Megan Sanchez always thought she’d be working in the arts. But her taco bike delivery service morphed into a food cart which soon became Güero, a Northeast Portland restaurant celebrated in local and national media.
Critics praise Sanchez’s freshly made tortas and the warm, eclectic vibe of her dining room. She draws on her Mexican and Egyptian heritage to create a culinary vision all her own. And Sanchez realized along the way that she actually is working in the arts — just not the ones she’d imagined.
Sanchez told Eric Slade of OPB’s “Oregon Art Beat” about food, art, and where it all began. Click play on the video below to hear more:
In her own words, Sanchez talks about Güero’s evolution. This transcript has been condensed from a longer conversation and edited for clarity.
Megan Sanchez: So the first iteration of Güero was actually in Vermont where there was, at the time, no Mexican food. And we started cooking out of an apartment kitchen and selling — without any business doing so, but we did — and we would sell out every night. And there was an inflated sense of confidence and ability to just open up a shop and have food and somebody comes and buys it.
Soon after opening the food truck in Portland, we were trying to figure out where to store everything and to have more space, before we realized it’s time to move.
And then a vacant restaurant space became available in our neighborhood and that felt like an obvious win, but it was so much bigger than anything I could imagine taking on. I was hesitant for sure at that time. But it seemed pretty obvious that if we had this opportunity, we should take it. And then within a few months we were happy it’s not a smaller restaurant.
I had this very youthful idea that I’d do this for a short time and then I’d figure out what I was going to do when I grew up. Something maybe in design or art history, and I maybe wanted to design clothes, that type of thing. And over time I’ve realized some of the things I thought I might do, I have this opportunity to incorporate them into my work. There’s a space to care for, there’s people to collaborate with constantly. You get to design playlists and spaces and plates of food, and all of that is a different form of artistry than cooking is. I feel very lucky I get to wear so many hats and do so many different things with this job.