Sam’s Saj Mediterranean Sandwiches

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mediterranean food cart portland

Sam’s Saj

Location: SW 10th and Washington
Hours: breakfast, lunch and dinner weekdays

The Story: Portland continues to attract some unique dishes from different parts of the world. Sam’s Saj, a food cart at the 10th and Washington pod focuses on a unique Mediterranean sandwich called the Khubz.

Mediterranean food cart portland

Kafta Saj from Sam’s Saj

Sam and Diala took over a former Thai cart last fall and did a total remodel. Sam wanted to offer up a handmade dish different than the other Mediterranean options in the lot. The Khubz is a sandwich, but seems like a mix of a burrito and maybe a crepe. The Saj griddle is the key to making this flatbread. Growing up, Sam remembers the circular convex griddle being heated by coals. In Portland, that wasn’t possible, so Sam had a griddle handmade in order to utilize propane. I always say, Portland’s DIY culture leads to some tasty creations. The flatbread is grilled and then topped with cheese or Zaatar or labne, a yoghurt cheese. Once cooked up, they roll it all up to enjoy. Breakfast options can include Zaatar with tomatoes, cucumbers and fresh mint or maybe Nutella, banana and toasted hazelnuts. For lunch, I picked up the kafta with seasoned lamb and beef along with lettuce, tomatoes and pickles. The flatbread is thin and flavorful, creating a great envelope for the savory kafta and fresh veggies.

Sam’s Saj opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so no matter when you arrive, Sam and Diala are there to make you a treat. I have visited twice and the second item I enjoyed came with Zaatar, a blend of herbs and spices that will blow your mind. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Zaatar – $4
  • Cheese and Zaatar with tomatoes, cucumbers and mint – $4.75
  • Labne and Zaatar with tomatoes, cucumbers, mint and green olives – $5
  • Turkey and Cheese – lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, mayo, mustard – $5
  • Kafta – $7.75
  • Lamb Shawarma – $9
  • French Fries – $3.50
  • Cauliflower Saj – crisped cauliflower, cabbage, tomatoes, onions, cumin vinaigrette – $6

Facebook: Sam’s Saj

Brunch Box, Rua and Minizo Closing – Portland Food Cart News

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portland food cart newsUsually, April isn’t the month we hear about closures, but this year, we have a few. April is usually the month for new carts to open and work out the bugs for summer.

Brunch Box announced this week they are being forced to close their food cart. The landlord, City Center Parking, is evicting them due to improper grey water disposal. The story goes deeper than that with a secret video and such, but in the end, the cart is closing. Brunch Box made a name for itself quickly when it opened in 2009 offering hand crafted burgers in a sea of Thai and Mexican on 5th. They expanded to open a restaurant on SW 9th and Alder which simply rocks. Hopefully they can recoup and re-launch a cart, maybe on the east side. The Portland Mercury has the whole story.

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Rua, Jason Meyer’s cart on SW 9th and Washington closed earlier this month. For fans of Jason’s Saigon Fried Chicken or Pork Belly sandwich, don’t fret. Jason is actively working on a restaurant at the Zipper on NE Sandy. All your favorites along with a broader menu will showcase his culinary chops and feed your tastebuds. Watch for an opening later in spring. The cart on Washington will become a new vendor soon.

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Minizo, the pet ramen project of the Shigezo restaurant, announced last week they are closing the cart at the end of the month. Minizo will truly be missed by me since it is in my neighborhood and a go to cart for ramen and noodles. Lucky for me, the restaurant is opening a ramen outpost on NE Russell this year. If you love Minizo, visit soon for that last bowl of Shoyu or Shio Ramen. Mississippi Marketplace on N Skidmore and Mississippi.

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With the closures, opportunities abound. There are currently two carts at the Alder pod on 10th for sale and I’ve heard of others in downtown. If you’re a budding entrepreneur and are interested in owning a food cart, now may be your chance to take the leap.

Eat Mobile 2015 and Food Cart News

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Some tidbits of food cart news for you this first day of April.

eatmobile2015Eat Mobile is going mobile in 2015. Over the years, Eat Mobile has taken place under the Morrison Bridge and over at OMSI, but in 2015, the organizers wanted to shake it up and allow ticket holders to experience Portland’s pods. The event, which takes place the evening of April 29 will take over two food cart pods in SE Portland with shuttle buses transporting attendees back and forth so they can enjoy the different offerings at each. Tickets go on sale April 1 and there are only 400 available, so get them soon. So excited to see the next iteration of one of Portland’s street food festivals. More details at Willamette Week’s Facebook Page.

