Juniper

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vegan food cart portland

Juniper

Location: SW 3rd and Washington
Hours: Wednesday-Thursday, 11-3; Friday and Saturday, 12-9. (check Facebook for latest hours)

The Story: Need something fresh, vibrant, natural, locally sourced and made with care? Juniper, a new food cart in downtown Portland opened earlier this year to focus on just that.

Kashi, Lizz, Elena, Francesca and Summer are the five amazing women who make up the team behind Juniper. Four of them came together at Portland State University while working together at Food for Thought, a student-run collective cafe. The focus of their collective dream is to create their own cafe and wellness space and center on the love of food and the passion for full body health. The cart is just the first step in realizing that goal. With a menu of gluten free and vegan eats, you can’t get much healthier than that. Also, these women have the chops to pull it off. In a recent Portland Monthly Magazine article, Molly Woodstock detailed their collective resumes. Francesca once ran a vegan fudge company. Yumm!

vegan food cart portland
The menu at Juniper speaks volumes about their passion for food and flavor and diversity. Handhelds include a portobello melt with grilled marinated portobello, smoked cashew provolone, sweet onion jam and arugula served on toasted house gluten free bread. Or try one of Mains – the Country Plate with ‘chicken’-fried breaded tofu, daily mashed vegetables, daily greens, seasonal veggies, and mushroom white wine herb gravy. I chose the Five Spice Noodles. Having just returned from SE Asia, I wanted to continue my culinary exploration and broaden my palate. Bulgogi-style grilled soy curls are served atop vegetable and vermicelli noodles with sake-marinated king oyster mushroom ‘scallops.’ All of this is ensconced in a five-spice broth with greens, cilantro, lime and a house made chili oil. The soy curls, bulgogi style, along with the shrooms added the savory and umami flavors while the veggies, thin sliced carrots and cucumber added crunch and sweetness. The broth, that five-spice infused magic offered hints of cinnamon and anise. Every little taste had me questioning – “What’s that new flavor?” There are some great bowls out there at the carts and this one from Juniper ranks among the best for me.

Juniper is located on the Washington side of the 3rd and Washington food cart lot downtown. Open for lunch and on Fridays and Saturdays for dinner also, they regularly have daily specials and rotating daily greens selections. Beyond food, they offer hot or cold tonics and other beverages. Like I sad, a diverse and dynamic menu. Drop on by next time you’re in the neighborhood and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu: full menu on website

  • Harvest Bowl – daily mashed root vegetables, daily greens, dahl – $5
  • Five-Spice Noodles – $8
  • Country Plate – $9
  • Portobello Melt – $7
  • Southern Italian Sammy – herbed breaded tofu, cashew basil ricotta, red pepper orange relish, caramelized fennel and onion – $7
  • Tonics-  $3
  • Sides – Smoky Mac, Daily Greens, Seasonal Vegetables – $3-5

Website: JuniperPDX.com
Facebook: JuniperPDX
Twitter: @Junipercart

Desi PDX

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Indian food cart portland

Desi PDX

Location: NE 15th and Alberta
Hours: Thursday, 12-8pm; Friday/Saturday, 12-9pm; Sunday, 12-8pm

The Story: Local Fare, Indian Flair. Portland, welcome Desi PDX, Alberta’s newest Indian food cart.

Deepak Saxena opened the cart earlier this year with a focus on food inspired by Indian spices and flavors while keeping it local and organic and committing to everyone’s indulgences. At Desi PDX, you can get gluten-free, paleo and vegan. Raised on traditional Indian fare, Deepak eventually fell in love with cooking in this 20’s. After a first career in IT, the food cart became the next adventure. Inspired by Eric Schlosser’s work Fast Food Nation, he changed his own eating habits and continues to work at cooking more sustainably which is reflected with the menu at the cart.

Indian food cart portland

Cardamom chai Drumsticks

Let’s talk food. Deepak has both a la carte options or bowls. Every week he has a rotating “pulse of the week,” which is a selection of organic bean and lentil dhals. How does spicy cabbage salad with shredded coconut, chillies and mustard infused oil sound? Or maybe a Pakora waffle made with spicy garbanzo beans. I chose the cardamom chai chicken. One pound of Mary’s free range drumsticks are tea brined and tea steamed then fried in organic sunflower oil. A coconut sugar chai glaze is added then finished with toasted cardamom and Jacobsen salt. Whew! So many different flavors and ingredients go into creating this dynamic and vibrant chicken. I knew Indian cuisine’s diversity of flavors and spices, but these drumsticks were off the charts. I can only imagine what the other dishes present. I’m excited for a return visit, maybe with a friend so we can order multiple dishes and share.

