Location: NE 23rd and Alberta
Hours: Wed/Thurs, 12-9; Fri/Sat, 12-10:30; Sunday 12-9
The Story: PARM – Huge lighted letters greet you upon the arrival to The Parmacy, a food cart on NE Alberta serving up New York style Italian favorites.
I sometimes feel we have a dearth of Italian options in the street food scene until I sit down and ruminate all we see at the different food cart pods. The Hoagie. Wood fired pizza. Piadinas. Pasta. Artigiano and Burrasca (now a restaurant) put Portland’s food cart pasta scene on the map with handcrafted noodles and regional flavors from the boot shaped land. Now, The Parmacy makes their mark. With a menu and namesake featuring chicken and eggplant parmesan sandwiches, they also offer additinal New York style Italian dishes while sourcing locally and making it all from scratch, including the pasta, breadcrumbs and tomato paste.
Chicken parm, an iconic sandwich. I don’t believe I’ve had a bad chicken or eggplant parm sammie, so on that cold winter day I visited The Parmacy, I needed a change, a creamy dish, and on the lighter side. For pasta, three options – pesto basil, marinara or olio. A wide tagliatelle noodle is the base for Olio which comes with garlic olive oil, chili flakes, breadcrumbs and hand grated parmesan. A delightful dish of creamy pasta with just enough garlic and chili to balance out the parmesan. As a treat, I also devoured a plate of fried olives with marinara. So much for the light lunch.
The Parmacy is a great addition to the street food options on NE Alberta, a street that offers up a diverse set of cuisines both at food carts and restaurants. Sandwiches, pasta dishes, sides, salads. They have it all. Next time you’re craving Italian, drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
Facebook: The Parmacy
Location: N Mississippi and Skidmore, Mississippi Marketplace
Hours: Mon, 11:30-4; Tues-Sat, 11:30-7:30; Sun, 11:30-6
The Story: Mississippi Marketplace continues to shift vendors around, bringing in new choices for us north Portland eaters. Teppanyaki Hut brings us ramen and sushi, much needed in the N Mississippi corridor.
Teppanyaki Hut offers up ramen, sushi in the form of nigiri and sushi burritos. Ramen starts with broth – tonkotsu (pork), miso (bean paste), shoyu (soy), and finally shio (salt). You chose pork, fish or vegetarian options with tofu. A great mix up can be had. The sushi burrito intrigued me most of all. Imagine a large hand roll with all the fixin’s. The Volcanic Eruption wraps spicy tuna, spicy salmon, jalapeno, masago, tobiko, lettuce, cabbage, cucumber and crab salad inside rice and a seaweed wrapper. Truly burrito size and with the mix of the spicy fish and eggs with the cool cucumber and cabbage, the roll was brilliant.
Teppanyaki Hut is located at Mississippi Marketplace in North Portland which offers up covered seating and access to the onsite pub. Check out their offerings and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
Facebook: Teppanyaki Hut
Location: 2401 NE Argyle
Hours: Mon-Fri, 7am-1:30pm
The Story: Most food carts are born of a long simmering desire or skill. Some concieved based on family recipes or traditions. And then there are the carts created to build and promote a brand. WBX Meat Wagon is the work of Western Boxed Meats and feeds the many in and around the industrial area of NE Portland.
Over the years, numerous corporations have utilized the food cart or food truck model to promote the brand or build customer loyalty. A few years back, the State of Wyoming parked a food truck in Pioneer Courthouse Square to give out “Buffalo Chips,” heavy chocolate chunk cookies. Come to Wyoming, see buffalo. The WBX Meat Wagon is a full service food cart and kitchen dishing up everything from salads to pasta dishes, sandwiches and burgers. The purpose here isn’t just the food, but to showcase the brands that the company Western Boxed Meats works with. Why not? You never know who your customer may be.
Since the cart is named the Meat Wagon, I ordered the Double Bypass Burger. Honestly, I misread the menu and didn’t realize I had just ordered 2 1/2lb burgers with bacon and cheese. Holy crap that’s a big burger. But at $7, I just halved it and, boom, lunch and dinner. Juicy, cheesy, bacony. Everything one needs for a solid lunch.
WBX Meat Wagon offers up a great option for breakfast and lunch for industrial NE along with turning the food cart model around to promote Western Boxed Meats’ products. A win-win for all. Next time you’re up that way, stop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
Location: NE 7th and Killingsworth at Piedmont Station
Hours: Mon-Wed, 12-3; Fri-Sun, 12-8:30pm
The Story: Piedmont Station continues to impress with their selection of street food vendors. With the addition of Mahi Taco, Portland can now enjoy Hawaiian style fish tacos from a food cart.
Mahi Taco plates up Hawaiian comfort food with a nod to Baja with grilled fish tacos and a few Hawaiian favorites. Upon arrival, the ubiquitous crossed surfboard logo sold me. A grilled flour tortilla is the base with cabbage, pico de gallo, lime sauce and Colby cheese as toppings. Mahi Taco offers grilled Mahi, chicken, kalua pork or fried avocado. With a nod to Hawaii, I picked the plate lunch with two Mahi tacos, a side of cilantro lime rice and mac salad. For $8, a generous plate of food. The tacos didn’t disappoint with charitable pieces of grilled Mahi superbly enveloped with cabbage, pico and sauce, I feasted. I’m excited to return one day to devour the kalua pork sliders.
Mahi Taco is located at Piedmont Station on NE Killingsworth. The lot offers covered and heated seating, a kid’s play area and Le Tap, pouring beer, cider and wine. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
Location: 6238 SW Capitol Hwy in Hillsdale
Hours: Daily and Weekends 11am-7pm
The Story: Everyone loves a good simple burger right? Portland loves burgers so much they dedicate an entire week to celebrate the meat and bun magic. Burger Stevens opened last year and serves up one of the city’s best burgers from a food cart.
