Real Taste of India

Food Carts Portland

Location: SW 5th and Oak/Stark Parking Lot

Description: Not to be confused with New Taste of India located a few carts down on the same “cart strip”, this one has a giant menu (how do they have such a huge menu in such small digs anyway) and the standard 5 piece combo for $5.50 which includes 2 entrees, dal, basamati rice, and nan bread, served either with meat or vegetarian. Ok, so it’s greasy and heavy food. This is also cheap and filling food. As a poor grad student I used to be able to get 2-3 meals out of one standard combo. A recent combo included chicken curry, chicken pakoras, chana masala for the meat variety and channa saag, dal tarka, and vegetable korma for the vegetarian option.

Real Taste of India also has over 60 things listed a la carte on their menu ranging from samosas ($3.00 for 2 samosas) to a wide variety of meat or vegetable curries and entrees ($5.00-$7.00), and even 3 different kinds of rice Biriyani ($5.50-$7.00).

They are also open late enough to grab to go food for dinner at home.

Phone: 503-295-5564

Hours: Mon-Fri Lunch to around 6 or 7 PM

Website: Unknown



  1. Love the website, thanks for making it, here goes my very polite effort at complete disagreement.

    I think – and, though anecdotal masses are of little value when making a point online, a huge and devoted following agrees – that this is one of the best carts in portland, maybe the best in terms of value* and hands down the best Indian food in town. It kicks the Chaat House, which is a solid B+/A- effort, right in the sari. In my somewhat humble-ish opinion.

    * where V = (A*Q)/(P+W)
    V = Value
    A = Amount of food
    Q = Quality
    P = Price
    W = Wait time

    The only thing I’ve ever had there that’s greasy are the samosas, which are not a fave of mine even at their best.

    – Quantity is stunning. Easily 2 meals per serving, and I like big lunches.
    – Spiciness calibration is *perfect* – obviously that’s subjective, but for me, medium should be enjoyably hot. Even more importantly, they’re consistent – medium is the same every time, never boring or brutal, which is key – you hear me talkin’, Sawasdee Thai?!?!? Yeah, I’m talkin’ to YOU!
    – Selection is unmatched by any cart I have ever seen, and better than most restaurants.
    – Wait time can be long if you order something other than a special during the rush, but not terrible.
    – They have nice chutneys for a quarter, I like to get one mint and one sweet one like mango.
    – Look for vegan options on a second menu that’s visible from inside their shelter.

    I used to be one of those ppl that loved Indian food but didn’t really know what anything was called other than tandoori chicken. After my first great meal here I started trying things randomly and have never gotten a dish I didn’t love, and know I know what everything is called. My favorites include the biryanis (basically indian fried rice) and the khorma, which is so rich it’s maybe a bit overwhelming. A great move is to go with a friend and order one of each of those, then split ’em. Actually that’d be easily enough food for 3 or 4 people.

    So, a respectful but very strong disagreement. This is a widely beloved cart, and if you like Indian food at all I give it the highest possible recommendation.

  2. I agree with Tyler that this place is fantastic and I recommend the Tofu Saag medium spiced to anybody.

    (with a side of naan)

  3. I like this place, too (definitely better than New Taste of India, and who picked these names?), but let’s not get too rhapsodic here.

    Yes, the selection is impressive, if simultaneously a bit frightening. I don’t know how they do it, and I guess I don’t want to know.

    But the reason to go here is, as Tyler mentioned, the quantity. I can split one meal and a naan for two heavy meals, or one meal and two naans for three meals. It’s insane.

    Still, the quality is medium at best. The flavors lack subtlety, and nothing except the naan seems too fresh. I imagine it’s because they have to prepare things beforehand to be able to serve so many options so quickly. The saag is okay (though they’re always pretty stingy with paneer). But the lentils (dahl tarka?) I had one time were way too salty. It made my mouth hurt.

  4. They’ll do a veggie khorma vegan upon request, with coconut milk (usually a cream sauce). Unusual green veggies (I think zucchini, some sort of lima bean), slivered almonds–probably about 2000 calories, but so, so good. Better than most restaurants.

