Since opening his eclectic, Cajun-Mexican food cart in Southeast Portland in 2020, chef Anthony Brown has been on the move. The food cart, Nacheaux, spent about a year in Southeast Portland’s Cartlandia pod, slinging doughnut breakfast sandwiches and fried chicken burritos, before heading north: Brown moved into the former Alameda Brewpub space to open a Nacheaux food hall stall, eventually taking over the entire space. Earlier this year, Brown decided to leave the brick-and-mortar food hall and return to the cart life in West Linn.
But later this month, Brown will come back to Portland proper. Nacheaux is taking over the kitchen at the relatively new cocktail bar Swan Dive, before reopening the cart in a new Southeast Portland food cart pod.
Swan Dive took over the Bit House Collective space in the spring, furthering some of the changes made to Bit House over the last few years — the bar hosts drag brunches, tribute nights, and themed parties, renting out its kitchen for short-term residencies. Haus Of Charms, a queer food service collective, ran the kitchen at Swan Dive over the last three months, but has gone into hibernation — making room for Brown to take over the kitchen there. “We bridged the gap for Swan Dive for a few months, until they could find somebody who works with their business model, renting their kitchen out,” says Haus of Charms founder Erin Cox. “I want Swan Dive to wholeheartedly thrive, I want Nacheaux to be super busy, super successful, and have a great time in Southeast.”
Over the last two-and-a-half years, Brown has expanded beyond the original pitch of Nacheaux, incorporating more cuisines and dishes from beyond the Cajun or Latin American culinary canon. In West Linn, the chef began playing with gyros and cheesesteaks, and hopes to continue to branch out in the Swan Dive kitchen.
“Nacheaux was a platform,” Brown says. “But since this time, I’ve actually become my own experimental chef. ... At Swan Dive, we’ll do tacos, we’ll do burgers, we’ll do po’ boys, but there will be different things like a Cajun cheesesteak, or pork belly topped with hot honey on the griddle.”
Anyone who has followed Brown’s culinary career knows that dishes will change often, and specials will be abundant. He’s teased dishes like pecan-crusted catfish with jambalaya, a deep-fried pork chop with country gravy, French toast and pancakes during brunch. “It’s going to give me an opportunity to do things I couldn’t do,” Brown says, “but with half of the stressors of opening a brick-and-mortar.”
The residency is expected to last at least a few months, while a new food cart pod prepares to open off Southeast Division — more details on that food cart pod are coming soon. When it does open, however, Brown will return to his roots, running a food cart in a Southeast Portland pod.
“Even though this time has been crazy, Portland has stuck with me,” Brown says. “I’m excited for this new chapter.”
Nacheaux’s first day at Swan Dive will be September 28; the bar is located at 727 SE Grand Avenue.