Tidbit, Portland’s newest food cart pod on SE 28th pl and Division is celebrating their official grand opening Saturday September 13 from 12-8pm. If you haven’t been to the lot, you should check it out. Put together in just a couple of months over the summer, it is one of the most welcoming food cart lots I’ve been to in the city. The vendors are setup to surround a seating area replete with a fire place and a beer vendor. Come for food from Aybla, Namu, Pyro Pizza, Love Belizean, Hapa PDX, Buki and more. Fresh produce from Parsons Farms. Get some shopping done at Menagerie, DragonflyMonet or Lodekka. Live music will greet you starting at noon.
Tidbit – SE 28th Pl and Division. Grand Opening September 13 from 12-8pm
- Dogbone Farm – Tidbit
- Stacy’s 65 – Tidbit
- Ingrid’s Scandinavian Food – Tidbit
- Dog Town – Tidbit
- Buki – Tidbit
- DragonflyMonet – Tidbit
- sushiLove – SE 26th and Belmont
- Leo’s Novelty – SW 4th and Burnside
- Pi Squared Wood Fired Pizza – Carts on Foster
- Taqueria Seafood El Morrillo – Cartlandia
- Neue Souther PDX – SE 26th and Belmont
- Lower East Side Deli – SW 3rd and Washignton
- The Spicy Spoon – N Mississippi and Fremont
Location: SW 5th and Stark
Hours: Daily for lunch and dinner
The Story: Portland has seen a significant growth in Middle Eastern cuisine in food carts in the last 18 months with vendors popping up every week. Small Pharoah’s was one of the first of this new generation of vendors to bring Egyptian and New Yorker food to the eaters.
Small Pharoah’s is the work if Islam Elmasry who came to Portland after some years working and vending in New York. Working at a sidewalk hot dog stand by Macy’s, Islam learned the business and decided to come to Portland to try his hand at opening his own food cart. His first cart was at 9th and Alder and he quickly expanded to SW 5th and Stark, SW 4th and Hall by PSU, SE 48th and Woodstock and this summer opening at Mississippi Marketplace. Four carts in two years and at prime locations throughout the city. Islam is a businessman and Portland welcomed him. In speaking with him, he stated it was much easier to open a food cart in Portland than in NYC. His goal is to offer good food and empower his employees. He couldn’t have done this without them.
At Small Pharoah’s, you’ll find a mix of Egyptian, Greek and American cuisine. Islam wanted the menu to be broad so as to attract most every eater. Gyros with either lamb, falafel, kafta or chicken are their signature items. I picked up the falafel gyro at the cart at Mississippi Marketplace for lunch and was a bit overwhelmed by the size. Large freshly made falafel with pickled carrots and cauliflower and tahini all wrapped up in a toasted pita. I’m a stickler for falafel – I prefer it to be softer and not so deep fried – Small Pharoah’s did it right. Great flavors without the hard crust you sometimes get from other vendors. The entire qyro was enough for two people or two meals. A great value.
Small Pharoah’s is an example of success in the street food business in Portland. Islam is thankful not just for his customers, but also for those who helped him along the way including Al, Robin, Paula, Adianet, Elita and Khalid. Find Small Pharoah’s food carts throughout the city and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Chicken and Rice – $7
- Lamb Gyro – $5
- Chicken Gyro – $6
- Falafel Gyro – $8
- Greek Salad – $6
- Kofta over Rice – $10
Phone: 917 500 9181
A few new food cart pods have sprouted in the last month here in Portland. For the uninitiated, we call the lots where food carts congregate pods.
Tidbit – one of the coolest pods to open in the last few years, the lot boasts an impressive 18 vendors including a beer vendor, a vintage clothing shop, a florist and more. Located on SE 28th Pl. and Division, the carts surround a large welcoming and covered seating area replete with picnic tables and a fire pit. Vendors include Smaaken Waffles, Love Belizean, Earth Burgers, Tandoor Indian, Aybla, Hapa Ramen, Lodekka and more. Open daily.
The Fusion Food Pavillion- Located on NE MLK and Jarrett, this lot has hosted a number of food vendors over the years, dating back to the 90’s. This past summer, they built a welcoming seating area with a small fire pit and covered seating and attracted a few new vendors offering Thai, Mexican, BBQ and Jamaican.
