Portland loves brunch. Saunter down any one of the city’s commercial streets on a Saturday or Sunday and you’ll discover a gaggle of citizen eaters awaiting their next Eggs Benedict or Chicken and Waffle plate. Portlandia highlighted our brunch culture and many of my friends claim the Portland economy is partially based on brunch. We embrace it. We love it. We stand in the rain for it. Brunch! Brunch! Brunch! Chant with me.
When Feast announced the Sunday Brunch Village in Pioneer Courthouse Square, a collective squee echoed across the land. Presented by Tillamook Creamery and Alaska Airlines Visa Signature the park will be resplendent with Bloody Mary bars, biscuit egg n’ cheese sandwiches, Texas tacos, and yes, fried chicken and waffles. Chefs bring their A game to events like this and all for us eaters. Featured Chefs include Melissa McMillan of Sammish in Ashland, Jason French of Ned Ludd, Rick Gencarelli of Lardo (which use to be a food cart), Nate Smell of Pip’s Originals and Sarah Shafer of Irving Street Kitchen to name a few. Oh, and Bloody Marys, Mimosas and artisan coffee and tea for all.
Brunch Village is September 20 from 11-2. Tickets are still available at FeastPortland.com. Feast Portland’s charitable partners, Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon and No Kid Hungry work to end childhood hunger in Oregon and across America. Feast Portland donates festival net proceeds to the charities and over the last three years, has donated more than $162,000.
Location: NE 52nd and Sandy at Rose City Food Park
Hours: daily, lunch
The Story: You’ve enjoyed dumplings I assume, but what about a Momo? Momo House, a new food cart at Portland’s Rose City Food Park, serves up these large and delightful pockets of joy along with other Tibetan and Indian dishes.
Momo House joins the diverse lineup of food carts at Rose City which includes Vietnamese, Mexican, Guamian, Thai and a myriad of American dishes. I would argue the lot offers up one of the more eclectic collective menus. The menu offerings at Momo House run the gamut from the large dumplings to fried rice dishes to known Indian delights like samosa or curry. The fried momo are filled with beef, pork or veggies mixed with celery, scallion and garlic and served with fresh veggies and a dipping sauce – usually spicy. A large doughy pocket of meat and taste tingling delight. Dip in the spicy sauce and simply devour. So decadent. Also available vegetarian style. The Pork Chili, day long slow cooked pork with house recipe of garlic, ginger and Arrma-Sichuan pepper along with soy sauce and served with fried rice, rounded out the meal. The spice presented itself well, but not overwhelming if you’re sensitive to the heat. While it appears to be yet another fried rice dish, the secret recipe raised it above the bar, impressing me.
Momo House is open daily for lunch and into the afternoon and dinner. The menu is broad and offers up something for everyone. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Momo dumplings – $4.99-6.99 depending on size
- Fried Momos – $4.99-6.99 depending on size
- Chole Poori – chole masala, a vegetarian dish with chickpeas, tomatoes, herbs, spices – served with naan – $4.99
- Chicken Curry – Indian style chicken curry thali with sides – $6.99
- Vegetable Thali – vegetable plate with dal and rice and seasonal salad – $6.99
Phone: (503) 764-5028
Location: NE 7th and Killingsworth at Piedmont Station
Hours: Tues-Fri, 11:30-2:30 and 5-930pm; Sat/Sun, 12-9:30
The Story: Piedmont Station, one of Portland’s newest food cart pods, brings tasty treats to northeast Portland just off MLK Blvd and Killingsworth. Of the new food carts, PDX Dönerländ offers up a dish rarely found on the east side – döner kebab.
Owners Ron and Franziska are the team behind PDX Dönerländ. Franziska hails from Karlsruhe in Germany and Ron from San Francisco, yet they began their love over meat sandwiches while traveling in Germany. Franziska grew up with döner, a dish originating in Turkey and brought to Germany in the 50’s by guest workers, so opening a food cart and sharing the love came to pass. Franziska also has more than a few years as a professional chef under her belt, so that helps. Their mission is to serve the highest quality ingredients and use organic when possible and 100% GMO free. Everything served is made from scratch in the cart and you can tell by the freshness of every bite.
I’ve enjoyed a myriad of döner kebab over the years. Some served atop rice or with salad, others in a pita or other type of pocket bread. While traditional döner was usually mutton, most everyone now serves a mix of chicken and turkey, with some offering beef or lamb. At PDX Dönerländ, the kebab flatbread sandwich is stuffed with sliced chicken and turkey döner meat, lettuce, tomatoes, red cabbage, onions, pepperoncini and your choice of a yogurt-dill or red sauce. I was expecting thin slices of meat, but here, they were chunks, adding a texture and breadth of flavor I hadn’t expected. The sauce dripped throughout the meat and veggies, adding a cool sweetness to the entire meal. Lastly, the flatbread. Everything comes down to the bread right? Franziska nailed it, creating the best possible vessel for the cacophony of meat, veggies and sauce.
