503 Burger Co.

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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

Website: 503Burger.com
Facebook: 503 Burger Co.
Instagram: @503burgerco

The 9 Food & Drink

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Indian food cart portland

The 9

Location: SE MLK and Stark, Central Eastside Food Cart Lot
Hours: Monday-Friday, 10:30am-7:30pm; Saturday, noon-5

The Story: Portland has a number of Indian food carts – Taste of India, Real Taste of India, Indian Taste, Best Taste of India, yet when someone new comes along, with a catchy new name, they make the news. The 9, which serves a mix of Indian and Southeast Asian, has been making the rounds of everyone’s top food cart, so I decided to check it out.

Indian Food Cart Portland

Biryani from The 9

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Singapore. The farthest west (or east depending on how you perceive it) from home I’ve reached. Singapore boasts an culturally diverse food scene, which includes a large population of Indians. In Little India, I discovered cuisines, flavors and aromas I hadn’t seen before. Sitting at a Hawker market (their version of street food centers,) I spotted a young man devouring a pile of rice with chicken and veggies served atop a banana leaf with his hands. Biriyani. It became a go to dish for me when wandering the city. Fast forward to July in Portland and I’ve tried some of the biriyani offered at the carts, yet none have impressed me as what The 9 offered. The owners describe the cart as a mix of Indian and Asian, which bodes well for my first visit. The chicken biryani, a bed of moist stir fried rice topped with succulent chicken and fried scallions. On the side, a sweet chicken stock influenced by Thai and Burmese flavors. While offered a fork, I old-schooled it and ate freestyle, tearing off bits of chicken between my fingers and mixing them with the rice and filling my mouth. Simply the best. The broth. What can I say about the broth? I wish I could eat that every day – an elixir of spices and herbs. This is the biryani you’ve been waiting for in Portland.

The 9 is a gem. The Oregonian put them on their top 10 list for 2015 and I can’t agree more. Matthew Korfhage of the Willamette Week, one of my new favorite food writers in the city, jumped for joy after taking his first bite. I’m so glad to see them getting the press. As Matthew stated, go to this cart and spend money. Keep them here! Drop on by next time you’re in SE Portland and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Chicken Biryani – $7 for small, $10 for large
  • Vegetable Biryani – $7 for small, $10 for large
  • Roti and Curry – 2 pieces of wheat flour pan-fried bread with house made curry and choice of chicken or tofu – $7
  • Plain Roti – $1.50

Facebook: The 9

Chicken and Guns

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chicken food cart portland

Chicken and Guns

Location: SE 12th and Hawthorne at Cartopia
Hours: Wed-Sun, 11:30am-12am

The Story: Cartopia continues to excite the food cart scene of Portland. Defined as Portland’s late night food cart pod, after a remodel this past winter, it may now be one of the city’s most welcoming pods with a large tent and a new vendor. Chicken and Guns opened in June featuring their signature roasted Latin chicken.

Dustin Knox is a name one would know if you’ve been eating at the carts for more than a few years. The founder and owner of Perierra Creperie at Cartopia, Dustin has also made inroads with a couple of brick and mortar locations in the past few years. Yet, the siren song of the food cart called him back and with his parter Todd Radcliffe, they designed and built the beautiful cart that houses Chicken and Guns. This isn’t you’re friend’s grilled chicken. Todd and Dustin wanted to shoot for the stars, so partnered with Canby’s Scratch Farm for naturally raised chicken. Further, Todd designed the racks and grill to roast the chicken just right. Then, they added salad. Who doesn’t enjoy a simple fresh salad with meal? A trifecta of awesomeness.

chicken food cart portland

Latin Roasted Chicken from Chicken and Guns

Chicken and Guns focuses on Latin chicken roasted over oak and mesquite. What makes it latin chicken? Well, a mixture of seasoning and chimichurri that adds a depth of flavor complimented by wood smoke. Portion sizes can be a quarter or half a chicken. If you’re an eater, go for the half, you’ll thank me. Sides include crispy potatoes with lemon and sea salt and a Peruvian sauce or a salad of seasonally selected greens and mandolin sliced veggies. You can add a fried egg to any meal and why wouldn’t you. Succulent, sweet, juicy. Messy, exiting, a moment of clarity. Seriously, some of the best chicken I’ve enjoyed in a long time.

