Location: Three Locations – SW 9th and Alder; SW 5th and Oak; SE 43rd and Belmont
Description: Quality Mediterranean and Greek Food including lots of vegetarian and some vegan options. The Gyros especially, are highly recommended.
Aybla is open later than most carts (5:30 PM) making it doable for an early dinner before a movie or to grab dinner to go on your way home after work. Aybla is also open on Saturdays from 12-4 PM, yet another rarity in the Portland food cart realm.
I’ve heard lots of feedback that Aybla’s gyros are just about the best in town and I’m happy to report that they are quite tasty, fresh, and the meat is tender and well portioned. Overall I’d say the gyros here are a very good value for the money (regular gyros $4.50, giant “enough for 2 meals” super gyros are $6.00). Gyros come in either the grilled lamb variety or with seasoned chicken served in a billowy thick and soft Greek style pita and include tzatziki sauce, and chopped onion, tomato, and parsley. Feta cheese can be added for $0.50. Another delicious pita sandwich is the traditional grilled skewers of ground seasoned lamb known as kafta kebobs.
Salads include a standard Greek salad ($4.00 large, $2.00 small), or traditional Tabouli ($3.00).
The Mezzas here are also quite fresh and much better than average. In the $3.00 – 6.00 range, most of them can be ordered as sandwiches or full plates and include things such falafel, hummous, baba ghanouj, the Greek spinach phyllo triangles known as Tyropita, and vegetarian Dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with seasoned rice). Plates come with a delicious Syrian seasoned rice made with rice and roasted wheat berries.
Vegetarians will be quite happy with Aybla’s variety, and many dishes can be made vegan by simply requesting them without feta or tzatziki sauce.
I also adore the owner and cook Saied Samaiel. Born in Syria, Saied learned to cook professionally on the Greek Island of Crete where he lived and worked for over a decade. This experience, coupled with his professionalism in the kitchen and friendliness with his customers (not to mention his killer food) are outstanding features that keep me returning to Aybla time and time again.
[Updated Jan 2011: Aybla opened a 3rd cart at Good Food Here at SE 43rd and Belmont in Fall of 2010]
Sample Menu: See the Aybla Website
Hours: Mon-Fri 11-5:30 , Sat 12-4