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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Sin Wagon

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Sin Wagon

Sin Wagon

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

The Story:

When you first see the sign and think about the name, you know you want to try it. We’re drawn to items that sound naughty. Sin Wagon is now open and ready to feed your guilty pleasure.

Sin Wagon is the work of Tracy and Chad. Tracy runs the window and owns the cart while chad works the grill and deep fryer to create what makes Sin Wagon work. The name? Well, Tracy and some buddies were playing Rock Band and came across one of their favorite songs and it stuck. I like it! Weren’t the original food carts the covered wagons on the Oregon Trail? If they had deep fryers back then, the chuck wagon may have had a nickname.

The menu at the cart offers wraps, dogs, and plenty of items from the fryer like chicken fingers, corn dogs, onions rings and tater tots. I opted for the burger with tots. After the holidays, I just couldn’t do a full meal of fried goods. On a standard burger bun, they stack the patty, leaf lettuce, a thick cut tomato slice, white onion and pickles. A simple but tasty burger that will satisfy your sandwich needs. The freshness of the veggies was an added bonus – I love the crunch of sliced pickles and onions with the saltiness of the burger and cheese. The tots, crispy as ever, are an excellent side dish to anything. Need I say more?

Burger and Tots from Sin Wagon

Burger and Tots from Sin Wagon

If you’re looking for something beyond the burger, check out their deep fried Mac & Cheese balls. You can even get baby elephant ears. Sin Wagon is now open on SW Oak between 4th and 5th, around the corner from the main strip of carts on 5th. They are looking to expand hours into the evening or late night, so keep an eye out for that. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

All baskets come with fries, tots or slaw.

  • Simply Fingers: crispy or grilled chicken or steak fingers regular or spicy – $7
  • Finger Sandwich: crispy or grilled chicken or steak fingers on a hoagie roll – $7
  • The Perfect Burger: beef burger with all the fixin’s – $7
  • West Coast Wrap: crispy or grilled chicken or steak fingers rolled in a tortilla with lettuce,cheese, tomato and sauce – $7
  • Whuttup Dog: steamed beef hot dog on a bun – $5
  • Batter Up!: hand dipped honey corn dog – $6
  • Mac & Cheese: $3
  • Mac & Cheese Balls: deep fried – $4
  • Baby Elephant Ear: $3

Hours: Weekdays, lunchtime
Phone: 503 567 2SIN (27456)
Facebook: Sin Wagon

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