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downloadThe Portland Mercado celebrates its Grand Opening on April 11, but the food carts on site open on April 1. The Portland Mercado, located on SE 72nd and Foster is a wonderful addition to the SE Portland street food scene. The first Latino Public Market in Portland is a grassroots community development project of Hacienda CDC along with other community partners. Their mission is an economic development project based on Latino cultural heritage that brings together diverse cultures through entertainment, art, and food. As part of the public market, they have brought in a colorful array of food carts which will open April 1 featuring cuisine from Mixteca PDX, Fernando’s, Los Alambres,  5 Volcano’s Pupuseria and more. Indoor vendors will offer shopping. The facility also boasts the Micro Mercantes incubator kitchen and commissary. It has taken a few years to get this project off the ground and I’m eager to experience all that they have to offer. The Portland Mercado is at SE 72nd and Foster.

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Portland has an amazing street food scene. We know that. Did you also know that Portland State University has one of the leading urban development programs in the nation? Every year, city leaders and community development wonks from around the nation come to Portland to learn about how we do things so they can take the lessons learned back to their community. A few years ago, representatives from Waco, Texas were in town and the street food scene blew them away. Within a few months, they had successfully launched a growing food truck scene there and this past weekend hosted their first food truck festival. 20,000 people attended, destroying everyone’s expectations and showcasing how street food is a part of our collective culture. 36 food trucks from around the state including eight from Waco, the event was a huge success. I’m happy to say that Portland’s street food scene played a small part in awakening the food truck scene down in Waco, Texas.

Enjoy April.

Churros Locos Heading to World Street Food Congress

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wsfc2015Food Carts Portland is proud and excited to announce that Brett Burmeister, owner and editor of the website, is heading to Singapore along with one of Portland’s food carts to attend the World Street Food Congress from April 8- April 12, 2015.

Brett will represent Food Carts Portland. Brett will join Portland food cart owners Daniel Huerta and Isabel Sanchez-Huerta from local favorite Churros Locos to showcase Portland’s thriving street food scene, including providing handcrafted treats to over 10,000 attendees. Portland will be in good company, alongside 25 mobile food vendors from places as diverse as Europe, Asia, and beyond.

If you’re a regular reader of this site, you know Brett has been writing about Portland’s street food scene since 2008. He will speak at the Congress as part of their World Street Food Dialogue April 8-9. Brett’s presentation on the Portland street food model highlights how the City of Portland and Multnomah County have supported mobile food vendors to create vibrant community spaces while at the same time supporting the growth of small, local food businesses.

The attending Portland food cart will be part of a 5-day street food jamboree with street food vendors from around the world. Churros Locos will showcase their specialty, the Churro and Churro Sundae while utilizing local Singaporean ingredients. The World Street Food Congress organizer, KF Seetoh and his team have visited Portland in the past and know the city’s reputation.

About the World Street Food Congress:

The World Street Food Congress (WSFC) is the first of its kind to connect and open up fresh ideas and thought leadership in the massive, and growing street food culture and industry throughout the world. It also celebrates and showcases this well loved gastro-culture through a ten-day celebration of street food. According to founder K.F. Seetoh, the goals of the WSFC are to “preserve, professionalize and create new possibilities for the world’s greatest culinary phenomena – comfort and street food culture.”

The World Street Food Congress takes place April 8-12 in Singapore. More details about the event can be found at www.wsfcongress.com.

We wish Portland’s own Food Cart Churros Locos a Bon Voyage, and expect on-the-ground updates from Brett and Food Carts Portland throughout the event.

Bing Mi!

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chinese food cart portland

Bing Mi!

Location: SW 9th and Alder
Hours: Mon-Friday, 7:30am-3pm; Saturday, 11am-4pm

The Story: While Portland has some great Chinese restaurants, Chinese cuisine has not made much inroads into the street food scene. A couple here and there, but with the proliferation of Chinese throughout the American landscape, one would think a food cart would be another foray. The owners of Bing Mi! thought just that. A food cart focusing on a unique Chinese dish.

Bing Mi! opened earlier this year with their single dish, the Jian Bing, ubiquitous street food from northern China. Similar to a crepe and using the same tools, the owners create a unique wrap which includes scrambled egg, black bean paste, chili sauce, pickled vegetables, green onion, cilantro, and a crispy fried cracker. They first spread out the crepe mix on a circular griddle and drop an egg atop which then scrambles before adding the additional goodies. The end result is crisp and crunchy with the fried cracker adding texture. You can order it mild, medium or spicy (about a Thai 3.) Truly a savory treat and just the right size for $6. The spicy and savory mix of egg and black bean paste along with the bite of pickled veggies create a great treat for a sunny walk in downtown.

Chinese food cart portlandBing Mi! is open for breakfast and lunch throughout the week and lunch on Saturdays. Located on SW 9th, just north of Alder, the cart is right in the middle of food cart heaven. If you’re looking for something fresh and new, drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Jian Bing – $6

Website: BingMiPortland.com
Twitter: @Bing_Mi

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