Willamette Week’s annual Cheap Eats issue came out yesterday. Despite a couple restaurants that I’d really like to see dropped from the list (cough…cough….Laughing Planet), it’s a very good list overall. If you want to browse the choices quickly before digging into the reviews, I’ve distilled them at Portlandfood.org.
Included in the issue was a fun listing of bites, snacks, and entire meals $7 or under. Following are 10 additions to the list — some of my favorites — from a whole new set of shops, some of which weren’t covered in the issue at all.
1. Bun Rieu from Bun Bo Hue Minh. $7. Ground pork and shrimp with fried tofu, veggie loaf, congealed pork blood, and vermicelli noodles in a funky seafood broth balanced by sweet and tangy tomato flavor and a garden full of Vietnamese herbs on the side. 8560 SE Division St
2. Two piece fried chicken “snack box” at Fryer Tuck with spuds. $6.95. Heavily-seasoned light but ultra-crunchy breading on freshly-fried chicken served with equally heavily-seasoned fry-shaped jo-jos. I’ll have more to say about his place when I finish a cheap fried chicken survey. (Yeah, this is the three piece “snack box” — just imagine it with one less piece of chicken.) 6712 SW Capitol Hwy, 503.246.7737
3. La Catrina’s “small” cuban sandwich, the cubanita. $6.50. Ham, milanesa, two kinds of cheese, hot dog, head cheese, avocado, lettuce, fried egg, and lots of mayonnaisse all on an over-sized roll grilled until all the ingredients melt together into delicious messiness. SE 82nd & Lamphier St, 503.775.3112
4. Kobayashi dog at Ping. $5. Only available during happy hour and late night, the kobayashi dog combines an unlikely mix of teriyaki-glazed garlicky frank, nori, bonito flakes, Japanese pickled cucumbers, and wasabi mayo. It may smell a bit funky, but it’s one tasty weiner. 102 Northwest 4th Avenue, 503.229.7464
5. Huarache at El Nutri. $5. Huaraches, sandal-shaped, thick torillas topped with beans, meat, veggies, and cheese, are, thankfully, a common item on Portland taqueria menus, and El Nutri’s — not just because of their tasty beans and meats, but primarily because of the tangy cactus paddle strips — is one of the best. 8438 SE Woodstock Blvd, 503.788.3492
6. Utappam at Chennai Masala. $5. Forget those bland American-style pancakes bathed in sugar sauce (ie, syrup). These pan-fried Southern Indian sourdough pancakes are studded with onions and herbs and come with two flavorful chutneys and spicy lentil soup for dipping. 2088 NW Stucki Ave, Hillsboro, 503.531.9500
7. The Mo from Mojo Crepes. $4.75. Vanilla ice cream, banana, and nutella all wrapped up in a freshly made crepe. It’s the mutant movie monster of Portland desserts and every bit as fun as seeing Godzilla give Mothra a beat-down. 8409 SE Division St, 503.208.3195
8. Podnah’s Frito pie. $4.50. The Texas potluck staple done darn near high falutin’ with Podnah’s smoked brisket chili. The torn Frito bag gives it street cred, especially when drunk with a Dr. Pepper. 1469 NE Prescott St, 503.281.3700
9. Thai peanut butter cup from Alma Chocolates. $2. You know that peanut sauce you spread on satay — the thing that first made you love Thai food? Well, here it is wrapped in chocolate. 140 NE 28th Ave, 503.517.0262
10. Tacos de suadero at the 86th & Foster stand. $1. This new stand selling tacos de fritangas — fried meats — specializes in suadero, slow-fried beef brisket. Think of it as beef carnitas or beef confit tacos. SE Foster & 86th.