Category: Food and Drink

Moto PDX Cafe on Stark

Next month, a performance-motorcycle themed cafe will open at 8826 SE Stark Street. Titled Moto PDX Cafe, they will serve Italian coffee drinks and rider-friendly meals that digest well on the road. Within this mid-century modern storefront, owner Brendan Jones brings together his enthusiasm for European MotoGP and his penchant for creating engaging community spaces.

Seven years ago, Jones left an advertising career and created The Big Legrowlski in downtown Portland. What had started as a growler shop eventually grew into a live music venue. He let that business develop organically based on customer feedback. Jones explained that the same process would shape this new venture, “to be successful in business like this, you have to pivot quickly and just listen to or at least observe [customers], because it really is a like a focus group.”

Jones is moving on from The Big Legrowlski, letting others grow that business. He is looking to build a different type of place for people to congregate, based less on nightlife activities and more on a shared passion. The building on Stark Street became available late last year, providing a location for his new creation. Living just ten minutes away from the building and the storefront’s proximity to the motorcycle store Cycle Gear, it seemed like an ideal location to bring his longtime vision to fruition.

The idea for a motorcycle cafe occurred to Jones when he lived in San Francisco. However, real estate costs in California made it difficult to act on that idea. Fortunately, Portland can support the economics of operating an establishment like Moto PDX Cafe, where other cities could not. “Portland is a great space, It isn’t too expensive yet, and it’s still a place where, if you have an idea, you can make it happen.” Explained Jones.

Work on the building will have a light touch, maintaining much of the current layout. White paint will replace the deep black color on the building’s exterior. Green painted highlights will tie in the cafe’s logo to the building. An attempt to expose the original vertical wood beams and raw aluminum window frames is underway, but the many layers of paint pose a challenge. 

The building sits back from the street, creating a deep parking lot. Jones is not a fan of large car-centric spaces and wants to add planers around the property to create a courtyard aesthetic. Motorcycle parking takes up significantly less space than car stalls, allowing him to reshape the street side of the property towards people-focused activities.

Inside the cafe, televisions will show race footage and live events. The long bank of glass-front refrigerators that remain from the buildings earlier use as a grocery will hold European beer and refrigerated foods. Moto PDX Cafe will sell both beer and wine for consumption onsite or carryout. Jones is not interested in recreating a drinking-focused business like his last project, but he understands that it will complement the location’s overall vibe. The cafe will have a full kitchen. However, the menu is still in development. Thanks to an idea from his wife, Jones envisions guest chefs taking over the kitchen, offering a rotating menu and new takes on standard dishes.

Moto PDX Cafe will eventually open to customers from 10 AM to 10 PM. Staffing will have some challenges. Jones is looking for people who are modern motorcycle enthusiasts. Performance bikes throughout the shop will provide additional decoration and be the item of conversation. Additionally, plans for a consignment sales area will ensure this is more than just a food destination for the motorcycle racing community. Cafe staff that can prepare food and speaks with experience about bikes will be imperative to the operation of the cafe. Finding people with both skill sets will take time. 

Look for work on the property to continue through the end of July. The intention is for the cafe to open in early August. As construction tasks complete and furniture arrives, Jones will announce an appropriate opening date. More information on that date should come by the end of the month.

The Yard at Montavilla Opening Weekend

Yesterday, The Yard at Montavilla opened to customers for the first time. The new food cart pod has space for sixteen vendors, although only a handful are currently serving customers during the first few days. Located at 8220 NE Davis Street, the food vendor collective sits on a corner lot across 82nd Ave from Vestal Elementary School.

La Taquiza Vegana – All Vegan Mexican Street Food

The early days of operation are encouraging for the cart operators. A small but steady flow of customers have ventured in to see what carts are open. July 4th is set as the official first day, although not all food carts are starting at the same time. Today La Taquiza Vegana and Bobablastic were serving customers.

covered seating area

Staff completed all the amenities for the food cart pod ahead of this weekend. Portable restrooms and handwashing stations are set up near the trash enclosure. A large covered seating area is surrounded by standup umbrella tables, protecting the customers from the summer sun. 

Portable restrooms and hand washing stations

An ATM is on-site for those who wish to pay in cash. However, the vendors open today all accept credit card payments.

The list of carts is below, but The Yard at Montavilla website has updated information on what vendors are open this weekend. Make some time to stop by and visit with the cart operators and snag some delicious food.

