Straits Kitchen

Malaysian food cart portland

Straits Kitchen

Location: SE 11th and Tacoma – Piknik Park
Hours: Tuesday, 11am-2pm; Thursday-Monday, 11am-7pm

The Story: Malaysian street food in Portland. Until this past month, when asked, I would have to tell people we don’t have the region well represented. Straits Kitchen hit the street running with a new food cart at a new pod down in Portland’s Sellwood neighborhood and we’re excited.

Straits Kitchen gets its name from the western coast of Malaysia, specifically the port cities of Malacca and Penang. The cuisine is influenced by the Baba-Nyonya, also known as Straits Chinese. Centuries ago, native Chinese arrived in the region, marrying Malay women and creating an entire new heritage of flavor and color. A blend of Malay and Chinese. Chef Angie, born and raised in Malaysia, brings traditional dishes to Portland, along with creating some fusion of her own. I’ve personally been seeking out dishes from my travels in SE Asia and found them at this cart.

malaysian food cart portland

Left – Inche Kabin Wings; Right – Roti Babi Sandwich

The menu offers a number of dishes for both meat eaters and vegetarians. Small bites include Roti Babi – shredded braised pork, soy sauce, cinnamon and star anise served on a mini baguette with chili sauce and pickled cucumbers. A tasty little sandwich with bright flavors. Perfect for sharing. The Inche Kabin, Nyonya fried chicken wings, are marvelous. Spicy marinated chicken wings fried and served with a soy-lime-jalapeno dipping sauce. If you’re wanting to try multiple flavors, go for more dishes at lower prices. Bowls inlude a spicy pickled salad with pickled vegetables, chili, spices and served with tovu, bean sprouts and more. Straits Kitchen even has Laksa Lemak, a spicy coconut curry and one of my favorite dishes.

Straits Kitchen crushed it on my first visit and I plan to return. A cart I will recommend to colleagues, not just for great dishes, but for the breadth of flavors. Open every day but Wednesday, plan a visit. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample menu (full menu on website):

  • Loh Bak – five spice pork roll – $5
  • Roti Babi – $6
  • Inche Kabin – $6
  • Acar Salad – $4 or $7
  • Laksa Lemak – $10

Facebook: Straits Kitchen
Twitter: @StraitsKitchPDX

MF Tasty

southwest food cart portland

MF Tasty

Location: N Mississippi and Beech
Hours: Wed-Sun 11am-8pm

The Story: The Mississippi Historical District offers up more than a few amazing culinary gems, both in brick and mortar and street food. You think you’ve enjoyed it all when a new maverick arrives and shakes things up. The other night, at the Beech Pod, we dove in to MF Tasty, a new food cart offering up southwest inspired dishes.

southwest food cart portland

Garbanzo and Greens

MF Tasty started as a secret supper club in Phoenix by owners Nicole and Eric. A menu would be posted and only those who reserved spots were given the secret location and, viola, dinner. After garnering a following, Nicole and Eric decided they wanted to invest in themselves and Portland beckoned. While the menu is southwest inspired, Eric sources local and blends the two, creating amazing offerings from the small kitchen.

Eric put together a great menu of sandwiches, salads and specials. The evening we visited, Shrimp Ceviche took up the mantel. Shrimp tossed in chipotle-tomato broth with onions, apple, herbs and lime. Served with cabbage slaw and tortilla chips, the ceviche was devoured by all at the table. A bit spicy from the chipotle, yet the citrus balanced it all out. The Garbanzo and Greens salad spoke to me for a healthy Friday night nosh. Sautéed spinach, kale and smashed garlic mixed with garbanzo beans and a special spice blend. Add in marinated mushrooms for an extra bit of umph. This is the greens I try and make at home on a regular basis, so it was wonderful to have someone with more skill on the grill provide me with some new options. Everything we tried we enjoyed. I can’t wait to return for the Cemita Sandwich.

MF Tasty raised the bar for street food on Mississippi, yet the Beech Pod has always offered up dishes and cuisine to rival many of the restaurants on the street. Next time you’re up that way, drop on by and try some of Eric’s magic and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Cemita Sandwich – Achiote glazed pork for $9 or KBBQ marinated mushroom for $8
  • Garbanzo and Greens – $6
  • Tortilla Espanol – Spanish frittata of potato, smoked poblanos, caramelized onion and egg – $6

Facebook: MF Tasty

PDX Dönerländ

german food cart portland

PDX Dönerländ

Location: NE 7th and Killingsworth at Piedmont Station
Hours: Tues-Fri, 11:30-2:30 and 5-930pm; Sat/Sun, 12-9:30

The Story: Piedmont Station, one of Portland’s newest food cart pods, brings tasty treats to northeast Portland just off MLK Blvd and Killingsworth. Of the new food carts, PDX Dönerländ offers up a dish rarely found on the east side – döner kebab.

Owners Ron and Franziska are the team behind PDX Dönerländ. Franziska hails from Karlsruhe in Germany and Ron from San Francisco, yet they began their love over meat sandwiches while traveling in Germany. Franziska grew up with döner, a dish originating in Turkey and brought to Germany in the 50’s by guest workers, so opening a food cart and sharing the love came to pass. Franziska also has more than a few years as a professional chef under her belt, so that helps. Their mission is to serve the highest quality ingredients and use organic when possible and 100% GMO free. Everything served is made from scratch in the cart and you can tell by the freshness of every bite.

