This post is in collaboration with Veganizer PDX.
As some of you know, I picked up a new project this year: Veganizer Portland. Veganizer is a plant-based food consulting business that was started by Kiki Adami, the former owner of GustOrganics, a couple years ago. (Longtime readers might recall GustO as the restaurant that received hate mail when they decided to go fully vegan.) I’ve never met Kiki in person, but we’re Instagram buds and turns out we happen to know many NYC vegan folks in common. While Kiki’s doing the Veganizer thing in NYC, I’m over here getting the movement rolling in Portland. By the way, Veganizer is an international company with chapters all over the world, so if you’re ready to take the plunge in your city, hit us up.
So what exactly does Veganizer do? We do many things. As a startup, we’re constantly evolving, but the main thing we’re known for is our #officiallyveganized popups. We get non-vegan restaurants to go vegan for popup events. One night may not seem like much, but going vegan even just for one meal does help. On top of that, most restaurants we work with decide to keep the vegan dishes on their everyday menu. In a city like Portland that’s known for its vegan community, you’d think that every restaurant in town would have vegan options. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Hopefully we can help nudge restaurants in that direction.
MF Tasty x Veganizer PDX
I lucked out when I happened to sit next to Nicole aka Mrs MF Tasty at an event. One thing lead to another, and MF Tasty was officially the first restaurant to go vegan with Veganizer Portland. Mr MF Tasty is Chef Eric Gitenstein who cooks up Southwest inspired, Portland made dishes at their food cart on Williams Ave. And no, the “MF” does not stand for Monday to Friday. ;)
Portland’s got a thriving food cart culture, but the truth is, not all food carts are created equal. There are many mediocre ones in town, but MF Tasty is one of the good ones. I was familiar with the cart prior to meeting Nicole, but never visited as I assumed it was meat heavy. The veganized menu was seriously delicious, delivering rich, bold flavors in satisfying portions. Here’s a run down of the #officiallyveganized menu, and no, there are no salads…
The moment I laid eyes on the jackfruit pastor sandwich ($9), I had a feeling it would be a hit. I was right — this sandwich sold out within the first hour of the popup. The meaty glazed jackfruit spilling out of the Grand Central Bakery rustic bun sandwich was mistaken for bacon on Instagram. There’s no skimping on accompaniments here: charred onions, caramelized pineapple, smashed avocado, tomatillo salsa, shaved red onion, cilantro. You’ll need several napkins for this messy sandwich.
Okay fine, I said no salads, but I suppose the garbanzos & greens ($7) is essentially a warm salad. Smashed garlic meets kale, spinach, radish, fried garlic, and scallions. For those of you who think kale is so last year, you need to try this dish. This one is on the regular menu, and I highly recommend adding the KBBQ marinated mushrooms, which were fantastic.
The fideos ($10) broken pasta cooked in mushroom broth and served with sweet & sour eggplant surprised me the most. As a lover of noodles, I knew I would enjoy this, but didn’t realize just how tasty it would be. However, the biggest surprise of all was that John enjoyed the fideos. Yes, you read that right. The man who dislikes mushroom AND despises eggplant couldn’t stop eating this dish.
It’s no surprise that MF Tasty would serve up a great vegan paella $11 as Spanish cooking is one of Eric’s favorites. You’re greeted with vibrant color and rich aromatics before you dig in a mixture of charred scallions, chipotle sofrito, bomba rice, and heirloom carrots. Never expected to see carrots in a paella, but it works nicely. Oregon Olive Mill EVOO, Jacobsen smoked sea salt, and a squeeze of lime add the finishing touch.
The roasted sweet potato hummus ($8) with escabeche (spicy pickles) and housemade flatbread was the dish that I was least enthused about simply because I eat hummus regularly. It was still enjoyable though. Sweet potato makes it more unique than your usual hummus and made a good snack for folks who wanted to hang out, but not have a full meal.
Note: This post is in collaboration with Veganizer PDX. I’m the director of the local chapter of Veganizer, and MF Tasty was our restaurant partner for this popup.