Street smarts pay dining dividend
It's easy to get seriously hooked on the grub at your favorite burrito cart only to see it vanish. But witnessing a humble street vendor find footing as a firmly planted restaurant can't help but instill in loyal customers a mother's pride.
Nourishment has done just that, while newcomer Chef to Go is branching out to feed downtown workers not just lunch but also the most important meal of the day.
What began as a van slinging lunchtime risotto and BLTs in a parking lot across the street is now an ambitious, full-blown restaurant. With just a few small touches Ñ gauzy curtains, fresh paint and table service Ñ Nourishment evokes a more polished atmosphere than its short-lived predecessor, Fuego. As you might guess from the didactic moniker, Nourishment specializes in wholesome meals utilizing local, organic products. The lengthy dinner menu is organized into Little, Medium and Big plates. This build-your-own approach allows for unlikely combinations such as chicken ranchero tacos with a cup of butternut squash soup. From a rustic vegetable potpie with sturdy crust (only $5!) to a satisfying avocado-lettuce-and-tomato sandwich that can be made with facon (tofu 'bacon') or the real thing, vegetarian options abound. Chicken breast stuffed with brie and sliced apples is plenty juicy, but be sure to order a side dish or the chicken will seem very lonely. Don't skip dessert: Nourishment's baked goods and homemade ice creams are lovely.
2135 S.E. Division St., 503-239-3933
Chef to Go
Goodbye Bad Kitty Koffee, hello vegetarian dream cart! Chef to Go only recently took over the shiny black truck across from Flying Elephants but already is plumping up its veggie-vegan lineup. At lunchtime, it offers excellent, belly-warming soups and grilled sandwiches layered with thinly sliced vegetables, cheese and ingredients as intriguing as black olive 'caviar.' Just this week, Chef to Go initiated breakfast service, distinguishing itself as the rare downtown food joint where you can get a hot breakfast on the fly. Current dishes include a flavorful tofu scramble with chunky browned potatoes, a breakfast burrito and fresh-from-the-oven pastries. Rich Stumptown coffee soon will make Chef to Go's breakfast a complete meal.
Southwest Yamhill Street and Park Avenue, 503-730-1469