Nick’s Parkrose Food Corral and Pub – Located on NE 118 and Sandy, this lot offers Nick’s Pub along with space for a number of food carts and trucks. Onsite as of September vendors include Aprisa Mexican and El Taco Regio.
Powell Food Carts – A new lot on SE 82nd Ave just north of Powell is setup ready for vendors. Rosita’s Place, a Mexican vendor has moved there. The area is quickly changing with Fubonn hosting the Jade Night Market on the weekends. If you’re looking for a new spot, check them out.
SE 26th and Belmont – A lot that has had a cart come and go over the years now has five who have arrived just in the past month. Pi Wood Fired Pizza, suchiLove and a few others that are new and not open yet. SE Portland seems to be getting the food cart love.
Multnomah Village Food Cart Pod – SW 35th and Multnomah, the lot has Karmady House with organic Juices and smoothies, Silva Cafe for coffee and pastries and Parsons Farms for local veggies and fruit.
Portland continues to redefine the street food environment. More vendors open every week bring us great food and culture. Keep on supporting local food carts.
Ever had a question on how to open a food cart in Portland. More specifically, open a food cart in Multnomah County? Well, our friends at Multnomah County Environmental Health received a grant to publish a playbook for aspiring vendors. I’ve always told vendors who have questions to give Multnomah County a call. They are your resource for those frequently asked questions. Now, they have a manual. And, if you’re looking to open a food cart outside of Portland, the playbook discusses the different types of mobile food units allowed in the state. What is a class 2 food cart? Where do you dump grey water? Do you need a commissary? All answered.
In many cities across the nation, it is a morass of regulations, rules and policy a vendor needs to wade through. Here in Portland, Multnomah County makes it simple and straightforward.
Find the Mobile Food Unit Playbook here or drop on by Multnomah County’s offices for a spiral bound copy. Thank you Multnhomah County Enrironmental Health.
Location: NE 23rd and Alberta
Hours: Tues-Fri, 11-2 and 5-9; Sat/Sun, 12-9pm
The Story: A few months back, I visited a Szechuan restaurant in LA and was shocked at the spice factor in every dish. Yet, it didn’t burn for hours, it simply drifted away after awhile. Ever since that fateful meal, I’ve been craving noshable spicy Chinese and found it at a new food cart named Uncle Tsang’s Kitchen.
Uncle Tsang’s Kitchen is at the 23rd and Alberta Food Cart Lot having taken over the cart that use to house Fijian Indian Curry. They’ve been open now for a couple of months, so have worked out any kinks. At first glance, the menu serves up what one expects from most Chinese restaurants except it offers more variety for vegetarian and gluten free options. They have beef and broccoli, eggplant chicken, ma po tofu, and potstickers. Yet, what caught my eye was chicken gizzards. Where in Portland do you get chicken gizzards? Along with Szechuan Tofu, I had a meal picked out. The gizzards, deep fried, yet with a light coating and then tossed with more than enough spicy peppers were divine. When delivered, I teared up, knowing the spice could wreck me, but I dove in and surprisingly enough, it didn’t melt my face off. It was that quick burn and then it tapered off. Each little morsel, a present from the Chinese gods of deep frying. The tofu dish with sliced celery, chopped peppers, succulent mushrooms and plenty of red chili flake was a treat. Not so spicy I needed milk afterward, but complex flavors that kept me eating.
Uncle Tsang’s is one of those gems you stumble upon and immediately want to return to. Finding a dish so unique like gizzards is the reason I keep going back to the food carts – they keep surprising me. Head on over to Alberta and give it a try. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Broccoli in garlic sauce – $6
- Gizzards – $5
- Curry Chicken – $9
- Szechuan Tofu – $9.50
- Lemon Chicken – $8
- General Chicken – $8
Facebook: Uncle Tsang’s Kitchen
Location: SE Stark and MLK at Central East Side Food Cart Lot
Hours: Mon-Sat, 11am-4pm
The Story: In a 1965 Grumman Olson step van brought all the way from Long Island, Chefs/Owners Jason and Makoto Cooper are excited to offer traditional Japanese street food and ocean safe sushi. They have brought Wabi Sabi to Portland.
