hand pulled chicken at 1:15 was dissapointing.

  27. Sorry Bobo. Some days nobody orders it then some days everyone does. It takes about 6 hours to smoke the chicken and we make our own bar-b-que sauce to boot. We are working on not selling out of things as demand rises. We like selling things.

  28. joe francisco says:

    You may want to move this to your closed carts section. I thought they had shut down a while back (regretfully, their chicken was so damn good).

  29. Carol Potter says:

    Saw your Food Cart on the Food Channel last weekend and am very anxious to try your chicken cordon bleu. I live in Roseburg, Oregon and my son lives in Portland. I requested that my son, wife and rest of the family go to your establishment for my birthday gift that was on the 28th of October. We will be seening you sometime in November.

Speak Your Mind

*

css.php