Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Kenny and Zuke's Sandwichworks

Kenny and Zuke's Sandwichworks is located on NW Thurman St. in Portland, Oregon. The sandwichworks location surfaced because, as a Jewishdeli, some types of sandwiches seemed "out of place." Here, different sandwiches like a Cubano, a torta, and even a meatball sub come to life. Cool Moon Ice Cream is a partner here, so you'll be able to get up to a dozen of their amazing ice cream flavors (in cones, dishes, and floats) along with your lunch!

NOTE: Since this Kenny and Zuke's location has a different menu, I am rating this separately from the deli in downtown Portland.

Cool Moon Ice Cream served here as well!
Menu (January 2012)

Here, I went with their "Anytime Special." For $7.95, I could get half a sandwich (pick from most of the sandwiches on the regular menu), plus a cup of soup. I tried the "Super Torta Puebla" this time: roasted pork, black beans, chorizo, avocado, cheese, mayo, and chipotle salsa on a hoagie roll. I told the ladies to 86 the mayo. The soup? Hungarian mushroom, of course!

"Anytime Special"
Half a Puebla Torta and Cup of Hungarian Mushroom Soup
(Kenny & Zuke's Sandwichworks)
The soup was outstanding, same as at the downtown deli location. Creamy, hearty, and intense mushroom flavor.

The sandwich was a success overall. The hoagie possessed that soft roll feel, yet refused to collapse in my hands. Great Mexican flare on the black beans, basically a chunky spread-like consistency on my sandwich. The creamy avocado makes it a more filling meal (woohoo unsaturated fats!). A healthy amount of juicy roasted pork slices. However, I didn't see any chorizo. Also, the cheese was still in its sliced form, which is OK with me here, but if only the Cuban Mixto was an option for the Anytime Special, then I'd have probably gotten that. Gooey cheese rules. Perhaps they can toast this torta to get the gooey cheese? If so, I'll do that next time.

The meatball sub also sounds good for when I go on that meatball sub bender.

In comparing the two sandwiches I had (one at the deli and one at the sandwichworks location), I'd go with the torta this time. Each have my little nitpicking concerns, but still awesome stuff. Again, probably a toasted sandwich away from an elite score. Try their sandwichworks location...get a sandwich here that you likely won't get at the deli! 8.25/10

Kenny and Zuke's Deli

Kenny and Zuke's Deli is located near the corner of SW 11th and Stark in downtown Portland, Oregon.

Carafe of water

They now pickle their own veggies from more local ingredients!
I arrived at this spacious location on a Monday, around lunchtime. I took a seat at the counter, getting a great view of the cooks preparing each sandwich and pouring cups/bowls of soup. The one thing that caught my eye was the broiler/toaster oven. I saw controlled flames peeking from the top of the broiler, ensuring that anything going in there (likely a cheese-covered sandwich, open-faced) would toast, melt, and become all sexy for the noshing party to follow.

Broiler/toaster oven in the upper center of the photo
I ultimately went for the lunch special, a pastrami on rye with a cup of Hungarian mushroom soup ($8.50). I got some Russian dressing on the side. Unfortunately, a real Reuben sandwich (complete with sauerkraut) was not an option for this lunch special. It came with a few pickled green beans and carrots. I learned cucumbers are out of season, so they'll go with other in-season veggies. I've also seen pickled okra used.

Menu cover (January 2012)

Half Pastrami on Rye with Hungarian Mushroom Soup
(Kenny & Zuke's Deli)
I really loved the pastrami, just tender slices playing games with my mouth. Great call on my part put some Russian dressing AND deli mustard in this sandwich...win! Creamy, zingy -- and there was probably sleepy, dopey, and happy also in the equation. The zingy-yet-crunchy pickled beans and carrots were very good.

I probably should have requested the rye bread toasted, as it kept getting stuck to the roof of my mouth. Reminded me of those days in school where I'd bring a sack lunch from home (usually a sandwich) and I'd look like a fool scraping the food off with my tongue or my finger.

The highlight was the Hungarian mushroom soup. An creamy, hearty explosion of mushroom flavor. I'd head back there just for a pot of that soup. Without question, one of the best soups I've had.

Quite pleased overall with the experience. I'm sure this was a requested toasted sandwich away from an elite rating. A note to myself for next time, if anything. Head over here, it's awesome stuff! 8/10

Monday, January 30, 2012

San Diego Taco Company

(NOTE: I just learned in late February 2013 that both San Diego Taco Company locations have closed.)

