Indoor Eating When the Weather is Wet – Fall 2013 Update!

Food Carts Portland

Photo – taken by Lizzy Caston, Banksy, New Orleans, 2009

OK kids, looks and feels all gloomy, wet and doomy out there. Sadly, the consistently warm days of summer 2013 are OVER.  While many food cart pods (especially the ones on the Eastside) now have covered seating with heaters and other fine amenities (booze even!) or are attached to bars where you can down a drink and eat with abandon, the downtown carts are often a different story.

And Portland’s 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 too on occasion too, or at least buy a beverage or dessert from them. Share the small business love, man.

Here’s a few indoor or covered places to eat downtown that we know about:

image from City of Portland.

image from City of Portland.


  • (*New for 2013!*) Ecotrust Building (Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center) on NW 10th and Irving. Not sure why this one slipped our food cart brains for um, about 5 years, but whoops there it is. A beautiful space with a couple of tables on the first floor atrium near Patagonia. If the Portland sun does decide to make a rare appearance, there’s also a swank outdoor patio upstairs with a seating and a fireplace.
  • (updated 9/30/13) SW 5th and Oak – the US Bank Tower – sometimes called Big Pink – has indoor public seating on the first and second floor mezzanine area. This area has tables and chairs and is pretty comfortable. Currently the Mezzanine is closed for remodeling, but there are a few places to sit ground floor level near Burnside St. 
  • 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 nook, a wingback reading chair, 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 and Hall cart 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. Although it’s nice to support the other vendors there too – consider buying dessert, part of your meal, or a beverage from the food court. 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 and the Mayor.
  • 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.

Know of anymore indoor seating downtown or close that’s apropos for food cart meals? Leave a comment below, cause we’d love to know! Happy food carting – The Food Carts Portland Team




  1. Rip City Grill is on what looks like an old loading dock, wonderful food and plenty of dry space to eat it in.

  2. What? The bottom of the US Bank Tower is a city park? I can’t find this listed as a park anywhere. Are you sure?

  3. nev & i have the same question: how can we verify it’s a city park? because if it’s true, that’s AWESOME.

  4. Hi Guys, I removed the city park comment. Too much confusion on designated official city parks vs public spaces, as well as some uncalled for snarky comments (not the the ones above) attacking the author which we chose not to publish because they violate our rules for respectful discourse. US Bank tower is open to the public and they do not mind if you eat your food cart lunch there, so go for it!

  5. City park or not, I just visited Big Pink and found it to be an excellent place to have a picnic. I never would have gone there if I hadn’t read this article, so thanks!

  6. Aaron Walker says

    US Bank Tower (Unico properties) has closed the 2nd floor mezzanine area for a remodel, turned off the escalators, and closed the doors to them. The third floor couch area has also been removed. There are still chairs and tables near the tower side elevators, but both the upstairs eating areas are gone.

  7. oh, no! thanks for the update about big pink! i hope that returns soon!

  8. thank you so very much for this incredibly useful information! i’ve just moved here and LOVE the food carts, but am so very sad that i have to eat at my desk for lunch when it rains. i will check out these cool places and make sure to buy a drink from the locations’ inhabitants. thank you thank you thank you!!!

  9. If you do an update on winter weather and covered seating for this winter, please mention the big heated tent (came all the way from Canada) at Cartlandia. and the same style tent is at Mississippi Marketplace. Thanks

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