La Taquiza Vegana – All four taco options
  • Guisados PDX – Mexican Food
  • East African Cuisine
  • Kings of Steak – Philly Cheese Steaks
  • Bai Yok Thai Food
  • Wood Fired Pizza
  • Shawarma Express – Mediterranean Food
  • Bobablastic – BobaTea, Poke Bowl, Hot Dog, Fries
  • Scout Beverages, Inc. – Beer & Wine
  • Taj Mahal Punjabi – Indian Cuisine
  • La Taquiza Vegana – All Vegan Mexican Street Food
  • Little Bear – Bingsu Tofu Popcorn Chx
  • Esan Thai Food Cart – Thai Food
  • Ricky’s Sushi – Sushi Rolls & Appetizers

NE 82nd Food Cart Pod Opens July 4th

Montavilla’s newest culinary destination opens next month. The Yard At Montavilla began development over a year ago, and now construction is nearing completion. Food carts will start arriving this week as electricians install the hookups necessary to power the mobile kitchens.

Last week crews paved the asphalt surface covering most of the corner lot at 8220 NE Davis Street. Workers will complete a shared trash enclosure and other finishing touches in the next few weeks. Several small changes to the infrastructure caused permitting delays that pushed back the original opening date. At this point, not too much more can delay the opening of this highly anticipated eating destination.

Co-owner of The Yard At Montavilla, Jeffrey Dennis, explained that they plan to host a trial run ahead of the official launch of the cart pod. “We’re hoping to open the weekend of June 25th for a soft opening and have July 4th be a Grand Opening weekend.” He went on to say that they have rented all but three of the 16 food carts spaces. Below is a listing of vendors at the cart pod, including Bai Yok Thai Food, who operated a restaurant in this same space before it burned down in 2016.

  • Guisados PDX – Mexican Food
  • East African Cuisine
  • Kings of Steak – Philly Cheese Steaks
  • Bai Yok Thai Food
  • Wood Fired Pizza
  • Shawarma Express – Mediterranean Food
  • Bobablastic – BobaTea, Poke Bowl, Hot Dog, Fries
  • Scout Beverages, Inc. – Beer & Wine
  • Taj Mahal Punjabi – Indian Cuisine
  • La Taquiza Vegana – All Vegan Mexican Street Food
  • Little Bear – Bingsu Tofu Popcorn Chx
  • Esan Thai Food Cart – Thai Food
  • Ricky’s Sushi – Sushi Rolls & Appetizers

Being located across 82nd Ave from Vestal Elementary, this is a prime location to serve a hungry community. Its launch date coincides with a national easing of COVID-19 restrictions and just in time for summer adventures. Expect new carts to start showing up soon and a buzz of activity as people ready for the imminent opening.


Images courtesy The Yard At Montavilla

Threshold’s Must-Try Food Menu

This weekend, Threshold Brewing & Blending launched their Polish-inspired Zapiekanka menu. This debut marks the beginning of full food service at the taproom with a savory and unique offering. For the past two years, staff mainly served craft beer and appetizers. Expanding into cooked meals is their way to welcome the post lockdown crowds who are already exploring the streets of Montavilla in significant numbers.

Foodservice is a natural fit for the brewery. Their wide selection of beers and other local drinks ensures an extended visit for customers interested in tasting all they offer. However, guests need something to eat between drinks, so growing the menu was an obvious need. “Since day one, people have been asking ‘do you have food?'” Explained Threshold’s co-owner Sara Szymanski. Threshold’s owners wanted to add food that would match their brewed beverages distinctive flavors. 

Co-Owner and brewmaster Jarek Szymanski reached into his past to find inspiration for the new dish. When eating out during his formative years in Poland, the zapiekanka was his go-to food. The traditional Polish street food is a perfect rich flavored dish to serve alongside the brewed selections, and it is not a food found elsewhere in the neighborhood. The classic meatless recipe starts with a white-bread baguette topped in a richly spiced mushroom base. Staff melt the Polish Morski style cheese over the top and then add a serpentine stripe of Polish ketchup down the center. A light dusting of smoked paprika completes the dish. Threshold Serves their zapiekanka in a traditional foot-long paper sleeve, allowing customers to eat it like a hotdog or cut it into sharable segments.

The dish expands from the classic form with several toppings, including house-brined cucumbers and several meat options. The cucumbers are reminiscent of pickles without the overbearing vinegary flavor and can be added to the zapiekanka or served on the side. Smoked Brisket or Polish Sausage toppings round out the menu. Jarek Szymanski has a passion for smoked meats and takes pride in the Brisket’s preparation. He plans to offer spareribs, beef ribs, and pulled pork versions of the dish on select occasions.

