Bubba Bernie’s

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Location: SE 12th and Hawthorne, Cartopia

The Story:

On Friday or Saturday night, I am a sucker for fries or a pizza or a pie – all the wonderful things available at Cartopia down on SE 12th and Hawthorne. Yet, sometimes, you have a craving for something a little different – maybe a po’boy or some BBQ or even some jambalaya. Well, Bubba Bernie’s is there to sate that craving.

Bubba Bernie’s serves up a great mix of southern comfort food. The evening we visited, a cold dark Saturday night, we were able to sit comfortably at their tables under their awning warmed by their gas space heater. It was one of those nights when the only thing that could warm you was direct heat, and Bernie’s had it. We ordered a BBQ beef brisket sandwich and the vegan jambalaya with kale and veggie sausage.

The BBQ beef brisket sandwich came on a nicely toasted french roll and the beef had been slow roasted well enough that when you took a bite, it melted in your mouth. A great sandwich for that cold night. The vegan jambalaya was really the showcase of the night. I had never thought of adding kale to jambalaya. For some, that kale, and the veggie sausage may be sacrilegious, but we enjoyed it. It was pretty spicy too, something I love in a southern dish.

Bubba Bernie’s has been in Cartopia for well over a year and has established itself as a solid cart. They are open as early as 6pm, so you could easily visit for dinner or come late night for a snack. As stated, they have covered seating with a nice heater for cool evenings, so you don’t have to order and go. Next time you visit, enjoy a po’boy and tell them Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Black bean + brisket chili w/cheese:  8oz – $4; 16oz bowl – $7.50
  • Beef brisket on french roll – $8
  • Pulled pork on french roll – $8
  • Dinners – either sandwich with garlic roll and choice of sides for $9.50 or more.
  • Philly Cheese Steak – $8
  • Po’Boys served on french roll with lettuce, tomato, roumalad and green onion – your choice of catfish, shrimp, clam strips or oyster – $6.75
  • Chicken or shrimp Jambalaya – $8.50
  • Vegan Jambalaya with kale and vegan sausage – $7.50

Hours: Wed through Sat, 6pm-3am
Contact: unknown

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Comments

  1. Stefanie says:

    I’ve had their shrimp po’ boy – its pretty tasty, if a bit low on the shrimp. and for those other spice wimps out there – the remoulade is spicy! watch out!

  2. Carolyn says:

    I dunno, I’ve given this cart two shots and was pretty disappointed both times. Their red beans and rice was made with jasmine rice, kidney beans, and chopped celery, with no sauce. It was about as far from the real thing as you can get, and even at face value it just didn’t taste good. It was a big enough letdown that I only tried them again when they added deep-fried okra to their menu. I *love* fried okra, so it was bound to make me feel better about them, right? Well, when they pulled the bag of prebreaded okra out of the freezer, my heart sank. The portion was small, and they turned out limp and in desperate need of salt. Next time I’ll be spending that $4 at Whiffies.

  3. Homesick says:

    Well, I sure didn’t end up at the same place Carolyn did… This Bernie guy has some of the best Jambalaya this side of the Rockies. And I know. I’ve searched. Nice spice – not just for the heat sake, but very flavorful like home. Been a repeat customer for months now and I always find something new. And now that he’s got a new grill, I’m not missing The ‘Q so much either.

  4. I stumbled upon this place last night with some friends who were craving Potato Champion. Friendly, quick service and a big portion for the price. Not to mention the pork was perfectly done and tasted fantastic! Bubba Bernie’s will be seeing more of me in the future!

  5. I went to this place last night when it was crowded with a lot of people. I don’t know why, but when I saw this place I thought, “I really need a pulled pork right now”. I got it and it was an awesome gigantic portion and great flavor. Also, the service there is great with good people.
    Oh and a good soda selection. I can’t wait to visit again

  6. steeveegee says:

    Go when it’s dark and ignore the hygiene. Food’s awesome when you’re close to being in the bag. New Portlander’s from New York will not be as put off with the prices than those of us locals who are not drunk.

    I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a food server spit in front of his own grill before. Yummy!

