Violetta, once a popular food cart, has now found fixed housing in a modernist glass box in Director Park on the South Park Blocks, just adjacent to a strangely gonadal fountain devoted to the spirit of teaching. Despite Violetta's über-sleek outer aesthetic, its insides are a clean, inviting, westy-lefty version of an East Coast urban burger-and-dog microshop, with terrifically specific recycling instructions decorating the waste bins. The signature Angus-beef Violetta Burger ($6/$7.50) is accordingly a sloppy, tasty mess to rival anything in South Philly or the old Coney Island—sealed shut by its own juice and fat in recycled cardboard and paper—with appealingly goopy special sauce, butter lettuce and something called 10-hour tomatoes. Applewood-smoked bacon and cheese can be added, at minor expense, for even greater decadence. The fries ($3/$5) are golden-crisp and speckled with sea salt and pepper; the option of truffle oil ($1) becomes possibly even extraneous due to the already strong spicing, especially amid sauce options that include a pungent harissa ketchup or garlic aioli. The egg salad sandwich ($6.50), unfortunately, is where the shop falters as compared to its more easterly counterparts. Despite pickled green beans and radish on the ingredients list, the salad itself is bland (too little mustard, maybe?), with minimal texture until the embedded watercress takes over with its entirely separate acidic tang and crunch; the flavors blend not at all, and it is as if one has sunk through mud onto nails. The optional bacon ($1) is perhaps a necessity. But other than this one misstep, Violetta is a gorgeously welcome lunch/dinner presence in a neighborhood that otherwise suffers from an appalling absence of affordable sit-down options.
- Best bite: No contest, the Violetta Burger with bacon and cheese ($7/$8.50) is enough to stun the senses of a hungry Kodiak.
- Cheapest bite: You get your first hand-dipped corn dog for $4, the second is a steal at $2.50.
Violetta, 877 SW Taylor St., violettapdx.com. Breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 am-10 pm Monday-Thursday, 7 am-11 pm Friday, 9 am-11 pm Saturday, 9 am-10 pm Sunday. $ Inexpensive.