  5. Quality is definitely medium for Indian food, and agreed that the naan is possibly the best thing available. Agreed also that portions are excellent and wait time is low. But Geeez do they add a lot of salt to Everything they make!! Next time you eat here, notice how thirsty you get an hour or two later.

  6. I went to Real Taste of India for my first time today.

    On the plus side:
    – they were pretty friendly.

    – I got my food quickly.

    – How awesome is it that one can get vegetarian and even vegan Indian food downtown?

    On the negative side:
    – I ordered the tofu saag and even though it was vegan, it was still really greasy.

    – Each customer gets their food in a plastic container that’s a #6 in a triangle that can’t be recycled. (Portland only recycles up to #5 in a triangle.)

    So they’re handing out a gazillion of these clear plastic containers that are just ending up in landfills.

    I probably won’t be going back anytime soon – too many other carts to check out downtown!

  7. I saw your website when I was looking for something not related at all, but this post was one of the first sites listed in Google, your site must be insanely popular! Continue the awesome job!

  8. Spare Change? says

    Eat lunch here at least weekly. Good food, large portions. Love dipping the warm naan in the curry gravy.

    Today I think I saw another Real Taste Of India cart around 4th and Hall near PSU, must be new.

  9. Mutter Paneer says

    I’ve been eating here for 4 years or so. It’s among the best Indian available in Portland, and is hands down the best value to be found.

  10. I adore this place. I would eat here everyday if I could, especially the saag. I even have dreams about it.

  11. Killer somosa’s-and huge! what a deal…

  12. two words: chicken vindaloo

  13. I think the Real Taste of India is better. But both delicious. mmmmmmmmm

  14. I miss living in Portland and I miss being able to enjoy lunchtime at the Real Taste! I have lived up and down the West Coast and this is by far the best Indian I have ever had. I find myself craving their Chicken Vindaloo, Chicken Korma, Mango Lassi and Naan without any possiblity of satisfying the beast! Oh Real Taste of India how I miss thee!

  15. I haul ass to this place – on foot – at least twice a week for lunch. Like ten blocks, not in comfortable shoes. It’s true, you can pick blindly and come up with a plate of food that will wash away all of lifes problems, and probably till dinner time too. I was pretty pissed when I saw that they had dismantled the seating area on the last rainy day I was there and they were only serving the meat/veg special. I always order something with lamb because how else am i going to get seemingly slow cooked lamb for like 7 bucks. Really good, spicy lamb. So good. But last time they wouldn’t let me, left me heart broken. What’s up with that, are they back in business again? If I don’t get to try some Lamb Biryani for lunch this week, I don’t know what I’ll do.
    I don’t go to other Indian restaurants any more. Why would I.
    This place is generous, cheap, wonderful. Never paying 11$ for a skimpy lamb or chicken curry dish AGAIN.
    So ya, this place changed my life pretty much. any haters can shut it!
    Any ways, try their Chai!!! 1.25, very authentic, subtle, but flavorful. Good.

  16. I’m sorry, but this foodcart really disappointed today. I ordered their meat lunch special – which comes with a chicken dish, some vegetable and a chicken pakora, with rice and naan. Only the pakora tasted reasonably edible. The carrots made the vegetable dish inedible – they were soft and that strong smell of carrots on the way out.. the chicken wasn’t well spiced, had a scent of not being well-cooked or salted (when you cook curry, to remove a strong chicken smell, you can either rub it with spices or salt). There was a strand of hair in my food. And the mango lassi was super sweet, almost artificially so. Yes, the prices are low, but I wouldn’t consider it good value. I’m sorry Portland but I have yet to find authentic and tasty Indian food outside a home kitchen.

  17. Was not impressed. I had the meat combo, which included two chicken dishes, chana marsala, rice and naan. Naan was dry and chewy; they put too much food in the container, which then leaked, and the taste was a bit on the bland side.

  18. BEST FOOD CART EVER. In fact, best food ever.

  19. I have always been in love with this cart. I usually get the meat special and eat every bite…usually it takes three days to do it though. I am head over heels for their naan, yum.


  1. […] lunch carts there’s always been a debate – Is the New Taste of India better – or is the Real Taste of India better? After plenty of taste tests I have come to the conclusion that the Real Taste of India is […]

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