Thursday, September 29, 2011

Che Cafe

(UPDATE 6/14/12: According to Food Carts Portland, Che Cafe is now at 7316 N Lombard, at the Kruger Farm Stand. They are now open Tue-Sun from 9 a.m. until late evening.)

Che Cafe is a food cart located on N Williams Ave. in Portland, Oregon. While their main menu focuses on lunch and dinner (usually burgers, sandwiches, and fries), they also have expanded hours on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays for breakfast (8 a.m. to 7 p.m.). Otherwise, they are open Monday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The first thing that caught my eye was their lovely mural. Although the cart is literally parked in a small alleyway near a coffee place, it helps them stand out just a bit more to get those customers rolling in.

Ryan and Terri run this food cart. According to their website, Ryan is a professional chef with a degree from the Scottsdale Culinary Institute. They named the cart after one of their beloved dogs, Che, which I thought was awesome.

I arrived a bit after 10 a.m. on a Friday. Che Cafe was doing breakfast that day, so they were open. Still, I inquired on whether the chef could prepare something off the lunch menu, and he had no problem doing so. Earned some brownie points right there, in my opinion. I went straight to the lunch menu and ordered their Sadie Black Bean Burger ($8): a homemade black bean burger topped with aioli served on a grilled onion bun. You get a choice of any or all toppings, including lettuce, tomato, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions (or fried onion strips), and choice of cheese. Of course, I asked for all those toppings, going with pepperjack cheese.

The burger came with a generous portion of fries (regular or cajun) and choice of sauce. I chose their cajun fries and went with their regular Mohawk sauce, an aioli of sriracha, ketchup, and mayonnaise.

Lunch/dinner menu (as of September 2011)
Several fry sauces to choose from
Sadie Black Bean Burger w/cajun fries and Mohawk sauce
The burger was delicious. The delicate black bean patty held its own among the sea of flavors here. Ryan knows how to cook, that's for sure. The onions were perfectly caramelized, the mushrooms wonderfully sauteed. Both beautifully coated the inside of the grilled onion bun. Many places opt for a sesame seed bun or a regular run of some sort. Not here. The onion bun assured each bite had awesome flavor, further pleasing the palate.

The fries were also very good, and the sweet/garlicky/spicy nature of the Mohawk fry sauce is a hit with me. The sauce is extremely mild for me, as a note, but maybe others will feel it more. I would have liked the fries in the fryer maybe a minute longer to crisp up more and get more golden brown. Just my personal preference, anyway. A great meal here in North Portland. Che Cafe is another place I definitely recommend! 8.25/10

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