More than two years after beloved Concordia Mexican restaurant Autentica shut its doors, followed by the pandemic closure of two Uno Mas locations in 2020, chef Oswaldo Bibiano is ready to debut his latest food concept: a burrito beer garden.
Smart Donkey is a cart that will also serve booze and it’s scheduled to open at 3420 SE 50th Ave., before the end of the month. The site, situated at a bustling intersection next to Super Deluxe, is a converted car wash, which means diners can eat their wraps while sheltered in stalls formerly used to scrub and rinse vehicles.
Bibiano plans to offer a streamlined menu of 10 burritos, all of which have been given catchy names like “El Gordo,” which is a take on the breakfast wrap stuffed with chicharron, chorizo and potatoes, as well as “El Guapo,” a healthier alternative to the pork-skin version featuring seasonal vegetables, pumpkin seeds and avocado salsa.
“It will be easy, simple and affordable, but with flavor. The cuisine is going to be very fresh and very flavorful,” Bibiano tells WW. “This year, with the pandemic and everything, I wanted to come up with an easy concept where people can stop by and grab a burrito and a beer.”
Beyond beer, Smart Donkey will also offer cider, wine and, eventually, margaritas. Those mixed drinks are part of the reason why Bibiano had to delay the opening of his business by a couple of months. He’s been waiting for the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission to approve a full on-premises permit to serve hard alcohol, which will make him one of the few trucks in the metro area with that ability.
Bibiano says it initially wasn’t easy to come up with a new restaurant idea once he decided to open another eatery until he recalled customers’ always-popular request at his previous businesses.
“I already did upscale [at Autentica], then Mextiza, then only tacos for Uno Mas,” he explains. “But people, still even at my upscale Mexican restaurant, were asking for burritos.”
So, burritos are what Bibiano will give the public.
In each car stall, there is room for about 30 people, though he plans to limit seating upon opening since the pandemic is an ongoing concern. There is also a sizable patio. Bibiano will also deck out those spaces with picnic tables, umbrellas and string lights. To make winter outdoor dining more comfortable, there are plans to install heaters, as well.
Even as news spreads that Bibiano is opening another food outlet in Portland, he knows that people will think back to Autentica’s chile rellenos, oozing with queso asadero, and the mole—especially the mole—painstakingly produced with 30 components, including nuts, bread, plantain, cinnamon and clove.
For now, the chef will focus on burritos. But you can officially begin dreaming about the possibility of another dining room that pays homage to the flavors of Bibiano’s home state, Guerrero—and, perhaps, even the emergence of another mini-food empire.
“I’m working on another concept. A higher-end restaurant. Maybe a year to a year-and-a-half from now. There are a lot of deals to do,” Bibiano says, laughing. “[Smart Donkey] is just the beginning. We’ve just got to keep going.”