Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Clay's Southwest Flavors

Clay's Southwest Flavors is located at the A la Carts Food Pavilion (SE 50th and Division) in Portland, Oregon. Clay and Cherise run this food cart.

Clay has Portland roots and lived in the Southwest (Phoenix, AZ) for about 30 years before coming back to PDX and starting this cart. Clay brings tasty items like chicken wings and Navajo frybread to the table.

After a frybread cart in downtown Portland shuttered, I didn't know of any other place that sold frybread in Portland until hearing about Clay's cart. Frybread recipes are generally different depending on the area and people; each Indian family seems to have their own take on it. Clay learned about the recipe he uses when visiting a reservation in New Mexico. Each frybread ideally walks the line between crispy and puffy.

Although they had been open for quite some time, Memorial Day weekend was their official Grand Opening.

Some of the dishes I have tried here:

The "Supreme" ($7.50) is a frybread with ground beef, refried beans, lettuce, tomato, onion, green chile salsa, cheese, and sour cream. Sriracha can also be added upon request. Didn't have to tell me twice to add that rooster sauce!

"Supreme" Frybread Platter
Trust me, the food is bigger than the picture makes it out to be!
Closeup shot!
Closeup of the frybread
The beef and beans get a great helping of Southwest seasoning, and I really enjoyed that. Adding the green chile salsa added to that Southwest flare. Fresh vegetables.

The frybread was a winner. Sure, you can fold it like a taco and really get your face into all that great food (literally). But hey, the panda can also have a proper, dainty side. Sorta.

But dang, the size of the frybread made me do a double-take. It was probably a good 8 to 9 inches in diameter. When adding all the toppings listed above, it becomes a good-sized meal for the average person. $7.50 is a very reasonable price.

If you're a vegetarian, the "Original" frybread choice ($6.50) leaves out the ground beef and substitutes in vegetarian refried beans.

While Clay offers his savory frybread choices, there are also a few sweet options to satisfy that particular craving. Of note, there's a cinnamon-butter-sugar combo that may remind people of churros, plus a powdered sugar choice.

Holy damn, there's a frybread apple turnover with cinnamon and sugar, topped with caramel! It's $2.50 and it sounds like I'd want about 24 of them. My poor wallet.

And watch out, they also get the sinful chocolate involved. Yup, this includes deep fried Snickers and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups! My poor body will be all sugar shocked.

So now I re-enter the savory realm and see their chicken wings. $9 for a dozen and $5 for a half-dozen. All sauces are made from scratch. I received a sample wing with the Buffalo wing sauce.

Great Buffalo wings here!
Now I'm not an expert on wings, but this was one of the best I've ever had. Seriously. Just an ideal flavor and consistency on the sauce. Beautiful job on the wing frying, a crispy outside and juicy inside. Clay mentioned one time he received a great compliment from a customer who happened to be from Buffalo. I believe it.

I even told Clay and Cherise I'd be willing to drink that wing sauce. It's simply addicting.

The barbecue chipotle sauce is equally addicting. It's got that KC-style sweetness and a bit of smokiness from the chipotle. Probably another sauce I'd end up drinking.


Clay and Cherise are always open to suggestions, including making a real spicy wing sauce. I wanted them to make it a flavorful sauce that they can be proud of and sell to tons of customers, as opposed to making some off-the-wall, crazy-spicy item that very few people (i.e. just me) would be able to enjoy.

Initial ideas brought up a mango-habanero sauce. I remember Flyin' Hawaiian doing something like that at their truck, so I know it'll be a hit with people here.

At their recent food cart grand opening weekend, the mango-habanero wing sauce made its debut. I ate a couple dozen wings just for fun. Adding more fun to the equation, I tossed on some ghost pepper powder.

24 mango habanero wings
Closeup of the mango-habanero wings!
I tried the mango-habanero sauce by itself. Simply amazing. A burst of sweet mango flavor. A muted habanero heat eventually attempts to show its face. Over time, people should feel the burn.

Video of some weird guy eating 24 mango-habanero wings with ghost pepper powder!

Of course, with me, 24 spiced-up wings = no problem. Perfect crispiness on those wings. Hands down some of the best I've ever had.

I wish Clay and Cherise the best with their food cart. I've enjoyed every item that's come out of here. While this foodie loves to explore and try new places, this is one that I highly recommend people to visit. 9.25/10

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