Small Pharoah’s


Location: SW 5th and Stark
Hours: Daily for lunch and dinner

The Story: Portland has seen a significant growth in Middle Eastern cuisine in food carts in the last 18 months with vendors popping up every week. Small Pharoah’s was one of the first of this new generation of vendors to bring Egyptian and New Yorker food to the eaters.

Small Pharoah’s is the work if Islam Elmasry who came to Portland after some years working and vending in New York. Working at a sidewalk hot dog stand by Macy’s, Islam learned the business and decided to come to Portland to try his hand at opening his own food cart. His first cart was at 9th and Alder and he quickly expanded to SW 5th and Stark, SW 4th and Hall by PSU, SE 48th and Woodstock and this summer opening at Mississippi Marketplace. Four carts in two years and at prime locations throughout the city. Islam is a businessman and Portland welcomed him. In speaking with him, he stated it was much easier to open a food cart in Portland than in NYC. His goal is to offer good food and empower his employees. He couldn’t have done this without them.

Egyptian food cart Portland

Falafel Gyro

At Small Pharoah’s, you’ll find a mix of Egyptian, Greek and American cuisine. Islam wanted the menu to be broad so as to attract most every eater. Gyros with either lamb, falafel, kafta or chicken are their signature items. I picked up the falafel gyro at the cart at Mississippi Marketplace for lunch and was a bit overwhelmed by the size. Large freshly made falafel with pickled carrots and cauliflower and tahini all wrapped up in a toasted pita. I’m a stickler for falafel – I prefer it to be softer and not so deep fried – Small Pharoah’s did it right. Great flavors without the hard crust you sometimes get from other vendors. The entire qyro was enough for two people or two meals. A great value.

Small Pharoah’s is an example of success in the street food business in Portland. Islam is thankful not just for his customers, but also for those who helped him along the way including Al, Robin, Paula, Adianet, Elita and Khalid. Find Small Pharoah’s food carts throughout the city and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Chicken and Rice – $7
  • Lamb Gyro – $5
  • Chicken Gyro – $6
  • Falafel Gyro – $8
  • Greek Salad – $6
  • Kofta over Rice – $10

Phone: 917 500 9181

Left Coast

Left Coast

Left Coast

Location: SW 5th and Stark
Hours: Mon-Fri, 10:30am-4pm; Sat, 11am-3pm

The Story: Craving a handmade sausage burger or maybe a fried chicken sandwich? Fries? Left Coast is an all-American diner in a food cart.

Left Coast took over the recognizable cart that once housed The Swamp Shack down off SW 5th ave. With its signature steal panelling and recycled worn wood siding, new owner John Sturm left the cart pretty much the way it was. Why mess with a good thing? Left coast has burgers on the menu, yet on close inspection, they are handmade sausage patties with pork, chorizo or andouille. Other menu items include fish sandwiches and the shrimp poboy I enjoyed.

Shrimp PoBoy from Left Coast

Shrimp PoBoy from Left Coast

The shrimp poboy is one of those sandwiches you either do right or you don’t do it at all. There are so many purists out there you want to ensure you’re not messing with a family tradition. John’s sandwich is served open-face in order to present all the tasty goodness. An amazing amount of lightly battered and fried popcorn shrimp sit atop a toasted roll and then covered with lettuce, chopped tomato and spicy Sriracha mayo. I grabbed a couple of shrimp and tossed them in my mouth. So good. Crispy and sweet. Dip in the sauce and I’m sold. I ate more than a few that way until I was able to pick up the sandwich and enjoy it the way one does – holding it in two hands and taking a bite. John nailed it.

