Desi PDX

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Indian food cart portland

Desi PDX

Location: NE 15th and Alberta
Hours: Thursday, 12-8pm; Friday/Saturday, 12-9pm; Sunday, 12-8pm

The Story: Local Fare, Indian Flair. Portland, welcome Desi PDX, Alberta’s newest Indian food cart.

Deepak Saxena opened the cart earlier this year with a focus on food inspired by Indian spices and flavors while keeping it local and organic and committing to everyone’s indulgences. At Desi PDX, you can get gluten-free, paleo and vegan. Raised on traditional Indian fare, Deepak eventually fell in love with cooking in this 20’s. After a first career in IT, the food cart became the next adventure. Inspired by Eric Schlosser’s work Fast Food Nation, he changed his own eating habits and continues to work at cooking more sustainably which is reflected with the menu at the cart.

Indian food cart portland

Cardamom chai Drumsticks

Let’s talk food. Deepak has both a la carte options or bowls. Every week he has a rotating “pulse of the week,” which is a selection of organic bean and lentil dhals. How does spicy cabbage salad with shredded coconut, chillies and mustard infused oil sound? Or maybe a Pakora waffle made with spicy garbanzo beans. I chose the cardamom chai chicken. One pound of Mary’s free range drumsticks are tea brined and tea steamed then fried in organic sunflower oil. A coconut sugar chai glaze is added then finished with toasted cardamom and Jacobsen salt. Whew! So many different flavors and ingredients go into creating this dynamic and vibrant chicken. I knew Indian cuisine’s diversity of flavors and spices, but these drumsticks were off the charts. I can only imagine what the other dishes present. I’m excited for a return visit, maybe with a friend so we can order multiple dishes and share.

Desi PDX offers up a diverse menu of treats for everyone and brings up specials almost daily, so follow them on Facebook for updates. Desi PDX is a great addition to the street food scene here in Portland. Drop on by next time you’re up on Alberta and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu – full menu on website

  • Cardamom chai chicken – $7.25
  • Chana masala belly – tamarind-ginger braised carton farms pork belly – $7.50
  • Pulse of the week – $3.75-5.75
  • Belly Bowl – pork belly, fried rice, chutney, pickles, salad – $10
  • Vegan thali – pulse & rice, slaw, chutney, pickles, salad – $11
  • Chicken bowl – chicken, fried rice, chutney, pickles, salad – $9.75

Website: Desipdx.com
Facebook: Desi PDX
Twitter: @DesiPDX

Smak Dab’s

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Burger Food Cart Portland

Smak Dab’s

Location: NE MLK and Jarrett at The Fusion
Hours: Tues-Sat, 11-7; Sun, 12-5

The Story: When you have a dream, sometimes nothing can stop you. Chris had the dream to open a food cart for over 15 years and now Smak Dab’s has launched with their gourmet stuffed burgers.

Chris has a background in the restaurant industry having worked for more than a few large restaurants over the years. The food cart scene just wasn’t as vibrant in the first part of the last decade, so Chris put the plans on hold, but kept the dream alive. The cart, located on NE MLK at The Fusion food cart pod is one of a few who have opened thee in the past six months. That pod has always housed food carts offering a range of cuisines ever since I moved into the neighborhood almost 17 years ago. Now, with a formal name, a covered deck and a quorum of vendors, I think NE MLK has a viable street food scene.

Burger Food Cart Portland

Tres Hombres from Smak Dab’s

Smak Dab’s focuses on stuffed burgers. Many call them the Juicy Lucy after a famous midwestern chain. Chris has his own twist. The patty includes bread crumbs among other goodies to add some cohesion as he forms it around the ingredients. The surprises are inside. Take The Calzone for example – pepperoni, mozzarela cheese and marinara all grilled inside the patty. Just imagining that first bite elicits a stomach growl. The Tres Hombres was for me – jalapenos, olives, jack cheese inside with quacamole atop. At first site, I thought maybe the burger was a bit burned, yet that first bite countered the visual. The patty, with the extra ingredients comes with caramelization throughout – a sweet, salty and for the Tres Hombres, spicy delight. Fresh lettuce and tomato create a cool tasty friction to the stuffed burger. Overall, a well done sammy.

