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

Twitter: @RuaPDX

PDX Sliders

PDX Sliders

PDX Sliders

Location: 8064 SE 17th, north of Tacoma
Hours: Tus-Thurs, 11am-7pm; Fri/Sat, 11am-close; Sun, 12pm-close

The Story: College introduced me to peers from around the country. I remember a friend asking if I wanted to grab a slider. I honestly had no idea what a slider was and no where in McMinnville offered them, so Safeway sold us ground beef and rolls and we set out to make sliders in the dormitory kitchen. Burned and not that flavorful, a new memory was born. Nowadays, sliders are everywhere and in all shapes and styles. A new food cart – PDX Sliders – is bringing their take on the little burger to southeast Portland.

Ryan Rollins, like many who have dove into the food cart scene in the last few years, had another career in another industry before taking the leap into food service. Granted, his tenure at Dairy Queen as a teen may have stoked the entreprenurial spirit. Ryan’s family, including his wife, have worked or owned businesses in the food industry, creating a support structure for Ryan. The slider concept came about after some time seeing restaurants creating bigger and bigger burgers. Further, there are few businesses who solely focus on the mini-burger. Ryan wanted to do the opposite. Ryan’s wife’s culinary education came into play when crafting the menu and weekly specials come about with the help of friends who both work in the cart and at local restaurants. Truly a collaborative effort between friends and family.

Sellwood Slider from PDX Sliders

Sellwood Slider from PDX Sliders

At PDX Sliders, Ryan and team craft everything from scratch daily. Ryan proudly proclaims they don’t have a freezer. Fries are fresh cut every morning. You can taste the freshness in the burger. On the menu, you find traditional sliders along with cart crafted gems. I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying the Broadway with braised pork, Mamma Lil’s peppers, baby arugula and house maid spicy aioli on a ciabatta bun. Not traditional, yet amazing. On a recent visit, I picked up the Sellwood, a burger with bacon, Beechers Flagship Cheddar, grilled onions, butter lettuce and aioli served on a brioche bun. A juicy, messy treat on a cool winter day. At the prices they charge, why not pick out a couple. There is something for everyone on this menu. The St. Johns is a marinated portabella. The Ross Island, a house-made black bean chipotle patty. Burgers are cooked to medium doneness and you can swap out bread for butter lettuce if you want to make it gluten free.

PDX Sliders is a great addition to the street food scene here in Portland. Located in the Sellwood neighborhood, this is one vendor I hope will expand north. Open every day except Monday for both lunch and beyond, there is plenty of opportunity to pick up some nosh. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

Sliders are $3.50; Fries, $2

  • Sellwood – burger, bacon, Cheddar, grilled onions, butter lettuce on brioche bun
  • Hawthorne – burger, bacon, goat cheese, strawberry preserves on brioche bun
  • Steel – two burgers, bacon, American cheese, grilled onions, aioli on brioche bun
  • Burnside – house made meatballs, roasted romas, Mozzarella on ciabatta bun
  • Ross Island – house made black bean chipotle patty, pepper jack, butter lettuce on brioche bun

Phone: 971 717 5271
Facebook: PDX Sliders
Twitter: @PDXSliders

EthelKays Grilled Cheese & Lemonade

EthyKays Grilled Cheese and Lemonade

EthelKays Grilled Cheese and Lemonade

Location: N Williams Ave between Failing and Shaver
Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 9am-5pm

The Story: A simple grilled cheese sandwich is a treat for anyone, young or old. Melty is the word I’m thinking of. EthelKays Grilled Cheese and Lemonade is the newest food cart in town serving up delightful little morsels of cheese and bread.

Julie McBee opened the EthelKays food cart in 2013 in the Cully district in NE Portland after many years working in the service industry and restaurants. She always knew she wanted her own business and used the different positions to educate herself in cooking and managing a business. Before the cart was launched, Julie and her former partner had a stand at the Woodstock Farmers Market selling lemonade and grilled cheese – that business is still there named Urban Cheese. Julie moved on, opening the cart and then after a year in NE, moved to N Williams avenue, posting up next to Lodekka and the Hopworks Bike Bar. A prime location for any vendor.

The Tuscan from EthylKays

The Tuscan from EthelKays

EthelKay’s Grilled Cheese and Lemonade focuses on just that – cheese and lemons. Yet, with an extra bit of love. On the menu, you’ll find hot gooey grilled cheese sandwiches made with everything from cheddar to bacon to avocado to fruit and veggie chips. Think of it and she probably has it. Being a fan of tomatoes, basil and balsamic, I chose the Tuscan with buffalo Mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, balsamic and olive oil grilled between two slices of a bolo roll. Toasted just right, the Mozzarella doesn’t get really melty, but the flavors all infuse creating what I refer to as a reverse Margherita pizza. Every chomp –  balsamic and oil blended with tomato juices dripped down my chin. I didn’t mind a bit. A great choice of bread made it even better than expected.

