Location: NE 15th and Alberta
Hours: Thursday, 12-8pm; Friday/Saturday, 12-9pm; Sunday, 12-8pm
The Story: Local Fare, Indian Flair. Portland, welcome Desi PDX, Alberta’s newest Indian food cart.
Deepak Saxena opened the cart earlier this year with a focus on food inspired by Indian spices and flavors while keeping it local and organic and committing to everyone’s indulgences. At Desi PDX, you can get gluten-free, paleo and vegan. Raised on traditional Indian fare, Deepak eventually fell in love with cooking in this 20’s. After a first career in IT, the food cart became the next adventure. Inspired by Eric Schlosser’s work Fast Food Nation, he changed his own eating habits and continues to work at cooking more sustainably which is reflected with the menu at the cart.
Let’s talk food. Deepak has both a la carte options or bowls. Every week he has a rotating “pulse of the week,” which is a selection of organic bean and lentil dhals. How does spicy cabbage salad with shredded coconut, chillies and mustard infused oil sound? Or maybe a Pakora waffle made with spicy garbanzo beans. I chose the cardamom chai chicken. One pound of Mary’s free range drumsticks are tea brined and tea steamed then fried in organic sunflower oil. A coconut sugar chai glaze is added then finished with toasted cardamom and Jacobsen salt. Whew! So many different flavors and ingredients go into creating this dynamic and vibrant chicken. I knew Indian cuisine’s diversity of flavors and spices, but these drumsticks were off the charts. I can only imagine what the other dishes present. I’m excited for a return visit, maybe with a friend so we can order multiple dishes and share.
Desi PDX offers up a diverse menu of treats for everyone and brings up specials almost daily, so follow them on Facebook for updates. Desi PDX is a great addition to the street food scene here in Portland. Drop on by next time you’re up on Alberta and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
Sample Menu – full menu on website
- Cardamom chai chicken – $7.25
- Chana masala belly – tamarind-ginger braised carton farms pork belly – $7.50
- Pulse of the week – $3.75-5.75
- Belly Bowl – pork belly, fried rice, chutney, pickles, salad – $10
- Vegan thali – pulse & rice, slaw, chutney, pickles, salad – $11
- Chicken bowl – chicken, fried rice, chutney, pickles, salad – $9.75
Location: Carlton, OR
Hours: Friday-Monday, 8am-2pm
The Story: If you make it well, people will visit from afar to partake in the craft. Isn’t that how it works? Why we drive an hour for a good beer or the best ice cream? Henry’s Diner in Carlton, smack dab in the middle of wine county, is off the beaten path for a food cart, but the dishes they create are worth the journey.
Joseph Zumpano had the urge to return to his roots. Having spent time in high powered restaurants in the east and having lived in Philadelphia for many years, the west, along with a McMinnville born wife, beckoned. The two landed in Carlton where Zumpano opened Henry’s Diner, named after his grandfather. Carlton is one of those cute little valley towns you may miss if you’re highway driving. But when you’re checking out vineyards in the region, it becomes a destination. I remember visiting Carlton in the 80’s for a famous pizza size hamburger. That restaurant burned down and Henry’s Diner is now in the spot with plenty of seating, both covered and not.
Joesph’s menu focuses on breakfast, but on the hearty side. I remember the breakfast my grandparents made with everything under the sun put on a plate that was more like a platter. They were farmers, so eating a big breakfast was key. Joseph hails from Philly, a working class city, and his plates overflow with goodies. Fried Jersey Pork Roll anyone? What about scratch biscuits and gravy? For me, it was the Philly Hot Breakfast. Something about seeing pork scrapple on the menu drew me in.Scrapple is scraps of pork stewed with cornmeal and shaped into loaves for slicing and frying. An east coast treat. Joshua sources both his scrapple and Jersey pork roll direct from the east coast. A large plate with potato hash, bacon baked beans, three eggs, toast and scrapple. Sitting there in the sun with the Carlton grain tower peering down, I had one of the best breakfasts I’ve enjoyed in a long while. A simple slice of toast layered with a bit of runny egg and some scrapple brought a smile to my face that didn’t leave until I finished off my coffee. This cart is the real thing.