Left Coast opened early this year and seems to have already gathered a loyal following. I’m always happy to see a famous cart host a new vendor and succeed. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Fried Chicken Sandwich – breaded chicken breast on toasted bun with Sriracha mayo and spicy pepper slaw – $7
  • Hawaiian Pork Burger – handmade sausage patty grilled and served on toasted bun with lettuce, grilled pineapple, grilled onions and cheddar – $6
  • Chorizo Burger – handmade chorizo and pork sausage patty grilled and served on toasted bun with lettuce, avocado, fried anaheim pepper and pepperjack – $6
  • Shrimp PoBoy – fried popcorn shrimp on toasted french roll – $8

Facebook: Left Coast
Phone: 513 520 3206

Chez Dodo


Chez Dodo

Location: SW 5th and Stark
Hours: M-F, 11am-11pm; Sat, 11-9pm

The Story: A taste of Mauritian Paradise. That is all I needed to know before visiting Chez Dodo, a new vendor in the ever changing lot at the corner of N Fremont and Vancouver. Chez Dodo moved to SW 5th and Stark January 2014.

Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean about 1,200 miles off the south east coast of Africa. When the Portuguese arrived in the 1500’s, the island was uninhabited except for the famed Dodo bird. After a few centuries of different colonial rule, the culture of the island in the 21st century is a mix of several ethnicities – mostly of Indian, African, Chinese and European descent. At Chez Dodo, the cuisine reflects the inspiration of French, African, Indian, Creole and Chinese cuisine.

Upon arrival, Chef Shayamal leaned out the window to greet me and immediately listed off the day’s specials and instructed me to the vast menu and how to order. You start with a base of either flat bread, noodles or rice, add a curry sauce and then top with accompaniments like bean curry and potatoes, chicken or lamb. I chose pan fried curry noodles with the Island Fever spicy curry sauce and lamb. During the prep of the meal, Shayamal leaned out with a huge skillet of noodles and a fork to ask if the spice was sufficient. What brilliant service. A huge plate of noodles with vegetables and lamb was handed over. More than I could eat in a sitting, but so flavorful, spicy and complex, I couldn’t put the fork down. If you’re going, go with a friend as Shayamal is a giver of food and will load you up.

Curry Noodles from Chez Dodo

You may recognize the name Chez Dodo as his vegan pre-made products have been in local stores now for over a year. Chef Shayamal offers numerous options for vegan, gluten free, and vegetarian diets. He stated, “If it weren’t for the vegans buying my product, I wouldn’t be open.” Thanks vegans! Chez Dodo is open from lunch through late night and on Saturday, so there is no reason you can’t visit. The lot now has five different mobile vendors and the are continues to change for the better with a New Seasons store opening this year. Drop on by for a taste of Mauritius and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:


  • Dholl Puri Flat Bread; Pan Fried Curried Noodles; Brown Rice Pulao or Rice Noodles

Curry Sauces:

  • Healthy Vegan: mild curry sauce cooked with a blend of exotic spices and herbs
  • Tropical Happiness: creamy tomato based curry sauce cooked with spices, coconut and cashews
  • Island Fever: spicy curry sauce with 3 different peppers, onions, ginger, garlic, tamarind, lemon and vinegar


  • Assorted bean curry and potatoes – $4.99
  • Wild combo of mushrooms with lentil fritter – $5.99
  • Chicken cooked in red wine sauce – $5.99
  • Lamb Curry pressure cooked and sauteed – $7.99

Phone: (503) 284-4575
Facebook: Chez Dodo
Twitter: @ChezDodoPDX

Don Pedro

Food Carts Portland
Don Pedro Mexican

Don Pedro Mexican

Location: SW 5th and Oak
Hours: Sun – Fri, 10am – 9pm

The Story: Do you know the story of Don Pedro? Sure, Don Pedro pops up as a cartoony Mexican character here and there, is the name of a lake and dam in California, is a fictional character in Shakespeare’s farcical Much Ado About Nothing,  there’s a Don Pedro brand of  Mexican Tequila and brandy, and we’ve even heard an opera and a rock band or or two with the same name. But who was the original Don Pedro fellow, and why are so many Mexican restaurants from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon named after him? In the Portland area alone there are at least 4 different restaurants and food carts named Don Pedro.

