8. The Sugar Cube

A food-cart pioneer opens a creative bakery where even breakfast tastes like dessert.

Coffee mallow pie shrouded in chocolate and caramel; owner Kir Jensen; toast with almond butter and bruléed bananas, or with homemade Nutella; blueberry crostada with lemon curd
Clockwise from left: Coffee mallow pie shrouded in chocolate and caramel; owner Kir Jensen; toast with almond butter and bruléed bananas, or with homemade Nutella; blueberry crostada with lemon curd

In 2008, Sugar Cube shot out of nowhere with conceptual Joy of Cooking cakes, hand-hewn munchies, and a new vision for what a food cart could be: a wallet-friendly destination for haute retro treats. Cupcakes gushing caramel sauce smoky as bacon vaulted from a pink trailer window alongside “marionberry crack coffee cake.” Through various cart-pod relocations and more ups and down than the Kardashians, Kir Jensen still managed to deliver an unbroken series of OMG moments. 

Now, after years of inspired creativity in Portland parking lots, Jensen has a brick-and-mortar home on NE Alberta Street. The Sugar Cube, the sequel, opened in September with daylight hours from Wednesday through Sunday. The trailer’s sassy vibe has given way to butter-yellow walls, wide slate benches, and careful vintage touches, all bright and breezy with just 20 seats. At the marble-clad pastry case, caloric truces are quickly broken as changing baked goods and beautiful butter crusts get center play throughout the day. The Sugar Cube’s greatest hits are in regular rotation (Guinness stout cupcakes frosted in maple cream cheese, the “Ultimate Brownie,” served warm) along with new ideas, like a luscious fluff of coffee mallow pie, sweeter than an Al Green track. The mode is rustic, seasonal, and always twisted.

The Sugar Cube
3039 NE Alberta St
971-202-7135

Jensen’s idea of breakfast—indulgent snacks bordering on dessert—includes concoctions like a spiced corn bread frosted with molasses butter. Savory stratas combine the best of bread pudding and quiche under one hot cheddar roof. Toast plates emerge as buttery slabs of bread heaped with changing toppings, from homemade Nutella etched with good olive oil to almond butter and bruléed bananas. If Mom weren’t looking, this is what you’d eat every day.