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March 5th, 2003 Caryn B. Brooks | Special Section Stories
 

Hot Chefs, Cheap Eats

     
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I'LL HAVE WHATEVER HE'S HAVING: Marco Shaw's getting his sandwich fix at the Leaf and Bean.
IMAGE: abby dansiger
Table of Contents

A-Z Listings of restaurants
--by neighborhood
--by cuisine

Hot Chefs, Cheap eats
Foodies on the food they eat when they're not cooking it.

Cart-o-graphy
Meals on wheels, ˆ la cart.For the third straight year, we've gone to the top meal mavens in town to find out their picks for cheap eats. Read on as they share their secret haunts.

Marco Shaw, Fife
I like Cannon's Rib Express (5410 NE 33rd Ave., 288-3836). The barbecue sandwich is great; the barbecue chicken is really, really good. I eat there a lot. If I want a sandwich, I go to Leaf and Bean (4936 NE Fremont St., 281-1090). I've had them all, but my favorite is a toss-up between the Cubana and the Smoke-a-delic. I'm a sandwich junkie. I also hit the usual suspects, like La Bonita (2839 NE Alberta St., 281-3662). I'm probably 80 percent La Bonita now; if they're not open, I'll go to La Sirenita (2817 NE Alberta St., 335-8283). I also really like Taqueria Solamente--it's a little cart on Northwest 21st that's only open six months out of the year. They have a vegetarian taco, which I've never had, but they have carnitas and carne asada and chicken that are really good.

Tim Cuscaden, Fratelli
There's the King Burrito cart downtown (Southwest 5th Avenue and Oak Street). Pound for pound, it's the best bite you can find. I used to work at Atwater's, and we used to have this competition and weigh them--it's like $3.50 for a burrito, and I think it topped out at 36 ounces. Pound for pound, that's really a good buy. And it's tasty as well. There's a new place here in the Pearl called Cha! Cha! Cha! (1208 NW Glisan St., 221-2111)--same thing: $3.50 for a burrito al pastor. The French Wrap, in Strohecker's (2855 SW Patton Road, 525-2361)--generally that's where I eat my breakfast. I get a breakfast wrap: egg, tomato and spinach with a little bit of ham. It's really nice. I also like the flip side of how to eat cheap at a nicer house, like Higgins. I love their burger; I think they've got the best burger in town.

Billy Schumaker, Taqueria Nueve
Two places come to mind right off the bat. One of them is for hamburgers--that's Stanich's (4915 NE Fremont St., 281-2322; 5627 SW Kelly Ave., 246-5040). I like the Special, all the crap on it--the burger's all about the condiments. I also like it because it's one of those restaurants that seems like it hasn't changed in about 20 years. It's one of those burgers that you can only eat every so often. I go there every two weeks or so for my burger fix. Another place that I really like, that I eat at on a regular basis, is Cali Sandwiches (6620 NE Glisan St., 254-9842)--probably the best $2 sandwich you can get in town. I go for the chicken teriyaki or the beef with lemongrass or the barbecue pork. I like San Felipe (6221 SE Milwaukie Ave., 235-8158) in Sellwood. Their fish tacos are great, and I like their enchiladas. I've had their mole, and it was pretty good. There's this other place called Taqueria Delicias Mexicana (5800 NE Portland Highway)--they have great tacos. I like what they do with their meat. I've had their tongue tacos out there, and they are really good. Delicias is kind of a cleaner taqueria of sorts. It's definitely not Americanized or anything--it's family-run. You've got the whole family in there cooking. You can tell they're putting a lot of time into it, as opposed to places that are trying to cookie-cutter it and put everything in an oven with cheese on it.

Leather Storrs, Noble Rot
I like to go to Pho Hung (4717 SE Powell Blvd., 775-3170, and other locations) more than the other hot pho places because I think they all do similar stuff, but Pho Hung is a little more stripped-down; they're not afraid to serve tendons and tripe. The other thing about Pho Hung that's unbeatable is the guy there--he asks you how your meal was, and he always says, "I am so glad that you were completely satisfied." That's enough to bring me back to Pho Hung. My new favorite place is Tres Jalapeños on Division (8409 SE Division St., 774-5761). It's just a family place, and it's really clean. It's not going to win any design awards, but the tacos are a dollar apiece; it's authentic and made with care. It's really friendly, sometimes a little too friendly--it's not really busy, so sometimes the guy can hover a little bit. But as far as just being strong, solid ethnic food that's clean--a lot of these cheap-eats places sacrifice cleanliness and sanitation. At this place, you've got the little old lady with the apron over her shoulder back there slowly forming tortillas, so it makes you feel good about eating there.

The other one I like is Nam's Deli (7821 SE Powell Blvd., 788-3632). They do Vietnamese deli sandwiches with this creepy meat mayonnaise and really nice French rolls. They make the sandwiches to order there. You get the julienned daikon, carrots, sprigs of cilantro. I always get the barbecued pork and jalape–os. They're $2.50. I get two of those and some iced coffee in a can, and I'm happy as a clam.

Matt Johnson and Adam Berger, Serratto
MATT: Adam and I both have to pick the Ringside (2165 W Burnside St., 223-1513) for their late-night menu: the Gorgonzola burger, which is like $2.95 or something, and a side of onion rings. Adam likes Nicholas (318 SE Grand Ave., 235-5123), their vegetarian mezza. On my weekends I go to NY, NY (7737 SW Barbur Blvd, 768-4408). We go in on Sunday--my wife and my son and I--before everyone else gets there and it's just the owner. He's hilarious. Great pizzas--huge pizzas. I don't think he has any way to measure how big they are. You always order a large pizza and it's 15 bucks or something, and you get another meal after that that you can take home.

ADAM: I eat at El Burrito Loco (1942 N Portland Blvd., 735-9505) all the time. I live right by there, and for fast Mexican food I think it's the best. I think they use good ingredients. I get the chile relleno burrito with rice every time. The hot sauce is hot, and there's really fast service.

Anne Barnett, Veritable Quandary
Being from West Linn, I like to go to the Tualatin River Nursery (65 S Dollar St., West Linn, 650-8511). I go there weekly for the best cappuccino anywhere in the world--they use Illy. They grow their own greens. It's a great spot for lunch. I'll either go for a cappuccino and pastry, or for lunch I get their homemade soup and salad. It's just really quaint--it's like going to Grandma's house for me.

Lisa Schroeder, Mother's Bistro
For cheap Mexican, it's El Grillo (703 SW Ankeny St., 241-0462). I like their carne asada, their nachos, their tacos. My favorite Thai now is E-san Thai (133 SW 2nd Ave., 223-4090). I go there Sundays after work; I'm like a slave to their shrimp pad Thai. It's just really flavorful, and some people I know who've been to Thailand say it tastes just like the shrimp pad Thai in Thailand. And pad kee mao, which is this thick rice noodle and is just really savory. It's got it all going on. For Chinese we go to Marco Polo Garden (19 NW 5th Ave., 222-1090). There's this spicy shredded pork they have that's really good. China Delight in Beaverton (8975 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, 297-3388)--this guy Bruce owns the restaurant, he's there all the time, and he really wants to make your dining experience great. He comes out and dotes on us. New Seasons Markets (5320 NE 33rd Ave., 288-3838, and other locations) have a salad and stir-fry bar; frequently on my day off we'll go there. You can pick your own veggies, pick your own sauces and proteins, and it's really cheap and really good. I really recommend it; it's healthy, low-fat and cheap.

 
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