Food Truck: The Movie Sneak Preview June 11

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Food Truck movieFirst came the Food Network. Then a race across the country with trucks and even a glossy Hollywood movie featuring a food truck that never broke down. But in all of that, did anyone tell the full story about street food both in Portland and beyond? Not until now. The feature-length documentary, Food Truck: The Movie, will make its World Premiere in Madrid, Spain in July. You get to see it before the Spaniards on June 11.

Documentary filmmaker and Lewis and Clark College Professor Bryan Sebok will present a sneak preview of his film Food Truck: The Movie during a fundraiser event at Rose City Food Park at 5235 NE Sandy Blvd., on June 11. The event will run from 8-11 pm. Live music will begin at 8, followed by the screening at dusk. Q and A with the filmmakers will follow the screening.

Food Truck: The Movie is a deep dive into the global food truck phenomenon through the successes and challenges of the mobile food mecca that is Portland, Oregon. On city streets on every continent, aspiring chefs, entrepreneurs, and immigrants intermingle in the mobile food community. A two billion dollar industry thrives in North America. Yet the significance of street eats is broader. Food Truck: The Movie follows a filmmaker’s immersion as he traces the roots of the scene and its impacts on city life while attempting to eat at a different food truck everyday for a year.

The director, Bryan Sebok is the real deal. When I met up with him for an interview, he had eaten at 30+ vendors. A few months later, over 200. A trooper who has the chops to put together this documentary.

Come on down to Rose City Food Park on June 11 to see the film and enjoy some of the varied offerings at the food cart lot. They have beer and wine available also. See ya there.

Food Truck: The Movie Fundraiser
June 11, 8pm
Rose City Food Park, SE 52nd and Sandy

For more information about the event or if you’re interested in being a sponsor, contact Bryan at bryansebok@gmail.com.

Churros Locos to World Street Food Congress 2016

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world street food congressFood Carts Portland is proud and excited to announce that Brett Burmeister, owner and editor of the website, is heading to Manila, Philippines along with one of Portland’s food carts to attend the World Street Food Congress from April 20- April 24, 2016.

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 100,000 attendees. Portland will be in good company, alongside 30 mobile food vendors from places as diverse as Europe, Asia, Central America and beyond.

If you’re a regular reader of Food Carts Portland, 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 20-21. 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.

world street food congress

Churros Locos

The attending Portland food cart will be part of a 5-day street food jamboree in Bonifacio Global City in Manila with street food vendors from around the world. Churros Locos will showcase their specialty, the Churro Sundae while utilizing local 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 five-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 20-24 in Manila, Philippines. More details about the event can be found at www.wsfcongress.com.

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

Food Cart Pods and News

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News from the food cart world for this February

food cart news

Bites on Belmont

Bites on Belmont opened in January, providing a space for a few of the displaced vendors from Good Food Here which closed in December. Located across the street from the former pod, vendors include Fishbox, Viking Soul Food, Herb’s Mac & Cheese, Hindsight Tap Cart, Aybla Mediterranean, Brazilian House, Kind Coffee and Pablano Pepper Mexican. Pod is open daily and offers covered seating. SE 43rd and Belmont.

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In January, Green Zebra announced their plans for their SE Division location. The developer they partner with has acquired the property next to the building where A la Carts Food Pavilion is located. This week, the owners of A la Carts announced the lot would close at the end of May. Vendors have already found new homes – La Arepa Venezuelan, Pop’s Smokin’ It and Istanbul Delight have moved to Rose City Food Park in NE and TeePee’s Indian Frybread has moved to Beaverton. Second Son Kimbop is opening a space in Oregon City. We’ll keep you posted on where the other vendors end up.

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Pulehu Pizza has taken over the kitchen at The Lumberyard out of NE 82nd. If you don’t know the Lumberyard, it is an indoor BMX track for kids of all ages. Pretty cool. Annebelle and Pierre took over the restaurant and bar with their signature pizza along with beer, wine and cocktails. Kid friendly of course. Pulehu Pizza at The Lumberyard.

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Carte Blanche, one of Portland’s gems, closed in January. The cart was just getting to small for their needs and they are moving towards opening up a restaurant in the near future.

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Churros Locos, Portland’s best mobile churro vendor, will be returning the the 2016 World Street Food Congress in April. This year, the congress takes place in Manila, Philippines April 20-24. A street food jamboree with vendors from all over the globe will showcase Churros Loco’s amazing treats. World Street Food Congress.

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food cart news

Jook Bowl from Jook Joint

Newest food cart find – Jook Joint – on SW 10th and Washington. Offering up Asian Fusion cuisine, I enjoyed a porridge like dish made of chicken and rice and topped with slow smoked beef brisket. You’re welcome.

