Bing Mi!

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chinese food cart portland

Bing Mi!

Location: SW 9th and Alder
Hours: Mon-Friday, 7:30am-3pm; Saturday, 11am-4pm

The Story: While Portland has some great Chinese restaurants, Chinese cuisine has not made much inroads into the street food scene. A couple here and there, but with the proliferation of Chinese throughout the American landscape, one would think a food cart would be another foray. The owners of Bing Mi! thought just that. A food cart focusing on a unique Chinese dish.

Bing Mi! opened earlier this year with their single dish, the Jian Bing, ubiquitous street food from northern China. Similar to a crepe and using the same tools, the owners create a unique wrap which includes scrambled egg, black bean paste, chili sauce, pickled vegetables, green onion, cilantro, and a crispy fried cracker. They first spread out the crepe mix on a circular griddle and drop an egg atop which then scrambles before adding the additional goodies. The end result is crisp and crunchy with the fried cracker adding texture. You can order it mild, medium or spicy (about a Thai 3.) Truly a savory treat and just the right size for $6. The spicy and savory mix of egg and black bean paste along with the bite of pickled veggies create a great treat for a sunny walk in downtown.

Chinese food cart portlandBing Mi! is open for breakfast and lunch throughout the week and lunch on Saturdays. Located on SW 9th, just north of Alder, the cart is right in the middle of food cart heaven. If you’re looking for something fresh and new, drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Jian Bing – $6

Website: BingMiPortland.com
Twitter: @Bing_Mi

Spielman Bagels Food Cart

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bagel food cart portland

Spielman Bagels Food Cart

Location: SW 10th and Alder
Hours: Monday-Friday, 7:30am-2:30pm

The Story: Need some morning nosh? Downtown Portland is rather lacking of breakfast options from the carts, so I was excited to see Spielman Bagels take over the corner cart at SE 10th and Alder. Spielman has made a name for itself offering up some of the city’s best bagels in SE Portland. Now, we can all enjoy a kettle boiled salt bagel with cream cheese and maybe some lox.

Spielman’s food cart is open during the week for breakfast and lunch and also serves coffee.

Website: SpielmanBagels.com

Polli-Tico

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peruvian food cart portland

Polli-Tico

Location: SW 3rd and Oak
Hours: Monday-Friday, 11:30-6pm; Saturday, 11:30-4 or sell out

The Story: Rotisserie anything is a treat. Rotisserie chicken, slowly cooking and juicing up is crazy good. Polli-Tico opened this past month offering up Peruvian style rotisserie chicken from a food cart in downtown Portland.

Polli-Tico specializes in “pollos a la brasa,” otherwise known as charbroiled chicken. A traditional Peruvian dish of slow cooked whole chickens served with sides. The owners, two Costa Rican brothers that grew up eating Peruvian chicken in Washignton DC decided Portland was missing out on this unique dish. They even imported a rotisserie from Peru for the authenticity. They documented their challenges with customs and sourcing on their site – a good read and I’m thankful for the effort. On any given day, they do up 4-6 chickens and split them out for dishes as quarters or halves. The oven can handle up to 30, so I’m excited to see what summer brings.

peruvian food cart portland

Half Chicken Platter from Polli-Tico

While the charcoal rotisserie is truly the star of the show here, the fresh hormone and preservative free chicken can’t be overlooked. Having only enjoyed rotisserie chicken during my travels in both Germany and Mexico, I wanted to get the full meal deal, so ordered a half chicken with sides. Yup! A half chicken. I think I surprised them with the order by taking almost 20% of the chicken for the day, but I had research to do. A GO Box full of chicken with fried Yuca, a separate container held black beans and rice. I hesitated a bit with the first bite, but eventually threw caution to the wind and picked up a quarter and chomped down. Succulent, salty, fatty, but neither flavor or texture overwhelming the rest. Everyone is into chicken wings these days. I think rotisserie chicken is going to take the city by storm once people discover how juicy and flavorful it is. Also, 1/2 a chicken is a ton of food for $11. Brilliant.

Polli-Tico is exactly why I love street food. Something new. Something unique we havn’t tried before. And at the right price. Open daily for lunch and into the dinner hour, but they are still working out how many chickens to roast, so they may sell out early. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook for updates. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Pollo Bowl – sliced Peruvian chicken, white rice, beans, spring mix, tomatoes, cilantro, yellow sauce – lg, $8; sm, $6.50
  • Veggie Bowl – lg, $6.50; sm, $5.50
  • Chicken Platter – 1/4 chicken and 2 sides – $8.50
  • Large Platter – 1/2 chicken and 2 sides – $11
  • Whole chickens available
  • Sides include beans and rice, yuca, french fries, house salad, cole slaw

Website: Polli-Tico.com
Facebook: Polli-Tico
Twitter: @PolliticoPDX

La Camel

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Moroccan food cart Portland

La Camel

Location: SW 9th and Washington
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11am-4:30pm

The Story: Ever eaten at a Moroccan restaurant? Sitting on pillows on the floor with friends and a huge spread of deliciousness. Now Portlanders can experience that from a food cart – La Camel.

