Mama Chow’s Kitchen

Mama Chow's Kitchen

Mama Chow’s Kitchen

Location: SW 2nd and Stark
Hours: Mon-Fri, 11am-3pm

The Story: Great food comes from mom. That’s my takeaway from Mama Chow’s Kitchen, a new food cart serving up Mama’s wonton soup and more on SW 2nd and Oak.

Mama Chow’s opened earlier this year in a cedar festooned food cart built locally by PDX Cart Builders. Probably one of the more beautiful carts I’ve seen in the many years I’ve been tracking the scene. Mama Chow’s is the work of Jeff Chow with a little help from his mama Lalie. Jeff is a trained chef having worked in restaurants in Oakland, yet became a bit burned out and came to Portland to try something new. It was when he sat down to enjoy has mother’s wontons that he hatched the idea of opening a wonton cart. Portland doesn’t have one, so Jeff is the first. His mother’s wontons are the toast of the neighborhood, so he worked with her to figure out how to translate her signature recipe into a dish he could replicate daily. A pinch of this and dash of that was transformed into an amazing dish and has garnered Mama Chow’s a solid following.

Wonton Soup from Mama Chow's Kitchen

Wonton Soup from Mama Chow’s Kitchen

At Mama Chow’s Kitchen, Jeff offers up wonton soup with house made broth, baby bok choi and your choice of either chicken or pork and shrimp wontons. I found the wontons to be flavorful and paired nicely with the par-cooked bok choi and broth. Jeff offered up some of his personal spicy sauce which amped up the soup superbly. Beyond wontons, Jeff also throws down lollipop chicken, chicken legs prepared like lollipops. Having never had them, I was intrigued to discover a new delight. Jeff pushes the meat down the bone of the leg and then fries and marinates it. The bone acts as a handle. Oh, and with the marinade and sauce and a dash of sesame seeds and chives, I may have found a new favorite go-to cart.

Lollipop Chicken from Mama Chow's Kitchen

Lollipop Chicken from Mama Chow’s Kitchen

Jeff is keeping it simple with only a few items. He doesn’t want you, the eater, to have to wait to enjoy your dish. Located down off SW 2nd and Stark, Mama Chow’s Kitchen is open Monday through Friday, 11-3. He’s even working on some specials, so visit often for a treat. For wontons and lollipop chicken, this is the cart to visit. Drop on by and let him know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Wonton Soup with baby bok choi and choice of chicken wonton or pork and shrimp wonton – $7
  • Wonton Soup with noodles – $7
  • Lollipop chicken with baby bok choi on a bed of rice – $6

Facebook: Mama Chow’s Kitchen

All Jarred Up

All Jarred Up

All Jarred Up

Location: SW 2nd and Stark
Hours: Mon-Fri, 8am-4pm – winter hours may be shorter

The Story: Like pie? I do. Forking up warm chunks of hot apple pie is a year around pleasure. Ever thought of eating a pie out of a jar? All Jarred Up, a food cart in downtown Portland has that covered.

All Jarred Up is by no means a new business. Opened in the Etsy marketplace in 2010, owner Teri Hiles started packaging and shipping pie in small jam sized mason jars before opening the cart. Such and interesting and unique concept. Teri started the business after seeing a cupcake in a jar. Her offerings on Etsy make my mouth water – Very Very Berry, Caramel Apple, Pecan, Banana and even toffee or cookies. Every jar is freshly packed and sealed so all you have to do is open and enjoy.

Spiced Apple Pie in a Jar

Spiced Apple Pie in a Jar

Teri launched the All Jarred Up food cart in fall of 2012 at the corner of SW 2nd and Stark. At the cart, beyond pie in a jar, she also offers fresh made brownies, cookies, coffee, sodas and more. The menu changes regularly, so you’ll need to visit to see what’s on special that day. I picked up the spiced apple crumble with granny smith apples in Teri’s very own spice mix and topped with an oat crumble. Once opened, I just sat there an ogled – a pie in a jar. I devoured it, oat crumbles everywhere. The choice of granny smith apples was spot on, adding that summer tang to a winter treat.

