Since opening in 2015, Portland Mercado, run by local nonprofit Hacienda CDC, has hosted some of the best cart fare in the city. The marketplace and cart pod acts as a Latino culinary incubator and community food party, especially in the summer months, with long outdoor picnic tables filled with families munching on giant tlayudas, scotch bonnet hot slaw, and mofongo. And next month, diners will get a chance for a deeper dive, as four Mercado carts each throw a $33 sit-down pop-up dinner at SE Hawthorne’s Feastly PDX space. The “Portland Mercado Takeover” aims to “highlight Latino food-cart owners as the creative chefs they truly are,” says Portland Mercado director Shea Flaherty Betin.
The lineup? Mathilde Aurelian-Wilson, a Haitian native with a 1,000-watt smile and a hardcore mission to connect locals with the food and culture of Haiti (and her impressive, school-building nonprofit Haiti Community Support) through Mathilde's Kitchen's hardy soups and the best, tomato-bright oxtail stew in town. Also on the docket: Tony Banegas, whose Puerto Rican cart El Coqui just debuted at the Mercado—he’s planning a roster of dishes that hark back to his childhood in San Juan, including tres leches cake.
Venezuelan arepa master Veronica Gutierrez is doing pabellon criollo, quesillo flan, and arepas (natch). Dora Reyna, who runs the Mexican cart Las Adelas, is known for comfort fare from birria to huaraches, and posole, which means there’s little chance her dinner will be anything less than damn tasty.
Tickets for the series are on sale now. Here's the schedule:
March 2: Anthony Banegas - El Coqui, Puerto Rico
March 8: Veronica Gutierrez - La Arepa, Venezuela
March 23: Mathilde Wilson - Mathilde's Kitchen, Haiti
March 29: Dora Reyna - Las Adelas, Mexico