The historical real Don Pedro

The original Pedro de Alvarado y Contreras was a was a Spanish conquistador and governor of Guatemala in the late 1400s and early 1500s. While you can read all about his history here, I’ll just give you the lazy Food Carts Portland version: Don Pedro was a bad ass who helped conquer the Aztecs in Mexico for Spain, and was known for his cruelty and slaughter of natives, as well as bloody sieges. Why so many Mexican restaurants and taco trucks in the U.S. are named after him is a mystery, but if anyone does know, spill the refried beans please. I’d love to know.

The food at this Don Pedro, the SW 5th cart between Oak and Stark, is standard Mexican-American taco cart fare: burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and the like. I’d say it leans more on the Americano side of the coin rather than an autentica Mexicano one, but that’s not necessarily a bad Gringo thing. Food here is hot, it’s gut filling, it’s tasty, the service is friendly, it’s affordable, and it’s fast. Just don’t expect rare gourmet regional specialties, or “alternate” fillings such as carnitas, barbacoa, or cabeza, or even fish or shrimp for that matter. Senor Pedro sticks to the basics – grilled chicken, asada (steak), or (adobada) marinated steak. The end. Sure beats that fast food chain “Taco Hell” in my book though.

For hungry breakfasters in a hurry, Don Pedro does offer Huevos Rancheros, Huevos a la Mexicano (eggs scrambled with meats and salsa), a breakfast burrito, and a wet breakfast burrito. These are big portions and I can easily get at least two meals out of one order.

For my lunchtime visit, I tried the adobada taco, and an asada mulita. Both were tasty and filling, and my whole lunch came to a whopping $2.90 – a bargain that left me full for the rest of the afternoon. You can barely even get a small cappuccino at some cafes for that price.

Don Pedro the man might have been a baddie, but Don Pedro the Portland Food Cart certainly is not. Give ’em a chance and let your own taste buds and wallet decide.

Not the real Don Pedro

Sample Menu:

Meat choices: Grilled chicken, steak, or marinated steak.Vegetarian versions available for many items.

  • Taco – $1.25
  • Burritos – $4.89 – $5.99 (depending on fillings), Vegetarian Burritos – $3.29 – $3.89
  • Mulita – $1.65
  • Crunchy Shell “American” Taco – $1.50
  • Quesadilla – $4.89
  • Pollo/Asada Plate (served with tortillas, rice, beans, salsa) – $7.89
  • Huevos Rancheros – $5.49

Hours: Sun – Fri, 10am – 9pm


Hawaiian Grill

Hawaiian Grill

Hawaiian Grill

Location: SW 5th and Stark
Hours: weekdays, lunchtime

The Story:

Portland has a few restaurants and a couple of carts that focus on Hawaiian cuisine. With the addition of Hawaiian Grill, we not only get Hawaiian, but also Korean.

Hawaiian Grill took over the spot at Portland’s oldest pod once used by Smokin’ Pig. The cart had to be removed after so many years of pulled pork. In the new cart, the owners create a mix of Hawaiian and Korean BBQ with menu items ranging from yakisoba noodles to hamburger steak with gravy to kalbi short ribs and loco moco, a Hawaiian staple. A large menu with many different options. One item I hadn’t tried was Saimin, a vegetable base soup with soft wheat noodles and garnished with fresh vegetables, fish cake, green onions and eggs. I grabbed a seat right in front and dove in, enjoying the warmth of the soup and breadth of flavor the different items contribute. The soup, a dish unique to Hawaii was inspired by Japanese udon, Chinese mein and Filipino pancit and you can taste those influences throughout.

Saimin from Hawaiian Grill

Saimin from Hawaiian Grill

Hawaiian Grill has something for everyone and is open daily during the lunch hour. Drop on by, maybe get some spicy pork and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Spicy Pork: sm, $5; lg, $6.50
  • Mahi Mahi: $7
  • Saimin: vegetarian noodle soup – $6
  • Bi Bim Bap: rice bowl topped with sauteed vegetables, sliced meat, chili pepper paste and an egg – $7
  • Kalbi Short Ribs: $8
  • Loco Moco: $7
  • Musubi: $2

Hours: weekdays, lunchtime