Category: Food and Drink

Thai Me Drunken Noodle at Growler’s Taproom

Later this month, Thai Me Drunken Noodle will open a food cart connected to Growler’s Taproom at 803 SE 82nd Avenue. The new eatery fills the space left vacant by Erica’s Soul Food, which relocated to 120 NE Russell Street earlier this year. Unlike previous carts working from this location, the food and beer businesses will partner to offer a unified dining destination and operate as a single location.

Tyler Pathammavong has operated the original Thai Me Drunken Noodle cart at 2810 NE Glisan Street for the past six months. That location started after Pathammavong sold his other businesses to new owners and focused on a Northern Thai-style fried chicken and noodle-centric menu. He has seventeen years of experience cooking Thai and Laotian dishes, a passion that began after his younger brother immigrated from Laos and started working in the industry. A natural hard worker, Pathammavong’s food service career paralleled his 25 years at the United States Postal Service (USPS). Now retired from the USPS, Tyler Pathammavong and his wife Leng are refocusing all efforts on their food creations.

Thai Me Drunken Noodle at NE 28th Ave and Glisan Street

The Thai Me Drunken Noodle menu takes inspiration from the owner’s appetites and the foods his mother taught him to prepare. “I just cook whatever I [would] wanna eat at home,” explained Tyler Pathammavong. The cart’s specialty is a Laotian-style fried chicken served over sticky rice with a sauce made from a family recipe. Embracing the shared culinary history of Laos and Northern Thailand, Pathammavong transforms the traditional recipes with a personal adaptation that creates a one-of-a-kind menu. Outside of the chicken, most dishes forgo the traditional white rice and instead feature noodles. “My [dishes] might not be exactly like most Thai food, ’cause I use everything noodle, even in my Curry.” Said Pathammavong.

Although the Northeast Portland cart will remain open for a while, the partnership with Growler’s Taproom is the long-term focus for the cart operator. The taproom’s owner, Joe Rodgers, explained that the new cart is an extension of his business. “It’s more of a brick and mortar kind of feel, but we are adjusting it where the kitchen is in the cart.” The food and bar service will maintain the same hours and offer a combined food and beer menu. Currently, Growler’s is open Wednesday through Sunday from 4 p.m. to Midnight. Rodgers plans to expand the hours to feature an earlier 2 p.m. start and a seven-day-a-week schedule when the food service begins.

Joe Rodgers and Tyler Pathammavong are actively working on an updated menu to pair with the beer selections. The partners are also working to integrate food service into Growler’s popular Star Trek trivia, live music, movies, and comedy nights. Look for schedules and updates at the Growler’s Taproom website. For those who want to preview some of the creations coming later this May, consider stopping by the Thai Me Drunken Noodle cart at 2810 NE Glisan Street.

Rabbit Hole Sweetshop

Last month, Rabbit Hole Market and Sweets quietly opened in Montavilla town at 414 SE 80th Ave. The shop occupies the former Hungry Heart Bakery space, made available after the restaurant relocated to SE Stark Street. Both businesses are the creation of Jax Hart, and the two locations work together to meet the varied appetites of customers throughout the day.

Hart quietly reopened the SE 80th shopfront on April 15th. Although covered in Bridgetown Bites, the opening was unpublicized, allowing staff time to work out the kinks in the shop’s operation and perfect the menu options. The first few weeks primarily focused on mastering the soft-serve ice cream machines that require an expert’s hand to operate. Rabbit Hole is now ready for customers but will continue to add products and features to the shop over the coming months.

Rabbit Hole staff are preparing for an expected busy summer season with more people out in the neighborhood looking for treats. “We’re [open] Thursday through Sunday 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., and that’ll probably extend as we get into summer and see what time people are looking for the ice cream and sweets.” Said Hart. The two shops have a short overlap in operating hours but essentially split the day. Hungry Heart operates from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m., serving the morning and lunchtime crowd. Rabbit Hole’s hours catch the afternoon and evening dessert seekers. That schedule allows Hart to balance their attention between the two establishments. “I kind of just go where I’m needed,” explained Hart.

