Desi PDX

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Indian food cart portland

Desi PDX

Location: NE 15th and Alberta
Hours: Thursday, 12-8pm; Friday/Saturday, 12-9pm; Sunday, 12-8pm

The Story: Local Fare, Indian Flair. Portland, welcome Desi PDX, Alberta’s newest Indian food cart.

Deepak Saxena opened the cart earlier this year with a focus on food inspired by Indian spices and flavors while keeping it local and organic and committing to everyone’s indulgences. At Desi PDX, you can get gluten-free, paleo and vegan. Raised on traditional Indian fare, Deepak eventually fell in love with cooking in this 20’s. After a first career in IT, the food cart became the next adventure. Inspired by Eric Schlosser’s work Fast Food Nation, he changed his own eating habits and continues to work at cooking more sustainably which is reflected with the menu at the cart.

Indian food cart portland

Cardamom chai Drumsticks

Let’s talk food. Deepak has both a la carte options or bowls. Every week he has a rotating “pulse of the week,” which is a selection of organic bean and lentil dhals. How does spicy cabbage salad with shredded coconut, chillies and mustard infused oil sound? Or maybe a Pakora waffle made with spicy garbanzo beans. I chose the cardamom chai chicken. One pound of Mary’s free range drumsticks are tea brined and tea steamed then fried in organic sunflower oil. A coconut sugar chai glaze is added then finished with toasted cardamom and Jacobsen salt. Whew! So many different flavors and ingredients go into creating this dynamic and vibrant chicken. I knew Indian cuisine’s diversity of flavors and spices, but these drumsticks were off the charts. I can only imagine what the other dishes present. I’m excited for a return visit, maybe with a friend so we can order multiple dishes and share.

Desi PDX offers up a diverse menu of treats for everyone and brings up specials almost daily, so follow them on Facebook for updates. Desi PDX is a great addition to the street food scene here in Portland. Drop on by next time you’re up on Alberta and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu – full menu on website

  • Cardamom chai chicken – $7.25
  • Chana masala belly – tamarind-ginger braised carton farms pork belly – $7.50
  • Pulse of the week – $3.75-5.75
  • Belly Bowl – pork belly, fried rice, chutney, pickles, salad – $10
  • Vegan thali – pulse & rice, slaw, chutney, pickles, salad – $11
  • Chicken bowl – chicken, fried rice, chutney, pickles, salad – $9.75

Website: Desipdx.com
Facebook: Desi PDX
Twitter: @DesiPDX

Sam’s Saj Mediterranean Sandwiches

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mediterranean food cart portland

Sam’s Saj

Location: SW 10th and Washington
Hours: breakfast, lunch and dinner weekdays

The Story: Portland continues to attract some unique dishes from different parts of the world. Sam’s Saj, a food cart at the 10th and Washington pod focuses on a unique Mediterranean sandwich called the Khubz.

Mediterranean food cart portland

Kafta Saj from Sam’s Saj

Sam and Diala took over a former Thai cart last fall and did a total remodel. Sam wanted to offer up a handmade dish different than the other Mediterranean options in the lot. The Khubz is a sandwich, but seems like a mix of a burrito and maybe a crepe. The Saj griddle is the key to making this flatbread. Growing up, Sam remembers the circular convex griddle being heated by coals. In Portland, that wasn’t possible, so Sam had a griddle handmade in order to utilize propane. I always say, Portland’s DIY culture leads to some tasty creations. The flatbread is grilled and then topped with cheese or Zaatar or labne, a yoghurt cheese. Once cooked up, they roll it all up to enjoy. Breakfast options can include Zaatar with tomatoes, cucumbers and fresh mint or maybe Nutella, banana and toasted hazelnuts. For lunch, I picked up the kafta with seasoned lamb and beef along with lettuce, tomatoes and pickles. The flatbread is thin and flavorful, creating a great envelope for the savory kafta and fresh veggies.

Sam’s Saj opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so no matter when you arrive, Sam and Diala are there to make you a treat. I have visited twice and the second item I enjoyed came with Zaatar, a blend of herbs and spices that will blow your mind. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Zaatar – $4
  • Cheese and Zaatar with tomatoes, cucumbers and mint – $4.75
  • Labne and Zaatar with tomatoes, cucumbers, mint and green olives – $5
  • Turkey and Cheese – lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, mayo, mustard – $5
  • Kafta – $7.75
  • Lamb Shawarma – $9
  • French Fries – $3.50
  • Cauliflower Saj – crisped cauliflower, cabbage, tomatoes, onions, cumin vinaigrette – $6

Facebook: Sam’s Saj

Dog Town Food Cart

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hotdog food cart portland

Dog Town Food Cart

Location: SE 28th Pl. and Division at Tidbit
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 5:30pm-9:30pm

The Story: When discussing the history of Portland’s street food scene, there is a time around 2007 or 2008 where the cuisine offered at the carts shifted. More international, more fusion, chef driven items and gourmet. In downtown, you can no longer find a simple hotdog. Reindeer sausage, yes. But not a cart focusing on a good old fashioned hotdog done well. I’m glad to find Dog Town Food Cart at Tidbit focusing on the dog.

hotdog food cart portland

The Sonoran

Dog Town starts with a handcrafted hot dog or artisanal sausage and then creates magic. They bake their own buns, make their own pickles and condiments and use only the highest quality, local ingredients. Each bite showcases the care. A hotdog can be simple with a bun, a steamed or grilled dog, ketchup and mustard. I love it. No frills. Yet, sometimes one needs to get a bit crazy and break out of the norm. Dog Town has you covered. The Rocky Balboa, a Philly Cheesesteak Dog. The Memphis, slow cooked bbq pulled pork atop an all beef dog. Farmer’s Daughter – a veggie sausage with romesco sauce, grilled leeks, shaved fennel, arugula and pickled red onions. Something for everyone. I picked up the The Sonoran, a traditional delight out of the state of Sonora in northern Mexico. Bacon wrapped all beef dog with refried beans, salsa verde, avocado cream, grilled onions, and pico de gallo served in made to order fry bread. So beautiful, I didn’t want to eat it. I wanted to preserve it for my mantle. But alas, my cravings took over and I devoured it. Crisp salty bacon, a solid dog. Spicy salsa and the bitterness of cilantro. Every bite, a treat. Made me want to get a second.