Desi PDX offers up a diverse menu of treats for everyone and brings up specials almost daily, so follow them on Facebook for updates. Desi PDX is a great addition to the street food scene here in Portland. Drop on by next time you’re up on Alberta and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu – full menu on website

  • Cardamom chai chicken – $7.25
  • Chana masala belly – tamarind-ginger braised carton farms pork belly – $7.50
  • Pulse of the week – $3.75-5.75
  • Belly Bowl – pork belly, fried rice, chutney, pickles, salad – $10
  • Vegan thali – pulse & rice, slaw, chutney, pickles, salad – $11
  • Chicken bowl – chicken, fried rice, chutney, pickles, salad – $9.75

Website: Desipdx.com
Facebook: Desi PDX
Twitter: @DesiPDX

Smak Dab’s

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Burger Food Cart Portland

Smak Dab’s

Location: NE 52nd and Sandy – Rose City Food Park
Hours: Tues-Sat, 11-7; Sun, 12-5

The Story: When you have a dream, sometimes nothing can stop you. Chris had the dream to open a food cart for over 15 years and now Smak Dab’s has launched with their gourmet stuffed burgers.

Chris has a background in the restaurant industry having worked for more than a few large restaurants over the years. The food cart scene just wasn’t as vibrant in the first part of the last decade, so Chris put the plans on hold, but kept the dream alive. The cart, located on NE MLK at The Fusion food cart pod is one of a few who have opened thee in the past six months. That pod has always housed food carts offering a range of cuisines ever since I moved into the neighborhood almost 17 years ago. Now, with a formal name, a covered deck and a quorum of vendors, I think NE MLK has a viable street food scene.

Burger Food Cart Portland

Tres Hombres from Smak Dab’s

Smak Dab’s focuses on stuffed burgers. Many call them the Juicy Lucy after a famous midwestern chain. Chris has his own twist. The patty includes bread crumbs among other goodies to add some cohesion as he forms it around the ingredients. The surprises are inside. Take The Calzone for example – pepperoni, mozzarela cheese and marinara all grilled inside the patty. Just imagining that first bite elicits a stomach growl. The Tres Hombres was for me – jalapenos, olives, jack cheese inside with quacamole atop. At first site, I thought maybe the burger was a bit burned, yet that first bite countered the visual. The patty, with the extra ingredients comes with caramelization throughout – a sweet, salty and for the Tres Hombres, spicy delight. Fresh lettuce and tomato create a cool tasty friction to the stuffed burger. Overall, a well done sammy.

Smak Dab’s has an impressive menu with six stuffed burger options. The day I visited, Chris also had pulled pork on the menu. Design your own if you want, he’ll make it happen. There is plenty of covered seating on site and they offer vegetarian options and GF buns. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

[Smak Dab’s moved to Rose City Food Park in June of 2014]

Sample Menu:

  • The Smak Dab – patty stuffed with swiss and served on toasted bun with chimichurri spread and bacon sriracha onion ring – $9
  • The Calzone – $8
  • The Lisa – vegetarian black bean patty with chimichurri spread – $7
  • Lamb of Gouda – lamb mix stuffed with smoked gouda – $10
  • Tres Hombres – $9
  • Steak Fries – $3
  • Cajun Pot Stickers – $6
  • Bacon sriracha battered fried pickles – $5

Facebook: Smak Dab’s

Fry Guy

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fries food cart Portland

Fry Guy

Location: 1121 SE Division
Hours: Thurs-Sat, 3pm-12am; Sun, 3-8pm

The Story: Fries. I haven’t head the term French Fries for years. In the 21st century, we call them fries! One of Portland’s most famous cart does fries and now they have competition. Fry Guy in Sellwood does fries, poutine and more.