Burgers don’t need three patties and foie gras. Burgers should be crafted with a solid toasted bun, condiments, a grilled beef patty and cheese. Adding bacon and vegetables like lettuce, tomato and pickles adds to the experience. Burger Stevens creates a simple, yet delectable burger the likes many restaurants in town have lost sight of. Don Salamone launched the food cart in 2015 to showcase simple burgers with simple ingredients at the right price. An example is the bun. Many burgers in town showcase an artisanal bun which sometimes works, but often doesn’t. Don chose the simple locally made Franz bun we all grew up with.
The burger may seem small to those of us watching the ongoing arms race of doubles, triples and 1/2lb Kobe burgers that dot the scene. Yet that is what perfection is. The grilled patty gets the perfect char and melted cheese then topped with lettuce, tomato and pickles. I added on fresh grilled jalapeños to up the ante and wasn’t disappointed. The bun won me over, holding everything together and offering a bit of toasted butter tastiness to the entire sandwich. Oh, and isn’t that a cute burger?
Burger Stevens is located in Hillsdale in the SW Hills of Portland next to Wilson High School. In a lot that hosts four food carts and covered seating, Don put together the ideal menu for the neighborhood. Next time you’re in the area, drop on by for a burger and maybe some soft serve and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
Location: N Chicago and Ivanhoe in St. Johns
Hours: Friday-Tuesday, 12-8pm; closed Wednesday/Thursday
The Story: Portlanders have discovered St. Johns. The north Portland neighborhood is a hidden gem of dive bars, restaurants, kitsch shops and food carts. On the corner of N Chicago and Ivanhoe, one block off Lombard, a new cart lot hosts 4 vendors vendors including Arlo’s Fish and Chips
Fish and Chips were always a treat for me as a child. Thick beer battered chunks of white fish dipped in the most mayonnaisey tarter sauce my mom could make. I loved it and even today, when tarter sauce is offered, I take two. Arlo’s Fish and Chips dishes up a 3 piece meal with fries for $12. Beyond that, they also offer cole slaw and clam chowder and based on their Facebook feed, an occasional fish taco plate. The whitefish is lightly battered then fried, crisping it without overdoing it with too thick a crust. Dip a piece in the chunky tartar sauce and enjoy. A great lunch.
Arlo’s Fish and Chips is located on the north side of St. Johns and the food cart lot offers covered seating for everyone. Next time you’re in the neighborhood, check them out and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Fish and Chips meal with 3 pieces and fries – $12
- Cole Slaw – $2
- Clam Chowder – $4
Location: 5427 NE 42nd and Killingsworth
Hours: Mon-Sat, 11-7, Sunday, 11-4
The Story: To execute an iconic sandwich in this town, you need attitude. Pastrami Zombie crafts one of the best pastrami sandwiches in Portland and they do it in a food truck.
Pastrami Zombie was born in Ashland by Melissa McMillan who garnered national attention for her restaurant Sammish. Opened in 2016, the food truck found a home at NE 42nd and Killingsworth in the lot next to Pollo Norte restaurant. Melissa, a die hard Chicago sports fan, wears the colors proudly and will engage on the subject with anyone listening. I had the joy of watching the Cubs win a World Series game with Melissa and it was exciting to see her passion. That passion is shown in the sandwiches she creates.
Pastrami Zombie, by namesake alone, knows their beef. The pastrami is Montreal style with beef brined for a few days, smoked with oak, then thick cut. The sandwich – two slices of Grand Central rye with thick cut pastrami, Swiss, slaw, dressing and for mine, mustard – is a beast and delight. Melissa crushed it. Each bite, a mess of beef, slaw, dressing dripping down your chin. A sandwich you’ll dream about returning for.
Pastrami Zombie is legit. The menu isn’t only pastrami. The Zombie also dishes up tuna, a burger and grilled cheese along with daily specials. Enjoy a beer from Pollo Norte while you dive in. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
Menu on Website
Location: 5885 NW St. Helen’s Road, Out off HWY 30
Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 10am-6pm
Smoke meats get me excited. BBQ. Pulled Pork. Ribs. Brisket. It takes a special talent and sometimes years in the smoke to master a good char and keep things juicy. Carter’s Cart out off Highway 30 is one of the few food carts in Portland serving up superb smoked meats.
Carter’s Cart is located in the parking lot of Anderson’s Roofing Company on HWY 30 between the industrial zone and St. Johns Bridge and offers up covered seating for you to enjoy your sandwich. The menu includes traditional smoked meat items like tri-tip, house rubbed pulled pork and brisket. Sides include salads, slaws and baked beans. On any given day, they offer up a rotating hot soup and even specials. Pan-Fried Mahi Mahi on a ciabatta was the special of the day I visited, but I opted for a more traditional sando, a Tri-Tip Cheesesteak. Carter’s cheesesteak arrives with smoke tri-tip chopped up and mixed with sautéed bell peppers and onions with melted Havarti atop. That glorious mix is then served on a toasted hoagie with chimichurri and Serrano aioli. Let the sandwich sit for a sec to let the Havarti pull everything together then dive in. The mix of the herb heavy chimichurri, spicy Serrano aioli AND smoked beef is divine. A great find.
Carter’s Cart is open Tuesday-Friday from 10-6pm and offers covered seating so you don’t have to return to the office so quickly. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Tri-Tip Cheesesteak – $8 or $10 with sides
- Carter Cubano – smoked pork, pickles, mustard aioli, spicy capicola and Havarti grilled on a hoagie – $8 or $10 with sides.
- Sides – $2 – Baked Beans, Cole Slaw, Side Salad, Cucumber Salad
- Full Menu on Website