Portland’s Downtown Food Cart Pods To Close

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Today, The Oregonian reported that the Goodman Family has announced one of their most ambitious projects for downtown Portland. The  Ankeny Blocks will comprise of 11 new towers in and around Burnside to Washington from 6th to the waterfront. 11 towers! Let that sink in for a minute. Where will they all go?

If you don’t know the Goodman family, over the last century they accumulated a vast portfolio of downtown real estate in the form of surface parking lots and built a parking empire named City Center Parking. The land is owned by the family and others, but the parking management company was sold to a Canadian firm a few years ago. The Goodmans now will affect significant change both to the Portland skyline and to the density of downtown. And that means 60-70 food cart vendors will need to find new homes.

Portland Food Carts

5th and Stark Food Cart Pod

The food cart lots at SW 5th and Stark (Portland’s oldest and original food cart pod,) SW 3rd and Washington and SW 2nd and Stark will be no more. The development calls for those lots to become mixed use buildings. It was inevitable in the era of ever increasing development and evolution of this city we call home, I just wasn’t prepared to read on a Saturday morning that 1/2 of the food cart pods in downtown Portland will see their demise sooner than later.

Now I have a call to action. Portland is unique with street food in this country. Most every other city has food trucks who move about in and out of the city center, park and serve their patrons. Portland doesn’t due to an outdated “no business in the right of way” law enforced by Portland Bureau of Transportation. In cities like Boston, Washington DC and Seattle, parking zones in the city center are identified where food trucks are allowed to park and sell for a set amount of hours. If the food cart vendors in downtown Portland want to continue serving the downtown crowd, laws need to be changed. Food cart owners need to come together and get in front of City Council and let them know that Portland street food scene is part of the city fabric. Every city has it, so as we develop, we need to find a way to keep it.

If there are any vendors who want to lead this charge, contact me, Brett Burmeister, and I will help you identify the city codes that need to be discussed and who to talk with.

In the past 3 months, 2 food cart pods have closed as a result of development and 1 more will close soon. While these are on the east side and other food cart pods have opened, it is disturbing to see so many vendors displaced all at once. Portland’s street food scene is now going to experience a change that may portend a sad future for the vendors, employees and eaters. Hopefully, our city leaders can see the value in small business and adjust accordingly.

Portland Food Carts Year in Review – 2015

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food cart review 2015

Breakfast from Henry’s Diner

As we bring 2015 to a close, I think back about all the amazing dishes I enjoyed and people I met. Just a year ago, as we sat around wondering what 2015 would bring, did anyone predict a 6 month summer? In talking with vendors last spring, many commented that winter never actually arrived, providing them with strong sales throughout the year. As 2015 bids farewell though, the winter Portland is famous for has arrived with a vengeance. That said, 2015 was another crazy eventful year for Portland’s food cart scene. One may think of 2015 as the Year of the Pod. Here are some highlights.

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Numbers:

Every year, I enjoy looking back at the changes that have occurred using data. Growth continued, yet we also saw some loss, mainly in the form of Pods.

  • Last count from Multnomah county puts the number of mobile food units – carts, trucks, trailers – at around 848. Up again from 2014.
  • If you’re out and about seeking out food carts, you may not find all 900. By my last count, there are about 420 available in lots throughout the city. Many gather in organized pods, but there are more than a few who strike out of their own.
  • 2015 saw an increase in the number of fully mobile food trucks. Yes, in the city famous for our street food, we have few vendors who are fully mobile. In the last few years, vendors have launched trucks to visit corporate parks, weddings, festivals and catered gigs. By our count, there are now 60-65 fully mobile trucks roaming the streets of Portland.

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PODS  

2015 was the year of the pod. There are now over 40 organized pods in the city and suburbs. Happy Valley and Aloha included.

  • Tidbit, which opened in 2014, evolved into one of the city’s destination pods this summer with live music, great food, beer and non-food vendors.
food cart review 2015

The Portland Mercado

  • The Portland Mercado, a first for Portland opened in summer with 10 vendors serving up delights from Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Cuba and more. Truly an amazing project to showcase these vendors, but also create a micro-enterprise solution for budding entrepreneurs.
  • Cartlandia on 82nd now boasts almost 30 carts year around along with an onsite pub with live sports and music.
  • Happy Valley Station opened in November to huge crowds. If you haven’t visited, get HVS on your bucket list. A pavilion built to house indoor seating, a kids play area and a beer/cider cart with 40+ taps, the roof extends over the fronts of the food carts there providing much needed cover when it rains. With 30 vendors open daily, there is a dish for everyone in the family.
  • Piedmont Station brought a great selection of new vendors to NE Killingsworth. Beer too.
  • Piknik Park in Sellwood launched later summer with 9 vendors and beer and wine. Our first Malaysian cart calls the pod home.
  • The Gantry in South Waterfront took over an underutilized space which use to be the main drag down that way. Six vendors sit under a monster ship gantry. Scout Beer Garden slings brews across the street.
  • Pollo Norte, while a restaurant, decided to open a pod on their property on NE 42nd.
  • The City of Milwaukie acted boldly in identifying a parcel they want to develop as a food cart pod. In my dealings with cities and street food, this may be the first city driven effort to create a designated space for carts. We’ll keep you posted on the progress in 2016.

