Location: NE 52nd and Sandy – Rose City Food Park
Hours: Mon-Fri, 11-9; Sat, 12-9; Sun, 12-7
The Story: The Midwest. Having grown up on the west coast with parents from the midwest, I’m tangentially aware of the cuisine of Minnesota – ham, potatoes, dishes influenced by Germans and Norwegians – yet that’s about it. Other than KC BBQ or Chicago Pizza, the midwest is a bit of a black hole. Yet, with Pig ‘N A Pen, new cart at Rose City Food Park, we get their take on a midwestern delight – the breaded pork tenderloin.
Pig ‘N A Pen opened late summer at the NE Portland pod offering up a broad menu of midwestern sandwiches. Focusing primarily on pork tenderloin, the traditional is breaded in crackermeal and cornmeal or try it seasoned and seared on the flattop. Jerry’s Way offers up the tenderloin with pickles and yellow mustard. The Hoosier Style, which I enjoyed, is Iowa simple with traditional tenderloin topped with American cheese, shredded cabbage and served on a Franz bun. The sandwich was huge with the breaded tenderloin overflowing the bun – flavorful and filling. The side of seasonal broccoli salad added depth to the entire meal.
Pig ‘N A Pen is now open daily for lunch and dinner at Rose City Food Park. Get your midwestern fix and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
Menu can be found on their website.
Location: SW 3rd and Washington
Hours: Weekdays, 10-4
The Story: It was sad to see Salmon Fusion close this summer. Roger Mumm’s delightfully briny smoke salmon was a regular treat. Yet, change happens and Roger wanted to revisit his youth, so re-branded and launched Rajah’s Hawaiian Grill.
Owner and chef Roger Mumm was born in Hawaii and lives the Aloha style of life. Over the past five years, with his previous cart Salmon Fusion, Roger became a mainstay in the street food scene at the 3rd avenue lot. Owner, chef, mentor, friend – Roger does it all. Yet, the island life was calling one day, so he decided to move along from smoked salmon and get back to the flavors of his childhood – traditional Hawaiian lunches. The type of food the everyman eats.
The menu offers up a wide range of dishes from Kalua Pig to Ono Fish & Chips to the famous Hawaiian lunch – Loco Moco. I picked up a good size plate of Shoyu Chicken over rice with mac salad and seaweed salad. When have you seen seaweed salad on a menu? I hadn’t since visiting the Big Island, so was excited to revisit those salty flavors with the unique texture. The chicken, shoyu marinated with plenty of umami is not an ordinary chicken dish. Packed with flavor, it paired well with the two salads.
Rajah’s Hawaiian Grill is now open daily for lunch on SW 3rd and Washington. Next time you have a craving for Hawaiian dishes, give them a try, and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
Sample Menu (full menu on website):
- Huli Huli Chicken – $8.50
- Kalua Pig – $8.50
- Ono Fish & Chips – $8.50
- Loco Moco – $8.50
Facebook: Rajah’s Hawaiian Grill
Location: 5885 NW St Helens Rd in the parking lot of Anderson Roofing
Hours: Weekdays, lunch
The Story: Our food scene here in Portland continues to mature. Every day, I’m overjoyed by the layers of flavor offered by street food vendors throughout the city. Mole Prehispanic Cuisine, a new food truck out off HWY 30, brings us mole from Oaxaca and they are the real deal.
Chef Luis Ochoa, veteran of Isabel in the Pearl, works out of a truck parked of a highway, creating dynamic and exciting mole daily. Originating in the southern most regions of Mexico in the state of Oaxaca, Chef Luis crafts an rhapsody of dried chiles, seeds, nuts, herbs and spices to pair with locally grown meats to create the moles. After a few visits to Sauvie Island on the weekends and seeing the closed truck, I decided to pop in for lunch on a Monday. Four Mole dishes are on the menu – beef, pork, lamb and chicken. Yet, each is defined by the complexity of the mole. Chef Luis offered up a sample taste of each and dutifully explained the differences. I almost ordered them all. Not one to accept samples, these tiny tastes assisted me in choosing lunch.
The Mole Verde – Carlton Farms pork slow roasted and paired with a light herbaceous, yet zesty Oaxacan mole of tomatillos, pablanos and pepitas. I chose the verde for the spiciness. A forkful of pork, stirred in the rich green mole and a bit of brown rice and quinoa and my taste buds united in joy. Each dish is served with the rice and quinoa blend along with fresh greens topped with a pineapple salsa and pickled onions. Mix a bit of the pineapple with the mole – Boom!
