Zeek’s Cheese Grill

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Zeek's Cheese Grill

Zeek’s Cheese Grill

Location: SE 82nd and Harney at Cartlandia
Hours: Sun-Thurs, 11:30-7; Fri/Sat, 11:30-9

The Story: Who doesn’t like grilled cheese? There are some extremely successful food trucks and food carts around the nation who have succeeded with putting cheese between two slices of bread, grilling it to perfection and selling it to the masses. Zeek’s Cheese Grill at Cartlandia is the latest to offer up that childhood delight.

Zeek’s Cheese Grill offers up an array of appetizing delights. Not just grilled cheese sandwiches, although that is what I enjoyed. The menu offers soups, sides like roasted jalapeño fondue, a few types of Mac and Cheese and some fresh cart made salads. Just the other day they posted photos of pickles made fresh that morning. Sandwiches range from the classic with American cheese all the way to the Ciao with fresh mozzarella, basil, semi dried tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic reduction and black pepper. The Canard caught my attention with duck confit, brie and bacon caramelized onion jam. Whew! Writing that made my tummy rumble. Crisp buttered bread sandwiched in the unctuous and delightfully salty duck confit. The caramelized onion jam with a hint of bacon added sweetness to balance it all out. Dip an edge in the tomato soup and dive in. An excellent sandwich.

Zeek's Cheese Grill

Canard from Zeek’s Cheese Grill

Zeek’s is open daily for lunch and dinner with extended hours on the weekend. Beyond the cheese grill, they have daily specials, numerous flavors of lemonade and assorted teas. At Cartlandia, there is covered seating along with The Blue Room bar so you can relax and enjoy your meal. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Soups – Tomato Basil Cream, Tomato Gorgonzola, Spicy Tomato – $3 cup or $5 bowl
  • Roasted Jalapeno Fondue – $5.80
  • Four Cheese Mac & Cheese – $7
  • Caramelized onion, Gorgonzola and bacon Mac & Cheese – $8
  • Julienne Kale and Romaine Salad – $6
  • The Classic Grilled Cheese – $4
  • Oregon Grilled Sandwich – Brie, Oregon pears, gorgonzola, caramelized onion bacon – $7.80
  • Canard – $9.80
  • Ciao – $7.80

Facebook: Zeek’s Cheese Grill
Twitter: @ZeeksCheeseGrill

GO Cart

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GO Cart Food Cart

GO Cart Food Cart

Location: SE MLK and Stark at Central Eastside Food Carts
Hours: weekdays, lunch

The Story: A few years ago, I took a couple of weeks and sampled salad rolls at the different vendors downtown to discover the differences in how they were prepared. I hatched an idea – why not make salad rolls with steak or pepperoni or even ham and eggs. I crafted them at home for fun and enjoyed them immensely. The owners of GO Cart were reading my mind as they have opened offering up American Salad Rolls. Just my style.

I’m surprised that salad rolls from many carts weren’t just salad. Pork and shrimp were added. At GO Cart, that’s the norm, not the exception. At GO Cart, you get a traditional styled salad roll with rice paper and Napa cabbage, yet the menu offers up pulled pork, chicken, bacon, avocado and more as additions. Truly, savory, scrumpous salad rolls. The Blue Cheese and Cucumber with celery, radish, cashews and green onions exploded with cold and crunchy flavors. I sat there, truly enjoying the dry blue cheese notes wondering why I hadn’t ordered the pulled pork with dried cherries and pumpkin seeds. Oh well, there will be a return visit for sure.

Blue Cheese and Cucumber Salad Roll from GO Cart

Blue Cheese and Cucumber Salad Roll from GO Cart

GO Cart not only does the twist on the salad roll, they offer whole fruit smoothies as well. The list is chalk full of apples and oranges and strawberries and mangos. Salad rolls and smoothies. A great pair. GO Cart is located at the Central Eastside Food Carts on SE MLK and Stark. There are a number of great vendors there along with picnic tables and tenting to keep out of the elements. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Pulled Pork Salad Roll: cheddar, bacon, dried cherries, red bell pepper, green onions, pumpkin seeds – 2 for $5.99
  • Bacon Apple Spinach: carrot, manghego cheese, red bell pepper, smoked almonds – 2 for $5.49
  • Blue Cheese and Cucumber – $4.99
  • Chicken Bacon Avocado: red bell pepper, radish, green onions, blue cheese – 2 for $5.99
  • Roasted Tofu – spinach, radish, green onions, cashews, celery, cilantro – 2 for $5.59
  • Smoothies are $4.50

Russian Horse

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Russian Horse Portland

Russian Horse Portland

Location: SE 13th and Lexington in Sellwood
Hours: Wed, 11-3, Thurs-Sat, 11-6, Sun, 12-3

The Story: When asked what we’re missing in the Portland street food scene, I realize we don’t have a good presence of eastern European or Russian cuisine. That has changed in the last year with a couple of vendors opening and now the Sellwood district has the Russian Horse food cart to sate their pierogie needs.

Russian Horse opened early this spring offering a menu inspired by the simple peasant foods of Russia, Ukraine, and Poland. Carmel and John Theesfeld, came to Portland chasing a dream of opening a food cart. After some discussion on cuisine, they  came up with the idea of pierogies, a traditional staple of that region. John’s family is the inspiration behind the pierogi, so they obtained the recipe and a cart and launched. Initially, it was just pierogies and borscht, but the menu quickly expanded to salads and dessert. 