We all grew up on fries didn’t we? Heck, I worked at McDonald’s in the 80’s and got paid in fries. The only potato dish that may rival the ubiquitous fry is the tater tot, but we won’t go there today. Alex McGillivray, aka the Fry Guy, has worked for some of Portland’s favorite chefs doing gigs at Ping and Lardo West. At Lardo, he’s responsible for The Beet Generation sandwich. Nice! As with many culinary professionals, opening your own place is the goal and Alex chased the dream and opened his Fry Guy truck in Sellwood focusing not just on the Canadian classic poutine, but other treats as well.

fries food cart Portland

Portland Poutine from Fry Guy

Fry Guy offers everything from hand cut fries with sauces all the way to loaded fries with beef or mushroom gravy. They do have a reuben on the menu, but we’re here for hand cut fries right? Loaded fries come with traditional (meat) or vegetarian gravy and you can add items like cheese curds or pastrami. I opted for the Portland Poutine with house sausage gravy and an over easy fried egg. Put an egg on it! The sausage gravy covered the fries with plenty of fresh ground black pepper and bits of sausage throughout. Adding the fried egg? Genius! Letting the yolk waterfall through the fries and mix with the sausage made a mess, but a tasty, bold mess.

Fry Guy is now open down in Sellwood at the food cart lot smack dab in the middle of Antique Row. The lot offers covered seating, so you don’t have to wait until spring or summer to visit. Hop on down for a treat and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

[Fry Guy moved to SE 11th and Division in Summer 2015]

Sample Menu (full menu on website)

  • Hand Cut Russet Potatoes – half order, $2; full order $3.50
  • Sauces – Fry Sauce, Tomato Bacon Jam, Sriracha Mayo, Buttermilk Ranch, Bacon Scallion Sour Cream
  • Poutine – $6
  • Portland Poutine – $6
  • Tiger Style – $5
  • Pan Roasted Cauliflower tossed in chimichurri – $4.50

Website: FryGuyTruck.com
Twitter: @FryGuyOregon

SissyMama’s

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gluten free food cart portland

SissyMama’s Food Cart, Welches, OR

Location: 67886 E Highway 26, Welches, Oregon
Hours: Daily, 11-6, yet check Facebook for updates

The Story: Amber, the owner of SissyMama’s, emailed a few weeks ago informing me that Mt. Hood does indeed have food carts – and her’s offers up a Gluten Free menu. I’m aware of summer vendors in Gov’t Camp, but Welches, nope. So, a field trip was in order.

Remember field trips as kids? There was always food whether it be a meal at a topical restaurant or a bag lunch made by mom. I enjoy field trips and get out of the city to visit food carts whenever I get the opportunity. Welches is a cute little village on HWY 26 on the way up Mt. Hood. Just before you get to the single stoplight, Amber has set up her red and white camper trailer – SissyMama’s. With snow blanketing the ground, I pulled up for lunch. Amber trained at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, the world’s largest nutrition school and offers up a menu of Gluten Free and Paleo options. She uses the cart as a means to explore food and create amazing dishes for everyone. Being on the mountain in winter, hot soup is daily treat.

gluten free food cart Portland

Cabbage Roll in a Bowl

The menu is ever changing both with the seasons and at Amber’s whim, yet after trying three dishes, I trust there will always be something on the menu that is delicious. The day I visited offered up roasted cauliflower and potato soup, a vegetarian hand pie and a paleo dish of red cabbage, green pepper and Italian sausage. The hot soup, served in a 16oz cup with no spoon was delightful. Standing in the snow, sipping at the soup while chatting food made my day. Also, it fit perfect in the cup holder for the drive home. The hand pie, a newcomer to the menu and one of Amber’s first melted in my mouth. Gluten free and full of goodies, I even dipped it in the soup. The cabbage roll in a bowl offered up Asian flavors with a dash of sesame seeds. All around, three different items with three distinct flavors and all rather delectable.

SussyMama’s is open daily and offers indoor and outdoor seating. I can only imagine how magical a bowl of Amber’s soup would be on a snowy winter afternoon or a sunny summer afternoon. Either way, next time I’m headed up the mountain, I know I’ll stop. Do check her Facebook page for updates on hours. Next time you’re on the mountain, drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

See SissyMama’s website for menu options and visit Facebook for daily specials.

gluten free food cart Portland

Hand pie from SissyMama’s

Facebook: SissyMama’s
Twitter: @SissyMamas

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