  7. Had the Philly Cheesesteak last week–worst I’ve ever had. It had NO flavor at all, the peppers and onions were completely over cooked, the meat was dry and in huge pieces that had to be ripped apart by hand for consumption. Had about two bites… At $8 it was hugely disappointing. I previously tried something else at this cart and was unimpressed–not going to make the mistake again.

  8. Julieff says:

    I tried the pulled pork sandwich today and I was unimpressed. It was huge, but sort of flat tasting. The sauce lacked any tang that I would expect from good southern BBQ.

    The serving size was impressive, but I would have rather had something smaller with more character…and maybe a side of good coleslaw.

  9. Got the 8 DOLLAR catfish po’boy and was disappointed. Very bland bread and fillings, the fried catfish was decent. For that price they should include some fries or a drink.

  10. This was my first visit to bubba bernie’s as well as my first visit to the Hawthorne food carts.

    I love good barbecue. I love pork and i love ribs.
    Generally, I only get bbq from Podnah’s, after this experience, I think I’ll stick to that.

    $6 for a three-rib side is totally legit.
    My order came up, and I quickly hurried back to the table, ravenous and excited to try this ‘cue.

    I love the rib tips, but a full rib they are not.
    Loving the ribtip as I do, I went for it first, but found it was hard as a rock and nothing more than carbon.

    I walked back to the window and explained that one whole rib is inedible and just pure carbon. The guy behind the counter just says “oh, sorry man” and turns his back. I return to eat the remaining two ribs, only to find that half of each of the two, rather small ribs were also rock hard, inedible char.

    Back up to the window, I state my case showing them this mass of inedible meat and again I get a “That’s too bad” then the girl working with the man explains that they “don’t actually ever touch the meat with their hands” as to say that’s the reason these sub-par ribs made it into my box. you don’t need to touch it to know it’s bad, use your eyes. When it seemed clear that I wasn’t accepting this as closure to the situation, the girl offered to get me some “good ribs” but I declined the offer, having waited ten minutes for BAD RIBS. I took my money back, returned to my chocolate/Proscuitto crepe and downed half of my friend’s Whiffle fried brisket pie.

    When I told you I’d come back and try the food another time, I lied. Sorry. It was gross, and I’m not coming for round two.

  11. I grew up in Texas, where brisket is its own food group, and have been something of a BBQ aficionado my whole life. I went to Bubba Bernie’s the other night and order the brisket dinner with sides of yam fries and blue cheese coleslaw.

    See, in Texas, a good brisket is served as thin-medium slices, cooked to a smokey crisp on the outside and pink in the center, with a smooth, tangy sauce usually served on the side. I found the dry, leathery meat shavings (resembled badly burnt scrambled eggs) that Bubba Bernie’s served up in the name of BBQ brisket to be downright disgraceful. To make matters worse, their sauce resembled a peppered ketchup that had clumped up after sitting in the fridge for 2 years. The yam fries were dry and crispy, tasting more like cardboard than yam, and the blue cheese slaw was limp and watery.

    This has to be some of the most uninspired food I have found in Portland, or anywhere for that matter. I’m being very generous in giving this cart 1/5 stars for the simple fact that I didn’t get food poisoning.

  12. SilverWings says:

    @Rex & Dan re: Bubba Bernies. The word on the street among footcart fans that I’ve spoken with (and some of the comments here adds to it) is that Bubba Bernies is not very good. BB prices also seem high for a food cart.

    I went to the 12th & Hawthorne location two weeks ago. It was smokey, dirty, and the people working at a few carts there seemed to have a poor customer service attitude as in they think they’re doing customers the favor for existing.

    Check out Hog Wild BBQ located off 82nd Avenue just south of Johnson Creek. The cart is set off 82nd on the west side in the parking lot of a sporting goods store. They have some really good BBQ there and the prices are good too.

    Smoking Jim’s BBQ is also good. He is at SE 102 Avenue & Stark for now and moving to Belmont and 43rd Avenue around September 1st. Good size portions and prices. And tasty!

