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

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




Location: 6550 N Interstate Ave
Hours: Wednesday-Friday, 11am-7pm; weekends, 11am-4pm

The Story: I love telling people about the diversity of cuisine here in Portland’s street food scene. At the food carts throughout town, you can enjoy falafel from every country in the Middle East and beyond. Everyone does it different. Now we have a local falafel maker – let’s call it a NW falafel. ChickPeaDX is now open in North Portland.

Yair Maidan opened ChickPeaDX this summer in the parking lot of Home Brew Exchange on N Interstate, just north of Rosa Parks blvd. The neighborhood has few options for falafel, so I know I’m excited to have him. Yair, originally from Florida, was lured to Portland to participate in our ever evolving food scene. He worked behind the scenes in some of the city’s best restaurants before launching his food cart this year. The goal is to highlight the chickpea, the primary ingredient in falafel. Yair informed me that a majority of the country’s chickpeas come from just north of us in Washington, so why not leverage the locality of them.

Falafel Sandwich from ChickPeaDX

Falafel Sandwich from ChickPeaDX

ChickPeaDX’s menu starts and ends with falafel. He blends the chickpeas with fresh herbs and his own secret spice mix. It is up to you to decide how you want to enjoy it, whether on a pita, a salad or sandwich. When I learned he sourced his sandwich buns from An Xuyen Bakery, the decision was made. The falafel sandwich comes with fried eggplant, carrot ribbons, tomato cucumber salad, shredded cabbage and the falafel. Yair also has his own sauces – Amba, a spicy pickled mango sauce, Tahini – a rich sesame seed sauce and Zhuq, a fiery Yemeni herbal condiment. I dove in, the flakey bread was a great way to enjoy the soft and flavorful falafel with all the freshness of the vegetables. Each bite enjoyable. The Zhug sauce in small amounts added a kick you sometimes crave. Yair had made a great falafel.

ChickPeaDX is open Wednesday- unday. You can get lunch or dinner during the week. There is seating on the lot, so you don’t have to leave. Sit and enjoy your meal. Next time you have a craving for falafel, check them out and let Yair know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

All dishes come with handmade falafel, tomato cucumber salad, carrot ribbons, fried eggplant and shredded cabbage.

  • Pita – $6
  • Salad – $7
  • Sandwich – $8.50

Facebook: ChickPeaDX
Twitter: @ChickPeaDX

The Gyros Spot


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

Gyros, Falafel and other gourmet Greek specialties.

Babylon Iraqi

Lizzy Caston

Babylon IraqiLocation: SW 5th and Oak Pod
Hours: Mon-Fri 11 am – 6 pm

The Story: I think there’s a tendency to lump all Middle Eastern food together.  Generally, many do all have common dishes (often with the same name) Hummus, Pita Bread, Shawarma, Falafel and the like. Yet like Europe, the Middle East is a vast place with some distinct variations and dishes found country by country and region by region.

Take Falafel for example. Sure, it’s usually ground chickpeas with some spices and fillings then rolled into balls and fried. But have you ever had Israeli Falafel with it’s all you can eat buffet of topping choices? Or what about Egyptian Falafel, generally made with bright green Fava Beans and not just Chickpeas? Some are balls, some are patties, some are golf ball sized and others much larger. Seasonings vary from country to country too from mild to spicy to herbal to garlicky.

Enter Babylon Iraqi. This nicely decorated cart, nestled into the bustling SW 5th and Oak pod downtown, offers menu items you might be familiar with through “Middle Eastern” cuisine, but here things are just a bit different. They are also very, very good. It’s the quality, care and freshness of the ingredients that matters, and Babylon Iraqi has all three.

b iraqi 2The tender, and really, I mean melt in your mouth moist Falafels at Babylon Iraqi come with herbal notes and a bit of spicy heat, also drizzled with bright red hot sauce, have become my top Falafel in Portland – Chickpea based, in case you are wondering. At $5.00 for a sandwich, or $6.00 for a heaping plate that includes salad, saffron rice, and hummus, they are a BARGAIN.  Don’t just stop at the Falafels though. Rice Burianey is enough for 2-3 meals with my appetite, and comes heaping with aromatic rice, and falafel, chicken, or lamb as you wish. Chicken Shawarma, hummus, and my favorite garlicky, smokey, creamy eggplant dip known as Baba Ganouj are also available. Hey, you can even get a Halal  hot dog or burger if you’d like to try some Western/Iraqi fusion cuisine. Come to think of it, a burger with hummus on it sounds pretty good right about now…

Sample Menu: 

  • Hummus with Pita Bread – $3.00
  • Rice Burianey (Falafel, Chicken, or lamb) – $6.00 – $8.00
  • Shawarma chicken  – $6.00 for a plate, $5.00 for a wrap
  • Falafel Plate (with salad, rice, hummus) – $6.00
  • Falafel Wrap – $5.00
  • Iraqi Tea – $2.00

Phone:  Coming Soon