PDX Empanadas

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PDX Empanadas

PDX Empanadas

Location: SW 5th and Oak
Hours: Weekdays, lunch

The Story: When I started writing and focusing on street food a few years ago, I distinctly remember eating at a fried pie cart. I had never had a fried pie like that and someone compared it to an empanada. Again, I had never heard of an empanada, but since then have fallen in love with these little hot pockets of happiness. PDX Empanadas has opened on SW Oak between 4th and 5th and offers up Uruguayan street food.

Empanadas trace their origins back to the 1500’s in Galicia and Portugal. A cookbook from the time – Libre del Coch by Ruperto de Nola – has empanadas filled with seafood alongside cuisines from Europe and beyond. The empanadas of the time started out as larger pies which were then cut into pieces to make them portable for the working class. They usually includes tuna, sardines or chorizo which was cooked in tomato, garlic and onion sauces inside the dough. Empanadas were introduced to the South American nation of Uruguay by Spanish and Italian settlers and are made with a diverse list of ingredients both savory and sweet.

At PDX Empanadas, in order to try everything you need to A) get there early and B) return often. Eleven different choices from breakfast to caprese to corn to beef and raisins. Sadly, by the time I arrived after the lunch hour rush, they had sold out of many, but I was still able to get a couple. The beef empanada had ground beef mixed with sweet pepper, tomato, onion, egg and herbs – an excellent salty mixture perfect for a cool day in Portland. The green spinach came with garlic, feta cheese, eggs and herbs. I gotta say, the spinach really blew me away with the hint of garlic with the salt and bitter of the cooked spinach. The crust of the empanada flaked away in my mouth and on my shirt – a buttery salty and enjoyable mess. At $3 a piece – for quick snacks, these empanadas are wonderful.

PDX Empanadas is located in the 5th and Oak lot on Oak street just west of 5th. Alongside the empanadas, they also offer sandwiches. If you’ve had a South American craving of late, you should definitely check this vendor out. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Milanesa Sandwich – $5
  • Choripan (sausage) sandwich – $4
  • Empanadas – $3-3.50: Pork, Beef + Raisins, Beef, Green Spinach, Garden Veggies, Corn, Eggplant, Breakfast, Vegetarian Breakfast and daily specials

Website: PDXEmpanadas.com
Facebook: PDX Empanadas
Twitter: @PDXEmpanadas

Tandoor’s Saffron Indian Kitchen – 5th Ave

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Tandoor’s Saffron Indian Kitchen – 5th ave

Location: SW 5th and Oak
Hours: Weekdays, lunch

The Story: Tandoor’s has expanded again. This is their 3rd location with others at SW 4th and Hall and SW 9th and Washington. You can find our profile of them here.

Babylon Iraqi

Lizzy Caston

Babylon IraqiLocation: SW 5th and Oak Pod
Hours: Mon-Fri 11 am – 6 pm

The Story: I think there’s a tendency to lump all Middle Eastern food together.  Generally, many do all have common dishes (often with the same name) Hummus, Pita Bread, Shawarma, Falafel and the like. Yet like Europe, the Middle East is a vast place with some distinct variations and dishes found country by country and region by region.

Take Falafel for example. Sure, it’s usually ground chickpeas with some spices and fillings then rolled into balls and fried. But have you ever had Israeli Falafel with it’s all you can eat buffet of topping choices? Or what about Egyptian Falafel, generally made with bright green Fava Beans and not just Chickpeas? Some are balls, some are patties, some are golf ball sized and others much larger. Seasonings vary from country to country too from mild to spicy to herbal to garlicky.

Enter Babylon Iraqi. This nicely decorated cart, nestled into the bustling SW 5th and Oak pod downtown, offers menu items you might be familiar with through “Middle Eastern” cuisine, but here things are just a bit different. They are also very, very good. It’s the quality, care and freshness of the ingredients that matters, and Babylon Iraqi has all three.

b iraqi 2The tender, and really, I mean melt in your mouth moist Falafels at Babylon Iraqi come with herbal notes and a bit of spicy heat, also drizzled with bright red hot sauce, have become my top Falafel in Portland – Chickpea based, in case you are wondering. At $5.00 for a sandwich, or $6.00 for a heaping plate that includes salad, saffron rice, and hummus, they are a BARGAIN.  Don’t just stop at the Falafels though. Rice Burianey is enough for 2-3 meals with my appetite, and comes heaping with aromatic rice, and falafel, chicken, or lamb as you wish. Chicken Shawarma, hummus, and my favorite garlicky, smokey, creamy eggplant dip known as Baba Ganouj are also available. Hey, you can even get a Halal  hot dog or burger if you’d like to try some Western/Iraqi fusion cuisine. Come to think of it, a burger with hummus on it sounds pretty good right about now…

Sample Menu: 

  • Hummus with Pita Bread – $3.00
  • Rice Burianey (Falafel, Chicken, or lamb) – $6.00 – $8.00
  • Shawarma chicken  – $6.00 for a plate, $5.00 for a wrap
  • Falafel Plate (with salad, rice, hummus) – $6.00
  • Falafel Wrap – $5.00
  • Iraqi Tea – $2.00

Phone:  Coming Soon

Wagsy’s Hot Beef Sandwiches

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Wagsy's Hot Beef Sandwiches

Wagsy's Hot Beef Sandwiches

Location: SW 5th and Oak
Hours: Weekdays, 10am-4pm

The Story:

Family is the strongest bond one will have in his or her life. To me, it’s always a cool story when a parent and child take a common interest and open a business together based on that shared link. At Wagsy’s, which opened in early January 2012, Kevin and his son, Eric, share their love for sandwiches with the public.

