El Che Empanada Revolution

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El Che Empanada Revolution

El Che Empanada Revolution

[Closed June 2011]
Location:
Mississippi Marketplace, N Mississippi and Skidmore
Hours: Tues-Sat, 11-8pm

The Story:

The Empanada Revolution begins now! That’s how Portland was first introduced to El Che on both Twitter and Facebook. No one knew where the revolutions would happen, but we new it was coming.

Pablo, with a huge smile on his face, welcomed me the other day while I was a the cart looking for the owner. He had been making the rounds of the other carts chatting up the owners during his first week of operations. I love seeing cart owners become friends and supporters of each other even though they may be in competition for customers. When he saw me waiting there, not knowing who I am, he came rushing over to offer me up one of his handmade signature empanadas. Every morning, he gets up and makes the dough and the fillings for each of the empanadas he offers- both meat and vegan options. The empanadas are then kept chilled at the cart until he deep fries them upon order. Pablo is from Buenos Aires Argentina where he learned how to make these tasty treats. He uses hand ground meats, fresh veggies and his own mix of spices.

Beef Empanada and a beer

Beef Empanada and a beer

Each time I have visited Pablo’s little cart, he has customers, which bodes well for his success in a lot with some big competition. The beef empanada I devoured has seasoned and seared hand-ground brisket, fresh chopped red bell peppers, sauteed green and yellow onions, hard-boiled huevos and a special blend of herbs and spices. The crust that envelopes the filling is flaky and with almost a buttery texture, but holds everything together while you enjoy till the last bite. A wonderful flavor with a richness from the herbs and spices. I have returned a few times to be a part of the revolution.

Pablo and El Che sit next to PROST! so when you have a craving for some nosh with your beer, he’ll be there to sate it. Open for lunch and dinner, he plans on staying open late night once it warms up and more people are out and about on Mississippi. There are a couple of places in town to get fried pies, but El Che is a true Argentinean empanada. For $3, you can’t go wrong. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

All empanadas are $3 or 3 for $8.

  • Beef: seasoned and seared hand-ground brisket, fresh chopped red bell peppers, sauteed green and yellow onions, hard-boiled huevos and a special blend of herbs and spices.
  • Spinach: overflowing with spinach, sauteed yellow onions, special combination of herbs, garlic
  • The Portlandia: Bacon, piles of cheddar cheese, potatos, bacon, and more bacon

Hours: Tues-Sat, 11am-8pm
Twitter: @ElChePDX
Facebook:
El Che, Empanada Revolution

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Caraquena

dieselboi

Location: 8327 N Denver St.
[Location updated June 2011]

Description:

Caraquena is the newest cart on the scene, only 4 days old.  On the side of the cart and on the menu, Caraquena is listed as Michelle’s Amazing Venezuelan Kitchen and today I enjoyed the first of what I believe will be amazing lunches.

I’m not sure I can describe what Venezuelan food is, so I won’t try.  I suggest you go peruse the menu and head on down with your questions.  What I do know is that Michelle makes her signature dishes from scratch.  When I arrived around 12:40, you could tell she had been busy and she confirmed that.  I wasn’t sure what to order from the pretty sizable menu, so she started describing items and making recommendations.  She offered up empanadas and or arepas, describing the differences.  I opted for Arepas which turned out to be sandwich like instead of a pocket like the empanada.  They have an arepa special that gets you 2 arepas and 2 sides.  While I stood around chatting with another patron, Michelle began to prepare my meal.  She pulled out a Tupperware container of dough that she kneaded into a ball to make the arepa corn flour patty.  Right there, she made it.  I was floored.  She then moved on to her cutting board to pound out freshly cut sweet plantains for plantain chips – just for me.  I felt so special.  The meal I ate consisted of 2 arepas – one of chicken and one of pork along with black beans and plantain chips with her signature sauces.

Arepa Especial

Arepa Especial

The food was excellent.  Flavorful and a plenty.  There was a lot there, so be prepared.  I’m glad I stopped by.

As stated, Michelle has been open only 4 days and admittedly is still working out new cart kinks.  Trust me, it is worth the wait.  Welcome the neighborhood Michelle and Caraquena.

[Update June 2011: Caraquena recently reopened in the Kenton neighborhood in North Portland.]

Sample Menu:

  • Cruzado – Traditional Venezuelan stew – belly warming stew made with beef shank, chicken, exotic jungle roots, corn, potatoes, carrots, scallions and cilantro – $5.50
  • Pabellon – Traditional Venezuelan plate – shredded cumin and sweet peppers, beef with house rice, black beans, sweet plantains and iceberg salad with house vinaigrette – $5.50
  • Plantains – fried with choice of toppings – between $3.50 and $5
  • Empanadas – fried corn flour turnovers – choice of chicken, beef, cheese or black bean – $4
  • Arepas – corn flour patty sandwich – choice of beef and black bean, ham and cheese, beef with herbs, chicken, veggie – $4.50
  • Combination plates for Empanadas or Arepas add 2 sides – between $5.50 and $6
  • assorted drinks available

Phone: unknown
Email: unknown
Facebook: Caraquena
Hours: Lunchtime weekdays, including Saturday

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