Pierogies from Russian Horse

Pierogies from Russian Horse

Pierogies are a type of dumplings made of unleavened dough. First boiled, then baked or fried usually in butter with onions. Traditionally, they are stuffed with potato filling, sauerkraut, ground meat, cheese, or fruit. At Russian Horse, they have traditional pirogies with a potato filling served with caramelized sautéed onions or you can enjoy their tater tot or garlic mash pierogie. Such ingenuity from the food carts. I love it. Pierogies are a simple wholesome dish to enjoy with a bit of sour cream and pickle. Nothing spicy or eccentric, just good filling food. I enjoy that. I reminds me of an earlier part of my life when I was able to enjoy home cooking from the region. 

Russian Horse is now open in the Sellwood district Tuesday-Sunday for lunch and Wednesday through Saturday into the dinner hour. They offer more than pierogies, so check out their menu and enjoy. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu: (see website for updated menu and prices)

  • Vinegret: mix of beets, potatoes, carrots, onions, pickles and kraut in a sunflower oil dressing – $4.50
  • Borscht: beet and cabbage soup – sm, $2.50; lg, $3.50
  • Chicken Wings Kiev – 4 chicken wing drumsticks deep fried and tossed in Kiev butter sauce – $7.50
  • Pierogies – 3 for $5
  • Dark Chocolate Pierogies – 3 for $5

Website: RussianHorse.com
Facebook: Russian Horse

Ash Wood Fired Pizza

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Ash Wood Fired Pizza

Ash Wood Fired Pizza

Location: SE 13th and Lexington in Sellwood
Hours: Tues, 11:30-3pm; Wed-Sat, 11:30-3 and 5-8pm; Sun, 11:30-3

The Story: A few years ago, a food truck the size of a shipping container debuted with a wood fired pizza oven. Huge! Yet, you don’t have to go big to create a quality product. Ash Wood Fired Pizza has a wood fired pizza oven inside their diminutive food truck and still have room for two people to craft the magic.

Ash Wood Fired Pizza opened last month in the Sellwood district at one of Portland’s oldest east side food cart pods. The owners, Ted and Alexandra Scharpnick traveled as far as B.C. to pick up the truck already outfitted with the yellow tiled wood fired pizza oven. The truck is eye catching-  smaller than the behemoths that roam the streets of many cities with a flat black finish and their welcoming logo. I see a lot of trucks and Ash Wood Fired is one of the best. Ted let me in on how they make their dough. Using grapes, water and flour, he created a starter. The yeast is all wild and the starter continues to grow to create a unique and changing flavor in the dough. Pretty cool. I’ve heard of using vodka in pasta, but not grapes in dough.

Margherita from Ash Wood Fired Pizza

Margherita from Ash Wood Fired Pizza

Ash Wood Fired has a great list of pizza options and offers up specials daily. On my visit, the ubiquitous and always amazing Margherita topped the menu. Other options included mushroom and garlic with pesto and maitake mushrooms or mustard greens and zucchini with a house made marinara. I’m a sucker for the Margherita, a clean, uncomplicated pizza with fresh lively flavors and at this time of the year, fresh basil. A single pizza is great for one person, so get two and share with a friend. I hadn’t planned on finishing it, but suddenly and surprisingly, I was devouring the fourth slice. Excellent crust.

The pod in Sellwood has five different vendors with Ash Wood Fired right on the corner. They have covered seating and a welcoming atmosphere. If you’re down on antique row, drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu: menu changes daily, so check their Facebook page

  • Margherita – house made marinara, fresh mozzarella and basil – $8
  • Peppers and Tomatoes – cilantro pesto, padron peppers, sungold tomatoes, ovoline Mozzarella
  • Asparagus and Fennel – house made marinara, Viridian Farms asparagus, shaved fennel, scallions, Ovoline Mozzarella

Phone: 503 941 0196
Website: Ashwoodfired.com
Facebook: Ash Wood Fired Pizza

RUA

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RUA

RUA

Location: SW 9th and Washington
Hours: Mon-Sat, 11:30-6pm; Sun, 11:30-4pm

The Story: Jason Myers is back with some mouthwatering Vietnamese cuisine at his new food cart Rùa.

Jason Myers first arrived in the food cart scene a couple of years ago with his Sideshow cart serving up beignets, Belgian fries and poutine, sandwiches and his famous fancy burger. Yet, it wasn’t enough for him and one night, the idea of doing Vietnamese inspired cuisine came to him in a dream. He took a couple of weeks last fall and visited Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to explore and take culinary classes. Upon his return, he closed Sideshow, bought a new cart and in March, launched Rùa. Rùa means turtle.

Saigon Fried Chicken Banh Mi from Rua

Saigon Fried Chicken Banh Mi from Rua

At Rùa, you find Vietnamese and South East Asian inspired food with Jason’s approach.  I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying both the pork meatball and the Saigon Fried Chicken banh mi sandwiches. With a crisp and crunchy baguette from Pearl Bakery, they layer pickled carrots, jicama, cucumber, cilantro and sriracha mayo along with good sized chunks of the Saigon fried chicken which comes out crisp with a sweet and spicy tang. The detail for the sandwich was astounding – the carrots are hand shaved and each leaf of cilantro picked off the stem. The veggies along with the chicken melded together brilliantly with every bite. Oh, and that baguette? A work of art. You can also get the Saigon Fried Chicken as it’s own meal.

Rùa is one of the newest vendors on the block and brings us yet another new taste to the ever evolving street food landscape that is the Alder pod. I’m glad to see Jason’s new concept is gaining followers. Keep an eye out for specials as they tweak the menu and try new things. Drop on by, they’re open every day and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Banh Mi sandwiches – Pork Belly, $8; Saigon Fried Chicken, $7; Pork Meatball, $7; Tofu, $6
  • Saigon Fried Chicken – a la carte, $6; with spicy arugula and cucumber salad, $8
  • Green Papaya Salad – $6

Website: RuaPDX.com
Twitter: @RuaPDX
Facebook
Rua PDX

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