Pirate Fish and Chips

Brett Burmeister
Pirate Fish and Chips

Pirate Fish and Chips

Location: 1137 Tucker Rd, Hood River, OR
Hours: Mon-Fri, 10-4pm

The Story:

Every so often I get the itch to leave the city and see where the car will take me and hope that I’ll find something awesome to eat when I get to wherever I’m going. A few weeks ago, that itch and a Zipcar took me to Hood River where my friend and I enjoyed some of what Pirate Fish and Chips has to offer.

Hood River, a gem in the middle of the Columbia Gorge, is one of those cities I have visited more times than I can count. As a kid we would stop there for ice cream or Pizza at Pietro’s on our way to camp on the Washington side of the Columbia up by Goldendale. Since then, Hood River became the wind-surfing capital of the world and turned into one awesome little town. These days, while there are amazing outdoor activities available, I visit for the breweries and the food. Like many small towns, Hood River now has some food carts that are making inroads and Pirate Fish and Chips is one of them.

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Food Carts Portland

fish taco food truckLocation: SE 43rd and Belmont, Good Food Here
Tues-Sun, 12 – 8pm

The Story: A friend and I were lamenting the lack of great seafood restaurants in Portland. No, sushi doesn’t count. Yes, we have Granddad places of varying quality such as Jake’s or Dan & Louis Oyster Bar, Fish n’ Chip shops, and a couple of young gastronomic upstarts (the fancy fish place in Fox Tower downtown for example). And yes, you can get great seafood in markets, a few other carts, and it’s always available on most restaurant menus. But, unlike other port cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, Boston or New Orleans, Portland dining isn’t just very seafood focused. Perplexing.

When Dustin and Angie, the owners of the very new Fishbox cart started daydreaming, FISH is what they came up with, a plan that’s been hatching in Dustin’s head since at least 2003. “I was up on the Columbia River, and it was salmon season, and people were up at Mt. Hood fly fishing for trout, and I thought, man, we have all this seafood around and near Portland, we need a really great fish cart,” Dustin told me in an interview one sunny spring day. He comes from formal culinary school training, and years and years working in Portland’s restaurant industry. Dustin was burned out working for crazy restaurant owners and living the often hard livin’, hard partyin’ restaurant lifestyle. The man knows his way around a kitchen for sure though, and knows how to handle fish dishes. From the food I sampled, he’s a hell of a great cook.

Dustin and his partner Angie took their time opening and have put a lot of thought into the menu and kitchen of this simple white van. It’s a great lesson for other wanna be cart owners. “I wanted to build out my kitchen and truck from scratch so that I have it and the equipment EXACTLY the way I need it. I didn’t inherit bad equipment or a clunky layout, which will save me money and time in the long run, especially when I get ready to expand” Dustin explained. Dustin was also very picky about getting a van, rather than a trailer type cart to offer more mobile flexibility and because a van is easier to move for catering and other special events. Dustin continued, “it was more expensive upfront than a cart and the build out took longer, but I think it will be worth it.”

fish taco food truckBut how about that fish? It’s not purely focused on wild seafood or local seafood, but it’s super fresh, very high quality and prepared with a light touch. The day I visited, the menu featured items such as a very chunky, very creamy clam chowder as good as anything you’d find at the coast, a wild salmon satay with Asian style pesto served with rice, a textbook Caesar Salad (with option Ahi tuna or wild salmon), an Ahi Tuna melt sandwich, a dark roux non-seafood gumbo, and Wild Salmon or Ahi Tuna seared tacos. “It’s funny because before I opened I was always telling people, I’m NOT going to be a taco truck,” Dustin laughed, “but tacos have turned out to be my biggest seller and most popular item.”

fish taco food truckThere’s a reason why. These aren’t your regular petite fistful Mexican tacos in corn tortillas, but large gourmet tacos in soft big flour wraps. Bursting with perfectly cooked and seasoned seafood, and a generous amount of lightly dressed slaw, three to an order is worth the $9. I was plenty full after just two.

Food is always the best part about visiting Portland’s intense food cart scene, and the Fishbox keeps its side of the bargain up quite nicely on that end. But the stories behind the carts really make me smile. Everyone is unique, and has a terrific story to tell. We think it’s the people that contribute as much to our vibrant cart community as much as the food does. The Fishbox is yet another wonderful, friendly, and tasty addition to our always cool food cart scene.

Sample Menu (contact vendor for current menu and pricing):

  • Seared Ahi Tuna or Wild Salmon Tacos – $9
  • New England Style Clam Chowder – small $4, large $6
  • Veggie Fried Rice Bowl – $5. With tuna or salmon, $9
  • Wild Salmon Satay with Asian pesto and veggie fried rice – $9

Hours: Tues-Sun, 12 – 8pm

Year of the Fish

fish food cart portland

Year of the Fish

Location: SE 52nd and Foster at Carts on Foster
Hours: Tues-Sat, 12-8

The Story:

Out off Hawthorne in what many refer to as Stumbletown due to the number of bars, there is a new cart that is open late to sate those munchies you get after a few drinks – Year of the Fish. [Update: Now at SE 52nd and Foster]

Edward MacGregor opened Year of the Fish in September after being out of the restaurant game for a few years. Having grown up working in restaurants and subsequently owning them as a family business, he had taken a break from the grind, hoping to do something else. Well, the call of the deep fryer was too strong, but Edward didn’t want to do another restaurant, so decided on the cart. Locating at 47th and Hawthorne was also a strategic decision – an attempt to attract some of the crowds that line up to the few restaurant options in the area late night.

fish food cart portland

Tiger Prawns from Year of the Fish

Year of the Fish is a fish and chips cart. With options including cod, red snapper and halibut, if you love fish, you’ll like love this cart. Edward offers traditional or gluten-free batter depending on your needs. What surprised me was the offer of tiger prawns. I love a good fish and chips, but to get batter fried tiger prawns raises the bar. Lightly breaded and crunchy, the prawns are delightful. You can get different sauces, but these are so flavorful, you don’t need it. Sided with a handful of steak fries, you have a great little snack.

