Fuego de Lotus



Location: SE 28th and Ankeny [Updated 10/2012]

The Story:

It was a dark and damp night in Portland and I was up on Alberta [Moved 10/2012] for a meeting when that craving for some food hit me. As I was leaving the meeting, I mentioned I would wander down the street to check out the carts at Area23 since they stayed open late and a few of my meeting partners decided to join. When we arrived at NE 23rd and Alberta, we found a lively lot with three carts open serving a steady stream of customers. It was the night to try Fuego de Lotus and the lot at Area23, which is the handiwork of Michael Kennet, who has taken an empty lot and made it into a welcoming area replete with lighting, covered seating and three food carts.

Fuego de Lotus specializes in dishes with Venezuelan and Mexican influences. Mike says it is the type of food he and his family have been enjoying for years and he wanted to pass it on to Portland. The cart is an older airstream trailer refitted with a kitchen and awning. The opening is flanked by flaming torches that are lit whenever he is open. I’m excited for spring when they debut a large fire pit for late evening relaxing at the pod. [Read more…]



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


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