For a time, Oswaldo Bibiano was one of Portland’s most exciting Mexican restaurateurs. He operated the dark and sultry Autentica, with its mole-soaked entomatadas and hominy-filled pozole, while also slinging tacos at the more casual Uno Mas Taquiza. But in 2019, Autentica said goodbye to its cozy NE Killingsworth space, soon followed by Uno Mas.
Now, years later, Bibiano is back, and he’s sticking to burritos. Smart Donkey, his new Foster-Powell food cart and bar, specializes in tortillas stuffed with green adobo marinated chicken thighs, picadillo, and beef barbacoa, served alongside Micheladas on the adjoining patio.
Bibiano took over a former car wash space, which he transformed into something like a single-cart pod and beer garden: Sharing a covered patio, a small bar serves things like margaritas, beers from places like Breakside and Fort George, and root beer on draft, while the cart focuses on a menu of 10 burritos, with classics like rice and beans, carne asada, and carnitas. The cart’s Guerrero-style barbacoa comes with smoky chile negro and guajillo, while the chorizo con papas also gets a dose of chicharron and jalapeño. And vegetarians can opt for braised cabbage and kale burritos or a seasonal vegetable burrito with avocado-pepitas salsa. Most burritos come with rice, beans, and cheese, with add-ons like guac and sour cream. In mid-February or March, he’ll start serving a burrito brunch with five types of breakfast burritos, mimosas, and bloody marys.
Bibiano considered opening something similar to Autentica, with a variety of moles, but he thought burritos made more sense, considering the rise of the omicron variant. “I think it’s good for where we are now. This pandemic, this disease is really affecting a lot of restaurants, a lot of great chefs have been shut down,” he says. “We have the burritos and the beer garden, being outside, people can be safer.”
Smart Donkey is located at 3420 SE 50th Avenue.
• Smart Donkey [Official]
• Smart Donkey [Instagram]
• Former Autentica and Uno Mas Chef, Oswaldo Bibiano, Is Opening a Burrito Beer Garden Called Smart Donkey [WWeek]