Buki

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japanese food cart portland

Buki Food Cart

Location: SE 28th pl and Division at Tidbit
Hours: Wed-Fri, 11-8, Saturday, 11-9 (check Facebook for updated hours)

The Story: Japanese street food is making a play in Portland. We’ve all enjoyed the Ramen craze the last few years, but now, with the help from a few food cart owners, we’re being introduced small bite street food from across the pond.  Buki at Tidbit nails it.

Buki is the work of Jack and William, college roommates and friends ever since. Taiwanese born, both experienced Japanese street food while living there and fell in love. William is the number 1 grill man according to Jack, but chatting with them, I can only assume both do the food justice. The Takoyaki, the cart’s signature dish, is what businessmen eat after imbibing a bit to much. Jack shared a story about late night wandering in Japan and seeing men in suits just mowing through plates of Takoyaki with the Japanese mayo and takoyaki sauce all over.

japanese food cart portland

Takoyaki from Buki

So, what is Takoyaki? Well, I would describe it as a small ball of yummy. Honestly, there isn’t anything like it I’ve tried. On the menu, you can get Takoyaki with sausage and cheese which is more of an American style dish or do a spicy version with kimchi and spicy mayo. I opted more traditional and chose the octopus. Yep, octopus balls. Chewy octopus is battered in wheat flower and served in a boat with a bamboo skewer. Then topped with Japanese mayo and Takoyaki sauce, a thick sweet sauce, along with a generous helping of bonito flakes. I couldn’t wait to dive in and even burned my tounge on the first bite. Each little ball – a chewy, savory experience. Paired with a cold beer from Scout Beer Garden onsite and I imagined myself on a bench at midnight in Tokyo with all the neon I could take in.

Buki also offers up Taiyaki, another staple of Japanese street food – fish shaped cookies filled with chocolate, Nutella or bean paste. In summer months they offer Bubble Tea. In winter, Jack mentioned he was putting in soup warmers to offer homestyle Taiwanese beef stew noodle soup, a dish they grew up eating and a recipe from Mom. Buki is an excellent edition to the street food scene here and they are “Armed with Deliciousness.” Check them out and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Takoyaki – numerous flavors, 8 balls for $7
  • Taiyaki – $3.50-3.75

Facebook: Buki
Twitter: @BukiPDX

Neue Southern PDX

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southern food cart portland

Neue Southern PDX

Location: SE 26th and Belmont
Hours: Tues-Fri, 12-8, Saturdays, 12-5 (subject to change, check Facebook for updates)

The Story: Portland is a people magnet, not just for the young and tech entrepreneurs, but also for chefs. Lauren and Graham, the owners of Neue Southern PDX traveled 3000 miles from Greenville, SC to open their cart. One of Portland’s latest additions to the food cart scene.

Lauren and Graham opened Neue Southern in Greenville two years ago, but the siren song of Portland’s street food scene called and they sold the truck and bought a cart from a local builder and set up shop on SE Belmont, an ever evolving food destination. The cart pod,  Belle Carts,  hosts three vendors at this time with covered seating. Lauren and Graham attended the much vaunted culinary school Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte and opened their food truck shortly thereafter. Their goal, a menu offering local, sustainable, in season items crafted into tasty dishes. When I visited, the chalk written menu spoke to an ever evolving range of options based on their culinary expertise but also what’s in season. There are few vendors who can pull this off, but after enjoying lunch from Neue Southern PDX, I’m sold.

southern food cart Portland

Schnitzel Sandwich from Neue Southern PDX

Lauren greeted me with a smile and welcomed me to the cart. Always a good sign. Menu for that Wednesday included deep fried brussels sprouts, a butternut squash soup with apple, shallot, vanilla, thyme and brown butter cream, and event fried quail with a buttermilk biscuit. While I’m eager to try every dish, I didn’t have enough room in the belly entering Thanksgiving weekend, so I picked out the schnitzel sandwich, always a favorite for my tastebuds. An organic pork shoulder, battered and fried, topped with Bibb lettuce, sweet and sour pickles and served on a house made bun with lemon cream. The schnitzel was easily 25% larger than the bun which I love. Mixing the sweet and sour pickles with the schnitzel and lemon cream is genius – so many disparate flavors put together to create sandwich harmony. A rather sizable sammy, so if you’re visiting, bring a friend and order two items and share.

