Carter’s Cart

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bbq food cart portland

Carter’s Cart on HWY 30

Location: 5885 NW St. Helen’s Road, Out off HWY 30
Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 10am-6pm

The Story:

Smoke meats get me excited. BBQ. Pulled Pork. Ribs. Brisket. It takes a special talent and sometimes years in the smoke to master a good char and keep things juicy. Carter’s Cart out off Highway 30 is one of the few food carts in Portland serving up superb smoked meats.

Carter’s Cart is located in the parking lot of Anderson’s Roofing Company on HWY 30 between the industrial zone and St. Johns Bridge and offers up covered seating for you to enjoy your sandwich. The menu includes traditional smoked meat items like tri-tip, house rubbed pulled pork and brisket. Sides include salads, slaws and baked beans. On any given day, they offer up a rotating hot soup and even specials. Pan-Fried Mahi Mahi on a ciabatta was the special of the day I visited, but I opted for a more traditional sando, a Tri-Tip Cheesesteak. Carter’s cheesesteak arrives with smoke tri-tip chopped up and mixed with sautéed bell peppers and onions with melted Havarti atop. That glorious mix is then served on a toasted hoagie with chimichurri and Serrano aioli. Let the sandwich sit for a sec to let the Havarti pull everything together then dive in. The mix of the herb heavy chimichurri, spicy Serrano aioli AND smoked beef is divine. A great find.

bbq food cart portland

Tri-Tip Cheesesteak from Carter’s Cart

Carter’s Cart is open Tuesday-Friday from 10-6pm and offers covered seating so you don’t have to return to the office so quickly. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Tri-Tip Cheesesteak – $8 or $10 with sides
  • Carter Cubano – smoked pork, pickles, mustard aioli, spicy capicola and Havarti grilled on a hoagie – $8 or $10 with sides.
  • Sides – $2 – Baked Beans, Cole Slaw, Side Salad, Cucumber Salad
  • Full Menu on Website

Website: CartersCartPdx.com
Facebook: Carter’s Cart

Jook Joint

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asian food cart portland

Jook Joint

Location: SW 10th and Washington
Hours: Mon-Fri, lunch

The Story: Every now and then, a meal takes your breath away. Maybe the presentation, more than likely the flavor. Jook Joint, a new food cart at the Alder pod did just that for me.

Jook Joint popped up in February along the strip of 10th where a number of vendors have made a go of it. I walked by a few times, secretly hoping they would stick it out and they did, so on a cool wet winter day, I stopped in. Ryan Ostler had been scheming about Jook Joint for over 10 years and finally, Portland provided the opportunity. A Texan by birth, Ryan traveled to SE Asia throughout the years and saw similarities in cuisine. Yep, a Texas/Asian comparison. They both use a type of grits/porridge. Thai Tea and Sweet Tea? Chilies…. Thinking about it, I can see the similarities. For Ryan, bringing the different flavors together took some time to perfect, but once he landed in Portland, the magic happened.

asian food cart portland

Jook

At Jook Joint, they offer an Asian fusion menu. First off, you chose an item, then protein and then sides. Baos, Sandwiches or a bowl of Jook. What the hell is a bowl of Jook? Jook is a chicken and rice soup with the consistency of a thick porridge with a soft boiled egg and ginger and topped with crispy wontons and cilantro. I ordered that with 12 hour smoked beef brisket. Yep, Texas style brisket and a bowl of Asian soup. Crazy, but it worked. Oh how it worked. The soup was thick and smoky thanks to the beef, the crisp of the wonton added texture, cilantro for bite. It was so good, I stood in the rain at the top of a parking garage devouring it. I just couldn’t wait to get it into my belly.

Jook Joint is located at SW 10th and Washington and opens daily for lunch. They offer smoked tofu, chicken and pork belly along with the brisket and have sides which include kimchi collard greens and Sichuan pickles. If you’re looking for a new treat, drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Twitter: @JookJointPDX

Matt’s BBQ

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bbq food cart portland

Matt’s BBQ

Location: 4709 NE MLK Blvd
Hours: Wed/Thurs, 11-7; Friday, 11-6

The Story: BBQ, an American past time. In the last decade, BBQ has become as artisan and lauded as fusion or French cuisine with chefs opening BBQ restaurants throughout the country. No longer is it needed to travel to Austin or Kansas City or Asheville to find good Q. It may be in a food cart like Matt’s BBQ here in Portland.

Matt’s BBQ is located on NE MLK Blvd between Prescott and Alberta in the parking lot of H&B Loan. Unless you’re looking for the cart, you may miss it tucked in the back of the lot with a couple of picnic tables and umbrellas. The travel-trailer-turned-food-cart, completely gutted and remodeled by Matt himself, isn’t necessarily where the magic of the Q happens. The offset smoker behind the cart with slow burning oak creates the Texas style scents and flavors. A menu of brisket, ribs, sausage and sides like slaw, potato salad or pinto beans is pretty affordable compared to local BBQ restaurants. Instead of repeat visits, I ordered “The Whole Shebang.” The entire menu for $16. A bargain in my opinion. Brisket- bark with a salty delightful cruch, the meat with fatty bits there for a reason just melted away at every bite. Ribs – dry-rubbed and smoked came with a hint of pepper. Sausage – juicy and fatty, paired well with the added white bread. Honestly, I was there for the BBQ, not the sides, yet Matt surprised me. The pinto beans and potato salad, scratch made, showed Matt took pride in every bit of his menu. Rarely do I praise sides at a BBQ joint, but Matt nailed it.

