There is a pod of food carts at the corner of SE 12th and Hawthorne that I have written about before a tiny bit. A couple months ago Wifey and I hit up Whiffie's for a fried pie after a great dinner at Biwa and left not all that impressed.
But, we've been meaning to go back. Wifey has had a hankering for something called poutine from a cart called Potato Champion. Now, I had no idea what poutine was, but apparently it's a mixture of french fries, cheese curds, and onion covered in gravy. And guess what? It's Canadian food! Who knew there was such a thing?! It originated in Quebec, I hear, so it's not French - just has a French name since it came from French Canada.
We've been meaning to get back to this pod for awhile, but were limited by the fact most of the carts there - including Potato Champion - don't open until 8pm. To be real honest, we just aren't out that late too often. And we have this rule about not eating past 9, so that kind of limits the opportunities. The other day we said screw it, we have to go.
Parking in that area isn't ideal, at all. There is street parking, but we tend to park across Hawthorne, which means navigating four lanes of traffic in the dark with no crosswalks. Okay, I lie - there is a light about a block away, but jaywalking is so much easier. And I'm probably exaggerating; traffic there at that time of night isn't that bad. Still, it's not great.
We got there a little after 9pm. The pod has a nice covered area to sit and eat - nice when it's raining - and it's quite the hangout spot. There were a decent amount of people there, but thankfully no line for us.
Potato Champion specializes in one thing: french fries. Their menu is small and they put a lot of focus on what you dip your fries in. A lot of the sauces look intriuging (ketchup and truffle?), but the star is the poutine. Wifey and I ordered a single order ($4.50) with extra gravy (+ $.50) - the extra gravy came at the recommendation of people sharing online.
I'll be honest here - that's plenty for us to share, let alone one person. There were a decent amount of fries, big chunks of cheese curds, large cuts of onion (but not too much), and all of it smothered with a very good gravy with plenty of flavor (not a typical brown beef gravy, like the picture on the Wikipedia link above). It was fantastic. All the flavors melded nicely. I'm not entirely sure we needed the extra gravy, but it was hardly bad.
We highly recommend this place and we'll be going back, to try the other fries and for more poutine. Maybe not at the same time.
Since we get to this area at this time so rarely, we decided to try another place that's been on the list for awhile too: Perierra Creperie (no website, but they are on Twitter and have good reviews on Yelp).
Now, I've had crepes before and I love them. The light wrap filled with sweet or savory is quite the tasty treat. However, I've never had them like Perierra does them. They make the typical crepe slightly crunchier than I've had it, but for good reason. After cooking the crepe they fill half of it with the desired filling (there are at least 10 each options for sweet or savory), then it gets folded in half and then thirds before being slid into a handy wrap so it can be eaten on the go.
After the poutine we elected to go sweet, so went with the S'mores crepe (it was $5 or $6 - can't recall which, it being two days ago and all). I believe the chocolate was Nestle chocolate chips (I think, that's what it tasted like to me...) and all folded together fresh and hot inside the wrap it was a fantastic dessert - nice and tasty. We'd definitely go back to try some of the other flavors - and they also do shakes and smoothies.
Two carts, two thumbs up - both are worth your time.