Chef to Go

SW Park & Yamhill, 730-1469

Chef to Go SW is run by a gregarious woman named George and her partner. While I was eating there a pug came up to the cart and we both threw a hissy fit about how cute it was, and George fed it a roasted potato wedge. In addition to its actively friendly owners, Chef to Go offers a variety of delectable, substantial vegetarian and vegan meals. I ate a grilled eggplant and provolone sandwich with spinach and sun-dried tomato pesto, which offered an enticing play of flavors and was cooked to perfection: well-cooked eggplant, adequately melted cheese, and precisely toasted bread----crisp, yet still moist and fresh. Meals come with a side of potatoes or vegan slaw. Although not excessively cheap (my sandwich, potatoes and a ginger-brew cost about $8), many of the ingredients are organic or homemade and all are fresh, making Chef to Go stand out as a food-cart. Go for the food, stay for the pugs; Chef to Go is here to stay. EJ

E-San Thai

133 SW 2nd, 223-4090, 2764 NW Thurman, 226-0409

There are so many Thai places in Portland, it's hard to say which is the best. My favorites at present are Chaba Thai, and Lemongrass. When I talk to other people about Thai food, however, they almost always mention E-San. Examining the hype, I went and had a typical dinner of Pad Thai with squid (although I actually ordered Pad Kee Mao) and salad rolls. I thought the Pad Thai was overly sweet and had hardly any of the squid I paid three extra dollars for, and the salad rolls came with fish sauce instead of peanut sauce, which was disappointing. Everything was overall pretty good and served quickly; I just don't understand why this Thai place gets props above the rest. Granted, I haven't made it to the new location on Thurman, where they're probably sweating a little harder over the food. KS

Holman's

15 SE 28th, 231-1093

Order some eggs or a Monte Cristo, the coldest beers in town, and enjoy it on Holman's big private patio. It's like the perfect backyard, with the bonus that on weekends, food is served until dawn. KG