Fresh lunch options abound in Hood River

Lunchtime doldrums got you down? Have the mid-day food options in Hood River grown stale? Are you looking for a little taste of variety?

If you’re tired of the same old restaurant fare every day, it may be time to sample the three new ethnic food varieties in Hood River.

Try Thai for a day, falafel the next, and later, some cajun that will make you feel vexed. Thai Winds, Falafel Nation and Gumbo King are here to help break up the rest.

“I’ve always wanted to run a food stand,” said Tom Aviv, owner of Falafel Nation, which set up shop just over one month ago at the corner of 5th and Cascade. “I wanted to do something that made me feel like I was contributing to the community, and express something opposite from all the corporate, fast-food restaurants everywhere.”

Aviv came to Hood River from San Francisco last summer and chose to share some of his Israeli family recipes with the downtown clientele.

“I wanted to be a cook more than a waiter,” he said, “and so far, it’s been popular enough to help justify my time.”

Another downtown business enjoying tremendous success is Thai Winds, owned by Ana and Lee Kober. After selling ethnic food at the Saturday Market for two years, they purchased a trailer, made some upgrades and worked out a deal to operate in the Dell Mart parking lot at 4th and Oak.

“We’ve really benefitted from the location,” said Lee Kober, who just re-opened at Dell Mart in April after a six-month stint on Tucker Road. “This town really needed Thai food and we’ve been seeing a lot of return customers.”

Aside from the central location, the reason for Thai Winds’ success has been the culiary talents of Jaroon “Ana” Kober. She has been cooking luscious Thai food for years, and the menu continues to expand.

Another menu that has continued to grow every month is that of Glenn Couvillon’s Gumbo King. The New Orleans native has been cooking savory cajun food since he was a boy, and received such positive feedback, he figured he’d take advantage of his commodity.

“Part of my wanting to open a cart is selfish,” Couvillon joked, “because now, I can eat the food all the time. You can never have too much cajun.”

Gumbo King opened at the Pine Grove Texaco in March, and after two months alongside Thai Winds at Dell Mart, it returned to Highway 35.

“Business in Pine Grove has been much more steady,” Couvillon said. “We’ve had lots of return customers but not a lot of returned food. That’s a pretty good average.”

Couvillon envisions Gumbo King franchises in time, along with his own brand of coffee and sausage. He also offers catering services and plans to start a website to sell his famous roux, spice blends and secret sauces.

“People will be able to make the same gumbo as me, only not with the same attitude,” he said. “If you have all the ingredients, it’s pretty hard to mess it up.”

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