Garden Monsters

Food Carts Portland
Garden Monsters

Garden Monsters

Location: SE 50th and Division, Scout
Hours: See Facebook for updated hours

The Story: Maybe it’s this spring weather tease, but I’ve found myself craving fresh, full meal salads lately. Not some lettuce thrown on a plate with some ranch dressing many restaurants pass off as “salads”. No, we’re talking the kind of salads that will fill you up for the afternoon, but unlike say, eating a Double Royale with Cheese burger, don’t make you feel too heavy afterwards.

The concept of Garden Monsters is simple, fun, and makes for an interesting menu. You can pick from one of their signature salads such as the Paul Bunyon with grilled chicken or steak, lettuces, a ton of veggies, garlic croutons and choice of dressing. Or, the Loc Ness Monster – Grilled Salmon or Grilled Shrimp,  Lettuces, Water Chestnuts, Dried Cranberries, Red Onion, Grape Tomatoes, Lemon Wedge,  Garlic Black Pepper Almonds. WOWZA!

There’s also their “Build Your Own Monster”:  pick a base salad, add on toppings, and one of their many housemade dressings. Salads can be made vegetarian, vegan, almost all are Gluten Free.  You can choose a bowl salad, or if you’d like turn it into a giant wrap sandwich. Offerings are wide and varied and made to order. Genius! Garden Monsters tells their story so well in their own words on their website, I’ll just let them do the talking:

My name is Kyle Hulings, Founder of Garden Monsters. For years I have been turning salad into a meal, loading my bowl with a vast array of meats, veggies, cheeses and dressings.  All to often I felt that the only way to really get my money’s worth was to make it at home, as time and time again I found myself overpaying for a tiny, bland, three-day-old and all-around weak salad.

I am also often faced with the challenge of coordinating meals and eating out with several of my close friends and family members, as many if not most have dietary needs. Some are sensitive to gluten, others dairy, countless varieties of low carb and low calorie diets, vegetarians, vegans, Celiacs and the list goes on. I dreamt of a place where anyone could eat at, without sacrificing taste, and with the body’s needs kept in mind. These experiences helped me develop Garden Monsters’ core values.

We wish to inspire healthier eating in the fast service food industry, to prove that taste doesn’t have to come deep fried, to grow and strengthen ties with the local community, and to epitomize the eco-friendly revolution. You wont find a deep fryer, microwave or freezer in our carts. We use organic and 100% natural ingredients from local resources whenever possible. All of our to go containers are completely recyclable and we compost nearly all of our waste setting a new standard for quick service food destinations. Guilt free never tasted so good.

Right on, Garden Monsters! Crunch-Crunch. Munch-Munch!

[Garden Monsters moved to The Gantry in summer 2015]

Sample Menu:
  • The Colossal Cobb – Roasted Turkey, Roasted Ham, Bacon Chunks, Romaine & Iceberg Lettuce, Bleu Crumbles, Cage-Free Hard Boiled Eggs, Black Olives, Grape Tomatoes, Garlic Croutons and your choice of dressing. We recommend our Signature Avocado Ranch – $8. No Meat- $5.50
  • The Sumo – Grilled Chicken, Romaine Lettuce & Green Cabbage, Mandarin Wedges, Shaved Carrots, our Signature Garlic Black Pepper Almonds, Asian Noodles, Sliced Water Chestnuts, Green Onion, and your choice of dressing. We recommend our Signature Sesame Ginger – $7.25 . No Meat- $5.25
  • Build Your Own Monster (prices vary): Bowl or all-flour white or spinach “wrap” – Choice of Lettuces and greens, 4 free toppings from a variety of: veggies, fruits, “crunches” (croutons, Asian Noodles, Sunflower seeds, and more), cheeses, meats, and other additions such as black beans, water chestnuts. chopped egg, avocado, roasted baby red potatoes, and more. Vegan toppings: vegan chicken, vegan steak, vegan cheeses, tofu.
  • Homemade Dressings:  Blue Cheese, Buttermilk Ranch, Avocado Ranch, Creamy Italian, Light Italian (v,df), Sante Fe Ranch, 10,000 Island, Sesame Ginger (v,df), Honey Mustard, Caesar,  Creamy Balsamic, Balsamic Vinaigrette (v,df), Oil and Vinegar (v,df), Sweet’n’Spicy Sesame Ginger Balsamic (v,df). – v= vegan, df = dairy free.

Website: www.gardenmonsters.net

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The Sugar Shop

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dessert food carts portland

The Sugar Shop

Location: SE 52nd and Foster – Carts on Foster
Hours: Mon-Sun, 11am-8pm

The Story: Instead of grabbing a gyro or a burger or a bowl of Pad Thai, why not go down the sweet train and get something from The Sugar Shop for lunch. I remember something as a kid about eating dessert first when I was an adult.

