Rejoice. I know I am. Tastebud's bagels—known mostly to weekend farmers market warriors at PSU and Hillsdale—are now available every day, rain or shine. Bagelmeister Mark Doxtader has taken his yeasty talents to the heart of downtown Portland’s food-cart universe.
On Monday, November 25, Tastebud quietly opened in the relatively spacious quarters that last housed Rescue Bagels at the corner of SW 10th and Alder, steps away from cart stars Nong’s Khao Man Gai and Ole Latte.
Make no mistake: These bagels are not the bloated monstrosities of modern times; they do not double as spare tires. Nor do they bear chocolate chips or dried blueberries, though you might find farm-fresh fruits, homemade jams, or roasted squash plopped on top—all Tastebud trademarks.
The entire Tastebud family is available from the take-out window: seven boiled varieties (plain, sesame, poppy seed, black pepper, leek, salt, and everything). You can order solos ($1.25), multiples or by the dozen ($13.75), plain or toasted. Seasonal specials are in the works, including a challah raisin bagel.
The wise will get in on Tastebud’s bagel sandwiches, simply elevated by butter and sea salt, goat cheese and “autumn slaw” (hello kale), or a heap of lox, dill cream cheese, pickles, and capers. Watch for annual specials: herbaceous pesto paired with roasted kabocha squash or bagels primed with chunks of baked pumpkin.
But every day Tastebud will lay down its heavenly bacon-jam bagel. The mode includes soft cream cheese, a sweet-tart swirl of fresh raspberry jam, a pad of arugula (to assuage the guilt), and two crispy flaps of bacon. If there’s a better breakfast sandwich downtown, I haven’t met it.
What’s missing is the wood fire. Since launching Tastebud at the Hillsdale Farmers Market in 2006, Tastebud has embraced the “Montreal” school of bagelhood…boiled in sweetened water and wood-fired. Currently, Doxtader is temporarily baking his bagels—for the cart and the markets—in a Swedish electric oven: “Instead of Montreal style, I call them the Edison style,” says Doxtader with a big grin. “I’m playing with this. As we ramp up production, it might turn out to be more consistent this way.”
Ramping up for the roving bagel man means retrofitting a large Mugnaini wood-fired oven in a truck that will serve as an open-air pizza kitchen for catering gigs and market-hopping. Doxtader hopes to have the new truck rolling this winter.
Beyond this, Doxtader tells us he is eyeing a brick-and-mortar space in Multnomah Village to house his triple love of rustic, wood-fired pizza, bagels and Portland farms. His short-lived Tastebud Restaurant on SE Milwaukie gave us a much missed teaser of what’s possible. It housed Portland’s best wood-fired chicken, hands down, and served as a launching pad for a then-unknown Kate McMillan and her now-lauded Lauretta Jean’s pies and biscuits.
Downtown cart hours: 7 am-2 pm daily
Find Tastebud at the PSU (Saturday) and Hillsdale (Sunday) farmers markets.