The second location is more than a way to expand operations. Hart wants the Rabbit Hole to offer a different customer experience than the busy restaurant on Stark Street. Reopening in the original location is a way to reconnect with the roots of the business. “When we started, the intention was to just be a small neighborhood dessert shop and be a little bit more slower paced and low key. So our hope for this space was to have a little bit more time to engage with people,” said Hart. “It’s really been nice to welcome people into this space again.”

Hart moved the customer-pleasing Hungry Heart cupcakes and the macarons to the Rabbit Hole location. Over time, they expect to expand the confectionary options. However, Hart knew that the cold treats needed to be part of the new shop from day one. “We’re also doing soft serve ice cream because we had previously done Heartbreaker [ice cream shop], and people loved having ice cream in the neighborhood.”

Rabbit Hole features two soft serve machines, one of which is a dedicated non-dairy use. “So currently that machine has Oatly vegan vanilla and dole whip, which is a pineapple soft-serve,” explained Hart. As they settle in, Rabbit Hole staff will rotate flavors and begin to offer dipped cones with various toppings and sundaes.

Beyond Rabbit Hole’s display cases, staff have stocked shelves with a collection of packaged food items, books, and plants. Hart is working with suppliers from the area to provide a variety of market items to compliment the sweet shop. Hart explains that many people stopping in are picking up supplies for a celebration. “When people come in for cupcakes, it’s for a party, it’s for a gift, or it’s for a friend who just graduated.” The plants and other gift-able items make the shop a one-stop location for those looking to arrive at a party prepared. Soon the store will stock cards from local letterpress companies to complete the present giving collection that Rabbit Hole provides.

Hart expects to enhance the shop’s offerings beyond its products and menu. The indoor seating area will soon support a flexible teaching space for vendors who want to offer cooking classes. “We’ll be able to do these small, intimate neighborhood cooking classes and kids cooking classes.” Hart also explained the shop would soon gain outdoor seating. “We have an application in for a Healthy Business permit, which would be one of those seating areas that take up a parking spot, so we’re going to wait and see if we can either get a 20 foot or a 40 foot [space].”

Recently, staff have focused on setting the right environment for the shop and opening the doors to customers. After they complete the physical storefront, Hart said they will next work to open the website to the public. “We’ll have the menus on the website, and we’ll have an ordering page. [People can] order cupcakes online, and we’ll have an online store for all of the Market items.”

Christening the new location Rabbit Hole Market and Sweets is part of a larger project that began years ago but put on hold by the pandemic. Jax Hart revealed that the Stark street location would eventually change names in alignment with the original intention for the space. “We’re working on rebranding Hungry Heart to White Rabbit,” said Hart. However, they don’t expect to make that change soon, as the cost is not insignificant. Regardless of the timing, the relationship between the two shops will be unmistakable when they complete the rebranding process.

The public is encouraged to pop in and see what sweets or plants Rabbit Hole offers. Look for new items and events later this year and know that a cool sweet treat is just down the street on the coming warm days of summer.


Proposed Chick-fil-A on SE Stark

A recent land-use Early Assistance application indicates Chick-fil-A may soon open a new restaurant on SE Stark Street. If approved, developers will demolish the 1984-era building and construct a new fast food restaurant with a drive-thru window. Located at 9950 SE Stark Street, the 36,590 square-foot half-block property currently houses an adult entertainment club and bar.

The Chick-fil-A development team intends to construct a 4,991 square foot building with 98 indoor seats for guests. Outdoor canopies and an outdoor eating area with 12 patio seats would surround the new building. The property sits between SE Stark and SE Washington Streets, aligned at SE 99th Avenue near Mall 205. The site offers a variety of vehicle access points and is near the number 15 TriMet bus line. Other Chick-fil-A restaurants tend to attract many visitors, sometimes with lines spilling onto the neighboring street. However, this proposed Chick-fil-A is just six miles from the Clackamas restaurant and seven miles from the Gresham location. That density of stores may reduce peak demand for the proposed eatery and avoid traffic issues sometimes seen at other Chick-fil-A sites.

Developers use Early Assistance applications during the pre-planning phase of a project. Many proposals do not continue past this stage, and this Chick-fil-A may never materialize in this location. However, the addition of a popular destination restaurant in the area could draw in more visitors and improve business for neighboring stores. Expect to see updates regarding building permits if this project moves forward.

