Brisket-based food truck finds stable home across from Jesuit High School

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Troy Herren, who is the manager and chef at Pork Chop City Smoke House, holds up a 'Totally Wrong' sandwich, which consists of smoked pulled pork, beef brisket, cheese, bacon and cole slaw. Troy Herren parlayed hunger and a nose for tasty barbecue into a culinary-oriented career move.

A manager and chef at Pork Chop City Smoke House, one of the newer mobile food vendors to land on the Westside, proved quite the loyal customer when the long, colorful mobile restaurant first arrived in the Beaverton area.

“Troy ate there for 13 days straight,” says Roger Williams, owner of Pork Chop City. “He was a happy-go-lucky guy. I said, ‘Would you be interested in selling my food?’ He was very excited about the opportunity. He’s been working for me since.”

The outgoing Herren, who along with Williams makes the eatery’s three homemade sauces — hot ginger, honey coffee and barbecue — is clearly pleased with the way things worked out.

“The food is ridiculously good,” he says.

After several moves around the Portland area, including two previous Beaverton locations, the Pork Chop City food truck landed by the Shell gas station at 9085 S.W. Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway last November.

Offering an array of pressure-smoked pork, brisket, roasted chicken plates and sandwiches from $6 to $13.50, the mobile restaurant has already attracted a devoted following.

Lake Oswego resident Williams hopes the location — just east of Beaverton city limits across from Jesuit High School — will be Pork Chop City’s home for the foreseeable TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - The 'Totally Wrong' sandwich, consisting of smoked pulled pork, beef brisket, cheese, bacon and cole slaw, weighs more than a pound.

“We have a lot of customers coming by who are very happy we’re back in town,” he says, noting 30,000 cars drive along the thoroughfare every day. “We’re getting our feet deeper in the ground there. I’m a lot more confident we’re going to stay.”

Pork Chop City’s menu ranges from straightforward fare including smoked pulled pork and chopped chicken sandwiches to the more indulgent “Sorta Wrong,” “Simply Wrong” and “Totally Wrong” selections. The latter sandwich consists of smoked pulled pork, smoked beef brisket, cheese, bacon and cole slaw piled high on a warmed bun for $11. Feeling ever so slightly health conscious? The “Simply Wrong” skips the bacon and cheese. “Sorta Wrong” provides a junior-sized version of that.

“We have a unique menu,” Williams says. “For customers who have never had a brisket and are expecting a slice of meat, this is pretty generous, what you get. You could get this as a bowl if you wanted. It sells itself.”

An avid race car driver who’s engaged in career pursuits from construction to property management, Williams got the food-business bug through his experiences at NASCAR and other racing events.

“I’d see all those food carts out there making more money than I’m making,” he says, eventually realizing that piloting his jet-powered funny car around various tracks wasn’t a sustainable career path. “I thought selling food is a hell of a lot safer than trying to drive 300 miles an hour in five seconds.”

Outfitting the eye-catching, race-themed trailer, Williams originally planned to take it on the U.S. NASCAR circuit.

“I realized it was more work than I wanted to do, so I decided to find a good location and take the wheels off of it, so to speak, and operate it as a restaurant,” he says.

Coming across a pressure smoker a friend purchased on eBay to use at home, Williams was immediately smitten. He thought the apparatus, in which wood chips inserted in a slot add smoky goodness as meat slowly cooks in a sealed chamber, would provide that special tenderness and flavor that create delectable barbecue.

He bought four of the cookers for Pork Chop City.

Herren hopes to make the most of the eatery’s proximity to Jesuit High School. In a nod to Jesuit’s mascot, the Crusaders lunch special features a 4-ounce smoked pulled pork sandwich smothered in 4 ounces of baked beans for $4.

“It’s fortuitous being across the street from Jesuit,” he says. “They come in waves. When they come, it’s everybody, sometimes not so many.”

While business is promising so far, both Herren and Williams see Pork Chop City hitting its stride as sunnier, drier, school-free days return around June.

“When summer kicks off, we’ll be doing 1,000 meals a day," Herren says.

Not one to rest on his culinary laurels, Williams is already planning to outdo his “Totally Wrong” sandwich.

“We intend to add a ‘Seriously Wrong,’ where we add an egg on top of the ‘Totally Wrong,’” he says with a chuckle. by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Troy Herren, manager and chef at Pork Chop City Smoke House, shows off the whimsically decorated barbecue truck now stationed across from Jesuit High School on Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway.

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