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Ray Routhier

Portland Press Herald staff writer Ray Routhier will try anything. Once. During 20 years at the Press Herald he’s been equally attracted to stories that are unusually quirky and seemingly mundane. He’s taken rides on garbage trucks, sought out the mother of two rock stars, dug clams, raked blueberries, and spent time with the family of bedridden man who finds strength in music. Nothing too dangerous mind you, just adventurous enough to find the stories of real Mainers doing real cool things.

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Posted: May 9, 2016

The SaltBox Cafe serves creative breakfast and lunch fare from a mobile tiny house in Portland

Written by: Ray Routhier
SaltBox Cafe

A customer is served at the SaltBox Cafe, parked on Eastern Promenade. Photo by Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

I had no idea a tiny house would give me such a big appetite.

I ordered two sandwiches from The SaltBox Cafe, a 19-foot-long tiny house/food truck parked on the Eastern Promenade in Portland. I often order two sandwiches when doing Eat & Run assignments, so I can try two things. Usually I eat half of each, then save the other two halves for another lunch.

But on this sunny day, there was a perfect storm of culinary circumstances that didn’t allow me to follow my usual plan. I was starving, the ocean view was inspiring, and the smell, look and taste of both my sandwiches proved too much to resist.

SaltBox Cafe

A crab cake Croissant, one of the offerings of the SaltBox Cafe, Photo by Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

I started with the crab cake croissant sandwich ($7.95), featuring a hand-made crab cake, a fried egg, shaved red onion, lemon ginger bearnaise sauce and Gruyère cheese on a warm croissant. Sounded a little odd to me, but one bite changed my mind. The crab came through, and was not overpowered by the egg or the cheese. The sandwich was warm, creamy and went down very easily.

After eating the whole crab cake croissant I figured I’d just “sample” the BBQ pulled pork breakfast burrito ($6.95). (Full disclosure here, I often use the term “sample” when I mean to say I ate half or three-quarters of something.)

SaltBox Cafe

A pulled pork burrito, one of the offerings of the SaltBox Cafe Photo by Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

The pulled pork was incredibly tender. The burrito, in a flour tortilla, also included fried egg, black beans, scallions, a Bonzai sauce and Monterey jack cheese. Again, the egg and cheese did not overpower the pork; instead, they helped create an overall creamy sensation. I took a few bites and re-wrapped the foil it came in, intending to bring more than half home.

I sat on one of the many benches near the top of the Eastern Promenade, near Congress Street, and gazed out into Casco Bay. A few minutes later, I opened the foil and took another bite. After a few of these little episodes, I had maybe a quarter or less of the burrito left, to take home.

Both of the sandwiches I got from The SaltBox Cafe ranked as among the best breakfast sandwiches, or any sandwiches, I’ve ever had. So even though I felt a little guilty for eating nearly two of them, I’d do it again in a second.

Not to mention that at $7.95 and $6.95, my two lunches together cost less than one lunch at some sit-down places. Plus, I did sit down and had a glorious view as well.

SaltBox Cafe

The SaltBox Cafe owner and chef Matthew Glatz, prepares orders in the trailer cafe, parked on Eastern Promenade.
Photo by Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

Other items on the menu include a basic egg and cheese sandwich, a pesto cheddar egg and cheese, a smoked salmon sandwich, and various “bread and spread” sandwiches. Prices range from $2.95 to $7.95. There are also lunch specials.

The SaltBox Cafe’s owner and cook Matthew Glatz, 28, has a culinary arts degree from Southern Maine Community College and worked at Maine restaurants before starting his own business. He began cooking out of his mobile tiny house this past winter, at the Sunday River ski resort. For now, he’s on the Eastern Promenade for breakfast and lunch Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On Thursdays, he’ll be parked at Woodard & Curran, an environmental consulting firm on Hutchins Drive in Portland, off outer Congress Street.

He also plans to bring the SaltBox Cafe to breweries and other locations, so check out his Facebook page for more information:

The cafe structure itself stands out among the area’s fleet of food trucks because, well, it’s a tiny house. With light wood boards on the outside and a green roof, it looks a little like something made with Lincoln Logs. While some tiny houses have living, sleeping and eating quarters crammed into one space, this tiny house is a full kitchen, on wheels.

Its location on the Eastern Promenade not only provides a great view but plenty of seating as there are dozens of benches in the Prom’s park. There’s also a playground for kids and down the hill, there’s the East End Beach.

Trails that wind through the park and past the beach give you a great opportunity to take a walk after eating.
Especially if you’re like me, and decide to have a two-sandwich lunch.

The Saltbox Cafe

WHERE: Eastern Promenade at Congress Street, Portland; various other locations
HOURS: 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday; times and locations can change, so check
WAIT: About five minutes
PARKING: On street
OTHER LOCATIONS: Thursday at Woodard & Curran, 41 Hutchins Drive, off outer Congress Street in Portland



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