Henry’s Diner also offers pancakes, coffee and you can mix and match a breakfast with eggs, bacon, biscuits etc. A great breakfast cart with all the trimmings. Next time you’re headed to the beach or taking in some of the bounty the Yamhill County has to offer, drop on by the only food cart in Carlton – Henry’s Diner. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- The #7 Breakfast Sandwich – fried Jersey pork roll, Tillamook cheddar, potato hash and 2 fried eggs on toast – $8
- The Breakfast Burrito – 3 eggs, potato, cheddar, peppers, onions and house salsa- choice of bacon, sausage or veggie – $8
- Henry’s Scratch Biscuits and Gravy – $10
- Perfect Pancake Breakfast with 2 eggs your way and choice of meat – $10
- Philly Hot Breakfast – $11
Facebook: Henry’s Diner
The Story: I love crowns. Something regal about them that reminds me of childhood games. When I spied the new food cart Kingsland Kitchen with both a crown in the logo and a vintage EAT lighted sign, I knew a sandwich was in my future.
Kingsland Kitchen opened earlier this year at the SW 5th and Oak pod with a menu of sandwiches inspired by the owner’s British heritage. Christopher and Holli are the team behind Kingsland Kitchen having met more then a few years ago in Hollywood and spent the last nine in England. Both were always inspired by food and drink and with travels in England and Europe were able to experience what the world had to offer street side. They had the dream to return to Holli’s home town Portland and open a cart and voila, they succeeded. The cart ended up being a full remodel, which is good, so now Christopher knows how to fix things in a pinch.
The ubiquitous Sandwich. We all love them. The cart focuses on meat-centric sandwiches all cooked from scratch. They also run daily specials and cart made desserts, something found less and less often at the downtown food carts. The menu is chalk full of ingredients that make up each tantalizing creation – Guinness braised beef; pork meatballs; crackling; spicy pineapple salsa; chutney. I picked up the Mumbai Spiced Chicken with papadum, pickled cucumber and tomato salsa and raita all on a French roll. Papadum is a thin crisp food from India or Pakistan and raita is yogurt seasoned with a mixture of coriander, cumin, mint, cayenne pepper, and other herbs and spices. Put those two together with the spicy chicken and salsa and you have one hell of sandwich. The French roll held up to its calling with flaky goodness. Everything about this sandwich is a score. I can’t wait to return for the other offerings.
Christopher and Holli have added another gem to the street food options for Portland. Open Monday through Friday for lunch, you have no reason not to visit. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Guinness Braised Beef, slaw, house pickles, smoky salsa roja, French Roll – $8
- Mumbai Spice Chicken – $8
- Cart made organic beef and pork meatballs, marinara, Mozzarella, French roll – $8
- Traditional British Banner or bacon, fried egg, roasted tomato and mushrooms, brown sauce, French roll – $8
- Full English Breakfast – $10
Facebook: Kingsland Kitchen
Location: SW 10th and Washington
Hours: breakfast, lunch and dinner weekdays
The Story: Portland continues to attract some unique dishes from different parts of the world. Sam’s Saj, a food cart at the 10th and Washington pod focuses on a unique Mediterranean sandwich called the Khubz.
Sam and Diala took over a former Thai cart last fall and did a total remodel. Sam wanted to offer up a handmade dish different than the other Mediterranean options in the lot. The Khubz is a sandwich, but seems like a mix of a burrito and maybe a crepe. The Saj griddle is the key to making this flatbread. Growing up, Sam remembers the circular convex griddle being heated by coals. In Portland, that wasn’t possible, so Sam had a griddle handmade in order to utilize propane. I always say, Portland’s DIY culture leads to some tasty creations. The flatbread is grilled and then topped with cheese or Zaatar or labne, a yoghurt cheese. Once cooked up, they roll it all up to enjoy. Breakfast options can include Zaatar with tomatoes, cucumbers and fresh mint or maybe Nutella, banana and toasted hazelnuts. For lunch, I picked up the kafta with seasoned lamb and beef along with lettuce, tomatoes and pickles. The flatbread is thin and flavorful, creating a great envelope for the savory kafta and fresh veggies.