Beyond the main dishes, Mole Prehistoric Cuisine also serves up fresh made empanadas and daily specials. Exploring the depths of regional cuisine ignites a passion in me about all foods. I’m excited to see Chef Luis bring his dishes to Portland’s streets. Find the truck parked at the Anderson Roofing Materials lot out off HWY 30 south of the St. Johns Bridge. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Mole Negro – primitive Oaxacan mole with braised St. Helen’s beef brisket – $8
- Mole Verde – $8
- Mole Colaradito – Anderson Ranches lamb, braised with guajillo chilies, mild spices, cinnamon and clove – $8
- Mole De Castilla – organic chicken pan poached and matched with earthy mole of dark chocolate, spice and fruit – $8
- Empanadas – $3
Location: NE 76th and Glisan
Hours: Tues-Fri, 11-2:30 and 4:30-8, Sat, 12-8pm
The Story: Been to the south lately? Enjoyed some fried catfish maybe? I haven’t and needless to say, I crave it. Lucky for me, I stumbled upon Grandpa Jimmy’s Southern Fried Fish, a new food cart over on NE Glisan serving up such delights.
Grandpa Jimmy’s opened only a month ago and according to the owner of the neighboring taproom, had been selling out daily. Yes, Grandpa Jimmy’s sits next door to Hillbilly’s Growler Fill Station, so you can pair your fried fish dish with a nice quaffable brew. Andre, the owner and chef of Grandpa Jimmy’s, has put together a great menu for the neighborhood. Baskets or dinner plates with either fried tilapia, halibut or catfish. A sampler is also available so one can enjoy all three. As for sides, try the deep fried okra or southern greens with smoked turkey. True taste pleasers.
On the cool, damp day I visited, fried catfish with fresh cut fries, tangy coleslaw and a dinner roll sounded just about the perfect lunch. With an IPA by my side, I dove in to the lightly breaded and boldly seasoned catfish which fell apart on the fork. Mix in a fry here and there and trail with the coleslaw. The perfect lunch for a Wednesday. I’ll definitely return for the sampler or maybe even the greens on the weekend.
On Grandpa Jimmy’s Facebook, Andre has posted some weekly specials and a photo of him and Grandpa Jimmy, so beyond the printed menu, there will be other treats. NE Glisan is coming alive with new establishments every week, so next time you’re over that way, drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Deep Fried Catfish – basket, $8; dinner, $12
- Tilapia – $7/9
- Halibut – $15/20
- “Jimmy” Sampler – a piece of each fish – $13
- The Jimmy Sandwich – choice of shrimp, tilapia, catfish or chicken – $6 or $9
- Grilled Jumbo Prawns – $8
- Sides range from $3-6
Facebook: Grandpa Jimmy’s
Location: NE 52nd and Sandy, Rose City Food Park
Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, 11am-3 and 5-7; Fri, 11-3 and 5-8, Sat/Sun, 11-7
The Story: Portland is on a hot dog kick. Ten years ago, one could find hot dogs at a few carts in downtown, but they went the way of sausage sandwiches and reindeer sausage. Now, restaurants have jumped into the game with Hop Dog, Clutch, Stray Dogs and more. Steve’s Dawg House at Rose City Food Park joins the scene with their version of a Michigan Sauce hot dog.
Steve’s Dawg House opened summer 2015 with an ambitious goal – bring hot dogs back to Portland’s street food scene. Granted, you can find dogs if you seek them out, yet they aren’t like the Chicago or New York style dogs you find on the streets of those cities. It takes gumption and a great product to take on the ubiquitous American delight. Steve’s Dawg House is a dream come true after many years. The famous “Frank’s Michigan Sauce” arrives courtesy of the owner’s father who created the first dog business in the 50’s in upstate New York. Now, Portland gets a taste of it.
Menu offerings start with a Sabrett Hot Dog, New York’s original push cart style frankfurter. Then add toppings. Go Classic with mustard, relish and onions. Travel to New York with mustard, onions and sauerkraut. Or try their special, the Michigan dog with house made Michigan sauce, spicy mustard and diced onions. Pair with a side of garlic rosemary fry’s and you’re set. The Michigan dog overflowed the bun offering up a bite with just mustard and dog. Snap! Love that Sabrett style. Michigan sauce is a meat sauce accented with a bit of chili and sweetness and works well with the dog and a smattering of fresh chopped red onion.
Steve’s Dawg House is the real thing if you’re looking for a frankfurter from a food cart. In a city with so many meat in tube options, go simple and enjoy the journey. Open every day except Tuesday for lunch and dinner. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
Sample Menu (full menu on website):
- Michigan Dog – $5
- Classic Dog – $4.50
- New York Dog – $5
- House Fry’s – $3.75
- Garlic rosemary Fry’s – $4
Some items of interest for you street food fans out there:
Portland’s newest food cart pod – Piknik Park Food Carts and Beer – will be celebrating their grand opening this weekend, October 9-11. There will be free tastings and a variety of entertainment. The lot boasts 8 food carts including a beer garden with wine and cider included. More details on their Facebook page.
Downtown’s Georgian cart Kargi Gogo has celebrated two years in business with a revamping of the menu. It seems we all love their cheese bread, so now they offer four different types. The Khachapuri is the original we’ve enjoyed the last two years. The other three include a baked cheese and egg version and one with smoked ham. For those of you who fell in love with their khinkali dumplings, fear not, they still offer them up frozen for you to enjoy at home. Kargi Gogo is located on SW 9th and Washington and open 7 days a week from 11am-4pm.