I’m excited to see vendors bringing traditional street foods from Europe to Portland. There are excellent dishes under represented in the vast array of vendors throughout this fine town. Welcome to Portland PDX Dönerländ. Next time you’re up in the neighborhood, drop on by the pod, enjoy a döner kebab, maybe a beer and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Döner kebab sandwich – $9
- Vegetarian/Vegan Doner – $9
- Mediterranean Salads – $7-9 depending on toppings
Location: 3405 SE 82nd, just north of Powell
Hours: Tues-Sun, 11-8
The Story: Portland is embracing everything south of the border and I don’t necessarily mean Mexican cuisine. Salvadoran, Argentinean, Brazilian and more and more, Cuban. La Cubana, a new food truck located at the food cart pod on 82nd and Powell presents us with island delights.
Mario and Vivian opened La Cubana earlier this year in a new pod featuring Mexican and Korean offerings. I’ve visited a few Cuban vendors in town, yet haven’t seen as diverse a menu as Vivan and Mario offer. Start with simple tostones, deep fried smashed green plantains with garlic and lemon with a dash of salt. Or maybe sauteed Cuban style okra – Quimbombó. The Ropa Vieja, “old clothes” in Spanish, is slow cooked shredded beef with savory bits of onion, pepper and garlic in a rich tomato sauce with salad and beans and rices on the side. So many options. So many flavors. In the end, the Cuban Sandwich landed in my hands with a side of plantain chips. A pressed baguette with Swiss cheese, ham, grilled pork, pickles and mustard. Mustard – my dessert island condiment. First bite – I marveled the yellow mustard poked through the savory pork and cheese with a brightness and tang. No mayo or ketchup on this classic. The baguette, an ideal vessel for the goods, held together with crunch. A wonderful sandwich made by wonderful people.
La Cubana opens for lunch and dinner and also offers a wide range of drinks. Next time you’re down off 82nd and desire something new, drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Ropa Vieja – $9
- Cuban Sandwich – $9
- Picadillo – ground beef with potato, white rice, onion and maduros on the side – $8.50
- Yuca con Mojo – yucca root cooked until soft, dressed with olive oil, fresh smashed garlic, lemon juice and choice of meat – $10
- Qumbombo – Okra – $4.50
- Tostones – $4
Phone: 503 754 4044
Some events this weekend featuring food carts and trucks throughout Portland
The 2nd annual Jade Night Market takes place in southeast Portland off 82nd and Division. In 2014, the market attracted 20,000 people – a huge success. In 2015, the market has two nights – August 15 and August 22. A celebration of one of Portland’s most culturally diverse areas. Division street will be closed from 80th-82nd and the market is using the PCC campus for the event. The list of vendors is extensive. Both Saturdays, the event runs from 5-10pm with food, retail and live music. On Saturday, the 15th, Portland’s own The Slants will be the featured band. More details about the Jade Night Market can be found at Apano.org
The crazy Adult Soapbox Derby is Saturday on Mt. Tabor. 19 years and counting, Portland’s finest freaks pull out their home built creations to bullet down from the top of Mt. Tabor using only gravity and skilled driving to survive. A truly Portland event that has been around before the New York Times discovered our ice cream. There will be numerous food trucks at the event including Bunk Sandwiches. Oh and beer. Can’t forget the beer. More details at Soapboxracer.com.
The North American Organic Brewers Festival celebrates 11 years of showcasing some of the region’s best beers at Overlook Park this weekend. From Thursday to Sunday, you’ll be able to quaff your palate with beers from 13 Virtues, Agrarian Ales, Bison Organic out of Berkeley, Falling Sky, Finnriver Farm and Cidery from Chimacum WA, Hopworks, Pinkus Muller from Germany, Vagabond out of Salem and many more. Food vendors include The Dump Truck, Urban German, Farm to Fire Pizza, Portland Curry Co. and more. The best part of this event is the location – Overlook park is right across from a Yellow line MAX station and has great views of both downtown, Forest Park and Portland’s NW industrial area. More details at NAOBF.org
There are so many events happening in this fine city, it is difficult to keep track. Just remember, your favorite food carts and trucks are open, so if you’re hungry, drop on by and enjoy.
Some morsels of news from Portland’s street food scene:
Pods – Portland continues to grow the number of pods throughout the city. At last count, there are 40+ in all quadrants. Piedmont Station on NE Killingsworth just east of MLK now has six vendors along with a beer and wine cart (listed below.) We also spotted a new pod in the making out off SE 81st and Washington in the Montavilla neighborhood.
The Gaufre Gourmet quietly closed their downtown cart last week. Fans of the delectable Liege style Belgian waffle will now have to find other alternatives. Charlene and Michael, the owners of the cart for almost five years still dish up their tasty treats at Gigi’s Cafe in the Hillsdale neighborhood.