Easter Weekend in Montavilla

After a Monday snowstorm, the forecast calls for a comparatively dry and warm Easter Sunday in Montavilla. Several local businesses will celebrate spring with weekend events intended to bring people out of their homes and into the community.

The season-themed market, Zuckercreme, is leaning into the holiday with a Montavilla easter egg hunt this Sunday. The shop will open early at 9 a.m. to host the event. The coordinators ask participants to check in with store staff at 414 SE 81st Ave before embarking on the hunt. If the snow earlier this week caused you to forget about the spring celebration, Zuckercreme has you covered. They are open today and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., selling basket stuffers and the ability to order special pastry boxes for the holiday.

Threshold Brewing & Blending will host a beer launch party this Saturday, April 16th, from 12 noon until 5 p.m. In cooperation with Pup Passport, the neighborhood brewery will donate 5% of the beer and passport sales proceeds to the Oregon Humane Society (OHS). This event centers around the launch of Threshold’s Good Dog Guava, a new guava passion fruit gose beer. The event features BBQ from the local Heartbreaker PDX pop-up. Stop by the taproom at 403 SE 79th Avenue to try the new brew, enter the raffle for special prizes, or pick up OHS pet adoption information. Dogs are welcome.

Despite the recent resurgence of winter, it is the season to head outside and into the neighborhood. However, for those hoping to stay in, Montavilla has many sweet shops, including PDX Cookie Co and DB Dessert Company offering Easter-themed confectionaries to take home. Hopefully, one of these businesses, or other famed neighborhood shops, can make a memorable start to the warmer season for you and your family.

La Osita PDX Opening in Taylor Ct Grocery Building

Last Thursday, Elizabeth Guerrero and David Doyle finalized their purchase of the historic Taylor Court Grocery property. The pair own the La Osita PDX food cart located on 122nd Avenue near Market street. After renovating their newly acquired storefront at 1135 SE 80th Avenue, they will sell the cart and relocate their Mexican restaurant and coffee house to the Montavilla location.

La Osita PDX opened in a small food cart in January of 2018 after Guerrero and Doyle noticed a lack of a good breakfast location near their home in east Portland. The partners bought the cart from a friend and found space on 122nd in the parking lot of the Plaza 122 building. Combining a shared food service background and recipes inspired by Elizabeth Guerrero’s Mexican heritage, the partners brought Coffee and their unique brunch/lunch menu to an underserved area.

At first, the parking lot space was ill-equipped for carts, and they had to run their operation from a generator secured in a nearby cage. The location received strong community support, and business picked up throughout the year. However, before making their first anniversary, someone stole the generator and shut down the business. Fortunately, the building owners saw the value in the cart’s continued operation and allowed the installation of a dedicated electrical hookup.

Original cart Image courtesy La Osita PDX 

Business continued to grow, and they eventually upgraded to a larger cart. Unfortunately, the theft of critical equipment continued, prompting the group to consider a more permanent solution and give up the cart life. “Being a cart in Portland is kind of a bummer. You’re really exposed, and people think nothing of just stealing whatever they can off your cart that’s critical to opening up your store each day,” explained David Doyle.

Doyle expressed that remaining in their current community was a primary goal for the move. “A lot of the businesses on [122nd Avenue] come for lunch, and that’s a big part of the business.” However, searching for a suitable small brick-and-mortar location near the cart proved challenging for Guerrero and Doyle. An expanded search surfaced the Taylor Court Grocery, and they instantly saw the potential in the 100-year-old retail space. Although three miles from the original location, they hope customers will follow them to SE 80th Avenue.

In December, Guerrero and Doyle applied for a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan and worked through the challenging process of acquiring the Montavilla property. The deal includes both the storefront and single-family home on a shared lot. To make the finances work, the new owners will need to rent out the house on the property. They are considering many options, including a childcare facility.

The grocery store building will require substantial renovations to transition into a restaurant. It will start with some sizeable deferred maintenance projects. “The storefront, we just wanna get it stable,” said Doyle. “We don’t know the extent of damage, but it looks like the roof needs a repair or replacement.” Once crews repair the outer shell, work will focus on the inside of the building. Contractors will add a commercial kitchen to the back of the building and an ADA-compliant bathroom. The new owners expect a large number of customers will take their meals to go. Consequentially, they will use a counter-service layout for the restaurant with customer seating upfront.

