Che Cafe

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Che Cafe

Che' Cafe

Location: 7316 N Lombard at Kruger Farm Stand
Hours: Tues-Thurs, 9am-7pm; Fri/Sat, 9am-9 or 10pm; Sun, 9am-8pm

Description:

North Williams street has become a new nexus of activity in North Portland. With in the influx of restaurants, salons, a dessert place and a brewery, it was only a matter of time before a food cart opened. And where it opened is important. The space where Che Cafe is located is right next to a 1935 building where you have indoor seating. The development, by the developer of Portland’s most green building – The Heritage on NE MLK – is perfect for Portland’s unpredictable weather.

Che Cafe is Ryan and Terri’s dream. Both love dogs, simple as that. Why talk about dogs? Well, throughout the years, Ryan and Terri have had four amazing dogs – Nikai, a husky who was active and free spirited; Che’, a large Princess Shepard who loved to lounge; Riley, a senior Shepard mix who appeared to have “doggy Alzheimers,” but was happy and kind; and then Sadie, a senior border collie mix who was very attached, loving and affectionate. All of these dogs had an impact on Ryan and Terry and they want Che’ Cafe to provide neighbors the same love and devotion those dogs showed them throughout the years.

Pulled Pork from Che Cafe

Pulled Pork from Che' Cafe

I visited Che’ Cafe with some fellow food cart enthusiasts. We were all ready for the weekend and indulged in our personal weaknesses. A couple of pulled pork sandwiches over here, a burger over there and even a black bean burger for the vegetarian of the group. Each of the dishes came with crunchy fries and homemade ketchup.

Bubby Burger from Che Cafe

Bubby Burger from Che' Cafe

I enjoyed the half pound Bubby Burger. A monster of a burger, it came with crispy fried onions and cheddar cheese. The burger is exactly what I was craving and it was cooked just right. The seasoning was spot on – you could tell this was good ground beef mixed with spices and made into a patty by hand. The crispy fried onions were an added bonus.

The added bonus to this cart is the building next door. They offer up indoor seating for those wet and rainy days or even for those who don’t want to take their food and go. Inside the 1935 redeveloped building is a coffee cart and restrooms, along with a performance space called the Analog Lounge (i.e. no cell phones or laptops.) When you get over to North Williams and you see this bright red cart named Che’ Cafe, stop on by, have some great American food and tell them Food Carts Portland sent ya.

[Cart moved to N Lombard in May 2012. Hours have changed and expanded menu can be found at checafepdx.com]

Sample Menu:

  • Creamy Tomato Basil Soup with grilled cheese sandwich – $6
  • Mr. Riley’s Sake Mac & Cheese – macaroni tossed with 3 cheese sake sauce, topped with fried onions and served with garlic bread – $6
  • Caprese Capellini – capellini tossed with garlic tomato oil, fresh tomatoes and basil topped with fresh Parmesan and served with garlic bread – $7
  • Fu fries – tofu lengths fried to a crisp and served with sweet and spicy sauce – $5
  • Pulled Pork Sandwich – dry rubbed pork cooked til it falls apart sauce with homemade BBQ sauce on an onion bun – $7
  • Meatloaf sandwich – homemade meatloaf smothered with sharp cheddar cheese – $8
  • Half Pound Bubby Burger – burger topped with aioli served on onion bun with all the fixins – $7

Hours: Tues-Thurs, 9am-7pm; Fri/Sat, 9am-9 or 10pm; Sun, 9am-8pm
Phone: 503 477 0322
Twitter: CheCafePDX
Facebook: Che Cafe PDX

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Potato Champion

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Potato Champion

Potato Champion

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.

Palak Paneer Fries from Potato Champion

Palak Paneer Fries from Potato Champion

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]

Sample Menu:

  • 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

Website: PotatoChampion.com
Twitter: @PotatoChampion
Facebook: Potato Champion

Choza’s Peruvian Food

Lizzy Caston

CLOSED 10/2011

 

Location: SW 9th and Alder Parking Lot

Description: Did you know Peru is thought of as having a distinctive, well regarded and of course delicious street food culture? I had no idea until I ate at Choza’s and tried it myself.

Choza’s makes wonderful rice and noodle plates with distinctive Peruvian tastes and techniques. And, as per Peruvian street food tradition, most entrees include French fries mixed in the other ingredients and served with the addition of a tangy, creamy, slightly spicy Choza sauce. That sauce is addictive!

Lomo Saltado: Rice, Salad, Meat, Special Sauce and French Fries!!!

Lomo Saltado: Rice, Salad, Meat, Special Sauce and French Fries!!!

Lonely Planet calls Peruvian street food some of the Best Food You’ve Never Heard Of. Wikipedia even has a short blurb on Peru in their Street Food entry page, although they do say, “Cuy, a species of Guinea Pig is served as a delicacy on religious holidays.” Yikes.

You won’t find Guinea pig at Choza’s. Just rib sticking food of good quality at a good price, different than any other street food in Portland. Choza’s is a popular cart for a reason.

Sample Menu:
Lomo Saltado (beef or chicken). Sauted meat, vegetables. Served with French fries and rice – $6.00

Lomo Vegetarian. Same as above, sans meat – more veggies – $6.00

Tallarin Saltado (beef or chicken). Sauted meat, vegetables. Served with spaghetti noodles – $6.00

Tallarin Vegetarian. Same as above, sans meat – more veggies – $6.00

Chaufa. Peruvian fried rice. meat or vegetarian. – $5.00

Hours: (Warning! This cart’s hours seem to be anyone’s guess). Usually open Mon-Friday, Sometimes on Saturdays during lunch hours.

Phone: Unknown

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Dreamers – Vegetarian Food

Lizzy Caston

[Closed as of August 2009]

Location: SW 5th and Oak/Stark

Description: Vegetarian and Vegan food only, including things like baked potatoes, “meatballs”, sandwiches, french fries and pretty good falafel.

The only thing about this cart is that, well, the aesthetic might freak some people out. Like many a good cart, the focus is on the food and not the decor. Also, hope you like the Grateful Dead, because I guarantee that’s the music that will be serenading you from the speakers as you wait for your food.

The owner of this cart is very nice.

Sample Menu:

Not-Chicken Parmesan Sub -$5.00

Pan Fried Cheese Sub – $4.00

Giant Falafel (their words not mine) – $4.00

Buffalo Tofu Sub – $4.50

Hours: Mon -Fri Lunchtime Hours

Phone: Unkown

Website: None

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