Sea Verdes

Lizzy Caston


Location: N Vancouver and Fremont
Hours: Tue, Thu-Fri 11:30 am – 9:00 pm, Wed 11:30 am – 7 pm, Sat 1 pm – 9 pm, Sun 1 pm – 7 pm

The Story: For seafood lovers, there’s a saying, “If it’s from the sea, then it’s for me!”  Mussels, Tilapia, Catfish, Shrimp and Oysters make up the foundation for Sea Verdes’ menu, with a healthy dose of entree type salads, smoothies, and specials such as grilled cheese sandwiches, pastas and other delights.

Sea Verdes reminds me of those little beach side food shacks found in coastal communities such as New England, Florida, or Hawaii. They serve locals as much as visitors, and are usually a come-as-you-are affair for those picking up a nutritious dinner for their families, or hungry beachcombers who need some substance between hitting the waves (or the beach blanket).

Crispy seafood (choice of  comes dredged in cornmeal and unbleached flour and is flash fried – crispy, not at all greasy and the fresh seafood shines through. We tried the Oysters on our first visit: Plump and fresh, they were magically crispy on the outside and tender within – it’s all the richness and mineral brininess oyster fans crave.  For those looking for something not fried, there’s mussels and shrimp in a white wine broth,  an Italianate inspired shrimp pasta, and a Tilapia with vegetables and rice.  They’ve also recently added gumbo (in this case crab, shrimp, beef sausage, chicken and mussels to the menu specials mix, something  that might not be a traditional gumbo recipe, but has what my New Orleans friends call, “Da Flavor!”. Yeah, you rite, Sea Verdes.

Salads can make for a whole meal in generous portions – a textbook classic Caesar, or a Thai Beef blow anything from the local salad bar out of the water (pun intended). Yet for those in a salad bar kind of mood, there’s a mix and match choice of toppers such as Shrimp, salmon.


Sea Verdes in N. Portland. Photo from

Smoothies round out the offerings. Located on the popular N Williams/Vancouver bike corridor – a smoothie would be a perfect pick-me-up on the way home from when you’ve just spent 1000 calories battling traffic and hills from work. I felt downright healthy AND decadent at the same time after finishing Sea Verdes’ Mixed Berry Smoothie – made with almond milk, dark cherries, bananas and mixed berries.

Owned and operated by lifetime Portlander Elsya Watkins, this talented chef, Portland State Alumni (Go Vikings!), and mother’s positive energy and commitment to nutrition is infectious. In Ms. Watkin’s own words:

I opened Sea Verdes because of North and North-East Portland’s food dessert. The lack of healthy and affordable places to go eat-out is a prevailing inconvenience for Portlanders. I serve fresh seafood, crisp salad greens an I make healthy and tasty protein green smoothies. My food serves vegans, vegetarians, pescetarians and offers selections for the paleo diet.

Oh, yes.  A little bit of soul, a bunch of health, and a whole lotta love: Sea Verdes. Another great addition to Portland’s mighty food cart sea.


Sample Menu:

  • Fried seafood (served with rice). Choice of Oysters, Tilapia, Catfish in small or large platters  - $5.50 – $13.00
  • Talapia (broiled -2 pieces), served with rice and made with basil, tomatoes, garlic and lemon- $9.50
  • Thai Beef Salad with lettuce and kale, tomato, red onion, yellow onion, cucumber, basil  -  $8.50
  • Salad Plain or with Salad  toppers (shrimp, salmon, Tilapia) or  choice of dressing  - $2.50 – $6.50
  • Tropical Sunrise Smoothie – Almond milk, pineapple, banana, oranges, grapefruit juice – $4.75
  • Kya’s House Cherry Lemonade – $2.50

Facebook: Sea Verdes
Twitter: @SeaVerdesPDX

Phone: 503-933-5251


Lisa’s Lip Smackin’ Kitchen

Lizzy Caston

Lisas 1

Location: N Vancouver and Fremont
Hours: Mon-Fri, 11am-9pm; Sat/Sun, 7:30am-11pm

The Story: They call it Soul Food for a reason. Sometimes you just have a craving for foods that nurture, foods that scream home cookin’, foods that might take you back to your Grandmother’s house. For me, being from a Southern family, Sundays often meant going out for BBQ, or 15 of us kinfolk tightly knit around my Nana’s large kitchen table where piled high were the likes of brisket, greens, mac n’ cheese, red beans and rice and a whole lotta love.