All Jarred Up is bucking the trend by offering sweet options downtown. She also recycles the jars, so if you order a pie, bring the jar back for a 50c credit toward your next order. Or, use it in your own jamming. If you’re not from around here, you can order her treats off Etsy. Drop on by for a pie and let Teri know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu: (subject to change with seasonal offerings)

  • Pie in a Jar – various flavors – $7
  • Red Velvet Brownies – $2
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies – $1.50
  • Cranberry Scones – $2
  • Truffled Hot Chocolate – $2.50

Phone: (800) 856-9843
All Jarred Up
Twitter: @AllJarredUp

won the beverly hills pie contest


Thai Tea Clean Food Good Taste


Thai Tea

Thai Tea

Location: SW 3rd and Stark
Hours: Weekdays, lunchtime

The Story:

In a bright red trailer with a huge sign that may or may not translate well to the average passerby, a new Thai Cart is making a name for themselves. Thai Tea opened a few weeks ago between SW 2nd and 3rd on Stark, next to Cameron’s books.

When I first saw yet another Thai cart, I wondered if Portland needed more. Approximately 15% of the carts in Portland serve some sort of Thai cuisine. Then I remembered that I was surprised by the options offered by Gin Thai just last year. Thai food isn’t just phad kee mow or basil fried rice. The options are endless and I feel the new carts realize that, so are augmenting their menus to offer us something new and different. Also, you gotta love the unique names for the carts.

Crispy Basil Tilapia

Crispy Basil Tilapia

The day before I visited Thai Tea, I was over at Happy Grillmore waiting for a sandwich when Kryse, owner and chef was awaiting her order of Crispy Basil Tilapia from the cart across the street. If a cart owner is raving about another cart, you gotta go. I ordered the Crispy Basil Tilapia without thinking. Pan fried lightly breaded tilapia is the base for this dish which is topped with a mixture of sauteed onions, sliced bell peppers and mushrooms in a Thai sauce. All of that is topped with crispy fried basil as if it were done under a broiler. The basil was light and crunchy, cooked in a way I have never seen. The onions had a little caramelization to them and mixed with the sweet flavor of the basil and the tender, light fish, every bite was excellent. There was a little spice from either the Thai sauce or whatever rub was used on the fish which accented everything well. I have yet to see this dish on other Thai carts’ menus and Thai Tea has sold me on tilapia, Thai style. They also have traditional Thai tea.

Thai Tea Clean Food Good Taste is one of the most unique names of a cart in this town. Trust me, the food tastes good, is clean and definitely Thai. Check them out if you’re down of Stark and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Pot Stickers – 6 @ $3.50
  • Coconut Shrimp – 6 @ $4.95

Soups – choice of meat: chicken, beef or veggie or tofu

  • Tom Yum: onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, galanga root, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves and cilantro – $5.95
  • Tom Kah: hot and sour soup with onions, mushrooms, galanga root, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, cilantro, coconut milk – $5.95

Noodles – choice of meat: chicken, beef or veggie or tofu

  • Pad Thai: stir fried rice noodles with egg, bean sprouts, onions and ground peanuts with pad Thai sauce – $5.95
  • Pad Kee Mao: stir fried wide rice noodle, egg, onion, bell peppers, fresh basil, bean sprouts, carrots – $5.95
  • Pad Gai: stir fried wide rice noodles with egg, green onions, lettuce and black pepper – $5.95

Fried Rice:

  • Pineapple Fried Rice: fried rice with curry powder, egg, onions, peas, carrots, raisins, cashew nuts and pineapple – $5.95
  • Green Curry Fried Rice: fried rice with egg, basil, bell pepper, bamboo shoots, green curry paste – $5.95
  • Many more


  • Crispy Basil Tilapia: crispy tilapia with bell peppers, onions, mushrooms in a Thai sauce topped with crispy basil – $7.95

Menu is much larger. See cart for more options and daily specials.

Hours: Weekdays, lunchtime
Contact: unknown


Teri’s Tacos


Teri's TacosLocation: SW 2nd and Stark

The Story:

In my quest to find the best Mexican carts, I stumbled upon a new one this past fall that opened up down off 2nd ave. This is a new pod in the making between Stark and Oak now with 5 carts. I have tried most of the Mexican carts and usually use tacos as a barometer. I haven’t had a bad one yet. There are favorites out there, but that’s a different article.

As stated, I almost always default to tacos when visiting a new cart, but in the past month, I have been enjoying the torta. A torta is a Mexican sandwich and from my experience, similar to how there are tons of different American sandwiches, there are different approaches to the torta. In my sampling of five different places now, it seems to be which bread or roll is used. [Read more...]