BBQ Food Cart Portland

The Whole Shebang from Matt’s BBQ


If you’re as much a fan of smoked meats as I am, you should make a pilgrimage to Matt’s BBQ in NE Portland. He’s becoming known in the community, so keep an eye on his Facebook page as he may sell out earlier than posted hours. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Brisket Plate with 2 sides – $12
  • 1/4 Rack of Ribs with 2 sides – $11
  • 2 Sausages with 2 sides – $10
  • Brisket sandwich with coleslaw – $7
  • Chopped rib sandwich with coleslaw – $6
  • The Whole Shebang – $16
  • The hot Mess – chopped brisket, sausage, pickled jalapeno sandwich – $9
  • Sides – $2.50

Facebook: Matt’s BBQ

The Hot Box BBQ

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BBQ Food truck portland

The Hot Box BBQ

Location: 3200 SW Moody – The Gantry
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 11am-7pm

The Story: Boy meets girl. Girl enters BBQ contest and places. The Hot Box BBQ is born. Located in the Sellwood district, this BBQ food truck requires a visit.

The back story on The Hot Box BBQ is pretty cool. Dan and Abby, the owners and BBQ masters, met on a cruise to Mexico. Abby, born and raised in Hong Kong, decided to join Dan in Humboldt County thereafter and having an adventurous spirit decided she wanted to compete in a local BBQ contest. That first entry garnered her a 3rd place ribbon. Not satisfied, she returned for the next 4 years. The Hot Box BBQ cart was born. After much success in Northern California, the pair uprooted and now call Portland home. The menu has expanded along with weekly specials.

BBQ Food truck portland

The Volcano from The Hot Box BBQ

I tell everyone about the mouthwatering BBQ we get at food carts. Since Portland doesn’t have an entrenched BBQ culture like other parts of the country, most of what we enjoy is transplanted. The Hot Box BBQ focuses on pulled pork sandwiches of all different styles. From an original to the Maui Wowie with pickled onion and pineapple, every sandwich screamed goodness. The Volcano, with pulled pork, homemade jalapeno pepper jelly, crisp onion bits and sriracha aioli on a brioche bun rumbled my stomach just reading the description. Dan built one up and I dove in. Heck, while I had plenty of napkins, it was still a glorious mess. The pork, perfectly smoked with just enough fat to keep it moist. The heat from the sriracha aioli and pepper jelly kept a well balanced burn throughout the enjoyment of this beast. And the bun! An excellent choice.

The Hot Box BBQ, slang for a BBQ smoker, is now open to feed ya. Drop on by next time you’re in the area and enjoy some quality pulled pork. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

[Hot Box BBQ moved to The Gantry in 2015]

Sample Menu:

  • The Original – smoked pulled pork, homemade coleslaw, mayo, homemade peach BBQ sauce – $8
  • The Maui Wowie – $9
  • The Volcano – $9
  • The Green Meany Salad – smoked pulled pork or marinated smoked tofu, fresh lettuce, pickled onion, carrot, cucumber, tomato, pineapple, Thai peanut dressing – $8

Facebook: The Hot Box BBQ

Slick’s Big Time BBQ

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Location: Varies – check website
Hours: Varies – check website

The Story: Portland’s BBQ scene is ever changing with new blood launching restaurants and food carts seemingly weekly. Slick’s Big Time BBQ has been around for awhile and their food truck is now roaming the streets of Portland.

Dan and Barbi Slick started their BBQ business with a sauce product line which took off and allowed them to grow their business into catering and events and a BBQ drive-through in Newberg. Over the years, they have had the pleasure of traveling the states with their award winning BBQ and sauce line. Slick’s Big Time BBQ Truck came about as they saw the need to expand into other areas and it is gorgeous. Menu offerings from the truck include pulled pork, smoked turkey and brisket sandwiches, a Texas slaw dog or a rib plate. Brisket is my crutch, so Gene, the pit-master in the truck, set me up with a good size portion on a stadium bun along with house made coleslaw and macaroni salad. The brisket was moist and flavorful with just the right smoke ring. A great amount of food for only $9.

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Gene, the pit-master on the truck visits weekly locations around the Nike campus or you can find them at wineries and events throughout the year. Next time you’re out looking for BBQ, check them out and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Pulled Pork sandwich – $8
  • Smoked Turkey sandwich – $8
  • Beef Brisket sandwich – $9
  • Rib Plate – $12

Website: SlicksBigTimeBBQ.com
Facebook: Slick’s Big Time BBQ

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