Neue Southern PDX is a great addition to Portland’s street food scene. Each day I’m surprised by what chefs are crafting in the little kitchens that are food carts and am happy to have a taste of the south as an offering. Drop on by the next time your down that way and let Laurent and Graham know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu (see website or Facebook for menu updates):

  • Brussels sprouts deep fried – $4
  • Schnitzel Sandwich – $9
  • Fried Quail – $12
  • Seasonal Soup – $7
  • Steamed Bun with pork belly, sorghum + blackstrap rum, sweet and sour pickles, penne, house bun – $9 for 2

Website: NeueSouthernPDX.com
Twitter: @NeueSouthern
Facebook: NeueSouthern

SissyMama’s

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gluten free food cart portland

SissyMama’s Food Cart, Welches, OR

Location: 67886 E Highway 26, Welches, Oregon
Hours: Daily, 11-6, yet check Facebook for updates

The Story: Amber, the owner of SissyMama’s, emailed a few weeks ago informing me that Mt. Hood does indeed have food carts – and her’s offers up a Gluten Free menu. I’m aware of summer vendors in Gov’t Camp, but Welches, nope. So, a field trip was in order.

Remember field trips as kids? There was always food whether it be a meal at a topical restaurant or a bag lunch made by mom. I enjoy field trips and get out of the city to visit food carts whenever I get the opportunity. Welches is a cute little village on HWY 26 on the way up Mt. Hood. Just before you get to the single stoplight, Amber has set up her red and white camper trailer – SissyMama’s. With snow blanketing the ground, I pulled up for lunch. Amber trained at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, the world’s largest nutrition school and offers up a menu of Gluten Free and Paleo options. She uses the cart as a means to explore food and create amazing dishes for everyone. Being on the mountain in winter, hot soup is daily treat.

gluten free food cart Portland

Cabbage Roll in a Bowl

The menu is ever changing both with the seasons and at Amber’s whim, yet after trying three dishes, I trust there will always be something on the menu that is delicious. The day I visited offered up roasted cauliflower and potato soup, a vegetarian hand pie and a paleo dish of red cabbage, green pepper and Italian sausage. The hot soup, served in a 16oz cup with no spoon was delightful. Standing in the snow, sipping at the soup while chatting food made my day. Also, it fit perfect in the cup holder for the drive home. The hand pie, a newcomer to the menu and one of Amber’s first melted in my mouth. Gluten free and full of goodies, I even dipped it in the soup. The cabbage roll in a bowl offered up Asian flavors with a dash of sesame seeds. All around, three different items with three distinct flavors and all rather delectable.

SussyMama’s is open daily and offers indoor and outdoor seating. I can only imagine how magical a bowl of Amber’s soup would be on a snowy winter afternoon or a sunny summer afternoon. Either way, next time I’m headed up the mountain, I know I’ll stop. Do check her Facebook page for updates on hours. Next time you’re on the mountain, drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

See SissyMama’s website for menu options and visit Facebook for daily specials.

gluten free food cart Portland

Hand pie from SissyMama’s

Facebook: SissyMama’s
Twitter: @SissyMamas

The Lunch Box

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lunch box food cart portland

The Lunch Box

Location: NW 19th and Quimby – Q19
Hours: lunch, weekdays

The Story: There are food trucks and food trailers. Large and small. There are vendors on bikes. But, The Lunch Box is probably the cutest, coziest little food cart I’ve seen in awhile. Creating wraps both hot and cold, the cart sated my lunchtime needs for a cool and crisp Friday.