New Vendors and moves:
- Mrs. Gator’s Snow Balls – traditional New Orleans treat – corner of Western Ave.and Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy
- Hash it Out – new breakfast spot at Mississippi Marketplace
- Dönerländ – Piedmont Station on NE Killingsworth east of MLK
- Snackriledge – vegan – Piedmont Station
- Chokdee Thai – Piedmont Station
- Saucy’s BBQ – Piedmont Station
- Taco on Fire – Piedmont Station
- Le Tap – Beer and Wine vendor at Piedmont Station
- Pig ‘N a Pen – Midwestern delights – Rose City Food Park on NE 52nd and Sandy
- Scout Beer Garden at South Waterfront off Moody as part of The Gantry
- Zia Burger – New Mexican inspired burgers and more – roaming
- La Cubana – Cuban – 3405 SE 82nd Ave north of Powell Blvd
- MF Tasty – Southwest Inspired Cuisint – Beech Pod on N Mississippi and Beech
Thrive Pacific NW, a longtime roaming food truck in the city, announced this week they are taking over the Alameda Cafe in the Alameda neighborhood for a full service restaurant. Congratulation to Erika and crew. Excited to see the new menu. Watch for soft openings in September and full service by October. 4641 NE Fremont St
The Cheese Plate has announced they are closing their cart on NE Alberta this week in order to pursue a brick and mortar restaurant. What’s significant is they are kicking dairy to the curb and going full vegan. The restaurant, Of Roots and Blooms, is still seeking a location, yet you can enjoy your last non-vegan cheese plate at the cart until Sunday. Wishing them well on their new journey. NE 23rd and Alberta.
The New School broke the news that PDX Sliders is going brick and mortar, yet in a non-traditional way. PDX Sliders is teaming up with Ancestry Brewing, a new brewery in town to open 3 location throughout the city featuring the signature sliders and sandwiches. The brewery will be located in Tualatin with taprooms in Sellwood and inner southeast Portland. Brewing to begin in September with taprooms opening in mid-October.
Enjoy the summer and thank you for your continued support of Portland’s dynamic food cart and food truck scene.
Location: 4709 NE MLK Blvd
Hours: Wed/Thurs, 11-7; Friday, 11-6
The Story: BBQ, an American past time. In the last decade, BBQ has become as artisan and lauded as fusion or French cuisine with chefs opening BBQ restaurants throughout the country. No longer is it needed to travel to Austin or Kansas City or Asheville to find good Q. It may be in a food cart like Matt’s BBQ here in Portland.
Matt’s BBQ is located on NE MLK Blvd between Prescott and Alberta in the parking lot of H&B Loan. Unless you’re looking for the cart, you may miss it tucked in the back of the lot with a couple of picnic tables and umbrellas. The travel-trailer-turned-food-cart, completely gutted and remodeled by Matt himself, isn’t necessarily where the magic of the Q happens. The offset smoker behind the cart with slow burning oak creates the Texas style scents and flavors. A menu of brisket, ribs, sausage and sides like slaw, potato salad or pinto beans is pretty affordable compared to local BBQ restaurants. Instead of repeat visits, I ordered “The Whole Shebang.” The entire menu for $16. A bargain in my opinion. Brisket- bark with a salty delightful cruch, the meat with fatty bits there for a reason just melted away at every bite. Ribs – dry-rubbed and smoked came with a hint of pepper. Sausage – juicy and fatty, paired well with the added white bread. Honestly, I was there for the BBQ, not the sides, yet Matt surprised me. The pinto beans and potato salad, scratch made, showed Matt took pride in every bit of his menu. Rarely do I praise sides at a BBQ joint, but Matt nailed it.
If you’re as much a fan of smoked meats as I am, you should make a pilgrimage to Matt’s BBQ in NE Portland. He’s becoming known in the community, so keep an eye on his Facebook page as he may sell out earlier than posted hours. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Brisket Plate with 2 sides – $12
- 1/4 Rack of Ribs with 2 sides – $11
- 2 Sausages with 2 sides – $10
- Brisket sandwich with coleslaw – $7
- Chopped rib sandwich with coleslaw – $6
- The Whole Shebang – $16
- The hot Mess – chopped brisket, sausage, pickled jalapeno sandwich – $9
- Sides – $2.50
Facebook: Matt’s BBQ
FEAST is only a month or so away. Do you have your tickets? The Widmer Brothers Brewing Sandwich Invitational, presented by Dave’s Killer Bread takes over Directors Park right in the heart of downtown Portland the night of September 17th. Use your imagination and create the most creative, flavorful and wacky sandwich and a chef at this event probably put some truffle oil on it. In past years, the Sandwich Invitational showcased amazing creativity and 2015 won’t disappoint.
A national list of Chefs include Nick Anderer of Maialin of NYC, Aaron Barnett of St. Jack, Aaron Franklin of Franklin BBQ in Austin, Vitaly Paley of Imperial, Justin Wills of Restaurant Beck out of Depoe Bay, Alvin Cailan of Eggslut in LA, Gregory Gourdet of Departure and more. Fifteen amazing chefs will create masterpieces for all to try.
Need to wash it down? Vino from Columbia Winery, Erath, King Estate, Northstar and Coumbia Crest. Beer from Widmer Brothers Brewing and cocktails from Hendrik’s Gin will be on offer.
From an Iron Chef to a Top Chef Master to a BBQ legend, this event has it all. The Sandwich Invitational will be the talk of the town and the unofficial kickoff to a weekend of indulgence that is FEAST. Get your tickets now at FeastPortland.com