(Also check out Part 2 from July 2012!)

San Diego Taco Company has two locations in Oregon: on SW Barnes Road in Beaverton, and on Liberty St. NE in Salem. I ventured to Liberty location, since it was closer to my apartment. Check out their website, which also has their full menu.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cool Moon Ice Cream (Part 2)

(Original Review -- July 2011)

I returned to Cool Moon Ice Cream a couple weeks back. Although I had hit several spots for lunch just prior to the visit, I was still hungry and craving sweets.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Word of Mouth (Part 4)

(Original Review -- May 2011)
(Second Review -- July 2011)

(Third Review -- December 2011)
(Fifth Review -- March 2012)

I returned to Word of Mouth for the second time within a five-week span for their breakfast specials. As I mentioned in my previous update, you can feast away on an awesome breakfast for $4.95 on the weekdays if you get there before 8 a.m. I came by on a Saturday this time, so no cheap breakfast meal. Instead, WOM has one special that runs all day, or until it sells out. More often than not, I'd say the latter occurs.

I might cut back on my "updates" to various places, preferring to check out new establishments over "updating" old ones. To be fair, I might try a place out more than once to get a better idea of the overall menu in the future. However, I felt this separate WOM post was warranted.

January 28, 2012, marked the debut of Word of Mouth's newest creation: a Cinnamon Roll Pancake breakfast. For $9.95, I got two fluffy cinnamon pancakes topped with a decadent cinnamon roll glazed icing, two eggs (requested overeasy), and a small bowl of fruit. While it's a breakfast special now, it should be making its way to the regular menu soon. (NOTE: The cinnamon roll pancakes are now on the permanent menu!)

The menu board on 1/28/12
"Delicious" doesn't begin to describe the awesomeness
It's not fair, I tell ya. It's just not fair. Becky and Steve must have some sort of ESP thing going on, knowing (at least one of) my weaknesses. You see, "cinnaholics" like myself must have cinnamon with them at all times. The mere sight of a "cinnamon" item on the menu puts me into a hypnotic state, with malicious intent to destroy said dish very quickly.

I'm likely considered armed (with utensils at the ready) and dangerous (don't try to take a bite of my cinnamon-laced food or get stabbed with the cinnaholic's fork). I'm injecting cinnamon, all right...straight into my mouth and down the gullet. You know how competitive eaters have nicknames? I'm not a CE, but if I had a nickname, "cinnaholic" (or some play on the word) would be a damn good choice.

From what I gathered, a lovely couple sitting across the dining area split the same Cinnamon Roll Pancake breakfast I ate (so I guess they each got one pancake, one egg, and a bit of fruit). They got their food as I waited for mine. I could hear their high praise of the meal, almost an inadvertent tease.

I restrained myself long enough to take a couple pictures of the food. The "before" shots, as people probably would say.

The entire Cinnamon Roll Pancake Breakfast
(Word of Mouth Neighborhood Bistro)
Two cinnamon roll pancakes with the amazing glaze
I'd guess it was about eight or so inches in diameter (I suck at measurements, though)
Two overeasy eggs and a small bowl of fruit
If I really wanted to channel the competitive eating monster, I'd be shoveling food in with my hands. But hey now, I should have some etiquette in public! Fork and knife, check! Napkin on lap, check! Woohoo, let's eat! Food, you're dead!

Each bite of pancake was incredible. Sweet, yes, but not overly so. The eggs were perfectly cooked, although in hindsight, I wish I just put the egg right on top of the pancakes before I dug in (my bad there). I completely blacked everything else out, pretty easy to do when there aren't many people in the bistro around 7 in the morning. I had water on the table, but didn't need it. It was a rather moderate, consistent pace for me. Yes, I refrained from picking up the small fruit bowl and tossing it down like a triple shot. In less than eight minutes, the "Massacre on 17th St." ended with a cinnaholic victory.

(EDIT: Actually, after watching the video (which I have since taken down), I finished in about 5 1/2 minutes. Faster than I thought. Call me a speed eater in training!)

With no more food, I zapped out of my trance, momentarily saddened that I couldn't have a tube pushing more of that epic meal onto my plate. Oh, by the way, the aforementioned couple was still enjoying their food. "Oh, um, sorry, I was just hungry. But it was awesome!"

The problem with having a large appetite? The stomach often gets confused. It still rumbled and grumbled for more food after I left. Hey stomach, that was your second breakfast already! Grr!

