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
Location: SE 28th Pl. and Division at Tidbit
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 5:30pm-9:30pm
The Story: When discussing the history of Portland’s street food scene, there is a time around 2007 or 2008 where the cuisine offered at the carts shifted. More international, more fusion, chef driven items and gourmet. In downtown, you can no longer find a simple hotdog. Reindeer sausage, yes. But not a cart focusing on a good old fashioned hotdog done well. I’m glad to find Dog Town Food Cart at Tidbit focusing on the dog.
Dog Town starts with a handcrafted hot dog or artisanal sausage and then creates magic. They bake their own buns, make their own pickles and condiments and use only the highest quality, local ingredients. Each bite showcases the care. A hotdog can be simple with a bun, a steamed or grilled dog, ketchup and mustard. I love it. No frills. Yet, sometimes one needs to get a bit crazy and break out of the norm. Dog Town has you covered. The Rocky Balboa, a Philly Cheesesteak Dog. The Memphis, slow cooked bbq pulled pork atop an all beef dog. Farmer’s Daughter – a veggie sausage with romesco sauce, grilled leeks, shaved fennel, arugula and pickled red onions. Something for everyone. I picked up the The Sonoran, a traditional delight out of the state of Sonora in northern Mexico. Bacon wrapped all beef dog with refried beans, salsa verde, avocado cream, grilled onions, and pico de gallo served in made to order fry bread. So beautiful, I didn’t want to eat it. I wanted to preserve it for my mantle. But alas, my cravings took over and I devoured it. Crisp salty bacon, a solid dog. Spicy salsa and the bitterness of cilantro. Every bite, a treat. Made me want to get a second.
Dog Town is located at Tidbit Farm and Food in SE Portland off Division. The lot offers up covered heated seating and a beer garden. Beyond the dogs, Dog Town does offer fried chicken along with house made lemonade. Open for lunch and dinner and weekends, there isn’t a reason for you to not check them out. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Return of the Mac – Mac ‘n Cheese Dog – $5.95
- Sonoran Dog – $5.95
- Rocky Balboa – $5.95
- Farmer’s Daughter – $5.95
- Getz Yourself a Beer – Beer bratwurst, sauerkraut, grilled onions, spicy mustard – $5.95
It’s time to defy winter weather, race around Portland, and fight for honor, glory, and food cart food! Willamette Week’s Cartathlon V [FIVE] is back March 1. Registration for the competition is now open. Teams of five are welcome, and crazy costumes are encouraged. First place team wins a free food cart tour with Food Carts Portland, valued at $200! Sponsored by AMF Bowl, Naked Grape Wine, Pips and Bounce, humm kombucha and more. Visit wweek.com/cartathlonV.
Sunday March 1: Registration at noon; Cartathlon starts at 2pm. After party at 6pm.
Location: SE 43rd and Belmont at Good Food Here
Hours: Mon, 11:30-8pm; Wednesday-Sunday, 11:30-8pm
The Story: We all know about the infamous Philly Cheesesteak. There are documentaries about the sandwich and some have tattoos of their favorites. Crazy right? Well, beyond Philly, the east coast has other amazing treats and Monk’s food cart focuses on the sandwiches out of Delaware.
Andrew Heckcrote hails from the tiny state that is also home to everyone’s favorite vice president. Upon first glance of the menu, I also believed it was “just another cheesesteak cart,” but after chatting with Andrew, I was corrected. Delaware has it’s own take on over the top beef or Italian sandwiches. It’s like seeing all the different apples at the market. Each regional sandwich is unique. While I could have opted for a cheesesteak with Wiz, I needed something with some veggies, albeit – pickled peppers. They are still veggies right? The Italian Hoagie comes with ham, salami, capicola, provolone and pickled peppers. Andrew even poured on a bit of the pickle juice for good measure. Being a hoagie, the toasted bun scrunches down so you can shove the sandwich into your mouth-hole for a satisfying first, second and last bite. Pickle juice and oil drip down your wrists, the price to pay for such a treat. My only wish was for a cold bottle of lager. A great sandwich.
The menu at Monk’s offers up the Delaware version of the cheesesteak, a roast pork Italian sandwich, a pressed Cubano and for the vegetarians, a “Portland Steak” with kale, onion, mushroom and swiss. Monk’s is tucked in the back of Good Food Here in SE Porltand which now has an on site beer perveyor – Scout. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Cheesesteak – $8
- Steak Italian – broccoli rabe, sharp provolone – $9
- Portland Steak – $9.50
- Roast Pork Italian – pork, broccoli rabe, sharp provolone – $8.50
- Italian Hoagie – $8
Location: SW 10th and Alder
Hours: Monday-Friday, 7:30am-2:30pm
The Story: Need some morning nosh? Downtown Portland is rather lacking of breakfast options from the carts, so I was excited to see Spielman Bagels take over the corner cart at SE 10th and Alder. Spielman has made a name for itself offering up some of the city’s best bagels in SE Portland. Now, we can all enjoy a kettle boiled salt bagel with cream cheese and maybe some lox.
Spielman’s food cart is open during the week for breakfast and lunch and also serves coffee.
Location: NE MLK and Jarrett at The Fusion
Hours: Tues-Sat, 11-7; Sun, 12-5
The Story: When you have a dream, sometimes nothing can stop you. Chris had the dream to open a food cart for over 15 years and now Smak Dab’s has launched with their gourmet stuffed burgers.
Chris has a background in the restaurant industry having worked for more than a few large restaurants over the years. The food cart scene just wasn’t as vibrant in the first part of the last decade, so Chris put the plans on hold, but kept the dream alive. The cart, located on NE MLK at The Fusion food cart pod is one of a few who have opened thee in the past six months. That pod has always housed food carts offering a range of cuisines ever since I moved into the neighborhood almost 17 years ago. Now, with a formal name, a covered deck and a quorum of vendors, I think NE MLK has a viable street food scene.
Smak Dab’s focuses on stuffed burgers. Many call them the Juicy Lucy after a famous midwestern chain. Chris has his own twist. The patty includes bread crumbs among other goodies to add some cohesion as he forms it around the ingredients. The surprises are inside. Take The Calzone for example – pepperoni, mozzarela cheese and marinara all grilled inside the patty. Just imagining that first bite elicits a stomach growl. The Tres Hombres was for me – jalapenos, olives, jack cheese inside with quacamole atop. At first site, I thought maybe the burger was a bit burned, yet that first bite countered the visual. The patty, with the extra ingredients comes with caramelization throughout – a sweet, salty and for the Tres Hombres, spicy delight. Fresh lettuce and tomato create a cool tasty friction to the stuffed burger. Overall, a well done sammy.
Smak Dab’s has an impressive menu with six stuffed burger options. The day I visited, Chris also had pulled pork on the menu. Design your own if you want, he’ll make it happen. There is plenty of covered seating on site and they offer vegetarian options and GF buns. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- The Smak Dab – patty stuffed with swiss and served on toasted bun with chimichurri spread and bacon sriracha onion ring – $9
- The Calzone – $8
- The Lisa – vegetarian black bean patty with chimichurri spread – $7
- Lamb of Gouda – lamb mix stuffed with smoked gouda – $10
- Tres Hombres – $9
- Steak Fries – $3
- Cajun Pot Stickers – $6
- Bacon sriracha battered fried pickles – $5
Facebook: Smak Dab’s