I spent the last week or so driving through the South, stuffing myself with BBQ, Po' Boys, cracklins, shrimp & grits, red beans & rice, boiled peanuts, gumbo, beignets, and catfish. I drank shitty coffee, mediocre microbrews, and fantastic sazeracs (biggest beverage difference: the number of people who bring their own koozies to bars). While I loved every minute of the trip, it renewed my appreciation for Portland's restaurants and markets; I've vowed to spend the week eating only vegetables that haven't been deep fried or stewed in pig fat. And though it felt nice to be mostly WiFi-less and 3G-free for a week (not necessarily by choice), I couldn't help but check in occasionally with Eater, and the Food Dude, Portlandfood.org, and a few of the other sites bookmarked on my phone...and there was no shortage of restaurant activity while I was away. Lets play catch-up:

Local food blogging guru Nick Zukin—the man who puts the Zuke in, you know, Kenny & Zukes—has announced that he's opening up a new restaurant, Mi Mero Mole. The concept is Mexico City-style street food, and assuming all goes well in OLCC land, it will occupy the former Blue Pig Cafe space on 49th & Division (He's teased a playlist of the kind of music that'll be playing here). I follow Zukin's blogging, and tweeting, and forums pretty closely, and I can tell he's no stranger to Mexican food. I'm really looking forward to what he'll bring to the table.

Tanuki, the popular izakaya that until recently occupied a broom closet on NW 21st, has found new digs out in the Montaville neighborhood. Owner Janice Martin is taking over the recently shuttered Immortal Pie and Larder. Once again, she'll be forgoing a full-on kitchen, but according to Eater, she'll be using her new-found elbow room to include a grab-and-go sake shop.

And speaking of Tanuki's former broom closet, Chef BJ Smith—an alumni of Papa Haydn, Olea, and Paley’s Place, and most recently the executive chef of The Original—is transforming the space into a BBQ joint called Smokehouse 21. The place will focus primarily on take-out and delivery service (as my office is in NW, I'm crossing my fingers that they're open for lunch).

In one of my first reviews for The Mercury, I gushed a bit about Kale—the Goose Hollow Japanese curry joint—only to see it shutter shortly thereafter. Thankfully, chef Makoto Yoshino has announced that he's opening up a new downtown space come November (though he's yet to reveal just where it is). More and more reasons for me to volunteer for downtown errands...

...such as, a second Euro Trash location. The justifiably gushed about Belmont cart is opening up another cart on SW 10th and Washington. I anticipate a lot of afternoon meetings compromised by deep-fried-anchovy breath.

In other cart news, PoMo's EatBeat has reported that Wolf & Bears (among my most frequent recommendations for vegan food, Middle Eastern, cheap eats, and best carts), which usually shuts down during the colder months, is flying North for the winter and setting up shop outside Mississippi's Land gallery. They'll migrate back to the gravel lot on Morrison come Spring, but plan on opening up a permanent second location outside Land as well.

Kim Jong Grillin', a cart so hot at last year's Eat Mobile event that it literally caught fire just hours later, has announced plans to open up a brick-and-mortar space on 49th & Division. They're rebranding as Bhap Sang PDX, and adding a new dinner menu to go with along with their popular lunch offerings.