Location: 4631 N Albina, Portland
Hours: Weekdays and weekends, 11-6
The Story: When a buddy mentioned the new cart just up the street from our favorite bar, it took me a second to catch the code. IGPAY is a new food cart in N Portland focusing, well, on pig.
IGPAY is the work of Regina and Shaffer who put together the idea of focusing solely on pork for their sandwiches. An ingenious idea and the menu at first glance shows they aren’t just doing pork belly and bacon. I for one am a bit bored of bacon, so was excited to see the offerings at IGPAY. Iowa Bob, Naked Bob or Bastard Bob. Who’s Bob? I had to ask since those are the names of the three sandwiches on the menu. Bob is an old friend who’s name isn’t really Bob, but I digress. An Iowa Bob is a breaded pork tenderloin, the Naked Bob is a griddled pork loin (is griddled a word? It is now.) and Bastard Bob is all about how you want it. A tossup for sure. Being a fan of yellow mustard and pretty much any mustard, Iowa Bob it was. A huge breaded pork tenderloin with yellow mustard, onions and house made pickles. The star of the show was the saltine cracker breading Shaffer used. The bun, light and fluffy, so it didn’t interfere with the mix of great flavors. Just look at that tantalizing sammy.
IGPAY is open Thursday-Sunday from 11-6. Beyond the pork sandwiches, they also offer breakfast sandwiches and soup. Located in the parking lot next to Albina Press on N. Albina, this cart is a must try for pork tenderloin fans. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Iowa Bob – $8
- Naked Bob – $8
- Bastard Bob – starts at $7
- Egg A’ Muffin – English muffin w/bacon, egg and cheddar – $5
- Daily Soup – $5
Phone: 970 556 3280
Location: SW 3rd and Washington
Hours: Daily for breakfast and lunch and late night on weekends
The Story: Have you enjoyed New York style deli? A sandwich overflowing with thin sliced meats or pressed to perfection? I have, and now can find such treats at a food cart in downtown – Lower East Side Deli.
Lower East Side Deli opened this past summer with a vast menu of sandwich options. The owner, Abdellah, lived in NYC and worked at delis there, so knows how to put together something brilliant. The sign says it all – Italian Sandwiches, Reubens, Big Chicken Wraps. And Abdullah took a page out of a Chinese menu and posted photos of the monstrosities. I truly believe, a picture sells a dish more than a description. Heck, each visit I pick a different sandwich based on the photo. How does the Chicago Beef sound? Thin sliced Angus beef straight off the grill, horseradish dijon, lettuce and tomato on a garlic baguette. Or the Mad Sicilian with tuna, provolone, hot peppers, lettuce, tomato and a little olive oil on an Italian sub. Abdellah crafts both of those and about 20 more.
Craving a big sandwich after some holiday shopping I decided on Lower East Side Deli. The first sandwich that caught my eye was the Bostonian. First question was whether I wanted it hot or cold. Hot please. A thick layer of beef, then ham, hot capicola, provolone, mayo, a bit of the veggies and then thrown on the flattop to heat up. A beauty. Maybe 3 inches of sandwich joy. Normally served with turkey, they were out, so I subbed in the capicola – a great choice. Gorgeable. Great quality meats, a quality bun (a must!) and fresh veggies. I can’t wait to return for more.
Lower East Side Deli is located on SW 3rd and Washington on the Washington side of the lot. Abdellah opens for breakfast and lunch and then later into the evening on the weekends. If you have a hankering for a New York style deli sandwich, check them out and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
Sample Menu (There are over 20 sandwich options):
- Boneless Buffalo Chicken Wrap – $6
- Tex Mex BLT Rancher Wrap – $6
- Honey Dripper ‘Q Chicken Wrap – $6
- Bostonian – $6
- Chicago Beef – $6
- Big Reuben Dog – with pastrami, sauerkraut, swiss and russian dressing on a dog – $6
- Fenway Melt – hot Capicolla, baked Virginia ham, provolone, pressed on sourdough – $6
- Spicy Italian – salami, hot Capicolla, ham and provolone, hots, lettuice and condiments on Italian sub -$6
Location: SE 28th pl and Division at Tidbit
Hours: Wed-Fri, 11-8, Saturday, 11-9 (check Facebook for updated hours)
The Story: Japanese street food is making a play in Portland. We’ve all enjoyed the Ramen craze the last few years, but now, with the help from a few food cart owners, we’re being introduced small bite street food from across the pond. Buki at Tidbit nails it.