Sam’s Saj opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so no matter when you arrive, Sam and Diala are there to make you a treat. I have visited twice and the second item I enjoyed came with Zaatar, a blend of herbs and spices that will blow your mind. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Zaatar – $4
- Cheese and Zaatar with tomatoes, cucumbers and mint – $4.75
- Labne and Zaatar with tomatoes, cucumbers, mint and green olives – $5
- Turkey and Cheese – lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, mayo, mustard – $5
- Kafta – $7.75
- Lamb Shawarma – $9
- French Fries – $3.50
- Cauliflower Saj – crisped cauliflower, cabbage, tomatoes, onions, cumin vinaigrette – $6
Facebook: Sam’s Saj
Brunch Box announced this week they are being forced to close their food cart. The landlord, City Center Parking, is evicting them due to improper grey water disposal. The story goes deeper than that with a secret video and such, but in the end, the cart is closing. Brunch Box made a name for itself quickly when it opened in 2009 offering hand crafted burgers in a sea of Thai and Mexican on 5th. They expanded to open a restaurant on SW 9th and Alder which simply rocks. Hopefully they can recoup and re-launch a cart, maybe on the east side. The Portland Mercury has the whole story.
Rua, Jason Meyer’s cart on SW 9th and Washington closed earlier this month. For fans of Jason’s Saigon Fried Chicken or Pork Belly sandwich, don’t fret. Jason is actively working on a restaurant at the Zipper on NE Sandy. All your favorites along with a broader menu will showcase his culinary chops and feed your tastebuds. Watch for an opening later in spring. The cart on Washington will become a new vendor soon.
Minizo, the pet ramen project of the Shigezo restaurant, announced last week they are closing the cart at the end of the month. Minizo will truly be missed by me since it is in my neighborhood and a go to cart for ramen and noodles. Lucky for me, the restaurant is opening a ramen outpost on NE Russell this year. If you love Minizo, visit soon for that last bowl of Shoyu or Shio Ramen. Mississippi Marketplace on N Skidmore and Mississippi.
With the closures, opportunities abound. There are currently two carts at the Alder pod on 10th for sale and I’ve heard of others in downtown. If you’re a budding entrepreneur and are interested in owning a food cart, now may be your chance to take the leap.
Some tidbits of food cart news for you this first day of April.
Eat Mobile is going mobile in 2015. Over the years, Eat Mobile has taken place under the Morrison Bridge and over at OMSI, but in 2015, the organizers wanted to shake it up and allow ticket holders to experience Portland’s pods. The event, which takes place the evening of April 29 will take over two food cart pods in SE Portland with shuttle buses transporting attendees back and forth so they can enjoy the different offerings at each. Tickets go on sale April 1 and there are only 400 available, so get them soon. So excited to see the next iteration of one of Portland’s street food festivals. More details at Willamette Week’s Facebook Page.
The Portland Mercado celebrates its Grand Opening on April 11, but the food carts on site open on April 1. The Portland Mercado, located on SE 72nd and Foster is a wonderful addition to the SE Portland street food scene. The first Latino Public Market in Portland is a grassroots community development project of Hacienda CDC along with other community partners. Their mission is an economic development project based on Latino cultural heritage that brings together diverse cultures through entertainment, art, and food. As part of the public market, they have brought in a colorful array of food carts which will open April 1 featuring cuisine from Mixteca PDX, Fernando’s, Los Alambres, 5 Volcano’s Pupuseria and more. Indoor vendors will offer shopping. The facility also boasts the Micro Mercantes incubator kitchen and commissary. It has taken a few years to get this project off the ground and I’m eager to experience all that they have to offer. The Portland Mercado is at SE 72nd and Foster.