The Smoked Brisket melts in your mouth and would a popular item if it was on the menu by itself. The cheese has a mozzarella-like flavor that covers the lightly toasted but still soft bread. The ketchup is based on a traditional Polish recipe, common in that country but difficult to buy on this continent. Szymanski creates his version with tomatoes, carrots, parsnips, sugar, and vinegar. It is more reminiscent of barbecue sauce than ketchup and also unlike most condiments you have experienced. It, too, could be a popular product if they bottled it for people to take home.

The drinks are an essential part of a zapiekanka meal. Jarek Szymanski recommends the smokey all wheat Grodziskie ale titled The Cruise. This historical style of beer from Poland has a clear, light golden color and a strong smoke flavor. Its low alcohol content and distinctive aroma mix well with the meal and won’t overpower the dish’s flavors. After eating, the Rebel Razzle Gose beer will reset the palate. This blackberries and raspberries infused beer is the equivalent of an after-dinner wine with a sweet and robust flavor.

At first glance, the Zapiekanka menu appears uncomplicated and straightforward. Only through eating the dish in its varied forms will you appreciate the complex flavors it creates through each topping. Threshold’s expanded menu will attract non-drinkers looking for a memorable meal and further enamor the breweries’ regular fans.

Threshold Brewing & Blending is located in downtown Montavilla at 403 SE 79th Ave. They are open Tuesday through Thursday from 4 PM to 8 PM. Fridays, they operate from 4 PM to 9 PM and Saturday from 3 PM to 9 PM. Sundays, they are open for lunch and dinner from Noon to 6 PM.


Disclosure – Threshold Brewing & Blending provided complimentary food and drinks to Montavilla News staff during a special tasting event.

Sebastiano’s in More Places

Sebastiano’s Sicilian Deli is venturing outside the four walls of its storefront at 411 SE 81st Ave. Starting this Friday night, the restaurant will open Aperitivo Sebastiano within a food cart located in the back parking lot behind the shop. This endeavor joins Sebastiano’s inaugural participation in the Montavilla Farmers Market last Sunday. Both new locations feature unique menu items and serve expanded tastes.

Many restaurants use food trucks to spread out to new locations, but co-owners of Sebastiano’s, Elise and Daniel Gold, are taking a different approach. Their food truck is parked behind the original restaurant, enhancing that location instead of transporting the business elsewhere. “Months ago, having no sense on where things would be at with covid, we came up with the idea of a food cart for summer. As a way to continue to grow but do it outside”, explained Daniel Gold. Traditionally, the deli serves the lunchtime crowd. By adding the food truck, customers can now enjoy a pre-dinner appetizer and drink on select nights. In Italy, an aperitivo is a pre-meal drink specifically meant to whet the appetite. This cultural tradition is the concept driving Aperitivo Sebastiano’s menu. Customers can start their night at the cart and then move on to dinner at another Montavilla eatery.

According to Gold, the food truck’s kitchen opens up a host of culinary options for the nighttime menu. “We’re pretty excited to be able to offer more types of food, essentially because now we have a full kitchen. We have fryers, we have a grill, we have four burners, more refrigeration, and the space for a cook to work safely.” The Golds optimized the restaurant’s existing food-prep for a deli operation, making the most out of limited space. Baking and pan-based cooking dominate that workflow as most menu items rely on cured protein ingredients.

Daniel Gold believes that the Italian doughnuts will become a favorite item at the cart, and that is not something that they could have created without the complete kitchen out-back. The food truck’s fryer supports a focus on Sicilian street food, a cuisine that favors fried foods. Beyond sweets, the menu will offer Arancini (stuffed and fried risotto balls), Zeppole, and House-pulled fresh Mozzarella. As the summer progresses, the expanded kitchen will allow for experimentation in the menu. Vegetarian and Vegan options are prime areas that Gold wants to expand on.

Up to this point, Sebastiano’s has offered takeout only, except for reserved group events last summer. Now outdoor seating around the truck lets customers stop in and order food and drinks to enjoy onsite. They will serve wine by the glass, Spritz, Rosato (Italian rose wine), and some nonalcoholic cocktails. The tables will be open during Aperitivo Sebastiano’s hours of 3 PM through 6 PM on Friday and Saturday nights, with post Farmers Market service on Sundays from 2 PM to 5 PM. Customers can also order items to go and bring them over to Threshold Brewing and Montavilla Brew Works seating area.