La Camel opened last year in a cart that had seen many vendors over the years. Karim Baziou grew up in Morocco working in the family catering business and coffee shop. He continued to call the culinary industry his home when he came to the U.S. with roles ranging from chef to manager to caterer. His memories of the diverse North African influence that makes Moroccan cuisine so famous and delicious drove him to launch the cart.

La Camel offers an impressive menu and if you don’t necessarily know what a dish is, Karim has photos. Moroccan Couscous –  vegetarian or with marinated chicken. A Moroccan lamb sandwich with roasted peppers on a french roll. Seafood Paella and even a Casablanca Cheese Steak Sandwich with lamb. So many options, how does one chose. I lucked out. While trying to decide, a fellow eater definitively ordered the Moroccan Kefta Tagine. Sold! When someone else is laser focused on a dish, it must be good. Moroccan seasoned kefta (seasoned beef meatballs) in a rich tomato sauce with fresh chopped white onion, olives and topped with two fried eggs, cheese crumbles and chopped parsley. The dish is served with a fresh baked garlic french roll. Each bite blew me away. I don’t have the words to describe the breadth of flavors – salty, crisp, garlicky, creamy. Mixing in the egg with a bit of garlic bread and sauce sent me over the edge. One of the best meals from a food cart I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy.

Moroccan food cart Portland

Moroccan Kefta Tagine

When I look over the menu, I begin to crave each dish and can’t wait for the opportunity to return and try each and every one. La Camel is located on SW 9th between Alder and Washington and Karim opens daily for lunch. Next time you’re in a rut and want to experience some great new dishes, check them out and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu (full menu on website)

  • Vegetarian Spanish Paella – saffron rice, smoked paprika, green beans, white beans and peas in a white wine sauce – $8
  • Chicken Spanish Paella – $9
  • Moroccan Couscous Beet Salad – $7.75
  • Moroccan Kefta Tagine – $8.75
  • Moroccan Lamb Sandwich – $8.75
  • Warm Chicken Salad – $8.75

Website: LaCamel.com

Chop Chop

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chinese food cart portland

Chop Chop Portland

Location: SW 10th and Washington
Hours: Monday-Sunday, lunch and dinner

The Story: Growing up in Portland, there use to be a number of great Chinese restaurants in Old Town/Chinatown. Sadly, many have moved on. With the growth of food carts in the last ten years, one would assume Chinese would be a golden ticket, yet we only have a few. Chop Chop is the latest bringing brilliant Chinese dishes to the Alder pod.

Eating Chinese has always been an enigma for me. Having grown up on pre-packaged Chow Mein or visiting Chinese restaurants in the suburbs, it wasn’t until adulthood I discovered there was more to the menu than Kung Pao Chicken. Portland has seen a resurgence in appreciation for all things Asian cuisine. Szechuan seems to be the new darling for the food writer community. Yet, coming back to those dishes we all grew up on, what if they were just done better or more flavorful? At Chop Chop, the chef, Mr. Lee, is accomplishing that.

chinese food cart portland

General’s Chicken from Chop Chop

I got an email from a fellow cart lover extolling his love for the General’s Chicken at Chop Chop, so I beelined to the cart the other day. General’s Chicken, aka, General Tso’s Chicken, is found on every Chinese menu. Sweet, spicy and sticky deep fried chicken is mixed with chile peppers and served over rice. No veggies, no noodles – just simple, gluttonous deep fried chicken chunks over rice. Love it! At Chop Chop, they asked if I wanted it spicy or not. I did and was presented with one of the most beauteous spicy Chinese dishes I’ve seen to date. Not only was there a Sasquatch’s handful of ground chiles mixed into the sauce, no less than 30 whole chiles were added to the mix. My eyes watered even before taking that first bite. I dove in. Each bite was what I expected and appreciated about this dish – sweet and spicy. The batter on the chicken –  light and crisp. While it looked like it would burn my face off, it didn’t. The heat was there, yet tempered by the sauce and rice. A fine dish.

Chop Chop is located in the Alder pod on the corner of SW 10th and Alder. A repurposed short school bus with a vast menu. Reading through the 28 5-star reviews on Yelp has me convinced I’m not the only Portlander who has enjoyed Mr. Lee’s creations. Drop on by next time you’re craving Chinese and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu – (menu to large to list)

  • Family Bean Curd with Vegetables – $6
  • Ma Po’s Tofu – $6
  • Hot and Spicy Chicken – $6.50
  • Orange Chicken – $6.50
  • Cantonese Steak – $7
  • Special Lo Mein – $6.50
  • General’s Chicken – $6.50
  • House Special Fried Rice – $6.25
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