The Chili Pie Palace – Frito Pie and Jalapeno Lemonade

The Food

Jalapeno Lemonade Price: $2.00

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Frito Pie Chili over fritos, topped with cheese, sour cream, onions and their pickled jalapenos. Price: $5.50

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

The Review

On a dreary rainy day, how could you not stop at a brightly coloured converted travel trailer called the Chili Pie Palace? Located on SE Hawthorne Blvd (a favourite street of ours for vintage shopping) outside of the downtown Portland area, The Chili Pie Palace serves vegetarian chili with vegan options. We went for their Frito Pie and Jalapeno lemonade and then settled in on their covered patio behind the trailer. The chili was well spiced and thick, full of vegetables and beans, and the fritos gave it a nice crunch. The heat from the spices and jalapenos gave a pleasant warmth to our bellies without being over powering. The jalapeno lemonade was an interesting drink. When you initially took a drink, you could taste the lemonade and feel the tartness from the lemons. The tartness then moved into the heat from the jalapenos. It was fun to drink but wasn’t what I would call “thirst quenching”. It’s definitely something to try if you like jalapenos!


B –  Frito Pie and Jalapeno Lemonade
M –  Frito Pie and Jalapeno Lemonade

The Chili Pie Palace
32nd and SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR

Chili Pie Palace on Urbanspoon

Babylon Cafe – Chicken Shawarma

The Food

Chicken Shawarma – chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, tzatziki, hot sauce, peppers and tabbouleh wrapped in a white pita.
Price: $5.95

Rating: ★★★★½ 

The Review

Standing on the corner of Robson and Granville, you can catch the scent of tasty, roasting meat. From there you can also see the almost ever present line.  Just a couple doors down, there is the Babylon Cafe. Since there is barely enough room for three customers standing in the place at one time (and then they can barely squeeze their way out), the place is definitely takeout only. They have chicken, lamb, falafel and vegetarian options. This time we all wanted chicken shawarmas.

The chicken was marinated in spices, freshly carved off the rotisserie and was juicy with crispy bits from the roasting. For each shawarma, we picked from their selection of vegetables and sauces to personalize our wraps.  Each shawarma was then given a large helping of meat and wrapped in tin foil to go. Out on the sidewalk, we quickly unwrapped and dug into our shawarmas. The meat, vegetables and sauces were well distributed throughout the wrap so each bite was full of flavour and you weren’t left with a soggy pita when you got down to the bottom of your shawarma.

The Babylon Cafe is a must eat at place if you are downtown shopping or after a night at the bars.


B –  Chicken Shawarma
M – Chicken Shawarma
C – Chicken Shawarma
O – Chicken Shawarma

Babylon Cafe
716 Robson Street, Vancouver, B.C.

Babylon Cafe on Urbanspoon

Grilled Cheese Grill – The Jalapeno Popper / The Morton

The Food

The Jalapeno Popper – Roasted jalapenos, colby, cream cheese and corn chips on grilled sourdough.
Price: $5.00

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

The Morton –Meatball marinara, ricotta and mozzarella on grilled Italian sourdough.
Price: $5.00

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

The Review

Grilled cheese sandwiches are a comfort food staple in our household. When we saw there was a street cart in Portland that sold nothing but grilled cheese sandwiches, you know it was on the “MUST EAT HERE” list for our trip. It did not disappoint.

The variety of grilled cheese sandwiches on their menu is quite long but one stood out immediately – The Jalapeno Popper. I love jalapeno poppers and sourdough is my favorite grilled cheese bread (Boudin Bakery in SF = one of the best).  The second one that caught our eye was The Morton with meatballs and ricotta. We settled into the retro fitted school bus (yes, school bus) to eat our hot, melty sandwiches.

Both sandwiches were grilled perfectly and packed with fillings. The amount of jalapenos on the Popper sandwich seemed a little daunting, but my defenses came down after I found it was full of flavor, had a good crunchiness from the corn chips and was only slightly hot as the peppers were well roasted. That was until I started the second half of the sandwich. One bite in and my mouth was on fire. It was still tasty but my mouth actually hurt with each new bite. I pulled the rest of the peppers off so I could at least finish the cheese and bread but it was still too hot to finish. Super tasty sandwich but expect the heat. Do not eat before other planned eating stops. The tongue and belly of fire did not bode well for near future food enjoyment.

The Morton was very satisfying. This was not the quality of meatball most people are used to in a sandwich.  They were moist, very flavorful and were about 1/4 inch thick slices from a much larger meatball. The marinara was also very good and packed with all the regular Italian spices. The meatballs and sauce could easily be put on some pasta and you would have a very good meal. The only down side to the sandwich was the lack of flavor coming from the 2 different types of cheese that were on the sandwich. I guess when using ricotta and mozzarella, two cheeses that don’t have that much flavor on their own, it is to be expected. However, that wasn’t too much of a problem because what they did add to the sandwich was the creaminess that is expected from a good ricotta and the stringiness that is expected from mozzarella. Overall what I would expect from a very good Italian dinner, all rolled up in a portable sandwich for lunch.

However, you can always tell the quality of a deli or sandwich shop by the quality of their pickles, and this place is no exception. Accompanying each of the sandwiches was a fairly large slice, of an obviously much larger deli pickle. The type of pickle you would expect from a New York deli…but this time with a grilled cheese sandwich…all while eating it in the back of a school bus plastered with school pictures of unknown origins. Only in Portland!


B –  The Morton and both pickles!

M –  The Jalapeno Popper

The Grilled Cheese Grill
1027 NE Alberta Ave, Portland OR, 97211
Tel: (503) 206-8959

Grilled Cheese Grill (Food Cart) on Urbanspoon