Medford's curbside cuisine
There are delicious, affordable eats available at the outdoor food carts around Medford.
Though the street-food movement hasn't quite exploded in our city as it has in other places around the country, there is fare that goes beyond corn dogs and curly fries — along with a host of mobiles that offer various Mexican food.
Rogue Wok popped up this summer along Highway 62 between Ace Hardware and Lava Lanes. The Asian kitchen on wheels offers eight vegetarian, chicken, beef or tofu entrees that are "wok'd" to order. Each dish costs $6; cold drinks cost $1.
The cart's entrepreneurs, Tony and Jennifer Zentgraf, opened the cart soon after moving to the Rogue Valley from Southern California, where Tony Zentgraf worked for various restaurants. He designed his food cart himself, and it was built locally. Zentgraf says he likes preparing his Asian dishes and that he thinks a food cart might be a good way to start his own restaurant.
I ordered Zentgraf's Thai curry and took the to-go meal back to work to dine at my desk. It was a delicious, simple dish of white rice topped with stir-fried chunks of white chicken and fresh green beans, red bell peppers and white onions. I liked its spicy sauce made with green curry, Thai basil and coconut milk. Zentgraf says he can make it as spicy as customers like.
Rogue Wok also offers Mongolian, kung pao, General Tso, broccoli ginger, sweet and sour, chow mein and "dragon" noodles. Hours are 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays.
Zentgraf says he's staying open to the idea of new daytime and nighttime locations. Locations will be available at Rogue Wok's Facebook site or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. He texts his lunch specials to customers twice a week, and food can be ordered ahead by calling 541-499-2151.
In Medford's downtown area, there's Jolie Bixby's Bento Central, Bryant Goins' Rogue Dogs and Jeff's Street Bistro, run by Jeff Swafford.
Jeff's Street Bistro, at the corner of Eighth Street and Central Avenue, touts hot and cold sandwiches of pulled pork, steak and chicken with cheese. Prices range from $5.50 to $6.50. Chips and sodas also are available. Swafford is a former chef who has worked for many fine restaurants in the Rogue Valley, and he caters outdoor events. He says operating his street cart is the most fun he's ever had at a job.
Hours for Jeff's Street Bistro are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. On the day a co-worker and I went to sample fare, the street cart was not at the corner.
One block down, at Ninth Street and Central Avenue, across the street from Rogue Community College, is the Rogue Dogs stand. Goins offers a variety of dogs, along with weekly specials such as barbecue-beef and teriyaki-chicken sandwiches. Rogue Dogs' hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Goins also does events and parties. Reach him at 541-840-9541.
Last but not least, for some smokin' Japanese-style chicken or steak served with rice, try Bixby's Bento Central at Riverside Avenue and East Main Street. The cost is $6.50 for an ample helping of either dish, and customers can choose teriyaki, sweet chili or soy sauces to flavor their meals. Bento Central is open from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
The enterprising Bixby also keeps her stand open from 9:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights to feed the downtown bar crowd.
Bixby says the late-night hours are lucrative — and entertaining. It's just like dinner and a show, she says.
— Laurie Heuston