The collaboration with other Montavilla businesses is core to Sebastiano’s operation. All beer sold there is from local breweries. Sourcing within the neighborhood for foods and beverages is essential to the Golds. That is what brought them to the Montavilla Farmers Market, first as buyers for their seasonal dishes and now as vendors.

Only one weekend in, the farmers market booth has already proven worthwhile for Daniel Gold. “We’re super excited and had an incredible first day at the Montavilla Farmers Market.” Just as with the food truck, some menu items are locations specific. Sebastiano’s staff bake Castelvetrano olive focaccia exclusivly for the farmers market. The market menu items feature favorite Sebastiano’s food like orange marmalade, sweet and savory brioche rolls, and a “tremendous amount” of Sicilian cookies. The Golds sold out within an hour and a half of opening at the market. They are going to double their efforts for next Sunday.

Elise and Daniel Gold

The farmers market project is pure fun for Golds. “It’s really a lovely end of our week to be outside and to be with our community and seeing a bunch of people that we now know,” said Daniel Gold. Sebastiano’s will keep a booth at the market at least through October. That coincides with the end of their food truck lease. At that point, they will reassess and see if customers enjoyed the expanded options.

The Golds started Sebastiano’s at the beginning of the pandemic. That challenge forced the couple to adjust their plans and create new ways of engaging customers. This summer, the Golds and their staff continue to push forward, with new ways to serve residents who are venturing out after an extended stay at home. Stop by behind the shop any post-work-week night for a pre-dinner visit, have lunch at the original shop on Thursday-Saturday, or wave hello at the farmers market. They would love to see you at any of their many places.

Amanda Morales at the Aperitivo Sebastiano window

Images courtesy of Sebastiano’s Sicilian Deli

UPDATED May 10th 2021 – adjusted hours listed in article to reflect a change and corrected spelling of menu item.

Courtyard at Monti’s Cafe

Customers visiting Monti’s Cafe will soon enjoy a fenced courtyard with many amenities. Crews have created brick pillars around the former parking lot in front of the eatery. Soon, wrought iron fence segments will link the pillars together, creating a semi-secluded space for people to enjoy their purchases. A street-side gated entry will remain open during Monti’s Cafe’s hours of operation.

The idea to create this outdoor space predates the pandemic. However, owner Kelli Vinther explained that current circumstances made it a priority. “In the past year of COVID, comfortable and comforting outdoor seating has become extra important to our customers.” Vinther seeks to create an outdoor oasis for Monticello and Monti’s Cafe guests in this space that once served as a three-car parking lot.

UPDATE – completed courtyard

The loss of parking was an easy sacrifice, according to Vinther. “The huge majority of parking is, and always has been, on street… The promise of an enlarged eating area far outweighs the loss of a few parking spaces.” Unlike the temporary outdoor seating created throughout the neighborhood in response to COVID-19 restrictions, this change is permanent, with substantial structure added to the property.

Eight umbrellaed tables will fill the newly enclosed area. Additional seating will surround a fire pit. The sounds of a fountain and an array of potted plants will further shape the space. The fencing and decorations will provide a buffer from the heavy traffic on SE Stark Street. “It’s going to be a beautiful, inviting courtyard for our customers to enjoy Spring, Summer, and Fall,” proclaimed Vinther.

Monticello Antique Marketplace and Monti’s Cafe are located at 8600 SE Stark Street. Both are open during construction.

UPDATE – completed courtyard

82nd Food Cart Pod Construction

Demolition crews began work clearing the property that will soon become The Yard At Montavilla. Heavy equipment removed two foundations and other buried remnants from the two houses that once occupied this location. With the ground cleared, work can start on Montavilla’s newest food cart pod.

Located at 8220 NE Davis Street, the future food cart pod is across 82nd Ave from Vestal Elementary. When completed, the site will host 17 food carts. Owners Jeffrey and Kevin Dennis have many of those spaces leased already. The Dennis brothers faced an unexpected wait as the pandemic slowed the permitting process. However, those delays are behind the project, and work should complete within three to four months.

Montavilla lost a cluster of food carts with the demolition of Beets Auto BodyThe Yard At Montavilla is a welcomed return of food carts for residents looking to expand their food options. The Dennis brothers share that enthusiasm. “We’re very excited to be bringing this to the Montavilla neighborhood, providing a space for 17 other small businesses to operate and thrive.” Expect to see crews onsite for the next few months, building the new dining destination’s infrastructure.


