“Stick a Pork In It” Brings Cuban Cuisine to Lebanon
Menu Catering Hours: Thursday to Saturday 4:30-8:30 pm, Tuesdays 5-8:30 pm Location: 1950 S Main St., Lebanon, OR 97355
One bite of my Porkadilla and I was hooked! A quesadilla filled with smoky pulled pork, cheddar jack cheese, and topped with your choice of drizzle, ranging from mild to slightly spicy. I chose the zesty sriracha drizzle and it was the perfect amount of spice.
Stick A Pork In It, is a small food cart, with big flavor. Currently, the cart is located in Rife’s Home Furniture parking lot in Lebanon, Oregon.
The family-owned business specializes in Cuban-inspired dishes, and has been a local favorite in the Lebanon and Albany area since starting their business in 2016.
In an interview published in the Albany Democrat Herald in 2016, Neysi Von Ruden acknowledged her Cuban heritage as being an inspiration for the dishes they serve. Neysi also mentioned that two of the recipes they use are her mother’s, who also owns a restaurant, in California.
Recently the husband and wife duo, John and Neysi Von Ruden, have found their business more in demand. “We have had a 30 percent increase of business, and have added an extra day to the schedule, due to the pandemic,” John Von Ruden said. Recently they have started looking to hire a part-time employee to help cut down on wait times and work load.
The owners suspect the increase in business is due to less available options for people to eat out, since only takeout and delivery is available in the state right now.
John Von Ruden made sure to also mention that the pandemic has disrupted their May through October schedule and locations. “During the summer we can be found in Albany at Timberlinn and Bryant Park concessions. Due to the pandemic those locations have been postponed until further notice.”
Stick a Pork In It also does catering. They offer a large variety of food options ranging from Cuban-inspired to more traditional barbeque, and plenty of sides. A beer and wine bar is also available during catered events.
I arrived hungry, on a Thursday, around 4:35 p.m. Two vehicles were already in the parking lot.
Before ordering I made sure to give the menu on the side of the food cart another glance. Entrees, sides and drinks. All things seemed to match the website menu, but included better pictures of the food.
The cars and people started to multiply. Wow! Within the first 10 minutes of the cart being open it was evident this is a popular eatery!
There was a bit of a wait, but not a problem. The owners were multi-tasking: taking orders, taking phone calls, cooking, packaging, and running people’s food to their cars. They were working hard.
John Von Ruden was busy delivering orders to the cars and this helped everyone abide by the social distancing guidelines. I was impressed with the customer service. The smile never seemed to leave John’s face, even when I could tell things may have been getting hectic behind the scene.
By the time our order arrived there was quite a large crowd in the parking lot. There was even a firetruck and ambulance parked in the lot, with first responders standing in line waiting to order, with everyone else.
I ordered a variety of food, as I needed other “first timer” opinions, and I dropped off a few things to some family members on the way home.
The Food Cart Corn was full of flavor, served off the cob in a half pint dish for a less-mess experience. Sweet yellow corn, mixed with butter, mayo, parmesan, chili powder and Tajin spice. One dish seemed a little too “soupy,” but it was not a major issue and was still eaten.
Cilantro-lime coleslaw came with the Porkadilla. The flavors mingled perfectly, and complemented the smoky flavor of the pulled pork well. Pineapple coleslaw is another option.
My daughter’s favorite was the french fries, like most 7-year-olds. I must admit they were some of the crispiest fries we’ve ever had, and they stayed that way. Some fries can get soggy, or be dripping with grease, not these. Also, no dipping sauce necessary!
The Cuban sandwich “did not have much to it,” according to one family member. When asked to describe the Cuban sandwich she responded, “It might as well be a grilled cheese with mustard and a couple pickles.”
We all agreed. The meat was lacking, and the sandwich was mostly bread.
Overall, even with the small disappointment, we will most likely be back. We will probably not order the Cuban sandwich again, but the customer service was excellent and our other food was tasty and filling.
I may work up the courage to try the Cuban Potato Ball, or show up on a Tuesday for the $2 taco special. No doubt about it, I will be devouring another Porkadilla in the future!