This Week in Portland Food and Drink: November 4
Mama Đút Foods opens this Saturday
Thuy Pham, who started off 2020 as a hairdresser, started Mama Đút Foods as a pop-up in order to continue working during the pandemic. Within just months, Pham has become known for her crispy-skinned, three-layered Vietnamese vegan pork belly, among other vegan Vietnamese dishes. She was also one of the featured chefs in Growing Gardens’ Chef in Your Garden dinner fundraiser series. This Saturday, November 7 is the grand opening of her first brick-and-mortar restaurant at 1414 SE Belmont Ave. Food will be available to-go only, and pre-orders start tomorrow, November 4. The planned opening menu includes vegan pork belly bao, banh gio chay (steamed rice dumplings), vegan wings, noodle soup, mochi snowball cake, and sweet and salty sesame coconut corn pudding. Pham is also launching a house line of coffee beans and cold brew coffee grown in Vietnam and roasted by Portland Cà Phê.
Goodbye, Kargi Gogo
Kargi Gogo, one of the only Georgian restaurants in the area, is closing on November 22, Eater PDX reports. Owner Sean Fredericks announced the news on the morning of November 3, citing a change in personal priorities as the reason for the restaurant’s closure. The restaurant is beloved for its khachapuri—boat-shaped bread filled with cheese, butter, and rich egg yolk, all stirred together to create a fondue-like dipping sauce, which you dip into by tearing off pieces of the bread. It’s also known for its khinkali (large, soupy Georgian dumplings) and selection of Georgian wines. The restaurant, which got its start as a food cart, garnered national recognition from a number of outlets over the years, including Bon Appetit, Serious Eats, and Thrillist. Thankfully, you can buy the khachapuri and khinkali frozen, so we don’t have to make it through winter 2020 without cheesy bread boats.
Two recent restaurant openings: Lokanta and Republica
We’re particularly excited about a couple of restaurant openings. Early in October, Lokanta opened its doors, bringing a selection of Turkish food to Clinton Street never seen before in Portland. Chef Umut Matkap specializes in mezze plates from various regions of Turkey and nearby regions, including sarma ici, a cracked wheat salad from his hometown of Antakya, Turkey (recognized by UNESCO for its gastronomy) and grilled halloumi cheese from Cypress. The restaurant is currently offering indoor and outdoor dining.
Last Wednesday, a brand-new cafe called República opened its doors. The cafe is spearheaded by Angel Medina, owner of Pearl District coffee shop and pop-up hotspot La Perlita (located right next to República). As reported by Eater, the project brings together Chef Lauro Romero of King Tide Fish & Shell, who’ll be making guisados and various dishes with nixtamalized masa; desserts from Olivia Bartruff of pop-up Olivia B Sweets; and wines from Mexican, BIPOC, and women winemakers chosen by winemaker Cristina Gonzales, who we wrote about for her participation in the Celebrating Hispanic Roots wine event. There's also an upcoming tequila and mezcal program from Adriana Alvarez, who we spotlighted in our fall cocktail feature. The cafe is open for to-go-only platos rotos (its guisado program) during lunchtime, and dinner is served indoors and to-go. Stay tuned for more in-depth looks coming soon on both Lokanta and República.
Kevin & Frankys Opens Saturday, Specializing in French Dip
This new restaurant opening Saturday, November 7 in Southwest from prolific Portland restaurateur Micah Camden offers four different types of French dip sandwiches: porcini prime rib, turkey-cranberry, roast pork with broccoli rabe, and vegetarian marsala mushroom. Sandwiches are available for takeout and delivery only.
Sip Polish grzaniec (mulled beer) at Threshold Brewing
Threshold Brewing’s brewer and co-owner, Jarek Szymanski, grew up in Poland and moved to Portland in 2003. This year, the brewery is bringing a Polish winter favorite, grzaniec, to Threshold for the first time. It starts with a light beer (in this case, the brewery’s flagship grisette) that’s heated with cloves, cinnamon stick, orange zest, and a little honey, available to drink on the brewery’s outdoor patio (heating coming soon).
A new way to find food carts
Tracking down all of Portland’s hundreds of food carts, especially now when restaurants seem to be opening, closing, and moving at a faster pace than ever, means handling a zillion different moving targets at once. Thankfully, Travel Portland launched its Food Cart Finder last week, which includes 200+ food carts. The list isn’t comprehensive (yet!), but it’s a promising starting point, and lets diners filter by cuisine and dietary restrictions.