Small Pharoah’s

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Egyptian food cart Portland

Small Pharoah’s

Location: SW 5th and Stark
Hours: Daily for lunch and dinner

The Story: Portland has seen a significant growth in Middle Eastern cuisine in food carts in the last 18 months with vendors popping up every week. Small Pharoah’s was one of the first of this new generation of vendors to bring Egyptian and New Yorker food to the eaters.

Small Pharoah’s is the work if Islam Elmasry who came to Portland after some years working and vending in New York. Working at a sidewalk hot dog stand by Macy’s, Islam learned the business and decided to come to Portland to try his hand at opening his own food cart. His first cart was at 9th and Alder and he quickly expanded to SW 5th and Stark, SW 4th and Hall by PSU, SE 48th and Woodstock and this summer opening at Mississippi Marketplace. Four carts in two years and at prime locations throughout the city. Islam is a businessman and Portland welcomed him. In speaking with him, he stated it was much easier to open a food cart in Portland than in NYC. His goal is to offer good food and empower his employees. He couldn’t have done this without them.

Egyptian food cart Portland

Falafel Gyro

At Small Pharoah’s, you’ll find a mix of Egyptian, Greek and American cuisine. Islam wanted the menu to be broad so as to attract most every eater. Gyros with either lamb, falafel, kafta or chicken are their signature items. I picked up the falafel gyro at the cart at Mississippi Marketplace for lunch and was a bit overwhelmed by the size. Large freshly made falafel with pickled carrots and cauliflower and tahini all wrapped up in a toasted pita. I’m a stickler for falafel – I prefer it to be softer and not so deep fried – Small Pharoah’s did it right. Great flavors without the hard crust you sometimes get from other vendors. The entire qyro was enough for two people or two meals. A great value.

Small Pharoah’s is an example of success in the street food business in Portland. Islam is thankful not just for his customers, but also for those who helped him along the way including Al, Robin, Paula, Adianet, Elita and Khalid. Find Small Pharoah’s food carts throughout the city and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Chicken and Rice – $7
  • Lamb Gyro – $5
  • Chicken Gyro – $6
  • Falafel Gyro – $8
  • Greek Salad – $6
  • Kofta over Rice – $10

Phone: 917 500 9181

Casablanca Express

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Casablanca Express

Casablanca Express

Location: SE MLK and Stark at Central Eastside Food Carts
Hours: Mon-Sat, 11am-5pm

The Story: Portland has plenty of options for Mediterranean cuisine, but at Casablanca Express, it comes with a taste of Morocco. From shawarma on the spit to lamb to Mezza salad plates, this vendor has it all. Open for lunch daily in SE Portland.

Facebook: Casablanca Express
Website: CasablancaExpressPDX.com

The Gyros Spot

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Location: SE 82nd and Harney, Cartlandia
Hours: Weekdays/weekends, lunch

Gyros, Falafel and other gourmet Greek specialties.

Ramy’s Lamb Shack

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Ramy's Lamb Shack

Ramy’s Lamb Shack

Location: NE 52nd and Sandy, Roce City Food Park
Hours: Mon-Sun, 11am-7pm

The Story:

Ramy of the Lamb Shack is a character. When I met him, he corrected the pronunciation of how I pronounced his name – “say it like raw meat.” All I could do is chuckle. This is the kind of cart owner I enjoy chatting with.

Ramy’s Lamb Shack focuses on Mediterranean gyro and kabob dishes. Having grown up in Egypt with Egyptian and Italian parents, Ramy has a lot going for him in the kitchen. After working as a butcher, he wanted to try something new and the cart came to be. I chatted with him about the ingredients he uses and loved that he included fresh cucumbers from his personal garden in my gyro. How cool is that?

Falafel from Ramy's Lamb Shack

Falafel from Ramy’s Lamb Shack

The menu offers up lamb, chicken, kafta and falafel gyros along with kabob plates. In my quest to expand my falafel palate, I decided to check them out. Made with fava beans, some parsley and onion, these falafel were some of the best I’ve found. I was surprised by the green, but when I learned it was from fava beans, it made sense. The wrap is grilled before everything is added to create a crunchy warm vessel for the falafel, cucumber, tomato, tzatziki, tahini and fresh cut onion. So many amazing flavors and so fresh. I’ll be back.

Cartlandia continues to add great new carts like Ramy’s and now has a beer garden. Check it out, enjoy some of Ramy’s lamb or falafel and let him know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

[Ramy moved his cart to the Hillsdale Food Park in November of 2012]

Ramy move his cart to Rose City in November 2013

Sample Menu (see website for current menu and pricing):

  • Lamb Gyro
  • Chicken Gyro
  • Kafta Gyro
  • Falafel
  • Baklava
  • Lamb Kabob plate

Hours: Mon-Sun, 11am-7pm
Phone: 503.381.7783
Facebook: Ramy’s Lamb Shack

Sheish Kabob

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Sheish Kabob

Sheish Kabob

Location: SW 10th and Alder
Hours: M-F, 10-6pm; Sat, 10am-5pm

The Story:

In a month when SW 10th and Alder added a few new Thai carts and a burger cart, they also added a new Mediterranean cart – Sheish Kabob.

Sheish Kabob opened in April in an area where there are already a couple competitors serving up similar food. That scenario hasn’t seemed to halt the growth of Thai carts, so I think Sheish Kabob will find its customers. A menu of Mediterranean dishes including salads, sandwiches and the ubiquitous grilled sheish kabob in either lamb, chicken, beef or kafta offers up something for everyone.

Chicken Gyro

Chicken Gyro

The shawarma sandwich, otherwise known as the Gyro is the like the fast food of the region. Everyone sells them and they become a barometer for me of how good a cart is. The chicken shawarma sandwich from Sheish Kabob is flatbread stuffed with marinated and grilled chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions and drizzled with tahini sauce. The menu states “traditional seasoning” used. I sometimes ask what those are so I can learn more about how the complex flavors are created, yet the chefs rarely divulge. In this sandwich, the seasonings for the chicken had a hint of cumin, but also that ghost flavor of cayenne or another spicy pepper that just tickled the back of the mouth. A wonderful sandwich. Just remember, with the tahini sauce, it can get messy at the end.

Sheish Kabob is now open on SW 10th and Alder for lunch and dinner. They are open on Saturday till 5pm for you weekenders. Drop on by, check it out and maybe sample some kabob. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Kabob Plates: meat grilled and served with Basmati rice and grilled tomatoes: lamb, $7; beef, $6; chicken, $7; kafta, $6
  • Shawarma Sandwiches: bread stuffed with meat, topped with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions and tahini sauce; chicken, lamb, beef or kafta – $6-$6.50
  • Falafel Sandwich: bread stuffed with falafel, topped with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions and tahini sauce: $6
  • Mediterranean Salad: cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, mint, mixed with lemon juice and olive oil – $5
  • Tabouli Salad: parsley, onions, tomatoes, bulgur wheat, mint – $6

Hours: Mon-Fri, 10am-6pm; Sat, 10am-5pm
Phone: 971 998 9435

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