Guerrero and Doyle plan to refresh the street-facing appearance of the storefront but maintain the historic appearance, including the Taylor Ct Grocery sign. “We love that sign. It almost feels like a shame to cover up the Taylor Court grocery part of it, but we’re thinking we’re going to refinish it,” said Doyle. After repairing and weatherizing the sign, they will repaint it with the restaurant’s name but maintain its original shape.

Image courtesy La Osita PDX 

La Osita PDX offers an extensive menu from the cart, and the team does not feel they are missing many options. However, staff will grow the selection slightly after the move while keeping all of the favorite to-go friendly dishes. Guerrero plans to add Aguas Frescas and horchata to the drink offerings, with traditional Mexican pastries to balance out the savory options. Elizabeth Guerrero and her sister Maria Guerrero run the restaurant, with Maria playing a critical component in kitchen operations. They both are thrilled to move out of the cart and into the larger space. With the number of customers they serve and the size of the menu, space was always the constraining factor for La Osita PDX.

Much like the previous owners of Taylor Court Grocery, Mel Hafsos and Errol Carlson, La Osita PDX is a family business wanting to serve the community. Look for construction to begin within the next few months and check for updates on the company’s Instagram page. Until the restaurant opens later this year, Elizabeth Guerrero and David Doyle encourage you to visit the cart on 122nd Avenue to explore the menu.

PBOT Extends On-Street Seating and Public Plazas

At a press conference Monday, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) announced plans to extend two pandemic relief programs and work to make them permanent. PBOT Director Chris Warner joined Transportation Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty to highlight the successes of the Healthy Businesses permits and Portland Public Street Plazas program. The free Healthy Businesses permits will extend through August 31st and then require businesses to pay a fee for parking space seating.

At this week’s event, Neil Mattson spoke about Montavilla’s successful Street Plaza and how both programs supported the neighborhood during difficult times. As president of the Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association, Mattson led the development of the community plaza on SE 79th Avenue. PBOT staff recognized this public gathering space as one of the program’s success stories and welcomed its return this season. Mattson confirmed the plaza’s restorative influence on the area. “It really showed that when we take back the street and we use it as a place for coming together, that it does build community.”

Neil Mattson, president of the Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association

Mattson further explained the essential service provided to the community through PBOT’s free permits for parking lane dining areas. “In Montavilla, we have 24 businesses currently offering outdoor seating. If we hadn’t had the ability to have the Healthy Businesses permits, those businesses, I’m pretty confident [they] would all be gone today.” The success of these fresh-air extensions of restaurants and bars is evident through how they transformed over time. What began as roped-off parking spaces soon grew into three-sided sheds dotting curbs throughout the neighborhood.

When PBOT first rolled out the program, they envisioned umbrellas and tents, not wood structures with corrugated roofs. The sturdy construction that indicates success could conflict with the Healthy Businesses program’s transition into a permanent City amenity. Starting September 1st, all permit holders will need to renew their permits for the program. The renewal process will include a compliance review that will likely require modifications to what businesses have constructed over the last two years.

Dylan Rivera, PBOT’s Public Information Officer, explained how businesses might need to adjust as the Healthy Businesses program matures. “There are people out there, businesses who put tables in the street without even coming to us for a permit, even though the Permit was free,” said Rivera. For those establishments, compliance will start with a permit application and reworking their space within the guidelines.

Other business owners have permits but obstructed the public right-of-way or constructed outdoor seating beyond what is allowed. PBOT has concerns that pedestrians and wheelchairs can not navigate the sidewalk through some seating configurations. Corrections will mostly center on maintaining the required six feet of sidewalk clearance. The more challenging conflicts will arise from overbuilt outdoor seating. “There are people out of compliance right now, and we need to have a conversation with them,” said Rivera.

PBOT will have conversations with permit holders throughout the spring and continue into the summer. The goal is to contain outdoor seating in temporary movable structures. “This summer, we’re hoping to start talking about what are some sensible guidelines to help with vision clearance, especially close to crosswalks and intersections, and what does temporary look like?” Said Rivera. “There’ll be lots of conversations and then warnings.”  