Chicken and Guns nails it. The cart, with an eating bar crafted from a huge chunk of oak, was put together with reclaimed materials, giving it a weathered and authentic feel. Open Wednesday to Sunday for lunch and dinner and even later, you have no reason not to visit. Drop on by next time you’re in the neighborhood and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

Latin Chicken – 1/4 – $8; 1/2 – $14  – includes choice of sides – potatoes or salad

Add local farm egg for $2

Website: ChickenandGuns.com
Twitter: @ChickenandGuns
Facebook: Chicken and Guns

Operation Wings

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chicken wing food cart portland

Operation Wings

Location: SE 52nd and Foster at Carts on Foster
Hours: daily and on weekends for lunch and dinner

The Story: Chicken wings are as American as apple pie. One day, I’ll make the road trip back east to thank the owners of the Anchor Bar in Buffalo for the many years of enjoyment. Operation Wings, a food cart at Carts on Foster, is one of the few vendors in town who specialize in the tasty and messy treat.

Operation Wings does wings. Simple as that. Focus on what you do well and grow a loyal following. The cart opened to honor Petty Officer 1st Class Jeff Lucas, a Navy Seal, who was killed in action during Operation Red Wings in 2005. What better way to honor a friend and patriot than with great food that excites the tastebuds of everyone who enjoys them. Just reading through the Yelp! reviews, you realizes they are crushing it with their fans. So many different flavors, it was difficult to choose – Mango Habanero; Teriyaki, Jamaican Jerk; Booming BBQ; Zesty Pineapple Hawaiian; Traditional Frank’s Red Hot; Maple Bacon. WOW! Being a bit of purist, I grabbed a plate of Frank’s Red Hot and some tots. With a beer from the Pod Bar, I dove in. Crispy, spicy, messy, fresh. Those were the words that popped into my head at every bite. I’m no professional wing eater. Usually, I imbibe only on Super Bowl Sunday, but Operation Wings was calling my name and I’m glad I stopped by. These are the real deal. Next up for me, Honey Bourbon. chicken wing food cart portland

Operation Wings nailed it. With an extensive menu of wing flavors along with pork options, tater tots and waffle bites, there’s something for everyone. Next time you’re down of Foster, drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu: (full menu on website)

Wing baskets are $6 for small and $11 for large.

Website: Operation Wings
Facebook: Operation Wings

Donut Byte Labs

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donut food cart portland

Donut Byte Labs

Location: SW 4th and Burnside
Hours: Thursday, 8am-1pm; Friday, 8am-1am; Saturday, 10am-1am; Sunday, 11am-6pm

The Story: Portland loves donuts right? Voodoo. Blue Star. Pips. To name a few. A food cart has decided to enter the fray – Donut Byte Labs is now open at the corner of SW 4th and Burnside for your mini donut cravings.

Donut Byte Labs opened earlier this year with one seriously outfitted food cart. Each donut is fresh daily right in the cart with their donut robot. And, you can watch. When was the last time you were able to watch your food created right on the spot? They choose to go for cold mini bytes instead of hot (like other vendors) in order to showcase the flavor. The menu covers everything from basic glazed and powered sugar to advanced flavors like salted caramel or bacon maple. The Burnside cream is a twist on the Boston Cream with a mini donut dipped in warm chocolate glaze then dolloped with pastry cream and a drizzle of Ghiradelli chocolate sauce. Being so little, you can enjoy more than one. One late night during a set break at Dante’s, I wandered over for an assortment. While eating donuts in Portland at midnight isn’t that unusual, for me it was and I devoured them.

donut food cart portland

Donut Byte Labs

Donut Byte Labs is one of only a few sweets vendors in the downtown core. Centrally located, next time you want to surprise the boss or get a treat for the team, drop on by. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu: (Full menu on website)

  • Plain – $1.25 for 6 or $2.50 for 12
  • Powdered  Sugar – $2.50 for 6 or $4 for 12
  • Chocolate Sprinkle – $1 for 1 or $2.50 for 3
  • Salted Caramel – or Burnside Cream  – $1 for 1 or $2.50 for 3
  • Creme Brulee – $1 for 1 or $2.50 for 3

Website: Donutbytelabs.com
Facebook: Donut Byte Labs
Twitter: @Donutbytelabs
Instagram: @Donutbytelabs

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