Gonzo

Brett Burmeister
Gonzo

Gonzo

Location: SE 9th and Oak at Base Camp Brewing
Hours: Mon-Wed, 11:30-9; Thurs-Sat, 11:30-12am; Sun, 11:30-9

The Story:

Gonzo the Garbanzo. That was the inspiration for the name of this truly unique Israeli street food cart.

Portland is blessed with some excellent Middle Eastern and Mediterranean restaurants and food carts, but not much Israeli. Wolf and Bear’s introduced us all to the Sabih sandwich and now Gonzo owner Tal intends to take it to a new level. Having spent part of his childhood and some adult life living in Israel, Tal has a grasp on their approach to street food. The Sabih actually wasn’t a sandwich until Iraqi Jews migrated to Israel bringing a dish which included fried eggplant, a boiled egg, parsley, tsug, tomato, cucumber, onion, hummus, tahini and other treats and a cafe owner put it in a pita for people to take with them. You may know Tal from his 100 Miles cart last summer. With the same cart, Tal is creating everything from scratch using age old methods to get the dishes right including soaking the garbanzo beans overnight or using salt on the eggplant to remove the moisture before frying.

Sabih from Gonzo

Sabih from Gonzo

Gonzo has a small menu at this time – the Sabih, a falafel sandwich and a hummus plate, but each item was better than the first. The handmade falafel in a pita with hummus, tahini, chopped tomato and cucumber, amba, tsug, pickles and topped with fries is a work of art. The amba, a tangy mango pickle condiment and the tsug, a spicy Israeli hot sauce, are both made in the cart and add a flavor profile I haven’t had with falafel before. After ordering both the Sabih and the falafel sandwich, it was a fight over who got what. I wanted it all, but had to share. Everything tasted fresh and crisp and I came away with a new appreciation for Israeli cuisine.

Falafel from Gonzo

Falafel from Gonzo

Tal hopes to expand the menu a bit and offer items that one wouldn’t normally find here in Portland. Plans for publishing all the recipes for his dishes on his website is in the works, so keep a digital eye out for that. I’m excited to make some tsug this fall once our hot peppers come into season. Gonzo is an example of how Portland’s street food vendors bring cuisine we don’t normally find in this city to our table. Gonzo is located at D-Street Noshery in SE Portland and they have plenty seating and a covered area in case it rains. Drop on by for some excellent Israeli street food and let Tal know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

[Gonzo moved to Base Camp Brewing in October 2012]

Sample Menu:

  • Falafel sandwich: hummus, tahini, tomato, cucumber, amba tsug, pickels, falafel in a pita topped with fries – $8 or half for $5
  • Sabih sandwich: hummus, tahini, tomato, cucumber, onion, cilantro, parsley, amba, tsug, pickels, fried eggplant, boiled egg in a pita – $8 or half for $5
  • Hummus Plate: hummus, garbanzo beans, cilantro, cumin, lemon, sweet onion, olive oil w/2 pita – $6

Hours: Mon-Wed, 11:30-9; Thurs-Sat, 11:30-12am; Sun, 11:30-9
Phone: 503 97-Gonzo
Facebook: Gonzo

Comments

  1. Bertha Pearl says:

    Loved the falafel, one of the best I have had in Portland!

  2. I’d walked to the cart w/o my phone to pick up some food for friends. He said he couldn’t put anything on the side because the cart is moving soon and as such have TWO items on their menu and no half sandwiches. That was a problem because I was suppose to order 2 full Falafel sandwichs, one as is and one w/o amba (BF is allergic to mango) and tsug on the side (BF doesn’t really like cilantro but wanted to try) then 1 half falafel and one full Moroccan Eggplant Salad sandwich (I found this menu on their FB http://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/537593_325338597547117_1694773990_n.jpg). He kept saying all he had was the two options because they were moving. I don’t understand this but he finally said he’d make a half falafel when I said I’d order the Sabih sandwich.
    When I got them home all three of us were disappointed w the falafel. BF said it was “over fried to the point that its crunchy like bone” and my friend said the eggplant was FAR superior except the tahini was too garlicy and not lemony. My sandwich had 4 small soggy pieces of potato that I’m guessing were suppose to be the french fries, BF got 2 cold pieces of potato. Although I was excited to get some amba NON of the sandwiches had any in them. He put each sandwich in a pita bread bag and sent me on my walk home balancing 4 sandwiches in my arms. I don’t know if he was just off his game but this was disappointing.

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