Portland’s hottest dogs are getting a brick-and-mortar home this fall. Eat Beat has learned that Peter Cho and Johnny Leach, the flavor-smacked duo behind Portland’s roving Stray Dogs pop-up, are hard at work building out a permanent home for their modernist junk menu of hot dogs, deftly tweaked Americana side dishes, and even Korean comfort eats, in a space in inner Northeast Portland’s Kerns neighborhood. The ballpark opening date is September 2015; the gist is that the restaurant space will be a continuation of the spirit of the pop-ups, with a menu that will “ebb and flow but will always revolve around a family, supper club style of service.”
While Cho and Leach wait for permits to clear and continue construction, the pair will use the space as a staging ground for a series of private invite dinners that they say will revolve around the Korean comfort food menu they left off with at their series of “Stray Birds” events in late spring at Beast. Those well-received dinners ditched dogs entirely to focus on Korean fried smoked chicken slicked in spicy-smoky gochujang and tamarind glaze, black sesame cornbread, and cold bibim guksu buckwheat soba noodles, with chicken, clams, and pineapple dashi. The Dog men confirm that invites to the upcoming roster of private, “fun, family-style” dinners will be handed out first to interested diners who could not make it to the busy Beast meals. Other Portlanders interested in attending a dinner in the unfinished space are encouraged to get on the Stray Dogs email list to be alerted to upcoming opportunities first.
In the meantime, locals can daydream about what a permanent Stray Dogs menu may look like, given the pair of New York transplants’ deep experience (Cho was gastropub ace April Bloomfield’s right-hand man at the Spotted Pig and the Breslin; Leach is a vet of two David Chang kitchens: Momofuku Ko and Ma Peche) and winning Portland formula of gluttonous fun and technical chops. Cho and Leach aren’t giving many details just yet: “All of this is happening very organically, which is very similar to how most of our favorite restaurants have come to be,” say the duo via email. “The food will evolve the same way.”
In the meantime, you can always grill up a handful of their signature eats at home. Check out picnic-worthy Stray Dogs curry jam dogs, nori potato salad, and ice cream topper recipes in PoMo’s July issue.