The weather outside is frightful. But food carts are still delightful! Even though the October wet and cold has now descended upon Portland, and al fresco dining might be out of the question, there’s still plenty of places to eat your food cart food inside away from the rain and damp. While many food cart pods (especially the ones on the Eastside) now have covered seating with heaters and other fine amenities, the downtown carts are often a different story. Here’s a few indoor or covered places to eat that we know about.
- SW 5th and Oak – the US Bank Tower – sometimes called Big Pink – has indoor seating on the first and second floor mezzanine area. This area has tables and chairs and is pretty comfortable. (note: 11/02/12 -City Park comment removed by editor due to confusion).
- The Ace Hotel on SW Stark and 10th Ave. has both lounge seating downstairs and what we call “the study hall” upstairs, with a cozy long sofa and little stools around a big table. A great place to work and eat in a quiet place.
- SW 4th and College, PSU Engineering Building– across the street from the 4th avenue pod. Inside, in the basement, are plenty of tables and chairs. There’s also several other places just a couple of blocks away on the PSU campus – Smith Center, the main student center on SW Broadway has a ton of tables and other seating on the first and second floor, with a nice view of the Park Blocks.
- Pioneer Place Mall on SW 6th Ave. – yep, the mall. There’s plenty of bench and table seating spread about, but especially on the basement level. This is another one of those sweet deal real estate deals by the City – although privately owned it has a 30 year tax abatement, so don’t feel guilty using it for your own brown bag or takeway lunch. If you pay Portland taxes, you helped build and keep the mall running. Bon Apetit!
- ODS Health Building on SW 2nd Ave. and Morrison, next to Nordstrom’s Rack has about four small tables and a few chairs in their lobby.
- City of Portland Building and City Hall on SW 5th. You’ll need to check-in with security, but there’s seating on the main floor of the City Building, and seating in the basement of City Hall. You might even find yourself sharing your curry alongside members of City Council.
- The Multnomah County Library on SW 10th Ave. (with a caveat). The rules for this one are a little squishy, so proceed at your own risk, respect the librarians, and do be mindful of other patrons. I’ve enjoyed a sandwich and soda in the main reading room with no problems. The rules state, “(NO) Consuming food or drink that creates a nuisance because of odor, garbage or spills. Non-alcoholic beverages in closed containers and small amounts of snack foods are allowed. No food or drink of any kind are allowed inside the John Wilson collections at Central Library.”
- Federal Courthouse on SW 3rd Ave. and Taylor – there is a public lunchroom on the 10th floor. You do need to get past security. Leave the titanium fork and spoon at home.
- Director’s Park at SW Park and Yamhill has a large covered area. While the tables and chairs are reserved for patrons of Elephant’s deli, the long bench on the side of the park is open for anyone to use.
Food carts take a big hit once the weather turns nasty. Some lose over 50% of their business during the winter months. So, if you love the carts and small businesses like we do, do try to support them even when it’s blistery and bad out. And if you do eat your food in an office lobby or other food court area, consider supporting the food vendors located there on occasion too, or at least buying a beverage or dessert from them. Share the small business love, man.