Lisa’s Lip Smackin on N. Vancouver hits all the right Southern food classics: creamy mac n’ cheese, melt in your mouth greens, and smokey, fall off the bone BBQ. In the South BBQ is a noun, y’all! (little insider Southern joke, by the way). At Lisa’s the BBQ shines: tender smoked brisket in a tangy vinegar-tomato sauce, pulled pork, and smoked ribs are the stars. Yet, wait, Lisa’s has a dual menu!  Burgers! Purists can get a tasty classic Hamburger or Cheeseburger, or zest it up a bit with a beef and avocado burger, a Hawaiian Burger (yes, with pineapple), a turkey burger for the red meat avoiders, and even a veggie burger, cause even Southern cuisine respects the veggies. Crispy hot out of the fryer French Fries and and an all beef hot dog (make it a chili or cheese dog if you like) round out the offerings.

One of the hardest working food carts in N Portland, Lisa’s also serves a late breakfast and weekend breakfast sandwiches on homemade biscuits, and a pretty hearty and tasty Biscuits and Gravy.

Food at Lisa’s is really made with care and love, and the quality shows. It’s honest Southern inspired home style food, right where NE meets North Portland. Keep on keeping on, Lisa’s. Your food is certainly lip smackin’ indeed.

Sample Menu:

  • Smoked Pork Ribs (weekends only) with 2 sides – full slab $24, 1/2 slab $12, 1 rib for $1
  • Smoked Brisket Platter with 2 sides – $9
  • Pulled Pork Sandwich – $6
  • 3 Cheese Mac – Small $3, Large $4
  • Collard Greens – Small $3, Large $3.75
  • Red Beans – Small $2.75, Large $3.50
  • Burgers (Beef, Turkey or Vegetarian) in various combos – $4 – $5.50
  • All Beef Hot Dogs – $1.75, Chili Dog add $0.75

Phone: (503) 926-1208


Que Sabrosa


Que Sabrosa

Que Sabrosa

Location: N Fremont and Vancouver
Hours: M-Th, 10:30am-9pm; F/S, 10:30am-10pm; Sun, 11-7

The Story:

On a cool rainy fall Saturday night, heading to a show on the east side, I needed something to sustain me. Having skipped dinner and not wanting to sit down anywhere, I saw the bright lights of Que Sabrosa and thought – let’s get some tacos.

Que Sabrosa opened this past summer on the corner of N Vancouver and Fremont, an lot that has seen numerous businesses come and go throughout the decade. The broader area, targeted for condos and grocery stores just 3 years ago, is now a couple of large fenced off vacant lots with weeds the size of redwood forests. The cart, along with Mum’s Kitchen, are situated to create a small enclosed seating area replete with picnic tables and strung with lights so you can enjoy your food in the evening. The bright lights were what pulled me in as I was cruising down Fremont. It’s welcoming. Carts can start the revitalization.

Asada Tacos

Asada Tacos

Que Sabrosa’s menu seems huge. When I arrived, I looked at the menu and ordered a few tacos. After ordering, I saw another menu and then another and a fourth. There was so much to choose from, I am kinda glad I didn’t dilly dally and chose the tacos. Handmade tortillas are the platform for these gems. All you have to do is top it with some asada, chopped onions, cilantro and hot sauce and you have yourself a simple, yet satisfying meal. The tortilla though was the ace in the hole here, being as fresh as it was. I had planned on sharing them at the party, but alas, they were gone before I left the parking lot.

Que Sabrosa is open daily from morning to night. They offer up breakfast items along with lunch and dinner plates. The owners are welcoming, turning away from their cooking and prep to smile and welcome you with an “hola!” I’m glad the carts have landed in this lot, it is a sign that the area supports small businesses and may spur further development of the empty lots. Go visit Que Sabrosa, enjoy some great Mexican food and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Quesadillas – corn or flour tortilla with choice of steak, chicken, pork, beef tongue, carnitas, veggie or cheese – $3.99
  • Combo plates – choice of meat or veggie, rice, beans, tortillas – $6.50-7.75
  • Tacos – choice of meat with onions, cilantro on homemade tortilla – $1.50
  • Burritos – choice of meat with beans, rice – $4.99
  • Tamales – pork or chicken – $1.50
  • Sopes – steak, carnitas or chicken – $3
  • Horchata – med, $1.50; lg, $2

Hours: Mon-Thurs, 10:30am-9pm; Friday/Saturday, 10:30am-10pm; Sunday, 11am-7pm
Contact: unknown
Other: Credit/Debit cart accepted