Buki is the work of Jack and William, college roommates and friends ever since. Taiwanese born, both experienced Japanese street food while living there and fell in love. William is the number 1 grill man according to Jack, but chatting with them, I can only assume both do the food justice. The Takoyaki, the cart’s signature dish, is what businessmen eat after imbibing a bit to much. Jack shared a story about late night wandering in Japan and seeing men in suits just mowing through plates of Takoyaki with the Japanese mayo and takoyaki sauce all over.
So, what is Takoyaki? Well, I would describe it as a small ball of yummy. Honestly, there isn’t anything like it I’ve tried. On the menu, you can get Takoyaki with sausage and cheese which is more of an American style dish or do a spicy version with kimchi and spicy mayo. I opted more traditional and chose the octopus. Yep, octopus balls. Chewy octopus is battered in wheat flower and served in a boat with a bamboo skewer. Then topped with Japanese mayo and Takoyaki sauce, a thick sweet sauce, along with a generous helping of bonito flakes. I couldn’t wait to dive in and even burned my tounge on the first bite. Each little ball – a chewy, savory experience. Paired with a cold beer from Scout Beer Garden onsite and I imagined myself on a bench at midnight in Tokyo with all the neon I could take in.
Buki also offers up Taiyaki, another staple of Japanese street food – fish shaped cookies filled with chocolate, Nutella or bean paste. In summer months they offer Bubble Tea. In winter, Jack mentioned he was putting in soup warmers to offer homestyle Taiwanese beef stew noodle soup, a dish they grew up eating and a recipe from Mom. Buki is an excellent edition to the street food scene here and they are “Armed with Deliciousness.” Check them out and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Takoyaki – numerous flavors, 8 balls for $7
- Taiyaki – $3.50-3.75
Location: SE 26th and Belmont
Hours: Tues-Fri, 12-8, Saturdays, 12-5 (subject to change, check Facebook for updates)
The Story: Portland is a people magnet, not just for the young and tech entrepreneurs, but also for chefs. Lauren and Graham, the owners of Neue Southern PDX traveled 3000 miles from Greenville, SC to open their cart. One of Portland’s latest additions to the food cart scene.
Lauren and Graham opened Neue Southern in Greenville two years ago, but the siren song of Portland’s street food scene called and they sold the truck and bought a cart from a local builder and set up shop on SE Belmont, an ever evolving food destination. The cart pod, Belle Carts, hosts three vendors at this time with covered seating. Lauren and Graham attended the much vaunted culinary school Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte and opened their food truck shortly thereafter. Their goal, a menu offering local, sustainable, in season items crafted into tasty dishes. When I visited, the chalk written menu spoke to an ever evolving range of options based on their culinary expertise but also what’s in season. There are few vendors who can pull this off, but after enjoying lunch from Neue Southern PDX, I’m sold.
Lauren greeted me with a smile and welcomed me to the cart. Always a good sign. Menu for that Wednesday included deep fried brussels sprouts, a butternut squash soup with apple, shallot, vanilla, thyme and brown butter cream, and event fried quail with a buttermilk biscuit. While I’m eager to try every dish, I didn’t have enough room in the belly entering Thanksgiving weekend, so I picked out the schnitzel sandwich, always a favorite for my tastebuds. An organic pork shoulder, battered and fried, topped with Bibb lettuce, sweet and sour pickles and served on a house made bun with lemon cream. The schnitzel was easily 25% larger than the bun which I love. Mixing the sweet and sour pickles with the schnitzel and lemon cream is genius – so many disparate flavors put together to create sandwich harmony. A rather sizable sammy, so if you’re visiting, bring a friend and order two items and share.