PBOT’s primary concern is for the preservation of safety and to maintain access to public spaces. Much of Portland’s infrastructure runs above the sidewalk or below the street, and utility workers need access along the road within a few days’ notice. Healthy Businesses seating areas must be able to move out of the way within that timeframe. PBOT is taking a soft approach to this transition. As the year moves closer to September, PBOT staff will speak to Healthy Businesses permit holders and provide guidance for the new rules. Dylan Rivera assures business owners that they are not pursuing imidate changes.

Although PBOT intends to make both programs permanent, the continuation of Healthy Businesses permits and the Street Plazas Program are contingent on funding from the Portland City Council. The long-term success of these community-strengthening initiatives is dependent on their inclusion in the City’s 2022-23 budget. Commissioner Hardesty encouraged Portlanders to voice their support for these PBOT programs to her fellow City Council members. Over the next six months, look for the return of Street Plazas and subtle changes to outdoor seating as businesses prepare for compliance requirements.


Disclosure – The author of this article serves on the Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association Board.

Pho Kim Reopens Sunday After Long Closure

After a successful soft reopening this week, Phở Kim Vietnamese restaurant and grill will host a grand opening celebration on March 6th. In 2020, an early morning rooftop fire closed the establishment for repairs. Years later, the work is complete at 2204 SE 82nd Avenue, and the staff is eagerly awaiting their customers’ return. Visitors this Sunday are encouraged to arrive by noon to view the White Lotus Lion Dance performance planned for the event. 

Located in what became the Jade District, this family-owned business launched in 2013 with owner Kim Lam managing the front of the restaurant and her husband Chef Tony Tien running the kitchen. For seven years, the couple earned high praise and loyal customers. The June 1st, 2020 fire occurred as the business was recovering from pandemic closures and navigating seating restrictions. Repeated attempts to open Phở Kim met delays, keeping the doors shut longer than everyone expected. Now donning a new all-metal clad roof and an updated sign, Phở Kim is ready to welcome old and new customers inside again.

Visit the restaurant’s Instagram for some appetite-inspiring photos and head over to Phở Kim for their renowned Vietnamese beef noodle soup or another tasty dish. They are open from 9 AM to 9 PM daily for indoor seating or takeout. Groups needing to schedule a reservation should call (503) 954-2535.


Pho Kim with new roof 2022
Pho Kim after fire in 2020

Thai street food pop-up Wednesday

Next Wednesday, Threshold Brewing & Blending will host a special one-night Thai street food pop-up event. The renowned traveling chef, Dream Kasestatad, will serve his creations from the taproom at 403 SE 79th Avenue on February 2nd from 4 PM until supplies run out. Kasestatad’s Pranom Pop-Up then moves over to Ruse Brewing on February 3rd and 4th before continuing its nationwide journey.

Kasestatad is an actor and director who recently created an autobiographically inspired pilot episode of The Noodle Man, available on Amazon Prime Video. As depicted in the screen version of his life, Kasestatad used his cooking pedigree to bridge the financial gap between acting work. What began as a side-hustle soon became recognized as the skillful work of a culinary artist. His traveling pop-up business continues four generations of family tradition sharing their Thai food with the community.

Meat and vegan option are available at Pranom Pop-Up. Threshold will also offer plenty of beverage options to pair with the meal. This special event will likely sell out early, so mark your calendars and swing by early.


Images courtesy Pranom Pop-Up

Monti’s Cafe Pauses Operation Until March

In a January 19th Instagram post, the owners of Monti’s Cafe announced they would close the cafe until sometime in March. The popular restaurant at 8600 SE Stark Street is struggling to keep adequate staffing levels and needs the time to regroup. The adjoining business, Monticello Antiques, remains open with regular hours.

During the pandemic, the cafe’s customers have witnessed many positive updates to Monti’s Cafe. In April of last year, construction work transformed a three-car parking lot into a fenced courtyard with many outdoor dining amenities. Unlike other temporary structures built throughout Portland, this investment was a permeant commitment to making customers comfortable. However, spending on business upgrades will not solve all COVID-19 related issues.

