Wednesday, February 22, 2012
When in Portland I double dipped in Cha Cha's (http://www.chaportland.com/taqueria.html). I took the first trip solo and on the second Gus tagged along. The spot was sandwiched in between a small cafe and another business. After first opening the door the restaurant stood in a long hallway with tiny two person tables and a couple larger tables seated throughout. I ordered at the counter, grabbed my drink, and took a seat while waiting five minutes for my meal. You can't beat their happy hour menu. By a discounted drink, either a 2.50 beer, or a specialized $5 mega margarita, and choose a $4 entree. For under ten you'll be satisfied. I ate the chicken tostada on the first day. The tortilla sat as a crunchy base to crisp shredded lettuce, spicy and exciting chicken, and fresh cheese bits sprinkled across the top. The margarita made good company. On the second go around I asked the cashier for advice and he directed me to the chicken burrito. The burrito boldly filled me with its chunks of chicken, beans, cheese, and fresh lettuce wrapped in a homemade tortilla. Only with a little help from a Pacifico, I washed down the small package. Cha Cha's serves quick, fresh, and tasty food at a bargain so good I had to eat their twice.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
I didn’t eat at Voodoo doughnuts. And no one asks about the barbecue when they hear about my stay in Portland. Wikipedia and Frommers failed to mention the gem I discovered. This small eatery wasn’t listed in a “Must Eats” section, but the food disagrees. Gus and I were lucky enough Eli directed us towards this hole in the wall restaurant. Without the light-up pig in the window, this place is a nonexistent business living underneath an apartment building on 21st Ave.
After a short walk through heavy rains, we settled in at one of the seven tables in the small room. The fogged up front window prevented any passerby from peering in. To the outside world we disappeared into an unknown world of rich and flavorful food.
For 9 dollars, I ate a hefty beef brisket sandwich with collard greens layered on top. The juicy meat and greens exploded with every bite. The beef was tender and the salty wet greens provided an excellent complement. The buns weren’t too fat or thin, but mid-sized with a nice semi-hard coating protecting the soft flavor absorbing insides. I sampled the four original BBQ sauces on the table. Despite their tastiness, no sauce was needed!
The sandwich included a side. I chose the mac ‘n cheese. I didn’t know Portland would be the home of my favorite mac ‘n cheese. Kraft, Annie’s Organic, Velveeta, and Boston Market pale in comparison. The large square dish held the rich combo of elbows, cheese infused with bacon and sweet n’ large bread crumbs topping it off.
You may never see the sun and the rain besieges you indoors, but buck up and eat at my favorite restaurant, Smokehouse 21.
Monday, February 6, 2012
Sunday, February 5, 2012
A short walk away and an advertised 5.95 menu attracts any weary frugal traveler. The Moose in Vancouver fed me both nights during my short stay. The advertisement told no lies. The entire menu was priced at 5.95. The locally drafted beers were tasty and stayed true to the menu prices. I ate a chicken Caesar wrap with fries and ordered several Granville Island Honey lagers (http://gib.ca/beer/cypress-honey-lager/). They served decent bar food and at least it arrived hot. The wrap combined with the hefty priced yet tasty beers filled my 5.95 needs. On the second night, someone shot the Moose. Gus and I seated ourselves at a table instead of the bar. This time, I ambitiously ordered the half rack of ribs with sauteed vegetables and mashed potatoes. The ribs were old and cold. The cook never sauteed the veggies. The meal managed to survive through the bland tasting yet steaming hot mashed potatoes. I made the meal bearable by mixing the potatoes with every bite. If I decide to visit The Moose again, I'll order the ten dollar double beer meal and avoid the temptation of the 5.95 menu.
Friday, February 3, 2012
Thursday, February 2, 2012
Can you believe this? I stumbled upon the best unknown cinnabun. I walked to Grant's Marketplace on Dale St. in South Park. With no cash on hand, a small coffee would not break the five dollar credit card minimum. At the cashier's suggestion, I added a cinnabun to the purchase. There were no expectations or anticipation. Then, amnesia set in as my mouth wildly tore apart the light, flaky, not too sweet and awkwardly large early morning snack. Forget the coffee and cool small cafe vibe. The bun takes center stage until the last bite leaves your face, hands and table covered in debris. The credit card minimum granted me the privilege of introducing me to the best "bad" treat. If you find yourself in San Diego, go to Grant's for coffee, ask for a bun, and don't be surprised that no credit card restrictions actually exist.