LeRoy’s Familiar Vittles: Smokey Sweet Unpretentious Goodness

Posted: November 4, 2010 in Restaurants Reviewed
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Leroy's Familiar Vittles Music to Your MouthToday, amidst the blustering wind, I went and tried Leroy’s Familiar Vittles. I was surprised to catch the owner proudly taking orders through the sliding glass window of the black and chrome food cart. It’s a very small pod as far as Portland goes, with only one other buggy there on the corner of 48th and Division: a cuban sandwich cart which I overheard as also being very good, as the couple munching across from me licked their fingers and shared each other’s food. The duo of carts have worked together to build a wooden indoor eating area, aside from the overhead tarp decorated with Christmas lights, so customers can escape the common horizontal rain we experience here in P-Town. The seating area consists of a hodge-podge of different patio furniture sets that remind me of a barbecue in my grandmothers back yard, and the food itself has that same home-style feel.

I have been told time and again that brisket is the true test for any barbecue joint. I, on the other hand, feel that if collard greens are on the menu, that is the tell all for any establishment. They are an acquired taste to a certain extent, and those that cook them tend to be very opinionated and particular on the matter. Before I had the faintest idea about my entrée, I asked for a serving of this Southern favorite. Keep in mind, I am the person at your table that can’t make up their mind on what to get until the very last moment, and when the server approaches, I change my mind again…This day was no different. I ordered the blackened catfish po-boy because it reminds me of fishing with my dad at White’s Ferry near Leesburg, VA  when I was only knee-high…But wait! this is a BBQ stand, so for a true representative analysis, I should probably get some actual barbecue. Consequently, I changed my order to the pulled pork po-boy.

The collards were sweet and spicy, and not overloaded with vinegar. They are a bitter green to begin with, however, they have a sort of mouth coating property about them once they’ve been cooked down to the desired consistency. Acid is an important element and can easily be over or under-done, as I experienced at another Stumptown restaurant earlier in the week (that will remain unnamed)! LeRoy’s hits the mark, I’m happy to say. I was pleasantly surprised at how well-balanced they were.

The pulled pork sandwich was also delicious, simple fare done right. A hoagie roll topped with pulled pork and a complimentary quantity of coleslaw. The pork is dredged with a well calculated sauce that segues from sweet and tangy, so smokey and familiar. So if you’re looking for Carolina-style barbecue, I’m sad to say this isn’t the place for you, my friend. LeRoy’s product is influenced to a certain extent by the owner’s (Anton) father, who hails from Arkansas, a state which I might add, borders on some of the most influential regions when it comes to the grill/smoker. The BBQ rivalry between Tennessee and Texas has been running rampant for decades, and Arkansas is the middle, child if you will, influenced by both of its siblings.

Anton was nice enough to answer a few questions for me when I was done devouring my lunch. I knew before I went to the eatery that he was the previous owner and head chef at the Delta, but what I didn’t know was that he had been cooking professionally since he was sixteen. He had worked in a whole slew of kitchens before opening his own restaurant, and of those, his favorite place to be an employee was Dots Cafe (2521 SE Clinton St) notorious for the velvet paintings that line the walls.

music to my mouth review of Leroy's Familiar Vittles Portland LocalAs some of you may know, the cart used to be located on 12th and Division, but due to a lack of traffic, Anton moved the whole show further East. Same great taste, different location.! They have a wide variety of sides in generous portions for the vegetarians out there, so don’t shy away just because it’s a cart known for its proteins. LeRoy’s is open from 12pm-7pm or later and they also do catering. They took their cart on the road to the rodeo in Mollala on a couple of occasions, and have also been found at the Van’s Warped Tour. What was Anton’s favorite event that he’s worked so fa, though? Pick-a-thon!

So check it out, friends! You can follow them on twitter also at “leroysfv”.


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