    Another interesting cart to try out is Namu which offers a Korean-Hawiian fusion grill/bbq. Namu’s $5 pulled pork sandwich is big. Like the others I mentioned, the quality and quantity is good at Namu. Their new location at 43rd and Belmont is open longer hours and days than their other locations.

    We don’t need to give our money to carts that are not good.

  13. Wish we had read some of these helpful reviews before we tried BB’s today!

    We ordered the $4 hushpuppies and the $8 pulled pork sandwich. We were shocked to see the guy pull out a bag of pre-made frozen hushpuppies; I thought that maybe they would turn out to be better than I was giving them credit for, but one bite was more than enough. They were still raw in the middle – disgusting. The pulled pork sandwich was edible, though uninspiring.

    This was definitely the worst food cart experience we have ever had. I still cannot get over frying frozen hushpuppies – why bother opening a food cart if you’re only going to dump frozen food into a fryer?

  14. Good shrimp poboy!

  15. We drove down to Bubba Bernie’s and the whole food cart pod to see what was available. Bubba Bernie’s had a great menu. So many things sounded really good. But the guy at the counter highly recommended the pulled pork and brisket sandwiches. After spending 12 years in Texas, bbq brisket is one of my favorite foods. So I went for that. With their sauce. For $9, I got this huge brisket sandwich covered with sauce. I wasn’t expecting the best flavor with a Traeger Grill and Cookshack electric smoker because they don’t use real wood or charcoal but hey, he recommended them. Every slice of brisket was from the fatty point of the brisket which, in my opinion, should never be served in a sandwich sliced. And to top that off, it wasn’t cooked to brisket perfection where it was the least bit tender. You take a bite and it takes both hands to wrestle the rest of the sandwich away. The bbq sauce was awesome but it covered any smoke taste that could have existed. It was borderline terrible. Like what was said above, save your money and go try Hog Wild on 82nd. That is real Texas BBQ Brisket. The Philly Cheesesteak wasn’t any better for my wife. Too bad. The menu looked great.

  16. I am amazed this guy is even still open…after reading all these reviews. Wish I had read them before I tried the overpriced pulled pork that he recommended, bad attitude was included for free. I was very disappointed, and left still hungry.

  17. I’ve been going to cartopia for quite some time now but for some reason always skipped over Bubba Bernie’s, mostly cause other things sounded more exotic and finding good BBQ in Portland has been disappointing.

    Yesterday I finally decided to check these guys out and got the pulled pork sandwich. As others have said it’s not too impressive flavor wise, though the size was huge even for $8. I hadn’t eaten all day and was bloated and full when done.

    But back to the flavor, some good things were it wasn’t too dry and the sauce wasn’t like modified ketchup as someone else said, but it also wasn’t amazing either. I could have used a bit more heat (and the flavor that comes with it) and a bit more tang.

    The bun was OK in my book, I’ve had worse.

    I also noticed they seem to go through employees a lot or maybe I just don’t pay them enough attention to remember them. The girl that served me was very police smiley and happy, I actually expected her to be a bit surly from her look so that was a pleasant surprise.

    Would I recommend it to any serious bbq fan or foodie? No…

    I tend to get by BBQ from Cannon’s Rib Express on NE 33rd next to New Seasons, they have great sauce and a decent brisket.

  18. Foodcartmasterotheworld says:

    I tried the BBQ brisket and I was dissapointed that is was pretty much solid, it took forever to chew. It tasted very bland, and expensive as heck.

  19. Foodcartmasteroftheworld says:

    I just reviewed the bbq brisket, but a new eview. Had the shrimp po’ boy. Remoulade was amazing. So much shrimp. HUGE ! TASTY ! Try it with carolina sauce and smokin hot bbq.

  20. I got the pulled pork sandwich this evening. It was too big and way too greasy. I’m actually kind of sick from it. I don’t know which was a worse decision, paying too much for the sandwich, or eating it. Never again. OH, and they charge you $1 to use their Square card, which is outrageous, then expect a tip. Bubba Bernies sucks.

  21. I wanted some solid food on Saturday night. This was the worst experience ever. I think the girls name was Kara? She was all over the place and the food was extremely dry and to expensive for what you are getting! Never again.

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