Neue Southern PDX is a great addition to Portland’s street food scene. Each day I’m surprised by what chefs are crafting in the little kitchens that are food carts and am happy to have a taste of the south as an offering. Drop on by the next time your down that way and let Laurent and Graham know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
Sample Menu (see website or Facebook for menu updates):
- Brussels sprouts deep fried – $4
- Schnitzel Sandwich – $9
- Fried Quail – $12
- Seasonal Soup – $7
- Steamed Bun with pork belly, sorghum + blackstrap rum, sweet and sour pickles, penne, house bun – $9 for 2
Ever wonder what to get for that someone in your life who can’t get enough food carts or trucks? Here are some literary recommendations. All books available locally from Powell’s Books in Portland, OR.
- Cartopia Portlands Food Cart Revolution – A great book with some amazing photography written when the street food scene was blowing up in Portland at the tail end of the last decade.
- Food Trucks: Dispatches and Recipes from the Best Kitchens on Wheels – Heather Shouse looks at the food truck scene nationally. A great read.
- – Steven Shomler tells the stories of Portland’s street food vendors and more.
For the Cartivore who wants to replicate their favorite street food dish – Cookbooks:
- The Truck Food Cookbook: 150 Recipes and Ramblings from America’s Best Restaurants on Wheels – John T. Edge puts together a compendium of street food recipes.
- Eat St.: Recipes from the Tastiest, Messiest, and Most Irresistible Food Trucks – Eat Street, the show that put street food in America’s living room gathered up some of their favorite dishes.
- – From the team Behind the Food Carts, a street food road trip.
- The Adobo Road Cookbook: A Filipino Food Journey-From Food Blog, to Food Truck, and Beyond
- Trailer Food Diaries Cookbook: Portland Edition, Volume One (American Palate) – Tiffany Harelik is one prolific writer with Trailer Food Diaries for Portland, Austin, Houston, Dallas and beyond.
- Trailer Food Diaries Cookbook: Portland Edition, Volume II (American Palate)
- The Southern Food Truck Cookbook: Discover the South’s Best Food on Four Wheels
- Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand – One of Portland’s most famous little carts that turned into an empire.
For the entreprenuer who wants to start a mobile business:
- The Food Truck Handbook: Start, Grow, and Succeed in the Mobile Food Business
- Running a Food Truck for Dummies (For Dummies)
- How to Start a Home-Based Food Truck Business (How to Start a Home-Based Food Truck Business)
- The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Food Truck Business (Complete Idiot’s Guides)
There are many more, so hit up your local bookstore and keep on supporting the carts.
Location: SW 3rd and Washington
Hours: Sun-Thurs, 11am-8pm; Friday/Saturday, 11am-2am
The Story: Fried Chicken. Quick, what is your first thought? I think of buckets of KFC and cringe. Fried chicken, when done right is moist, flavorful and almost sinful. Whole Time Chicken, a food cart in downtown Portland, has it dialed in.
Whole Time Chicken opened this past fall on the Washington side of the 3rd avenue food cart lot. Portland has seen an increase in southern fare being offered up with chicken and biscuit restaurants and even some new carts showcasing cuisine various southern states. So exciting to see the newcomers. Whole Time Chicken focuses on both deep fried and pan fried chicken served up in sandwiches or over rice or a salad. Upon arrival, you’re offered up a small sample of what they have cooking inside. Just that little nibble of seared moist chicken solidified my decision to enjoy lunch from them that day. Trying to mix the healthy with the sinful, I picked up fried chicken over rice and a mixed green salad. I pretty much asked him to make me something special and he did. I love a good fried chicken and with the right crust and seasoning, it becomes a memorable meal. This dish, with spicy chicken, greens and rice was fully enjoyable down to the last bite. No dry chicken here.