Wagsy is Kevin’s nickname, given to him by some of his good friends. There are five sandwiches on the regular menu, each using a fresh Italian roll. Several sandwiches are named for various regions of the United States. I had the Beef ‘n Bourbon sandwich with thin slices of roast beef, chopped cabbage, and Wagsy’s special BBQ sauce infused with premium Maker’s Mark bourbon. The large slices of roast beef are extremely tender and juicy with the fresh cabbage adding that contrasting crunchy element. The warm tangy/sweet BBQ sauce is a home run, and the bourbon shines through. The Italian roll is soft when biting into it, yet thick enough to encase the beef, sauce, and cabbage. A simple sandwich, yet so comforting.

 

Wagsy's Hot Beef Sandwiches

Wagsy's Hot Beef Sandwiches

People have raved about the Chi-Town Beef Dip – a beef sandwich dipped in au jus, and the Rip City – roast beef and garlic butter sautéed mushrooms. Wagsy’s also offers a vegetarian sandwich option. Wagsy’s is open on weekdays for lunch. Check them out and tell ‘em Food Carts Portland sent ya!

Sample Menu:

  • Chi-Town Beef Dip – $5; USDA choice beef wet-dipped in au jus
  • Philly – $6; choice beef smothered in cheese sauce, peppers, and onions
  • Rip City – $6; roast beef covered with garlic butter sautéed mushrooms
  • Beef ‘n Bourbon – $6; roast beef, cabbage, and bourbon-infused BBQ sauce
  • Veggie-no-Beef – $6; garlic butter sautéed mushrooms, simmered onions and peppers, cheese sauce, and cabbage

Hours: Weekdays, 10am-4pm
Phone: 503 884 0658
Twitter: @Wagsys

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Ploy Thai

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Ploy Thai

Ploy Thai

Location: SW 5th and Oak
Hours: Lunchtime, weekdays

The Story:

A grouping of carts has sprung up on Oak street between SW 4th and 5th around the corner from the 5th avenue carts. Among them, Cuban, Mediterranean and two Thai carts including Ploy Thai.

Ploy Thai is the work of Ploy who came to Portland after serving her brand of Thai street food at the markets in Thailand. She would create her dishes and take them to the markets for all to enjoy, experiencing why we gather – to eat and become a community. At the Ploy Thai cart you can find all of your favorites like salad rolls, Tom Yum soup, Pad Thai and more. What surprised me was some items I don’t normally see at the carts, like Garlic and Pepper, a dish served with your choice of chicken, pork, shrimp or vegetables and comes with Jasmine or brown rice and steamed veggies. I chose chicken with brown rice and it was one of the healthiest Thai dishes I have had from a cart in awhile. The chicken had been spiced with garlic and black pepper and served over brown rice, but not with a thick sauce. The flavors were bright and peppery, the black pepper coming through lightly which I love. The veggies were fresh and steamed just right to keep them crunchy. Overall, an excellent dish that I will return for.

Garlic and Pepper

Garlic and Pepper

Ploy Thai is a great addition for Thai food cart lovers and the rest of us. Drop on by next time you are down that way and try some of Ploy’s home cooking. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Egg Rolls – 4 for $3
  • Salad Rolls – 2 for $3
  • Papaya Salad – shredded green papaya, Thai chili, garlic, tomatoes and peanut with spicy lime juice – $6
  • Larb – ground chicken or pork with Thai rice powder, green onion, red onion and spicy lime juice – $6
  • Tom Yum soup – choice of chicken, pork, tofu, veggies or shrimp – hot and sour lemongrass soup with galanga root, kaffir leaves, lime juice and Thai chili – $5.50-6
  • Moo Ping/Gai Yang – BBQ marinated pork or chicken with Thai spices and sticky rice – $5
  • Ping Yang Combo – papaya salad and one of the BBQ dishes and sticky rice – $7.50
  • Garlic and Pepper – choice of chicken, pork, tofu, veggies or shrimp, fresh garlic and black pepper with rice and steamed vegetables – $5.50-6
  • Pad Thai – stir fried noodle with egg, tofu, green onions, bean sprouts and ground peanuts with pad Thai sauce – choice of meat – $5.50-6
  • Sukiyaki – glass noodle, egg, pickled bean curd, Thai chili and green onion – $6
  • Full menu at PloyThaiCart.com

Hours: Weekdays, lunchtime
Phone: 503 267 0849
Website: PloyThaiCart.com

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