As far as service goes, Cassandra and Tirzah were on the ball. In fact, Tirzah quickly took my finished plate away before I could snap the "after" photos. It's not a big deal for me to get a picture anyway, so I didn't bother to request the plates stay at the table. No complaints. I love the service.

While my appetite refuses to back down and surrender, I'm waving the white flag to the Word of Mouth staff for now. Food coma is imminent, although it's probably more a hibernation at this point. Damn. Guess I'm not getting much studying today.

Brass Tacks Sandwiches

Brass Tacks Sandwiches is located on N Vancouver Ave. in Portland, Oregon. Two friendly women run this place, serving up meaty sandwiches and vegan-filled sandwiches!

Just opened in 2011!

Ordering form, side 1
Ordering form, side 2
Yup, this is what I ordered!
The ordering process is similar to the Brunchbox food cart in downtown Portland: take a order card and a pen, mark your order, and hand it to the employees. I opted for the "Captain Nemo," their vegan meatball sub ($7.99). White bean meatballs, house-made marinara, garlic aioli, and basil chiffonade in a French roll. The sandwich came with a side of crunchy chips.

Vegan Meatball Sub with side of chips
(Brass Tacks Sandwiches)
The chips were crunchy, much like the Maui-style potato chips I constantly ate growing up in Hawaii.

Regarding the sandwich, it was OK. The vegan meatballs were seasoned well, but on the dense side and a little chewy. To be fair, the white beans have a chewier texture than actual meat anyway. The roll was also on the harder side. The roll did stay intact, and everything paired nicely with the house-made marinara. The creamy, garlicky hints from the aioli, coupled with the basil, resulted in that Italian garlic bread-meets-marinara killer combo.

I'd call this more of an average experience overall. In Yelp jargon, I'd be right on the precipice of being a fan. The flavors were enjoyable. I think the white-bean meatballs may have been packed a bit too tight when making them. Toasting the bread a bit could also work wonders. I love the healthy options presented here. Perhaps I'll be back to try something else. 6.75/10

Friday, January 27, 2012

Wagsy's Hot Beef Sandwiches

Wagsy's Hot Beef Sandwiches is located near the corner of SW 5th and Oak in downtown Portland, Oregon.

Family is the strongest bond one will have in his or her life. To me, it's always a cool story when a parent and  child take a common interest and open a business together based on that shared link.

At Wagsy's, which opened in early January 2012, Kevin and his son, Eric, share their love for sandwiches with the public. "Wagsy" is Kevin's nickname, given to him by some of his good friends.

Wagsy's on January 3, 2012
The day before their grand opening!
Arriving at the cart in mid-January
Check them out online!
Menu (January 2012)
There are five sandwiches on the regular menu, each using a fresh Italian roll. Several sandwiches are named for various regions of the United States. I had the "Beef 'n Bourbon" sandwich ($6): thin slices of roast beef, chopped cabbage, and Wagsy's special BBQ sauce infused with premium Maker's Mark bourbon.

"Beef 'n Bourbon" Sandwich
(Wagsy's Hot Beef Sandwiches)
The large slices of roast beef are extremely tender and juicy. The fresh cabbage adds that contrasting crunchy element. The warm tangy/sweet BBQ sauce is a home run, and the bourbon shines through. The Italian roll is soft when biting into it, yet thick enough to encase the beef, sauce, and cabbage. A simple sandwich, yet so comforting.

If anything, I would have liked the bun toasted a bit more for that crunchy texture contrast against the beef.

I also received a plastic token for $1 off my next sandwich. I'm not sure how long that promotion is for. Perhaps it's limited to first-time visitors at the cart?

People have raved about the "Chi-Town Beef Dip" (a beef sandwich dipped in au jus) and the "Rip City" (roast beef and garlic butter sauteed mushrooms). Wagsy's also offers a vegetarian sandwich option. Basically, you can't go wrong here.

Starting on Feb. 6, Wagsy's will open at 8 a.m. on the weekdays to serve breakfast scramble platters (until 11). Until then, they are open on the weekdays for lunch, generally starting around 10 a.m. Check them out ASAP! 8/10

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Blueplate is a hole-in-the-wall restaurant located on SW Washington in downtown Portland, Oregon. While it was featured on the hit Food Network show "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives," I swear I've walked past it a zillion times and never noticed. This time...bingo! Found it!

Since it was a windy, cold winter day, I ordered one of the more popular items on the menu: grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. And hey, gotta put the bacon and tomato in that grilled cheese ($1 extra, so $7 total)!