Whole Time Chicken is now open daily for lunch through the dinner hour and even late night on the weekends. Craving some fried chicken after a few visits to the downtown clubs? Whole Time will hook you up. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Chicken Sandwich – $6
- Chicken and Rice – fried or pan seared – $6
- Chicken and Salad – $7.50
- Chicken, rice and salad – $8
Facebook: Whole Time Chicken
Location: 67886 E Highway 26, Welches, Oregon
Hours: Daily, 11-6, yet check Facebook for updates
The Story: Amber, the owner of SissyMama’s, emailed a few weeks ago informing me that Mt. Hood does indeed have food carts – and her’s offers up a Gluten Free menu. I’m aware of summer vendors in Gov’t Camp, but Welches, nope. So, a field trip was in order.
Remember field trips as kids? There was always food whether it be a meal at a topical restaurant or a bag lunch made by mom. I enjoy field trips and get out of the city to visit food carts whenever I get the opportunity. Welches is a cute little village on HWY 26 on the way up Mt. Hood. Just before you get to the single stoplight, Amber has set up her red and white camper trailer – SissyMama’s. With snow blanketing the ground, I pulled up for lunch. Amber trained at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, the world’s largest nutrition school and offers up a menu of Gluten Free and Paleo options. She uses the cart as a means to explore food and create amazing dishes for everyone. Being on the mountain in winter, hot soup is daily treat.
The menu is ever changing both with the seasons and at Amber’s whim, yet after trying three dishes, I trust there will always be something on the menu that is delicious. The day I visited offered up roasted cauliflower and potato soup, a vegetarian hand pie and a paleo dish of red cabbage, green pepper and Italian sausage. The hot soup, served in a 16oz cup with no spoon was delightful. Standing in the snow, sipping at the soup while chatting food made my day. Also, it fit perfect in the cup holder for the drive home. The hand pie, a newcomer to the menu and one of Amber’s first melted in my mouth. Gluten free and full of goodies, I even dipped it in the soup. The cabbage roll in a bowl offered up Asian flavors with a dash of sesame seeds. All around, three different items with three distinct flavors and all rather delectable.
SussyMama’s is open daily and offers indoor and outdoor seating. I can only imagine how magical a bowl of Amber’s soup would be on a snowy winter afternoon or a sunny summer afternoon. Either way, next time I’m headed up the mountain, I know I’ll stop. Do check her Facebook page for updates on hours. Next time you’re on the mountain, drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
Location: NW 19th and Quimby – Q19
Hours: lunch, weekdays
The Story: There are food trucks and food trailers. Large and small. There are vendors on bikes. But, The Lunch Box is probably the cutest, coziest little food cart I’ve seen in awhile. Creating wraps both hot and cold, the cart sated my lunchtime needs for a cool and crisp Friday.
Wraps for me are either awesome of not. I’m not sure what it is, yet I tend to shy away from them. Maybe because every corporate box lunch ever made had a poorly made wrap in it – all cold and soggy. Yet, I know wraps can be done well and Portland’s food carts have proved that. At The Lunch Box, they offer up both cold and hot pressed wraps with a variety of ingredients. Being a cool fall day, I chose the Tuna Melt hot pressed wrap. A layer of cheese on the tortilla, topped with fresh tuna salad and tomato, the wrap is then pressed similar to a panini until hot with all that tasty cheese melted throughout. Inside Quimby’s, the onsite bar, everyone asked what I had. No one had seen such a glorious sandwich from a cart I guess. Being a sucker for anything with the words tuna and melt in it, I dove in and enjoyed every bite. A great mix of tuna with seasonings and mayo. The wrap was crisp and toasty. Overall, I would trade this over some of the traditional melts I’ve had in town.
The Lunch Box is located at Q19 Food Cart Pod in NW Portland. There is outdoor seating or you can take you food inside and warm up in the bar. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
Hot Pressed Wraps:
- Philly Steak – $8
- Chipotle Chicken – $7
- Tuna Melt – $7
- Chicken Cordon Bleu – $7
- Grilled Cheese w/bacon and tomato – $7
- Italian – ham, salami, basil – $7
- Chicken Bacon Club – $7
- Tuna – $7
- Veggie – $7
- Roast Beef – $7