Julie has a great little cart with an amazing menu. Her lemonade is made fresh with wedges of lemon to make it extra tangy. I can’t wait till summer when I can sit on the curb, enjoy one and people watch. Drop on by next time you’re in the neighborhood and let Julie know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Ruthie – como bread, cheddar, sharp cheddar and havartti – $5
  • Pappy – como bread, chaddar, sharp cheddar, havartti, bacon and tomato – $7
  • French Connection – bolo roll, brie, pear, arugula, balsamic, olive oil – $6.50
  • Tuscan – $6
  • Monte Cristo – como bread, swiss, gruyere, black forest ham, dijon, blackberry jam, dipped in egg, grilled and dusted with powdered sugar – $7.50
  • Soups – $3
  • Spicy Peanut Noodles – noodles, cabbage, carrots, broccoli, peapods, peanuts, asian pepper sauce – $4
  • Lemonade – $3
  • Raspberry Lemonade – $3.50

Facebook: EthelKays Grilled Cheese
Twitter: @EthelKaysCheese

Tastebud Bagels

Tastebud Bagels

Tastebud Bagels

Location: SW 10th and Alder
Hours: Daily, including weekends, 7am-2pm

The Story: If you’ve been to a farmers market in Portland, you’ve seen Tastebud and maybe enjoyed their wood fired pizza. Tastebud defined itself by being there for patrons rain or shine with a hot oven and wicked delicious fresh to order ‘za. Now, for the culinary enjoyment of downtowners, Tastebud Bagels brings the goods to SW 10th and Alder.

Everything Bagel with lox from Tastebud

Everything Bagel with lox from Tastebud

Tastebud started as a small farm and CSA many years ago, so has deep roots in the community at large. In a partnership with the Portland Farmers Market, they built the wood fired oven and started feeding market goers pizza. They eventually sold the farm and have been focusing on catering and events ever since. In the past few years,  some have commented about Portland’s bagel wars. I chuckle at that, since for us eaters, we continue to be offered new and exciting options no matter who bakes. Tastebud is known for the Montreal style bagel – rustic, hand formed and wood fired. Boiling them in malt water adds to the flavor. One can enjoy a Tastebud bagel on its own they are that good. Or, try one of their sandwiches. An everything bagel lightly toasted with dill cream cheese, capers, thinly sliced onion, lox and topped with pickle slices. I’ve enjoyed lox and cream cheese before, yet the pickles were an added bonus and provided another layer of salty briny goodness. Served open-faced, the portions were spot on so with each bite, I didn’t have something squirting out the side or spilling. A well made bagel and superb toppings made for a memorable breakfast.

Tastebud bagels offers a number of different flavors including everything, salt, plain, poppyseed and a couple of new ones for me – black pepper or leak. I’m truly excited to try those some day soon. Tastebud bagels can be bought in bulk and saved for a few days, but they recommend eating them fresh. At the cart, they ask you to “put the bagel in mouth for safekeeping.” Love it! Open early every day of the week, so grab some before going to work. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Bagels – $1.25 each or $13.75 a dozen
  • Bagel with cream cheese – $3
  • Bagel with hummus and radish  -$4
  • Bagel with goat cheese and autumn slaw – $6
  • Bagel with bacon, jam, cream cheese and arugula – $5.50
  • Bagel with lox etc – $8

Facebook: TastebudPDX

Maine Street Lobster Company

Maine Street Lobster Company Portland

Maine Street Lobster Company Portland

Location: SE 82nd and Harney, Cartlandia
Hours: Tues-Sat, 11:30-7:30; Sun, 12-5

The Story: The Pacific Northwest has some amazing seafood – salmon, fresh lake trout, dungeness crab, oysters, geoduck – you name it, we got it and we love it. What we don’t have is lobster, one of the most famous seafood dishes in the nation. When people spy it on a menu, they pounce. Others ship it in from afar for special dinners. Now, from the glory of a food cart, you can get Maine lobster prepared a few different ways. I give you Maine Street Lobster Company.

Maine Street Lobster Company is located at Cartlandia in SE Portland along with a number of other vendors and a beer garden. Owners Cathy and David came to Portland this summer from Georgia which explains the po’ boys on the menu. They knew they wanted to open a food cart in Portland, so packed up their gear and headed west. It was along the route they brainstormed and came up with the lobster concept and menu. Trained chefs who know their way around a kitchen, they wanted to do something no one else was doing. Seafood isn’t that well represented throughout the city, especially the storied lobster, so here we are. Maine Street Lobster Company was born and brings in lobster overnight on a regular basis. David joked, “UPS is pretty awesome for that.”

Lobster Roll from Maine Street Lobster

Lobster Roll from Maine Street Lobster

At the cart, you can enjoy lobster bisque or clam chowder to warm you up or go right for the lobster in the form of hot or chilled roll or po’ boy style. I chose traditional – Maine Lobster Roll – hot and buttery with lobster sauteed in butter, lemon and herbs atop a buttery toasted New England style split top bun. Buttah! Such a beautiful presentation and lousy with flavor. Lobster is one of those seafoods you feel guilty enjoying. The bacon of the seas. I wanted to save part of the sandwich to share, but couldn’t put it down. It is best enjoyed hot.

Maine Street Lobster joins a small group of vendors in town serving an item no one else has. If you’re a lobster fan, you need to visit Cathy and David and drench yourself in butter. Open Tuesday-Sunday for lunch and dinner. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Maine Street Lobster Roll – $14
  • Down East Lobster Roll – lobster chilled in light mayo and herb dressing served on New England split top bun – $14
  • Lobster Slider – hot or chilled – $5
  • Po’ Boy – with our without lobster – $10-14
  • New England Clam Chowder – $5-7
  • Lobster Bisque – $6-8

Facebook: Maine Street Lobster Company
Twitter: @MaineStLobster