Year of the Fish is now open for lunch and dinner weekdays and late night on the weekends. Drop on by for some well made fish and chips and other treats and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Cod and Chips – $7
  • Red Snapper and Chips – $7
  • Halibut and Chips – $market rate
  • Tiger Prawns and Chips – $8
  • Clam Chowder – New England style – cup, $3; bowl $5
  • Just Slaw – $3
  • Just Chips – $3

Phone: 971 258 6567
Twitter: @YearoftheFish1
Facebook: Year of the Fish


Hot Boxx

Hot Boxx

Hot Boxx

Location: Current location unknown, 11/2011
Hours: Tues-Sat, 11am-8:30pm

The Story:

A taste of Maine from a food cart. That is how I learned of Hot Boxx, a newer cart at Green Castle that serves up a dish you don’t find too often our here on the left coast – a lobster roll.

I had heard of Hot Boxx a few months ago, but only recently realized they were at the Green Castle Food Pod in NE. A little hunting trailer painted graffiti style but with a Native American feeling is where John Nash and Travis Price create some great dishes. The lobster roll is what drew me to the cart. I am one of those guys who, as an adult has only had lobster a couple of times and never right out of the shell. I know, how could I go through life without it? Well, I have eaten my weight in fresh salmon if that counts for anything.

Lobster Roll from Hot Boxx

Lobster Roll from Hot Boxx

With fresh live lobsters from Maine, Hot Boxx sets out to create what most anyone in New England can get on a daily basis. We’re so lucky to have this. Served up on a toasted bun are huge chunks of lobster meat mixed with butter and a bit of finely chopped chives. Taking that first bite is a tour de force of butter, creamy lobster meat and a crunchy bun. I had to slow down my chewing so I could take it all in. Lobster is so rich and flavorful and now I understand why people seek it out and are willing to pay a pretty penny for it.

While the lobster roll is at the top of the menu, Hot Boxx also serves up other items like a pork belly steam bun or risotto balls. While $12 for a sandwich is at the high end of what food carts sell, it is worth it for one of the best tasting crustaceans around. Head on over and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Lobster Roll – $12
  • Pork Belly Steam Bun – $5
  • Risotto Balls – $5
  • Hoisin Beef Wontons – $4

Hours: Tues-Sat, 11am-8:30pm
Twitter: @HotBoxxPDX
FaceBook: Hot Boxx PDX


Flying Fish Company

Flying Fish Company

Flying Fish Company

Locations: SE 21st and Hawthorne
Hours: See Website

The Story:

Portland loves fresh food. We love it so much, the Portland Farmers Market is planning on being open year around instead of just during the growing seasons. We have numerous grocery stores that have fresh fish and locally sourced meats. Now we have a truck offering that also – Flying Fish Company.

Lyf Gildersleeve has been handling fish all his life. A fishmonger by trade, he sold his mobile fish company in Utah and moved to Portland to open the Flying Fish Company truck. Outfitted with a freezer and a couple of refrigerators, Lyf’s goal is to bring sustainable and fresh fish, flash frozen fish, fresh shellfish and organic meats to the masses. You can find fresh caught Wild King Salmon, Copper River Sockeye, Dover Sole, Washington Steelhead and a ton of options for fresh oysters, mussels and clams. Everything listed as fresh has never been frozen. Lyf does offer flash-frozen items such as halibut cheeks, hamachi-yellowtail, Hawaii escolar, Hawaii ono and so much more. Being flash frozen isn’t bad. The fish is frozen on the boat just after being caught and never defrosted until it hits your counter. Beyond fish, you can also pick up hormone free, antibiotic free and locally raise beef, lamb, pork, buffalo, elk or venison. It’s like a roaming meat counter from your favorite grocery.

Fresh Salmon from Flying Fish Co.

Fresh Salmon from Flying Fish Co.

Lyf’s goal is to bring sustainable and fresh items to your dinner table. Following the sustainable fishing guide which lists those species that are not being overfished, Lyf brings you some amazing choices while also supporting our oceans and local fisherman. He even wraps the fish in biodegradable plant-based packaging.

Lyf’s Flying Fish Co stepvan can be found at the Eagle’s Lodge on SE 50th and Hawthorne Wednesday-Friday and then at D-Street Noshery on SE 32nd and Division on the weekends. His prices are fair-market and you get an excellent product for what your pay for. Join his email list or follow him on Twitter for weekly specials and to learn when he gets in something new. This week it was smoked salmon and steelhead. How can you resist that? Check out Lyf’s truck, pick up something for the summer BBQ and let him know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Update 9/2011-  Flying Fish Co is now located at SE 50th and Hawthorne along with SE 21st and Hawthorne. No longer on Division.


For a list of what the Flying Fish Company is selling each week, visit FlyingFishCompany.com

Hours: Wed-Fri, 12-7pm at 50th and Hawthorne; Sat/Sun, 12-7pm, 32nd and Division
Phone: 503 260 6552
Website: FlyingFishCompany.com
Twitter: @FlyingFishPDX Facebook: Flying Fish Oregon