Dog Town is located at Tidbit Farm and Food in SE Portland off Division. The lot offers up covered heated seating and a beer garden. Beyond the dogs, Dog Town does offer fried chicken along with house made lemonade. Open for lunch and dinner and weekends, there isn’t a reason for you to not check them out. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Return of the Mac – Mac ‘n Cheese Dog – $5.95
  • Sonoran Dog – $5.95
  • Rocky Balboa – $5.95
  • Farmer’s Daughter – $5.95
  • Getz Yourself a Beer – Beer bratwurst, sauerkraut, grilled onions, spicy mustard – $5.95

Website: Dogtownfoodcart.com
Twitter: @Dogtownpdx
Facebook: Dog Town Food Cart

Monk’s

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cheesesteak food cart portland

Monk’s

Location: SE 43rd and Belmont at Good Food Here
Hours: Mon, 11:30-8pm; Wednesday-Sunday, 11:30-8pm

The Story: We all know about the infamous Philly Cheesesteak. There are documentaries about the sandwich and some have tattoos of their favorites. Crazy right? Well, beyond Philly, the east coast has other amazing treats and Monk’s food cart focuses on the sandwiches out of Delaware.

Andrew Heckcrote hails from the tiny state that is also home to everyone’s favorite vice president. Upon first glance of the menu, I also believed it was “just another cheesesteak cart,” but after chatting with Andrew, I was corrected. Delaware has it’s own take on over the top beef or Italian sandwiches. It’s like seeing all the different apples at the market. Each regional sandwich is unique. While I could have opted for a cheesesteak with Wiz, I needed something with some veggies, albeit – pickled peppers. They are still veggies right? The Italian Hoagie comes with ham, salami, capicola, provolone and pickled peppers. Andrew even poured on a bit of the pickle juice for good measure. Being a hoagie, the toasted bun scrunches down so you can shove the sandwich into your mouth-hole for a satisfying first, second and last bite. Pickle juice and oil drip down your wrists, the price to pay for such a treat. My only wish was for a cold bottle of lager. A great sandwich.

cheesesteak food cart portland

Italian Hoagie from Monk’s

The menu at Monk’s offers up the Delaware version of the cheesesteak, a roast pork Italian sandwich, a pressed Cubano and for the vegetarians, a “Portland Steak” with kale, onion, mushroom and swiss. Monk’s is tucked in the back of Good Food Here in SE Porltand which now has an on site beer perveyor – Scout. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Cheesesteak – $8
  • Steak Italian – broccoli rabe, sharp provolone – $9
  • Portland Steak – $9.50
  • Roast Pork Italian – pork, broccoli rabe, sharp provolone – $8.50
  • Italian Hoagie – $8

Facebook: Monk’s

Smak Dab’s

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Burger Food Cart Portland

Smak Dab’s

Location: NE MLK and Jarrett at The Fusion
Hours: Tues-Sat, 11-7; Sun, 12-5

The Story: When you have a dream, sometimes nothing can stop you. Chris had the dream to open a food cart for over 15 years and now Smak Dab’s has launched with their gourmet stuffed burgers.

Chris has a background in the restaurant industry having worked for more than a few large restaurants over the years. The food cart scene just wasn’t as vibrant in the first part of the last decade, so Chris put the plans on hold, but kept the dream alive. The cart, located on NE MLK at The Fusion food cart pod is one of a few who have opened thee in the past six months. That pod has always housed food carts offering a range of cuisines ever since I moved into the neighborhood almost 17 years ago. Now, with a formal name, a covered deck and a quorum of vendors, I think NE MLK has a viable street food scene.

Burger Food Cart Portland

Tres Hombres from Smak Dab’s

Smak Dab’s focuses on stuffed burgers. Many call them the Juicy Lucy after a famous midwestern chain. Chris has his own twist. The patty includes bread crumbs among other goodies to add some cohesion as he forms it around the ingredients. The surprises are inside. Take The Calzone for example – pepperoni, mozzarela cheese and marinara all grilled inside the patty. Just imagining that first bite elicits a stomach growl. The Tres Hombres was for me – jalapenos, olives, jack cheese inside with quacamole atop. At first site, I thought maybe the burger was a bit burned, yet that first bite countered the visual. The patty, with the extra ingredients comes with caramelization throughout – a sweet, salty and for the Tres Hombres, spicy delight. Fresh lettuce and tomato create a cool tasty friction to the stuffed burger. Overall, a well done sammy.

Smak Dab’s has an impressive menu with six stuffed burger options. The day I visited, Chris also had pulled pork on the menu. Design your own if you want, he’ll make it happen. There is plenty of covered seating on site and they offer vegetarian options and GF buns. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • The Smak Dab – patty stuffed with swiss and served on toasted bun with chimichurri spread and bacon sriracha onion ring – $9
  • The Calzone – $8
  • The Lisa – vegetarian black bean patty with chimichurri spread – $7
  • Lamb of Gouda – lamb mix stuffed with smoked gouda – $10
  • Tres Hombres – $9
  • Steak Fries – $3
  • Cajun Pot Stickers – $6
  • Bacon sriracha battered fried pickles – $5

Facebook: Smak Dab’s

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