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Drag performer Carla Rossi eats a slime sandwich while sitting in a coffin.
Carla Rossi.
Sam Gehrke

Portland Drag Clown Carla Rossi’s Guide to Dining in Portland

Where the writer, artist, and drag performer Anthony Hudson devours pineapple fried rice or indulges in his annual coffee cocktail

Brooke Jackson-Glidden is the editor of Eater Portland.

Anthony Hudson — the writer and artist primarily known as the horror movie loving, acerbic drag clown Carla Rossi — thinks about food all day. But the Gaylords of Darkness podcast co-host is quick to clarify that dining out is a hobby of Hudson’s, not Rossi’s. “Carla eats cigarettes and glass,” Hudson says. “I have more discerning taste.”

Carla Rossi, named for the “bitter, salty wine on the bottom shelf,” in Hudson’s words, developed a following for her LGBTQ+ film series at the Hollywood Theatre, Queer Horror, though Rossi has appeared in several pieces written by Hudson. Her critiques of Portland’s gentrification and white supremacy are often served with a sense of humor, and in Hudson’s plays and other performance art, Rossi appears intermittently, as she did in perhaps Hudson’s most famous work, Looking for Tiger Lily. But Rossi does have a place in the state’s food and beverage scene, as well, inspiring a beer from Double Mountain.

Between Carla Rossi shows, exhibits (like the current exhibit he developed with Felix Furby at the Chachalu Museum and Cultural Center in Grand Ronde, “My Father’s Father’s Sister: Our Ancestor Shimkhin”), writing, and other live performances, Hudson refuels at various Portland carts and restaurants, inhaling pineapple and allotting himself just enough caffeine before it becomes a problem. “I’m extremely caffeine-averse, so I have to save it for special occasions,” Hudson says. “I can have Thai iced tea once a year, because my partner will be upset and I’ll end up screaming in an antique mall.” We compiled Hudson’s guide to dining and drinking across town below, with a few Carla favorites mixed in for good measure. Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Hot dogs and margaritas: Zach’s Shack

“I have plenty of business meetings there. I can go get hot dogs and my favorite margarita with a splash of pineapple juice, and people can see that I’m a garbage person from Salem, Oregon. Hot dog-wise, I go with a Chicago dog. I do love the Big Red, the one with the chili and cheese and the chips and everything and the devil thrown on top of it, but I’ve had to cull my evil ways.”

After-show meal: El Brasero and Taco Bell

“Back in the day, every show was followed by a trip to Cartopia and the burrito cart for the cactus burrito. Carla was raised there; it was her mother’s milk. Now, I’m so old I make it home from a show at 9 p.m.; if I’m lucky, I make it to a Taco Bell on the way.”

Pre-Hollywood Theatre meal: Chin’s Kitchen and Doe Donuts

“I’m a big fan of Chin’s Kitchen; it satisfies that orange chicken or orange tofu need. I would get the beef and broccoli and the orange chicken in the meat-eating phase, but now I’m relegated to the orange tofu. But I’m also a big fan of Doe Donuts right around the corner. Vegans have to work so much harder to make something delicious and also worse for you.”

Thai food: Pad Thai Kitchen

Pad Thai Kitchen on Belmont, it has been a staple of my experience in Portland. The pineapple fried rice at Pad Thai Kitchen, I’ve been ordering it for 17 years. I eat pineapple every day, I drink pineapple juice every day, I’m deeply a pineapple queen. Apparently it corresponds with my blood type. Pseudoscience or not, I love it.”

Vietnamese food: Friendship Kitchen

“If I want to sit down and have the tastiest dinner, I go to Friendship Kitchen. It’s LBGTQ-owned, and it has the most amazing servers, who are absolute divas. The shaken tofu there, with the lemongrass, it’s just so good. And in terms of cocktails, too — you get delicious food, amazing angels, and those cocktails.”

Bakery: An Xuyen

“On Foster, there’s a little Vietnamese bakery, An Xuyen, and it is hands-down the best bakery in town. Not only can you get amazing banh mi sandwiches there, but the baked goods — the Hawaiian fried doughnut, any of the chocolate treats — are incredible. I go there empty, a void, and I come out of there overfloweth. Every day is Christmas morning when I go there.”

Ice cream: Cheese & Crack

“The only place I will stand in line for ice cream is Cheese & Crack. William, who runs the place, is my homeboy, and he’s an incredible community member, a meme maker. But the ice cream, the soft serve with the strawberry dust and the chocolate cowboy hat, it’s amazing. I just had the frozen lemonade for the first time, but you can get a dollop of soft serve in it, and it’s the sweetest, stickiest treat.”

Breakfast: Little Griddle and Fehrenbacher Hof

“I was a big fan of Cup & Saucer, and I was really sad when it closed; when Little Griddle opened, I was suspicious, but that was soon replaced by joy. I get the huevos rancheros, but I’m a little extra so I get a side of the French toast. Recently I’ve been exploring pancakes; I want to be truly versatile. They have delicious BFK and other coffee-based cocktails, too — a nice way to destroy your morning and set you up for success.

“Also, a breakfast burrito can make or break a civilization, and the Fehrenbacher Hof breakfast burrito, it would win at Risk. It has the right balance of salsa and acidity with the sour cream and eggs. That’s been a standby for oh, probably 15 years.”

Indian food: India Oven

“Indian food really sends me because of the creamy buttery-ness. I am in love with the menu at India Oven the way I’m in love with the family that runs the place. The pakora are so good, they have vegetarian tikka masala. You can get anything with vegetarian substitutions, that’s part of what I love about it; it’s about the spices.”

Vegan food: Mirisata

Mirisata has basically a giant special plate, it’s an assortment of every curry that they’re offering. Last summer, when it was like 105 degrees, I said, ‘I’m going to go to Mirisata,’ so I sat outside and ate that hot, hot food and I sweat and it was a healing experience.”

Food cart: Belmont Kitchen and Namu

“I really love the Belmont Kitchen cart, just across from Movie Madness. The yakisoba there, it’s some of the most delicious yakisoba you can get, and I love to order it with an egg; I love living in my own Studio Ghibli movie and cracking that egg yolk. Also, Namu, it’s a cart on 50th and Division. The thing I miss most as a vegetarian is a Hawaiian plate lunch, with the mac salad. Namu’s Hawaiian plate lunch, they have vegetarian versions with jackfruit or tofu. I’m a big proponent.”

Pizza: Rovente and DeNicola’s

“One of my famous Portland go-tos is Rovente. I can and will and have fucked up the extra large cheese for the last 17 years. It is enormous, it is cheesy, it is the cheese pizza that you dream of when you see Kevin open up a cheese pizza in Home Alone. Also DeNicola’s is a little family-run business on Powell; it’s where they used to have Original Taco House and the Gold Bowl, but DeNicola’s is the surviving business. You get to meet the family matriarch who is hosting, and you get delicious pizza there. Eating there, you feel like you’re in Real Housewives of New Jersey season two.”

Check Carla Rossi’s website for information about future events; “My Father’s Father’s Sister: Our Ancestor Shimkhin” runs through September 30.