After a whirlwind year of rapid cart expansions and the accumulation of a hungry, real-food-focused fanbase, the team behind the West Coast's first 100% Paleo food cart Cultured Caveman is about to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant on N Denver Ave in North Portland's Kenton neighborhood.
Owners Heather Hunter and Joe Ban launched a Kickstarter campaign to back their new Paleo restaurant, banking on a repeat of the successful crowdfunding of their first cart back in 2012. For the uninitiated, Paleo is a modern food movement celebrating dishes with no gluten, no dairy, no added sugar, no processed foods, no soy, and no legumes, inspired by the healthy, fresh, and unprocessed diets of our Paleolithic ancestors. I sat down with the couple over bun-less burgers to chat about their first few years and their upcoming counter-service restaurant, which is set to launch in the former E-San Thai Cuisine space by the end of April.
Here are plenty of reasons to get excited:
- The restaurant is a major space upgrade for the formerly cart-bound culinarians—Ban and Hunter gleefully report that their walk-in refrigerator alone will be larger than any of their mobile kitchens. More kitchen square footage will allow for a transition to 100% organic produce, and, perhaps even more importantly for diners, the return of Cultured Caveman's grass-fed tallow-fried french fries, which were discontinued last year due to a lack of fryer space in the carts. This time around, they just might be curly.
- New menu items are slated to include bacon and liver pate with rosemary and thyme (part of a planned appetizer plate alongside housemade nut butters and guac), giant family-sized bowls of meatballs and zucchini noodles—aka "zoodles"—and chicken and waffles (think fluffy, coconut flour waffles topped with the Caveman's signature chicken strips).
- With a shiny new limited beer-and-wine liquor license in hand, the Cultured Caveman team is busy dreaming up adult drinks to pair with their grass-fed, organic fare—think kombucha cocktails, local hard cider, coconut water concoctions, and spiked Bulletproof hot chocolate.
- Thanks to a recent purchase of 500 feet of reclaimed barn wood, the new restaurant will offer a rustic, family-friendly environment with farm-to-table soul. Expect bright butter-colored floors, photos of the restaurant's partner farmers, and a colorful kids' play area.
- The restaurant will also feature a retail area stocking hard-to-find Paleo ingredients (from coconut aminos and grass-fed gelatin to locally-roasted Bulletproof coffee and meal bars), cookbooks from Paleo authors, and bulk orders of the restaurant's signature dishes available to-go.
- Hunter and Ban are looking to enlist the help of local Paleo bakers to outfit their morning coffee-and-pastry service. Interested in taking your homemade coconut truffle balls and almond flour scones to the next level? This could be your big chance—the Cultured Caveman team wants to rent out their kitchen for commercial production of local treats. The couple are also dreaming of other ways to use the space, from pop-up dinners to cooking classes and Paleo meet-ups to bring together like-minded omnivores.
Fans of the cart's three locations (NE Alberta, SE Hawthorne, and SW Stark) need not fear—all will remain open with the debut of the new restaurant, which means you're never far from a healthy, grass-fed, organic meal. And that's something to celebrate.
Check out the team's Kickstarter campaign to help make sure this restaurant becomes reality!
8233 N Denver Ave