The Sugar Shop is one of the few mobile vendors out there serving up sweets and baked goods like cookies, cakes and cheesecakes. Autumn and Shannon attended OCI together where they both studied in the baking and pastry program. After school, in jobs they admit weren’t taking them anywhere, brainstorming over Margaritas on Cinco De Mayo, the cart plan was born. They had the chops to pull it off and the cart is darn cute. Red seems to be the color of sweets.

dessert food carts portland

Peppermint Cheesecake Brownie

If I lived closer to The Sugar Shop, I would probably gain a few pounds. I’m not the one to order dessert after dinner nor grab a frozen yogurt as a snack, but cookies are my downfall. Put out a platter of well made cookies and I can’t turn away. Here you can get white chocolate stuffed snickerdoodle or oatmeal cranberry or dark chocolate and bacon, cookies mom never made. I asked Autumn and Shannon what their favorites were – cheesecake and anything with caramel. I picked up the peppermint cheesecake brownie, a thin slice of decadence. Chocolate and peppermint and swirl. Just what I needed after spicy Indian. Looking at the menu, they put together flavors that simply intrigue me – salted caramel or whiskey caramel with a pecan crust.

The Sugar Shop isn’t all sweets. They offer savory choices with chicken pot pie or spinach, mushroom and feta hand pies. Open every day from lunch past dinner, there is no reason not to stop by and pick something up to sate that craving you know you have. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

[The Sugar Shop moved to NE Alberta October 2013]

Sample Menu:

  • Cookies – multiple options – $1.50
  • Cakes – $3.50 – bourbon cake w/milk chocolate buttercream; red velvet cake with cream cheese icing, lemon cake with tart lemon glaze and more
  • Cheesecake – $3.50 – classic; housemade Nutella swirl; cheesecake bar with pecan crust and whiskey caramel topping
  • Mousse – $3.50 – chocolate honey; triple chocolate; vanilla honey
  • Brownies and Bars – $3.50 – salted caramel stuffed gooey brownies, lemon bars

Hours: Mon-Sun, 11am-8pm
Website: TheSugarShopPDX.com
Facebook: The Sugar Shop
Twitter: @TheSugarShopPDX

The Mighty Bowl

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The Mighty Bowl

The Mighty Bowl

Location: Vancouver, WA – check TheMightyBowl.com for current location
Hours: lunchtime, Mon-Fri

The Story:

Took a field trip north to visit a new food truck roaming the streets of Vancouver. Serving up tasty rice and bean bowls, The Mighty Bowl has captured the eater’s hearts as displayed by the line at 1pm.

The Mighty Bowl is the first food truck to roam the streets of Vancouver, a city that has not followed Portland’s model of food carts and is known for some challenging regulations. Owner Steve Valenta, his wife, Sherilee, and their longtime friend, Kevin DeGraw banded together to design and build one good looking truck and work through the city’s regulations. With the simple idea of healthy rice and bean bowls, they’ve been serving regularly at multiple locations since spring.

Rice bowls for me date back a decade or more. Over the years, I’ve eaten my share of bowls and keep coming back. At The Mighty Bowl, there are different options to add dynamic flavor, but the dish is simply brown rice, black beans, cheddar cheese, olives, salsa, avocado, sour cream, cilantro and sauce. If you do all those single ingredients well with a killer sauce, you create an awesomely healthy dish. The Kiggins bowl comes with spicy chipotle sauce generously distributed throughout so you don’t spill trying to mix it all together. While there was spice to the sauce, the smokiness of the chipotle was the most memorable. Every bite, every spoonful included at least four of the ingredients making the entire meal an enjoyable eating event. All dishes are gluten free and some are nut and egg free in addition.

The Mighty Bowl is one of those food trucks you see on TV with an amazing wrap presenting their logo. Downtown Vancouver isn’t that large, so if you’re driving around, you may happen upon them one day. Or, if you want to seek them out, they post their daily schedule on their website – TheMightyBowl.com. If you live and work in Vancouver, you should venture out and enjoy one of their bowls or wraps. If you’re in Portland, take a field trip north, it isn’t too far away. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

Regular bowl, $6; Large, $6.50 and all bowls can be made into wraps for $7.25

  • Mighty Bowl – brown rice, black beans, avocado, cheddar cheese, sour cream, cilantro, olives, salsa with a tangy house sauce
  • Kiggins Bowl – spicy chipotle sauce
  • Peanut Bowl – peanut sauce

Website: TheMightyBowl.com
Twitter: @Mightybowl
Facebook: The Mighty Bowl

Fried Egg I’m In Love

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Fried Egg I'm In Love

Fried Egg I’m In Love

Location: SE 32nd and Hawthorne
Hours: Tues-Fri, 8:30am-3pm; Sat/Sun, 9am-3pm

The Story:

I grew up eating eggs and bacon and pancakes at home and would order pigs in a blanket whenever we visited Denny’s or VIPs, but I never thought of taking two slices of bread and making an egg sandwich. Thanks to the food carts, that is now one of my favorite breakfasts. Fried Egg I’m In Love is now open to feed you their egg creations.