I’ve enjoyed a myriad of döner kebab over the years. Some served atop rice or with salad, others in a pita or other type of pocket bread. While traditional döner was usually mutton, most everyone now serves a mix of chicken and turkey, with some offering beef or lamb. At PDX Dönerländ, the kebab flatbread sandwich is stuffed with sliced chicken and turkey döner meat, lettuce, tomatoes, red cabbage, onions, pepperoncini and your choice of a yogurt-dill or red sauce. I was expecting thin slices of meat, but here, they were chunks, adding a texture and breadth of flavor I hadn’t expected. The sauce dripped throughout the meat and veggies, adding a cool sweetness to the entire meal. Lastly, the flatbread. Everything comes down to the bread right? Franziska nailed it, creating the best possible vessel for the cacophony of meat, veggies and sauce.

german food cart portland

Doner Kebab

I’m excited to see vendors bringing traditional street foods from Europe to Portland. There are excellent dishes under represented in the vast array of vendors throughout this fine town. Welcome to Portland PDX Dönerländ. Next time you’re up in the neighborhood, drop on by the pod, enjoy a döner kebab, maybe a beer and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Döner kebab sandwich – $9
  • Vegetarian/Vegan Doner – $9
  • Mediterranean Salads  – $7-9 depending on toppings

Facebook: PDX Donerland
Twitter: @PDXDonerland

Matt’s BBQ

bbq food cart portland

Matt’s BBQ

Location: 4709 NE MLK Blvd
Hours: Wed/Thurs, 11-7; Friday, 11-6

The Story: BBQ, an American past time. In the last decade, BBQ has become as artisan and lauded as fusion or French cuisine with chefs opening BBQ restaurants throughout the country. No longer is it needed to travel to Austin or Kansas City or Asheville to find good Q. It may be in a food cart like Matt’s BBQ here in Portland.

Matt’s BBQ is located on NE MLK Blvd between Prescott and Alberta in the parking lot of H&B Loan. Unless you’re looking for the cart, you may miss it tucked in the back of the lot with a couple of picnic tables and umbrellas. The travel-trailer-turned-food-cart, completely gutted and remodeled by Matt himself, isn’t necessarily where the magic of the Q happens. The offset smoker behind the cart with slow burning oak creates the Texas style scents and flavors. A menu of brisket, ribs, sausage and sides like slaw, potato salad or pinto beans is pretty affordable compared to local BBQ restaurants. Instead of repeat visits, I ordered “The Whole Shebang.” The entire menu for $16. A bargain in my opinion. Brisket- bark with a salty delightful cruch, the meat with fatty bits there for a reason just melted away at every bite. Ribs – dry-rubbed and smoked came with a hint of pepper. Sausage – juicy and fatty, paired well with the added white bread. Honestly, I was there for the BBQ, not the sides, yet Matt surprised me. The pinto beans and potato salad, scratch made, showed Matt took pride in every bit of his menu. Rarely do I praise sides at a BBQ joint, but Matt nailed it.

BBQ Food Cart Portland

The Whole Shebang from Matt’s BBQ

If you’re as much a fan of smoked meats as I am, you should make a pilgrimage to Matt’s BBQ in NE Portland. He’s becoming known in the community, so keep an eye on his Facebook page as he may sell out earlier than posted hours. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Brisket Plate with 2 sides – $12
  • 1/4 Rack of Ribs with 2 sides – $11
  • 2 Sausages with 2 sides – $10
  • Brisket sandwich with coleslaw – $7
  • Chopped rib sandwich with coleslaw – $6
  • The Whole Shebang – $16
  • The hot Mess – chopped brisket, sausage, pickled jalapeno sandwich – $9
  • Sides – $2.50

Facebook: Matt’s BBQ

503 Burger Co.

burger food cart

503 Burger Co.

Location: N Mississippi and Skidmore, Mississippi Marketplace
Hours: Mon-Wed, 11-5; Thurs-Sat, 11-5 and 8pm-2am; Sun, 11-5

The Story: “I am an FBI Agent!” One of the best lines from Point Break. Also, the first thought I had when seeing the menu at 503 Burger Co, a new food cart at Mississippi Marketplace.

A few years back, North Portland was blessed with some great burgers out of food carts at Mississippi Marketplace. Hand crafted with love. 503 Burger Co. has brought back the thunder and I thank them. The 503 opened quietly in July. I happened across them on a jaunt through to see who’s new. (You may remember a few vendors closed at the Marketplace, providing new opportunities for others.) A cool cabin like cart serving burgers and tots. What’s not to love? The menu at 503 harkens back to the age of my youth with burgers named Thunderdome or Road House and even Maverick. On my first visit, I picked up the Johnny Utah with Tillamook cheddar, bibb lettuce, pickled onion, tomato, ketchup, and a smokey chipotle aioli served on a brioche bun. Clean, straightforward, uncomplicated. Divine! Second visit – Back to the Future – a simple burger with cheddar and all the fixin’s. Both burgers sated my cravings and have brought me back. Portland is in a giant burger phase where everything but the kitchen sink is added to the patty. While flavorful, they are just over the top. At 503 Burger Co, the burger was untroublesome, flavorful, a bit messy, without adding pork belly or pickled eggplant. They realize you don’t need all that schtuff to make a great burger. Add tots or maybe event a shake, 503 Burger Co. has it all.

burger food cart

Burger, Tots, Beer

I’m excited to welcome a great burger vendor to Mississippi. If you’re a burger fan, it is in your interest to visit and check out 503 Burger Co. Heck, go twice. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Back to the Future – ketchup, mustard, Tillamook  Cheddar, bibb lettuce, pickles, brioche bun – $8
  • Road House – pepperoncini cream cheese sauce, fried leeks, butter lettuce, tomato, brioche bun – $8.50
  • Thunderdome – beef and pork patty, bacon, Gorgonzola, arugula, BBQ sauce, brioche bun – $9.50
  • Maverick – Munster, arugula, caramelized onion, truffle aioli, brioche bun – $9.75
  • Tots – $2.50

Facebook: 503 Burger Co.
Instagram: @503burgerco