The vintage Grumman Olson van is hard to miss. Shiny silver, simlar to the iconic Airstream, the truck will knock your socks off when you first see it. Jason and Makoto sourced it in NYC where it was built and brought it to Portland on an epic journey they liken to traveling the original Oregon Trail. Somewhere in Indiana, the RV they were towing the truck with died, so Jason sold it for $100 and rented a Uhaul for the remainder of the trip. I know opening a food cart or truck is hard work for anyone. But a story like this? There had to be times when they threw up their hands and almost called it quits. Nope. They powered on and opened earlier this summer in SE Portland. Wabi Sabi’s mission is to offer traditional Japanese street food and ocean safe sushi using sustainable fish, non-gmo soy, organic produce as often as possible and serving in compostable recycled material. They were destined to be part of Portland’s street food scene.
At Wabi Sabi you’ll find Hako Zushi, sushi pressed in a Hinoki wood box layered with ingredients, traditionaly used in old Japan for travel. Albacore tuna, pickled mackerel, tilapia sashimi or a mix of all in the chirashi bowl. They also do vegetarian sushi. My eyes though skipped past the sushi to the non-sushi yummies like ramen, hiyashichuka – a cold egg noodle type salad, and yakisoba. I’ve been a fan of yakisoba since I was a kid, so couldn’t pass up this traditional Japanese festival noodle dish. The noodles are sauteed in in a tangy J-BBQ sauce, mung bean and cabbage then tossed with bonito flakes, Kewpie mayo and pickled ginger. I added in spicy kimchee for fun. The first thing you see is the mountain of bonita flakes, but diving into the noodles, you find treasures hidden in every bite. The kimchee added a depth of spice, but didn’t overpower the yakisoba which was some of the best noodles I’ve eaten in awhile. Salty, spicy, a generous amount of ginger and sweetness. A dish I’ll recommend to anyone who asks.
Wabi Sabi is a great addition to our ever evolving street food scene. We have other vendors tackling Japanese street food which is awesome and to see Jason and Makoto bring in their style is even more exciting. Head on down to the Central East Side Food Cart Lot and check out not only the coolest vintage van in town, but some tasty Japanese street food. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Hako Zushi – different styles with tuna, tilapia or mackerel – $8
- Combo of Hako Zushi – $10
- Vegetarian Sushi – $7
- Yakisoba – $7. add kimchee for $1
- Shoyu Ramen – $8
- Hiyashichuka – $8
Here is some Food Cart News and Events for this weekend:
Portland’s newest food cart pod – Tidbit – is quickly gathering steam and opening. Numerous vendors have already moved in including Hapa Ramen, Namu, Dragonfly and Lodekka. They can’t wait to have you come and visit and are open even though construction is still in progress. Head on down to SE 28th and Division and welcome them to the neighborhood.
Pips and Bounce, a ping pong project, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a Ping Pong location in Portland. Pips and Bounce has done a few events in the Pearl over the last year and loves to bring in food trucks for the crowd. If you’re a player, consider donating.
The People’s Pig has opened their brick and mortar location in N Portland. Located on N Williams, just north of Fargo, Cliff Allen took over the former Tropicana BBQ space and opened last week. At the restaurant, enjoy his famous pork sandwich along with smoked ribs and a few salads. I’ve been now a couple of times and that vintage smoker is back to work. Open daily from 11-11. The cart downtown is still open at SW 10th and Washington.
Pepper Box, the wonderful New Mexican cart that shuttered last year after their lot went up for development, announced they are opening a brick and mortar cafe. With hatch chile season upon us, everyone and anyone craving Pepper Box treats will have to wait just a bit longer. Pepper Box Cafe will open soon on SE Morrison.
Kim Jong Grillin‘ has reopened. You may remember them from a few years back having a cart on SE Division. Sadly they had to close after a devastating fire. But, out of the ashes they have a cool new food truck parked down on SE 46th and Division. Welcome back Han.
Narumol “Nong” Poonsukwattana of Nong’s Khao Man Gai will compete in a Food Truck challenge of Chopped. The episode will air August 19th at 7pm on the Food Network. Good luck to Nong.
