Portland is a food cart mecca of sorts and I know I won’t be able to eat at each and every one but I can’t believe I haven’t been to Herb’s Mac and Cheese until now. I normally don’t drive through this area so I only noticed it by taking a different route home trying to avoid traffic unsuccessfully. This is when I noticed out of the corner of my eye a sandwich board on the street that mentioned mac and cheese over here. I quickly glanced over and saw a small collection of carts nestled in an empty space off SE Division St and 32nd Ave (Aka D-Street Noshery). I’m a mac and cheese fiend if I allow myself to be and I don’t mean the bright orange stuff that comes out of a box or the ones that are microwaved to disgusting perfection. It is the homemade variety that I can eat uncontrollable amounts of if left alone with a fork and no witnesses. I wasn’t able to try it right at that moment but I made a mental note to go there one day soon and I had a good feeling that I wasn’t going to regret it.
Well that day finally came and it seemed odd that I was craving it on a 90 degree day but there I was standing in front of the shiny stainless steel cart all sweaty trying to figure out what to order. I was already starving at this point and the simple rules they posted on how to place an order failed to register with me. I could only decide an whether or not I wanted a regular or double container (the first step). The following add ons were too many for my brain to figure out on an empty grumbling stomach so I just asked for a plain jane one. If your brain is in working order, the next step is the addition of meats (bacon, chicken or pepperoni) followed by the third step of adding veggies (garlic, spinach, jalapenos,broccoli and diced or sundried tomatoes). Finally, the fourth step is any addition of other cheeses (crumbled blue, crumbled feta, pepper jack, parmasean, cheddar and asiago) which will complete the ordering process. I personally like it plain or with breadcrumbs on top but the other stuff isn’t appealing to me unless it’s cheese. Call me old school when it comes to my mac and cheese because I don’t think I need all the frills. To me it just isn’t the same.
Herb’s version uses penne pasta (perhaps a touch overcooked the day I went) but the cheese is the ultimate test of goodness and it’s there that they don’t dissappoint. It is creamy and cheesy done right. Their secret sauce recipe is a bechamel based one that coats the pasta like a glove. I’m not sure if the hunger caused me to lick the lid clean of all the cheese or if the cheese made me lick the lid clean. Either way, I displayed no table manners and since I was in the confines of my office I didn’t really care. My stomach was full and the only thing I regret is not ordering the double so I could eat more later. Perhaps that was a good thing. By the way, the double is literally double in size so a really great deal for a couple dollars more.
Location: 3221 SE Division St. Closed Mondays. Open Tues, Wed, Thurs and Sun 12pm-9pm. Fri and Sat 12pm-10pm.
Contact: www.herbsmacandcheese.com 503-928-7559
Cost: $5 (small) $7 (large) add ons start at .50 cents and go up to $2 for meats for a large size order.