Monti’s Cafe owner Kelli Vinther explained that they are facing similar employee retention issues seen across the foodservice industry these last few years, along with other market forces brought about by current circumstances. “Like many restaurants in Portland, it’s the same issues. Staff shortage and this ongoing pandemic.” Instead of limping along understaffed, the cafe’s management wants to retool the shop and return with quality food and service in a little over a month. “We need time to put together a good team and make adjustments to our menu,” said Vinther.

Foodservice locations across the country face limited staff, unfilled positions, and increasing ingredient costs. Those constraints are further compounded by lower customer volume, making food preparation challenging to predict. Temporally closing a business reliant on repeat customers can seem drastic, but it is sometimes the best approach to maintaining quality service. Kelli Vinther knows Monti’s Cafe will return stronger in a few months after taking this break.

Redwood’s New Owners

Last week, the founders of Redwood announced the restaurant’s sale to Brenda Dunn and long-time employee Chantel Chinco. Located at 7915 SE Stark Street, this well-reviewed dining destination opened in early 2013 and will continue with new but familiar management. Maintaining Redwood’s quality and dining experience is the core focus as staff train for their new roles during the next few months.

After nine years of growing Redwood into the celebrated business it is today, Susie Blue, Austin Putnam, and Jessie Hawkins believed it was the right time to find a new owner for the restaurant. However, they wanted to sell it to a person who would preserve the same environment and keep Redwood’s culture alive. In the Fall of 2021, the group spoke to their employee, Chantel Chinco, about taking over Redwood. “They approached me probably about mid-September and just let me know kind of where they were at and that they were looking to sell the restaurant,” explained Chinco.

Redwood’s sale to Chinco fit in many ways and was an easy choice for everyone. “I’ve been an employee at Redwood for about five years now, and so I have a really strong relationship with Susie and Jesse,” said Chinco. At the time of sale, Chinco worked in nearly every customer-facing position; server, bartender, and front-of-house manager. Consequently, she has extensive knowledge of the operation and existing customer relationships. Most importantly, the founders trust that Chinco will keep the restaurant on its successful path. 

After 20 years working in the service industry, Chantel Chinco feels owning Redwood is a natural career progression and the best opportunity to participate in a remarkable business. “It’s such an important part of the community and the kind of environment that Susie and Jesse built there you can feel the love in the restaurant, you can taste it in the food. It’s just something special, and I wanted to be a part of that.”

Admiring Redwood’s existing culture and cuisine, Chinco and Dunn do not plan on changing much. “We’re going to keep our signature dishes. We’ve been working with Susie one on one to make sure that we can come as close to cooking her food as she does,” commented Chinco. Chef Susie Blue will stay on for a month to help train the kitchen staff. Like many restaurants, Redwood has struggled with staffing over the last two years. Most servers returned after they reopened from the pandemic closure. However, “back house has always been a struggle,” confessed Chinco. That is quickly changing as they train new cooks and expand the kitchen support. “Irene, who is our main prep cook, she does everything for us. She’s been with us for several years, and we just brought her daughter on for some back-of-house support as well. It’s a real family business,” Chinco remarked.

Chinco and Dunn are currently running Redwood with a focused schedule until they have a firm grasp on operations. “At this time, we just want to make sure that we get everybody properly trained for breakfast and lunch before we move on to bigger endeavors,” explained Chinco. “We would love to offer happy hour or dinner again at some point, but we do not want to compromise the quality and integrity that people have come to expect from Redwood by trying to do too many big things right off the bat.”

After staff are trained, and Redwood is back to a full schedule, the new owners will look at augmenting the menu with a few different items. “We want to keep the same Redwood that everybody loves and expects, but also introduce some of our own flavors and ideas,” Chinco explained. The pair hopes to offer a more comprehensive selection of fresh-baked pastries, weekday specials, and some dietary variety. “My partner Brenda is really excited about doing some more vegan and vegetarian options to make the menu a little bit more diverse,” added Chinco.

Changes at Redwood should be unnoticeable to the regulars but look for small additions over the year. Currently, they offer extended Brunch service from 9 AM to 3 PM Wednesday through Sunday with indoor and outdoor seating or takeout.


Disclosure: The author of this article serves on an association board with Chantel Chinco.