Events this weekend:
- MusicFestNW will take over Washington Park with two stages and live music all weekend. The following vendors will be onsite to feed the crowd – Bro-Dogs and Burgers, Grilled Cheese Grill, Slick’s Big Tim BBQ, Fried Egg I’m In Love; Mama Chow’s; La Merced; Fuego Burritos; Freshii; Bunk Sandwiches; Ramy’s Lamb Shack; So Cold. This is going to be an amazing event.
- Toyota City Championships event of the Dew Tour takes place in downtown Portland all weekend. The event is taking over Broadway between Jefferson and Salmon for skateboard and BMX competition. This is a Free event and food trucks Home Plate Sliders, Fishbox, and Churros Locos will be out on Saturday. On Sunday, find Retrolicious and Churros Locos there. So cool.
Saturday, August 16:
- The 23rd and Alberta Food Cart Lot is hosting a Superhero Party at the lot. Boasting four awesome food carts and the Hoppy Camper, a beer purveyor, the event calls out all you Superheroes to don your costumes and have some fun. There will be prizes for Best Kids, Most “Portland”, and more. Such a fun event for young and old. More details.
- The Adult Soap Box Derby is Saturday and this year they are bringing in food trucks and vendors at the end of the race on Mt. Tabor.
- Carts on Foster is hosting a Chalk Art Contest all day Saturday. Unleash your inner artist. They have over $150 in prizes for the best art.
- Also at Carts on Foster, a fundraiser is happening from 12-4 for J Mo’s Sandwich Shack. The owner, Jason, suffered a tragic injury last year and has only recently returned to the cart. Local food cart author Steven Shomler will be there selling J Mo’s specialty sandwich for $20 to raise funds. More details.
Sunday, August 17:
- The Hawthorne Street Fair happens between 30th and 38th. Head on down for some community fun, vendors and food carts like Fried Egg I’m In Love, Holy Mole, Umai, Carte Blanche and more.
Wow, a busy weekend. Enjoy the last few weeks of summer with your favorite street food vendor.
Location: SE 33rd and Hawthorne down the alleyway
Hours: Wed-Sat, 12-10pm; Sun, 12-6pm
The Story: Holy Mole defines authentic when it comes to Mexican mole. With influences from Puebla, Mexico, this food cart is dishing out items you can’t usually find in our fair city.
Fernando, the owner, hails from the city of Puebla, in the state of Puebla, Mexico, a hub of food culture. Puebla was founded in 1531 as a Spanish city and played a pivotal role in the history of New Spain. Located southwest of Mexico City, it became an agricultural hub for the capitol over the years. Famous for its cuisines like mole pablano, chiles en nodaga and chilupas, it has grown to become the fourth largest city in the nation and a hub for eastern central Mexico.
The signature dish at Holy Mole is mole pablano. My first thought was a dish with pablano chiles, but no, I was wrong. Mole pablano is mole from Puebla, the city. Fernando spent much of the last 10+ years as a chef at the Great Vow Zen Monastary in Claskanie, so has tailored his foods for both vegetarian and gluten free needs. A mole is a mix of some 30+ ingredients including peppers, spices, herbs and even chocolate. And all made from scratch. Some moles take hours to craft just right. I enjoyed the house special with chicken – truly an amazing dish. Each bite, the mole came through with a different more vibrant flavor- anise, smoke, cacao, salt, pepper. I hadn’t planned on eating the entire dish, yet couldn’t help myself. The scents from the cart and the dish waft through the alleyway drawing people in.
Fernando’s goal is to introduce Portlanders to dishes they haven’t tried before. While Mexican, Holy Mole is different than most every other Mexican place I’ve enjoyed and that brought a smile ear to ear. On the weekends, he dishes out enchilada specials. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for the future. Holy Mole is located on SE 33rd and Hawthorne down the alleyway. Open Wednesday-Sunday for lunch and dinner. A food cart that will make more than a few top 10 lists this year. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Mole Pablano – Chicken or Tempeh – $10.75
- Pozole Blanco – chicken with organic yellow corn, white cabbage, onions, salsa – $8.75
- Pozole Blanco – tempeh with organic blue corn, red cabbage, onions, salsa – $9.75
- Enchiladas on the weekend vary – $9-10