Wraps for me are either awesome of not. I’m not sure what it is, yet I tend to shy away from them. Maybe because every corporate box lunch ever made had a poorly made wrap in it – all cold and soggy. Yet, I know wraps can be done well and Portland’s food carts have proved that. At The Lunch Box, they offer up both cold and hot pressed wraps with a variety of ingredients. Being a cool fall day, I chose the Tuna Melt hot pressed wrap. A layer of cheese on the tortilla, topped with fresh tuna salad and tomato, the wrap is then pressed similar to a panini until hot with all that tasty cheese melted throughout. Inside Quimby’s, the onsite bar, everyone asked what I had. No one had seen such a glorious sandwich from a cart I guess. Being a sucker for anything with the words tuna and melt in it, I dove in and enjoyed every bite. A great mix of tuna with seasonings and mayo. The wrap was crisp and toasty. Overall, I would trade this over some of the traditional melts I’ve had in town.

lunch box food cart portland

Tuna Melt Hot Pressed Wrap from The Lunch Box

The Lunch Box is located at Q19 Food Cart Pod in NW Portland. There is outdoor seating or you can take you food inside and warm up in the bar. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

Hot Pressed Wraps:

  • Philly Steak – $8
  • Chipotle Chicken – $7
  • Tuna Melt – $7
  • Chicken Cordon Bleu – $7
  • Grilled Cheese w/bacon and tomato – $7

Cold Wraps:

  • Italian – ham, salami, basil – $7
  • Chicken Bacon Club – $7
  • Tuna – $7
  • Veggie – $7
  • Roast Beef – $7

Earth Burgers

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earth burgers portland

Earth Burgers

Location: SE 28th Pl and Division – Tidbit
Hours: Wed-Sun, 12-3pm, 5:30-8:30pm

The Story: Portland restaurants offer up some of the best burgers and even dedicate an entire week to them. At Earth Burgers, a food cart at Tidbit, they offer up tasty vegetarian and vegan options for burger lovers who don’t want to eat meat.

Earth Burgers opened earlier this year and moved to the Tidbit lot in August. Owners Diane and Stan came to Portland to launch their business after attending the ROAM Mobile Food Conference in 2013. Diane is a graduate of the New York French Culinary Institute and worked in a number of New York establishments to create a stellar resume and understand food and the complexity of flavors. The two of them put together an idea and ran with it, launching Earth Burgers focusing on healthy vegetarian and vegan burgers.

Earth burgers portland

PDmeX Veggie Burger

At Earth Burgers, the burgers are handmade with black beans and garbanzo beans from Washington’s Haricot Farms. Grains and flours are from Bob’s Red Mill. All mixed greens and spices are organic. See the theme? They offer Gluten Free buns from Happy Campers in Tigard. The American Graffiti first piqued my interest with a black bean and sweet potato burger,  mixed greens, onion, ketchup and mustard. Just what a burger should be. Then I spied the PDmeX which added pickled jalapenos and a tomatillo-avocado salsa. Mix in spice with any burger and I’m sold. The PDmeX started off with great flavors in the burger and bun with the spice from the jalapenos coming in around the halfway mark. Whew, it spiced it up in a good way. What I loved about the handmade patty was it didn’t mush up and fall apart like some veggie burgers. The bun and burger stayed together till the last bite. Looking forward to a return trip to try one of the chickpea burgers.

Earth Burgers is a great addition to our overall burger scene here in the city. At Tidbit they have found a home in one of Portland’s most welcoming spots. Drop on by when you’re craving something new and let Diane and Stan know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • The Casbah – chickpea burger, cucumbers, tomato, pickled red onions, organic mixed greens, tahini sauce – $8
  • Electric Sitar – potato and vegetable burger, caramelized onions, cilantro chutney, organic mixed greens, masala sauce – $8
  • PDmeX – $8.50
  • Beautiful South – black-eyed pea burger, vinegar based coleslaw, organic mixed greens, bbq sauce – $7.50
  • American Graffiti – $7

Website: EarthBurgersPDX.com
Twitter: @EarthBurgers

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