Photographs by Weston Ruter. Rendering provided by The Yard at Montavilla

New Cart for Erica’s Soul Food

Erica’s Soul Food has moved into a new food cart just one year after opening. Located at 803 SE 82nd Ave, work is underway preparing the new eatery for an expected Wednesday reopening. The upgraded facilities will enhance kitchen operations and customer service for the young business, driving further growth.

The owner and chef of Erica’s Soul Food, Erica Montgomery, has been patiently waiting for the new cart’s arrival. The delivery date slipped several times, creating a longer than expected closure for the business. Ultimately the wait will be worth it when the popular takeout location reopens. Erica’s needed larger space and modern equipment to serve the increasing number of customers. “I’ll have bigger, new equipment that will make cooking easier,” explained Montgomery. The expanded kitchen capacity will facilitate an expanded menu and added specials.

Beyond streamlined food prep, the new cart has separate windows for ordering and pickup. The divided customer interactions, along with a new contactless payment system, will better facilitate COVID-19 precautions. Additionally, new exterior lighting on the cart will improve customer comfort during nighttime hours.

Obtaining a new cart required some community support. Part of the downpayment for the cart came from a GoFundMe campaign that secured two-thirds of its goal. A donation from the Portland Trailblazers added the final funding that Erica’s needed to place an order with the custom cart builder. “I couldn’t have done it without the help of my community,” acknowledged Montgomery when reflecting on the support received.

Now the rush is on to move into the new cart and restock all the supplies. Montgomery cautioned that the 10th is only a tentative opening date. However, she is eager to reopen and get back to cooking for her many loyal customers. Keep an eye on Erica’s Instagram account for updates.

Original cart

Pho Kim’s 2021 Reopening

Vietnamese restaurant Phở Kim closed on June 1st after an early morning fire. Located at 2204 SE 82nd Ave, the building suffered damage to its roof near the mechanical systems. A new building permit indicates imminent repairs after months of delays and an early 2021 opening.

Yesterday, permit application 20-222762 started the review process for restoration work to the building’s roof. The minor fire damage appeared to be a quick repair based on outward appearances. The online message announcing the temporary closure indicated staff believed it was only a momentary disruption. “We hope we are able to resume service soon.” The next update announced December would be the likely opening date. However, the last update postponed that date.

With a building permit in process, there is a high likelihood that repairs will occur in early 2021. Pho Kim’s opening could take place months beyond the completion of work, but their online messaging demonstrates an eagerness to start cooking again. Watch the Phở Kim website for announcements regarding an opening date.

Mike Grady’s post fire drone footage from June 1st, 2020.

Consecutive updates from the Pho Kim website

TEMPORARY CLOSURE

UPDATE:

Unfortunately, there has been a delay in the repairs and we will sadly not be reopening in December. We thank you for being patient with us during these tricky times. We will keep you updated as we move forward.

Happy Holidays from our team at Pho Kim! 💛

We have recently received news that we should be reopening in December. Can’t wait to see you all then!

Dear Beloved Customers,

We are regretful to announce that Pho Kim had caught on fire the early morning of June 1st and will be undergoing repairs soon. Unfortunately, this means we will have to be closed temporarily until further notice. Thank you for your understanding. We hope we are able to resume service soon.

Sincerely,

Pho Kim Staff

Food Cart Pod Underway

With approved permits expected by the year’s end, Montavilla’s newest food destination could open by Spring. The Yard At Montavilla began development over a year ago. Now, after a long wait for approval, the developers expect to break ground by mid-January.

Located at 8220 NE Davis Street, the future food cart pod is across 82nd Ave from Vestal Elementary. When completed, the site will host 17 food carts. Owners Jeffrey and Kevin Dennis have leased six of those spaces already. One of those signed vendors is Scout Beer, a veteran of beer cart operations. In 2009 Scout started as a cart vendor. A few years ago, Scout Beer opened The Lot @ Scout, a food cart pod on SE Division.

The Dennis brothers faced an unexpected wait as the pandemic slowed the permitting process. The project only recently started to gain momentum. “We just found out last week that our on-site permits were approved and are moving through the pre-issuance department at the city,” explained Jeffrey Dennis. The construction process will be relatively fast. Dennis predicts that the project will take three or four months to complete after work begins.

Montavilla lost a cluster of food carts with the demolition of Beets Auto BodyThe Yard At Montavilla is a welcomed return of food carts for local foodies and the many people working in the area. The Dennis brothers share that enthusiasm. “We’re very excited to be bringing this to the Montavilla neighborhood, providing a space for 17 other small businesses to operate and thrive.” Look for work to begin in the new year and watch the business’s website for updates on carts joining the pod.