Piedmont Station on NE Killingsworth and 7th keeps adding vendors. After the initial few, they’ve done some re-arranging and brought in five new vendors offering burgers, southern cuisine, Thai, and chicken wings. Le Tap is now open, offering up 14 taps with beer, wine and cider. If you live in the neighborhood, it is a great place for lunch or dinner with covered seating.
Cartlandia in SE Porltand announced they have three new vendors – Smokin’ Bowls – Indonesian – opening this week; Papaya Fruit and Eatery and Koi Fusion opening Oct 11.
If you were out and about downtown at 10th and Alder on Tuesday the 6th, you would have noticed more than a few vendors closed. The power was out on the lot for more than a couple of hours. Many vendors made due, utilizing propane to prepare their meals, but not having power is a real challenge. Hopefully the electrician has figured out the problem. If you’re a regular, hit up your favorite vendor to give them a little extra boost this week.
Thank you for supporting Portland’s street food scene.
Location: SE 11th and Tacoma – Piknik Park
Hours: Tuesday, 11am-2pm; Thursday-Monday, 11am-7pm
The Story: Malaysian street food in Portland. Until this past month, when asked, I would have to tell people we don’t have the region well represented. Straits Kitchen hit the street running with a new food cart at a new pod down in Portland’s Sellwood neighborhood and we’re excited.
Straits Kitchen gets its name from the western coast of Malaysia, specifically the port cities of Malacca and Penang. The cuisine is influenced by the Baba-Nyonya, also known as Straits Chinese. Centuries ago, native Chinese arrived in the region, marrying Malay women and creating an entire new heritage of flavor and color. A blend of Malay and Chinese. Chef Angie, born and raised in Malaysia, brings traditional dishes to Portland, along with creating some fusion of her own. I’ve personally been seeking out dishes from my travels in SE Asia and found them at this cart.
The menu offers a number of dishes for both meat eaters and vegetarians. Small bites include Roti Babi – shredded braised pork, soy sauce, cinnamon and star anise served on a mini baguette with chili sauce and pickled cucumbers. A tasty little sandwich with bright flavors. Perfect for sharing. The Inche Kabin, Nyonya fried chicken wings, are marvelous. Spicy marinated chicken wings fried and served with a soy-lime-jalapeno dipping sauce. If you’re wanting to try multiple flavors, go for more dishes at lower prices. Bowls inlude a spicy pickled salad with pickled vegetables, chili, spices and served with tovu, bean sprouts and more. Straits Kitchen even has Laksa Lemak, a spicy coconut curry and one of my favorite dishes.
Straits Kitchen crushed it on my first visit and I plan to return. A cart I will recommend to colleagues, not just for great dishes, but for the breadth of flavors. Open every day but Wednesday, plan a visit. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
Sample menu (full menu on website):
- Loh Bak – five spice pork roll – $5
- Roti Babi – $6
- Inche Kabin – $6
- Acar Salad – $4 or $7
- Laksa Lemak – $10
Location: N Mississippi and Beech
Hours: Wed-Sun 11am-8pm
The Story: The Mississippi Historical District offers up more than a few amazing culinary gems, both in brick and mortar and street food. You think you’ve enjoyed it all when a new maverick arrives and shakes things up. The other night, at the Beech Pod, we dove in to MF Tasty, a new food cart offering up southwest inspired dishes.
MF Tasty started as a secret supper club in Phoenix by owners Nicole and Eric. A menu would be posted and only those who reserved spots were given the secret location and, viola, dinner. After garnering a following, Nicole and Eric decided they wanted to invest in themselves and Portland beckoned. While the menu is southwest inspired, Eric sources local and blends the two, creating amazing offerings from the small kitchen.
Eric put together a great menu of sandwiches, salads and specials. The evening we visited, Shrimp Ceviche took up the mantel. Shrimp tossed in chipotle-tomato broth with onions, apple, herbs and lime. Served with cabbage slaw and tortilla chips, the ceviche was devoured by all at the table. A bit spicy from the chipotle, yet the citrus balanced it all out. The Garbanzo and Greens salad spoke to me for a healthy Friday night nosh. Sautéed spinach, kale and smashed garlic mixed with garbanzo beans and a special spice blend. Add in marinated mushrooms for an extra bit of umph. This is the greens I try and make at home on a regular basis, so it was wonderful to have someone with more skill on the grill provide me with some new options. Everything we tried we enjoyed. I can’t wait to return for the Cemita Sandwich.
MF Tasty raised the bar for street food on Mississippi, yet the Beech Pod has always offered up dishes and cuisine to rival many of the restaurants on the street. Next time you’re up that way, drop on by and try some of Eric’s magic and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Cemita Sandwich – Achiote glazed pork for $9 or KBBQ marinated mushroom for $8
- Garbanzo and Greens – $6
- Tortilla Espanol – Spanish frittata of potato, smoked poblanos, caramelized onion and egg – $6