Fast Food

Matt’s BBQ Tacos takes over kitchen at original Great Notion Brewing

You don’t have to search long for reasons a food cart owner might open a restaurant, especially with winter approaching. The appeal of a roof and a warm dining room are self evident.

But as Matt Vicedomini prepares to expand his popular Austin-style breakfast taco cart, Matt’s BBQ Tacos, Great Notion Brewing’s original Northeast Alberta Street location offered something even better.

“I get a kitchen,” Vicedomini said. “There are zero permits. No delayed openings. And it was cheaper than building a food cart.”

The first brick-and-mortar for either Matt’s BBQ or its spin-off taco cart — The Oregonian’s Cart of the Year in 2019 — will open as soon as Wednesday, Nov. 2 in what Vicedomini calls “the best brunch street in town.” He just needs to bring in a tortilla press.

Beyond its signature flour tortillas stuffed with potato, eggs and slow-smoked pork or brisket, Vicedomini plans to offer mac and cheese and other sides from sister cart Matt’s BBQ, plus a special smoked meat burger on Tuesdays (vegan patty available). Great Notion is working on a hard seltzer inspired by Vicedomini’s favorite Dr. Pepper, and is bringing back liquor to the bar for making bloody Marys, ranch waters and other brunch cocktails to go with Matt’s tacos.

The takeover marks the end of a years-long shift for Great Notion. When Andy Miller, Paul Reiter and James Dugan took over the old Mash Tun brewery in 2016, the juicy New England-style IPAs were paired with an ambitious pub menu from chef Ryan O’Connor. But as the brewery expanded, new locations have emphasized what comes in the glass over what comes on the plate. At their just-opened Southeast Portland taproom, 2105 S.E. Division St., food is provided by Papi Sal’s, the great Puerto Rican-influenced Philadelphia-style sandwich cart.

“In those days, this was it,” says O’Connor, now the company’s Corporate Operating Officer. “Our Alberta Street taproom was Great Notion. And at that scale, you could focus on culinary. Now we have seven taprooms and fulfillment centers in three states, and brewing what we’re brewing now, you’ve got to streamline.”

In addition to its Portland locations on Northeast Alberta Street, Northwest 28th Avenue and Southeast Division Street, Great Notion operates one taproom in Beaverton, two in Seattle and a fulfillment center in Sacramento for shipping fruit-forward IPAs and culinary-inspired sours and stouts throughout California. The company also plans to open a new taproom in a former Sierra Nevada location in Berkeley by the end of the year.

Look for Matt’s BBQ Tacos to open inside the original Great Notion Brewing, 2204 N.E. Alberta St, #101, on Wednesday, Nov. 2

— Michael Russell;; @tdmrussell

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