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The FOOD

As an eater, how does one pick favorites. On any given day, I get asked about my favorite cart. Tough question with so many options to choose from and more opening on a regular basis. I usually just provide a top 5 or maybe a list of those vendors I would bring Aunt Gini to. That said, I did enjoy a couple of dishes that simply blew me away and seared flavors into my taste memory.

food cart review 2015

Tajine fro La Camel

La Camel on SW 9th and Washington served up one of my favorite dishes of the year – Moroccan Kefta Tajine. I can still remember that first bite and the burst of flavors from this vibrant dish. Moroccan seasoned kefta (seasoned beef meatballs) in a rich tomato sauce with fresh chopped white onion, olives and topped with two fried eggs, cheese crumbles and chopped parsley. So good, I’ve returned for a few other Tajines throughout the year. Thank you Karim.

food cart review 2015

Chicken and Guns

Chicken and Guns. Just the name brings people to the cart. A project by seasoned food cart owner Dustin Knox (Perierra Creperie) and Woodsman alum Todd Radcliffe – the goal was to present the street food the two had enjoyed on the back roads of Central American while on surfing trips. The chicken is sublime – charred to perfection, moist and tasty, almost sinful, with a rich Peruvian style sauce. Add a fried egg because you can. Roasted potatoes and fresh greens if you need veggies, but the star of the show is the Latin-inspired chickens old-fashioned grilled over mesquite and oak. Cartopia at SE 12th and Hawthorne.

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Brick and Mortar

As the economy warmed, the opportunity for cart vendors to spread their wings arose. Here are just a few of the vendors who opened Brick and Mortar shops in 2015.

  • The Big Egg on NE Alberta and 30th
  • Big-Ass Sandwiches on NE Glisan
  • Thrive Pacific NW in Alameda
  • Taco Pedaler on NE Broadway
  • Cackalack’s in Bethany
  • Burrasca on SE Clinton
  • ChickPeaDX at the Zipper in NE Portland
  • RUA at the Zipper
  • Pulehu Pizza has opened at The Lumberyard on 82nd
  • HOME, A Bar – a bar/restaurant by Bro-Dogs and Burgers and Brett of Food Carts Portland – SE 7th and Morrison
  • Gonzo took over the kitchen at Bar XV in Old Town
  • The Cheese Plate owners take over the kitchen at Culmination Brewing one day a week with vegan cuisine.
  • Koi Fusion – everywhere

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News and highlights from 2015:

  • More than a few vendors closed this past year. Some to open restaurants, others to tackle new adventures. Here are some we’ll miss – Kargi Gogo, Ugarit Mediterranean (10 years), Italian Market, Gaufre Gourmet Waffles, Brunch Box (restaurant opened), Minizo, Burrasca (restaurant opened), Delicios Romanian
  • Henry’s Diner opened in Carlton in wine country. Such a great location for breakfast, lunch or just to rest while visiting one of Oregon’s magical regions.
  • Churros Locos enjoyed international stardom at the World Street Food Congress in Singapore in April. With a line up of 30 vendors at the street food jamboree, Daniel and Isabel and a team of assistants cranked out almost 10,000 churros and churro sundaes to the attendees over the course of five days. A wonderful representation of Portland’s street food vendors.
  • An early morning fire at the PSU pod in July close five carts, destroying a couple completely. Those vendors who’s carts were damages have rebuilt and reopened, yet two have yet to recover.
  • Portland’s Queen of the Carts – Nong Poonsukwattana – continued to wow us with an amazing performance on Chopped Impossible in October. While she didn’t win, social media believed she should have. Keep up the great work Nong.
  • An interesting story broke in February about two food carts in downtown purchasing stolen meat and then reselling it to customers. Chop Chop and Ren’s Bubble Tea owners were arrested in the case and the carts eventually left the lot. Chop Chop has since re-opened in SE Portland.
  • Smoke Buddy, a mobile marijuana cart, launched in August, rolling around and giving away joints due to a unique loophole in the law. According to the owners, they had the legal right to dispense, yet by the end of August, state authorities were looking into their practices. Maybe in 2016 we’ll see a true pot cart or truck.

What a year. For the past seven years, I’ve enjoyed sitting down in December and rounding up the year’s news. 2016 will be upon us shortly with a new crop of eager vendors showcasing their wares. Street food in Portland isn’t going away due to development. It will evolve and change, but never disappear. Happy New Year and best wishes from Food Carts Portland.

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