Grilled Cheese Sandwich and Tomato Soup
Bacon and tomato inside!
The bread was excellent, a beautiful golden brown for a great crunch. Extremely light and buttery. The cheese was lukewarm by the time the meal got to me, but it was still gooey, stringy, and satisfying. Yup, no off-putting hard cheese shell here! Bacon added that savory depth and is an automatic win by itself. Refreshing tomato slices rounded out this one.

This hearty, chunky tomato soup packed bold flavor. I picked up some cheesy and creamy aspects. Maybe it could have been a bit more temperature-hot, but I like scalding-hot meals that cause pain, so I'm probably just abnormal. Hey, someone's gotta contribute and keep Portland weird, right?

The Northwest Sliders ($8) are also popular, and they have daily rotating specials. Another home run from the Triple D episodes! Check this place out! 8.5/10

Hot Bikini Brew

Hot Bikini Brew is a small espresso food cart located at the corner of SE 6th and Madison in Portland, Oregon.

I first learned about Hot Bikini Brew through Kim and Phil, portrait/wedding photographers who run "Behind the Food Carts." They did a photo shoot of Hot Bikini Brew in early December 2011. It's an impressive site, with awesome photos! Check out their full site here!

Yup, still trudged through the slushy roads and sidewalks to get here!

Menu, side 1 (January 2012)
Menu, side 2 (January 2012)
Rosa Trujeque is the manager and co-owner at this drive-thru coffee establishment. As the name implies, the all-female staff -- including Rosa -- wear bikinis, even in the cold, slushy/snowy weather! I'm assuming the inside of the cart is very cozy...can't have frozen workers in there!

Being a bit of a rebel (OK, maybe not), I walked up to the counter after having taken photos from the back of the cart. Oops, no cell phones or picture taking. Eh, I didn't have it out at the ordering window anyway, right?

Anyway, Rosa was a model employee and co-owner, taking my order for a nonfat latte ($3).

12 oz. Nonfat Latte
(Hot Bikini Brew)
A soothing warm drink on a cold day is awesome, especially when there's a caffeine punch to jolt you awake. Unfortunately, the latte was mostly watered down, not much flavor. Guess there wasn't enough ground coffee in the drink for my tastes.

Yeah, I admit I'm also a sucker for any attractive girl in a bikini, so I'll likely get lured back anyway. See, there's something (er...someone) else out there that can control my actions just as much as food! Dang, such "evil" promoting and marketing...brilliant! 5/10 (that's just rating the drink, of course)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Taste of Burros and More

(Update on 2/4/12: I talked with Dominic a couple days ago, and he told me the new name of the cart will be "Taste of Burros and More")

Taste of Burros and More is located near the Waterfront, at the corner of SW Moody and Abernathy in Portland, Oregon. A Greek food journey that began in Sonoma, CA, has transformed into a Mexican food cart in SW Portland.

Taste of Burros and More opened in SW Portland around summer 2011, but business partners Jay and Dominic recently discovered the locals craved something more familiar. At the beginning of 2012 (January 4, to be exact), Taste of Burros and More officially 86'd the gyros for tacos and burritos. Jay said everything is made from scratch, even the steamed corn tortillas. The meats used are family recipes, around 50-60 years old. In all, just two main menu items, four types of meat, and various fillings/toppings (depending if you ordered a taco or burrito). It is a very simple menu, yet one sure to bring great business for this duo.

Before the cart overhaul (1/4/12)
February 2012...the "a Gyro" portion of the sign has been painted over
New menu (starting 1/4/12)
The menu in February 2012
Two-pound burritos!
Tacos (Al Pastor and Carnitas)
(Taste of Burros and More)
I tried two tacos ($3 -- that's $1.50 each), one al pastor and one carnitas. The handmade corn tortillas are delicate, amounting to a slight power struggle between man and food. Here, man ultimately triumphed. Both meats were juicy, and there's nothing like adding fresh cilantro, lime, and red onion to a taco.

Jay added a small helping of medium-spicy tomatillo sauce on the side. Good flavor, yet mild on my taste buds. Then again, anything short of a habanero is probably mild on this tongue.

The burrito ($5) will give you more meat, plus rice, beans, and cheese. It's a darn good deal that I'll have to try in the future.

2/4/12 update: On a random visit, I also saw churros on the menu ($1.50). A nice addition.

Taste of Burros and More will undergo a possible cart remodeling in the future. Jay is unsure when those changes will be finalized. In the meantime, head on over to Taste of Burros and More, and check out the new grub ASAP! 7/10