Portland has an amazing street food scene. We know that. Did you also know that Portland State University has one of the leading urban development programs in the nation? Every year, city leaders and community development wonks from around the nation come to Portland to learn about how we do things so they can take the lessons learned back to their community. A few years ago, representatives from Waco, Texas were in town and the street food scene blew them away. Within a few months, they had successfully launched a growing food truck scene there and this past weekend hosted their first food truck festival. 20,000 people attended, destroying everyone’s expectations and showcasing how street food is a part of our collective culture. 36 food trucks from around the state including eight from Waco, the event was a huge success. I’m happy to say that Portland’s street food scene played a small part in awakening the food truck scene down in Waco, Texas.
Food Carts Portland is proud and excited to announce that Brett Burmeister, owner and editor of the website, is heading to Singapore along with one of Portland’s food carts to attend the World Street Food Congress from April 8- April 12, 2015.
Brett will represent Food Carts Portland. Brett will join Portland food cart owners Daniel Huerta and Isabel Sanchez-Huerta from local favorite Churros Locos to showcase Portland’s thriving street food scene, including providing handcrafted treats to over 10,000 attendees. Portland will be in good company, alongside 25 mobile food vendors from places as diverse as Europe, Asia, and beyond.
If you’re a regular reader of this site, you know Brett has been writing about Portland’s street food scene since 2008. He will speak at the Congress as part of their World Street Food Dialogue April 8-9. Brett’s presentation on the Portland street food model highlights how the City of Portland and Multnomah County have supported mobile food vendors to create vibrant community spaces while at the same time supporting the growth of small, local food businesses.
The attending Portland food cart will be part of a 5-day street food jamboree with street food vendors from around the world. Churros Locos will showcase their specialty, the Churro and Churro Sundae while utilizing local Singaporean ingredients. The World Street Food Congress organizer, KF Seetoh and his team have visited Portland in the past and know the city’s reputation.
About the World Street Food Congress:
The World Street Food Congress (WSFC) is the first of its kind to connect and open up fresh ideas and thought leadership in the massive, and growing street food culture and industry throughout the world. It also celebrates and showcases this well loved gastro-culture through a ten-day celebration of street food. According to founder K.F. Seetoh, the goals of the WSFC are to “preserve, professionalize and create new possibilities for the world’s greatest culinary phenomena – comfort and street food culture.”
The World Street Food Congress takes place April 8-12 in Singapore. More details about the event can be found at www.wsfcongress.com.
We wish Portland’s own Food Cart Churros Locos a Bon Voyage, and expect on-the-ground updates from Brett and Food Carts Portland throughout the event.
Location: SW 9th and Alder
Hours: Mon-Friday, 7:30am-3pm; Saturday, 11am-4pm
The Story: While Portland has some great Chinese restaurants, Chinese cuisine has not made much inroads into the street food scene. A couple here and there, but with the proliferation of Chinese throughout the American landscape, one would think a food cart would be another foray. The owners of Bing Mi! thought just that. A food cart focusing on a unique Chinese dish.
Bing Mi! opened earlier this year with their single dish, the Jian Bing, ubiquitous street food from northern China. Similar to a crepe and using the same tools, the owners create a unique wrap which includes scrambled egg, black bean paste, chili sauce, pickled vegetables, green onion, cilantro, and a crispy fried cracker. They first spread out the crepe mix on a circular griddle and drop an egg atop which then scrambles before adding the additional goodies. The end result is crisp and crunchy with the fried cracker adding texture. You can order it mild, medium or spicy (about a Thai 3.) Truly a savory treat and just the right size for $6. The spicy and savory mix of egg and black bean paste along with the bite of pickled veggies create a great treat for a sunny walk in downtown.
Bing Mi! is open for breakfast and lunch throughout the week and lunch on Saturdays. Located on SW 9th, just north of Alder, the cart is right in the middle of food cart heaven. If you’re looking for something fresh and new, drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Jian Bing – $6