Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Garden Monsters

Garden Monsters is a salad food cart located at the Alberta-15 food pod (on NE Alberta near 15th Ave.) in Portland, Oregon. When I stopped by in late March, he was still at his original spot two blocks down on NE Alberta, near 13th Ave. Kyle moved to the A-15 pod on April 9.

Kyle's old location on NE Alberta, near 13th Ave.
Wait, a food cart devoted to SALAD? Damn right.

Kyle Hulings is the owner and chef here. He basically wanted a place to get a fresh, hearty salad, while catering to any of his friends' dietary restrictions. All produce is organic or otherwise 100% natural. Even the salmon he uses for one of his salads comes from the Columbia River.

Menu as of late March 2013
Kyle also makes each of his 14 dressings from scratch. Very impressive!

I didn't waste much time ordering the "Hercules": Baby spinach, iceberg lettuce, artichoke hearts, black olives, feta cheese, red onion, green peppers, shredded carrots, pepperoncinis, diced cucumber, diced Roma tomatoes, pita chips, and your choice of dressing. You can get it with grilled chicken ($7.50) or without ($5.50). Give me that protein!

"Hercules" with Sesame Ginger Dressing
(Garden Monsters)

For the dressing, Kyle recommends his oil-and-vinegar dressing, but the Sesame Ginger dressing (vegan and dairy-free) caught my eye first.

Frankly, it was one of the most enjoyable salads I've had. Everything just seemed to come together, a united explosion of flavors. Crunchy, creamy, even some mild kick from the pepperoncinis. Even the chicken was juicy and perfectly grilled. Heck, I'm a huge pita chip lover, and it's a winner in this salad.

Kyle allows you to build your own salad so you get what you want. Any salad can get wrapped in a giant flour tortilla for no extra charge, an ideal option for people who are in a hurry. Street food at its finest.

Mostly healthy items, with possible sinful options. See bacon.

While there are your usual Cobb, Caesar, and Taco Salads on the menu, Kyle loves the "Paul Bunyan" because he created this combination himself. It's choice of meat (chicken, steak, or ground beef) with romaine and iceberg lettuce, seasoned and roasted baby red potatoes, bacon chunks, red peppers, red onions, garlic croutons, and choice of dressing. Kyle recommends the Blue Cheese dressing for this. The "Paul Bunyan" is $7 with meat, $5 without.

I admit, the "Pulled Porky" got my attention because it includes slow-cooked pulled pork and bacon chunks. I am willing to bet the farm that this option will bring in the meat-lovers from far and wide.

Announcing Garden Monsters' move to Alberta-15 Co-Op Pod
(Taken March 30, 2013)
Open six days a week during winter and spring!

Kyle generally opens six days a week during the winter and spring, from about 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Kyle takes his much-deserved rest on Mondays. During the summer, it's possible that we could see extended hours.

One visit and I'm completely sold on this cart. Head over to Garden Monsters and have a great healthy meal! And yes, bacon is perfectly healthy when put on a salad.

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