Brett Burmeister
israeli street food cart portland


Location: SE 9th and Oak at Base Camp Brewing
Hours: Mon-Wed, 11:30-9; Thurs-Sat, 11:30-12am; Sun, 11:30-9

The Story: Gonzo the Garbanzo. That was the inspiration for the name of this truly unique Israeli street food cart.

Portland is blessed with some excellent Middle Eastern and Mediterranean restaurants and food carts, but not much Israeli. Wolf and Bear’s introduced us all to the Sabih sandwich and now Gonzo owner Tal intends to take it to a new level. Having spent part of his childhood and some adult life living in Israel, Tal has a grasp on their approach to street food. The Sabih actually wasn’t a sandwich until Iraqi Jews migrated to Israel bringing a dish which included fried eggplant, a boiled egg, parsley, tsug, tomato, cucumber, onion, hummus, tahini and other treats and a cafe owner put it in a pita for people to take with them. You may know Tal from his 100 Miles cart last summer. With the same cart, Tal is creating everything from scratch using age old methods to get the dishes right including soaking the garbanzo beans overnight or using salt on the eggplant to remove the moisture before frying.

israeli street food cart portland

Sabih from Gonzo

Gonzo has a small menu at this time – the Sabih, a falafel sandwich and a hummus plate, but each item was better than the first. The handmade falafel in a pita with hummus, tahini, chopped tomato and cucumber, amba, tsug, pickles and topped with fries is a work of art. The amba, a tangy mango pickle condiment and the tsug, a spicy Israeli hot sauce, are both made in the cart and add a flavor profile I haven’t had with falafel before. After ordering both the Sabih and the falafel sandwich, it was a fight over who got what. I wanted it all, but had to share. Everything tasted fresh and crisp and I came away with a new appreciation for Israeli cuisine.

israeli street food cart portland

Falafel from Gonzo

Tal hopes to expand the menu a bit and offer items that one wouldn’t normally find here in Portland. Plans for publishing all the recipes for his dishes on his website is in the works, so keep a digital eye out for that. I’m excited to make some tsug this fall once our hot peppers come into season. Gonzo is an example of how Portland’s street food vendors bring cuisine we don’t normally find in this city to our table. Gonzo is located at D-Street Noshery in SE Portland and they have plenty seating and a covered area in case it rains. Drop on by for some excellent Israeli street food and let Tal know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

[Gonzo moved to Base Camp Brewing in October 2012]

Sample Menu:

  • Falafel sandwich: hummus, tahini, tomato, cucumber, amba tsug, pickels, falafel in a pita topped with fries – $8 or half for $5
  • Sabih sandwich: hummus, tahini, tomato, cucumber, onion, cilantro, parsley, amba, tsug, pickels, fried eggplant, boiled egg in a pita – $8 or half for $5
  • Hummus Plate: hummus, garbanzo beans, cilantro, cumin, lemon, sweet onion, olive oil w/2 pita – $6

Hours: Mon-Wed, 11:30-9; Thurs-Sat, 11:30-12am; Sun, 11:30-9
Phone: 503 97-Gonzo
Facebook: Gonzo

Wolf & Bear’s


Wolf & Bears

Location: N Mississippi south of Shaver by LAND. moved 10/2011 for winter


Field Trip. That’s what I call it. See, I work downtown, so it is pretty easy to visit most of the carts in a given lunch hour. When you expand to the east side though, then we call it a field trip. We line up, hold hands, count off and get on the bus; two by two by two…. Seriously though, I had my time concerns for lunch, yet Wolf & Bear’s made it worth the trip.

Wolf & Bear’s is a new cart run by a young couple with both ties to Israel and it comes out in their food. I hadn’t heard of it until a friend of mine tweeted that she took her daughter there and the owners were so excited that she pronounced the name of one of their sandwiches properly. The Sabich (pronounced s-ah-biqh) is a traditional Jewish/Middle Eastern breakfast sandwich which I would eat as an every day meal. With a fresh large pita, they put together hummus, grilled eggplant, hard boiled egg, onions, cucumber, pickles, parsley and salad greens topped with house tahini sauce and amba (mango pickle.)

Sabich from Wolf & Bears

Sabich from Wolf & Bear’s

When I saw the reference to breakfast and the inclusion of eggs, I wasn’t sure what they were concocting, but boy was that a great pita. The pita itself was chewy and fresh, the hummus garlicky, but not overwhelming. The grilled eggplant mixed with the fresh onions, cucumbers and greens gave the entire sandwich such a bright fresh flavor. I have been enjoying fresh veggies all summer from the garden and the veggies they used had that same freshly picked flavor. I devoured that sandwich at the provided picnic table while sitting under a large umbrella with my house made lemonade.  Not a bad way to escape from the office for an hour and relax.

When you read through Wolf & Bear’s menu, you see they have taken their time to put together some signature dishes. Each dish is vegetarian and can be made vegan at request. They pride themselves by making the hummus and labneh (creamy cheese made from uncultured yogurt) from scratch. All sauces and dressings are vegan For those concerned about gluten, they use sprouted garbanzos in the falafel so those are gluten free. What more could you ask for.

You need a break today from the downtown hustle. I suggest a field trip. Put on your backpack, grab your permission slip and head on over to Wolf & Bear’s – and tell them Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Roadside snack – homemade labneh or hummus on pita topped with salad greens and drizzles of olive oil – $5
  • Sabich – (Jewish traditional breakfast) – pita filled with hummus, grilled eggplant, hard boiled egg, diced onions and cucumbers, pickes, parsley and salad greens topped with tahini and amba – $7
  • Falafel – pita filled with hummus, caramelized onion, roasted red peppers, grilled eggplant, fresh falafel and salad greens topped with tahini – $6.50
  • Out to Lunch – pita layered with labneh, gorgonzola crumbles, caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, falafel, salad greens and ground pepper – drizzled with olive oil – $7
  • Salads – $5.50
  • Housemade lemondade with mint – $2
  • Kombucha – $3
  • Cold brewed iced coffee – $2

Hours: Wednesday/Thursday 12pm – 8pm; Friday/Saturday 12pm-10pm
Phone/Contact: unknown
Website: Wolf & Bear’s on MySpace
Twitter: WolfandBears