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Vendor Profile: Salvador Molly’s

Sarah West

Farmers’ markets are a collection of businesses, a temporal grocery store where each shelf comes with a smiling face and a wealth of knowledge about the products they produce and sell. We’re giving our vendors the spotlight to share more about their role in the Hillsdale market community.

By Sarah West

tamaleBefore the phrase “food cart pod” was in existence, restaurants had to incubate themselves by renting a brick-and-mortar space right off the bat, or by repeatedly selling out of a popular dish at the farmers’ market. Such is the story of Salvador Molly’s, which began in 1994 as a tamale cart at the downtown Portland Farmers Market.

Scott Moritz, the tamales’ creator and proprietor, soon hit it off with one of his regular customers, Rick Sadle. As the two became friends, they began imagining how to expand the Saturday tamale operation into a full-time project. In 1996, with Scott’s tamale recipe as the main attraction, Rick helped open a café they called Salvador Molly’s.

The menu (and décor) quickly became eclectic, incorporating flavors and motifs from spicy, tropical cuisines. Their notorious Great Balls of Fire appetizer brings in challenge-seekers (and the occasional television crew) to brave habanero infused fritters and earn a place on the Hall of Flame. Spicy standoffs aside, the menu’s bold flavors and sun-drenched associations hit a chord with Portland diners that continues to attract new and long-time customers alike.

Throughout the last eighteen years of growing and developing a restaurant business, Rick and his daughter, Darielle (who became manager and part-owner seven years ago), have stayed true to their business’s farmers’ market roots. Hillsdale and Portland Farmers’ Market shoppers know their cheery booth, and the smell of their steam-bathed tamales, well. The tamales (and menu items at the restaurant) often incorporate ingredients purchased from Hillsdale vendors.

The Sadle’s commitment to farmers’ markets is further reflected in their community ethos. Each month, the restaurant hosts fundraisers for local schools and non-Profit organizations. Scott and Rick chose Hillsdale as the location of their restaurant for its close-knit neighborhood appeal, and Salvador Molly’s continues to be a gathering place for friends and family as a favorite Hillsdale eatery.

Roadhouse SignThis month, Salvador Molly’s expands again with the opening of their new Roadhouse and Tiki Garden in the Brooklyn neighborhood. The new space will be much like the old, with tropical-themed murals and decorations, Great Balls of Fire, a lighthearted and family-friendly atmosphere, as well as an outdoor patio. (Fire pit and water feature coming soon!)

The menu at the Roadhouse will remain similar to their Hillsdale location, focusing on food from places where palm trees grow, with some new items including: Thai fish cakes with mango red onion salsa, house-made bread and sausages, and Korean chap chee. During lunch, their drive-up window will be open for take-away sandwiches and house-made sausages.


We snapped a few shots before they opened last week. Stop in soon to watch the space evolve, try new menu items or enjoy the secluded patio. Find the Salvador Molly’s Roadhouse and Tiki Garden at 4729 SE Milwaukie Ave in Southeast Portland. They are open from 3pm until late Tuesday thru Saturday. Learn more at www.salvadormollys.com.