Jace and Ryan, longtime friends and band members needed a new gig and saw that the food cart is a lower cost entry point for a small business. They found a well outfitted cart, painted it, created a killer menu and opened this past week. Jace had planned on moving to Portland and Ryan was just burned out of his job and as they began working on the cart, the passion just flowed. Their passion will fill our bellies.

Back in Black Bean Fried Egg Sandwich

Back in Black Bean Fried Egg Sandwich

The menu offers up a great assortment of fried egg sandwiches, with rock ‘n roll names, served on fresh sourdough bread. Each sandwich is made fresh to order and there are veggie, vegan and gluten-free options. I always attempt to try something I normally wouldn’t order, so chose the special of the day with a black bean patty with avocado and green onion and a fried egg in a sandwich. Hot and perfectly grilled, the sourdough is a great choice. As I took those first bites, I quickly became concerned that the yolk would spill all over the place, but the egg was done just right so the yolk wasn’t runny, but it wasn’t hard. Avocado added to create a creaminess with the black beans, egg and toast. A wonderful sandwich I plan on replicating at home.

Jace and Ryan are a couple of great young guns who have an ideal spot right on Hawthorne and a menu that could feed you throughout the day. I’m excited to see the lot where they are located add carts. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Yolko Ono: pesto, Parmesan and hand-pressed housed sausage patty – $5.50
  • Smells like Protein Spirit: ham, steak, bacon or sausage and cheese – $5
  • OK Commuter: over-hard egg with bacon and cheddar – $5
  • PB Jammin: peanut butter, jam – $4
  • Huevo Mutilation: seared ham steak, sauteed onion, cheddar, Aardvark aioli – $6
  • Egg Zeppelin: 2 eggs, 2 sausage patties, cheddar, Aardvark aioli – $8
  • Black in Black Bean: black beans simmered with veggies and spices, served with avocado and green onion – $4.50

Website: FriedEggLove.com
Twitter: @friedegglove
Facebook: Fried Egg Love

GF Chef

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GF Chef

GF Chef

Location: NE 52nd and Sandy, Rose City Food Park
Hours: Wed-Sat, 7:30am-8pm; Sun, 9am-4pm

The Story:

Over the past few years, the term gluten-free has become more prevalent when discussing food as more people, both young and old, learn they have an intolerance to gluten. Executive Chef Jim Adams and his wife decided to create a food cart that catered to those needs but also served some amazing food and GF Chef was born.

GF Chef opened last summer at the now shuttered Green Castle food pod. After the closure, Jim and his wife Bonnie regrouped and moved the cart to the ever expanding Cartlandia pod. No one likes to move a cart and so it took them a week or so to get situated, but now that they are open, they have garnered a loyal following. Jim is the executive chef of the cart and has his own recipes for most of the items. He bakes three different gluten free breads daily – rye, herb and white – and even has some signature pancakes for the morning crowd. Every week he is coming up with new an interesting baked goods like bagels or biscuits or french bread.

Reuben from GF Chef

Reuben from GF Chef

The rye for the Reuben had just come out of the oven. A hefty loaf with an aroma that began to spread throughout the pod and turn heads. What makes a Reuben special for me is the quality of the corned beef and the Russian dressing. Jim creates his own dressing from an classic German recipe which includes caviar. The bread is first toasted then the Swiss cheese and corned beef are added and finally the sauerkraut and dressing. One excellent sandwich. The bread with a crunch from the toasting melts in your mouth. The dressing, always a treat for my taste buds cemented a memory that I’ll dredge up as a comparison every time I try someone else’s Reuben. The ferment of the sauerkraut topped it off.

Jim and Bonnie are fun to chat with and love what they create and will answer any question you may have. Their focus is to create some great meals gluten free which one would normally not be able to get – including corndogs. Jim has his own batter. GF Chef is open from breakfast through dinner and offers specials daily. If your gluten intolerant or even if you aren’t, check this cart out for some great food and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Breakfast sandwiches with ham, bacon or sausage, egg and cheese – $3.75
  • Pancakes – 2 for $5.25
  • Grilled Cheese – $5.50; add meat, $6.50
  • Turkey, Ham or Corned Beef Sandwich – $7.50
  • BLT – $7.50
  • Reuben Sandwich – $8
  • Corn Dog – $3.75
  • Onion Rings – $4.50
  • Hand Cut Fries, Belgian Style – sm, $3.75; lg, $6

Hours: Wed-Sat, 7:30am-8pm; Sun, 9am-4pm
Phone: 503 927 9880
Facebook: GF Chef

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