Smak Dab’s has an impressive menu with six stuffed burger options. The day I visited, Chris also had pulled pork on the menu. Design your own if you want, he’ll make it happen. There is plenty of covered seating on site and they offer vegetarian options and GF buns. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • The Smak Dab – patty stuffed with swiss and served on toasted bun with chimichurri spread and bacon sriracha onion ring – $9
  • The Calzone – $8
  • The Lisa – vegetarian black bean patty with chimichurri spread – $7
  • Lamb of Gouda – lamb mix stuffed with smoked gouda – $10
  • Tres Hombres – $9
  • Steak Fries – $3
  • Cajun Pot Stickers – $6
  • Bacon sriracha battered fried pickles – $5

Facebook: Smak Dab’s

Cackalack’s Hot Chicken Shack Rose City

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fried chicken food cart portland

Cackalack’s Hot Chicken Shack Rose City

Location: NE 52nd and Sandy, Rose City Food Park
Hours: Mon-Sun, 12-7

The Story: Cackalack’s Hot Chicken Shack expanded this summer to open a second food cart at Rose City Food Park in NE Portland. Same menu as their SE location including some amazing wings.

See our post on Cackalack’s here.

fried chicken food cart portland
Facebook: Cackalack’s Hot Chicken Shack

Uncle Tsang’s Kitchen

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Chinese food cart

Uncle Tsang’s Kitchen

Location: NE 23rd and Alberta
Hours: Tues-Fri, 11-2 and 5-9; Sat/Sun, 12-9pm

The Story: A few months back, I visited a Szechuan restaurant in LA and was shocked at the spice factor in every dish. Yet, it didn’t burn for hours, it simply drifted away after awhile. Ever since that fateful meal, I’ve been craving noshable spicy Chinese and found it at a new food cart named Uncle Tsang’s Kitchen.

Chinese food cart

Szechuan Tofu from Uncle Tsang’s

Uncle Tsang’s Kitchen is at the 23rd and Alberta Food Cart Lot having taken over the cart that use to house Fijian Indian Curry. They’ve been open now for a couple of months, so have worked out any kinks. At first glance, the menu serves up what one expects from most Chinese restaurants except it offers more variety for vegetarian and gluten free options. They have beef and broccoli, eggplant chicken, ma po tofu, and potstickers. Yet, what caught my eye was chicken gizzards. Where in Portland do you get chicken gizzards? Along with Szechuan Tofu, I had a meal picked out. The gizzards, deep fried, yet with a light coating and then tossed with more than enough spicy peppers were divine. When delivered, I teared up, knowing the spice could wreck me, but I dove in and surprisingly enough, it didn’t melt my face off. It was that quick burn and then it tapered off. Each little morsel, a present from the Chinese gods of deep frying. The tofu dish with sliced celery, chopped peppers, succulent mushrooms and plenty of red chili flake was a treat. Not so spicy I needed milk afterward, but complex flavors that kept me eating.

Uncle Tsang’s is one of those gems you stumble upon and immediately want to return to. Finding a dish so unique like gizzards is the reason I keep going back to the food carts – they keep surprising me. Head on over to Alberta and give it a try. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Broccoli in garlic sauce – $6
  • Gizzards – $5
  • Curry Chicken – $9
  • Szechuan Tofu – $9.50
  • Lemon Chicken – $8
  • General Chicken – $8
Chinese food cart

Gizzards from Uncle Tsang’s

Facebook: Uncle Tsang’s Kitchen

Bacon PDX

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Bacon food cart portland

Bacon PDX

Location: NE 52nd and Sandy, Rose City Food Park
Hours: Tues-Sat, 9am-8pm; Sun, 9am-2pm

The Story: Bacon. We’ve seen bacon vodka, bacon toothpaste, bacon band-aids, bacon ice cream and more. Bacon over the last decade became as integrated in our culinary diet as corn and wheat. Now, Portland has a food cart dedicated to Bacon. I give you Bacon PDX at Rose City Food Park.

bacon food cart portland

Kalua Double Pig Sandwich from Bacon PDX

David Elkin opened the bacon focused cart in May and has been crisping up the pork ever since. Sourcing from Carlton Farms, the bacon can be had by the slice or in a sandwich or other tasty concoction. You even chose regular, thick or premium. David knows bacon. Menu offerings include bacon wrapped sweets, bacon and veggies, frittata cups made fresh daily and the kalua double pig sandwich. Two strips of bacon, a pile of kalua pig, bbq sauce, pineapple slaw served open face on a hoagie roll, this is a pork lover’s delight. Every bite is pork. I enjoyed the mix of pineapple juice with the salt of the pork. Add in the fresh cilantro with every bite and BANG!, joy. I tried to pick it up and enjoy it as a sandwich, yet it overwhelmed me and a fork and knife were required.

David has been expanding the menu and offering specials over the last month. I saw one with smoked salmon, bacon, spinach and tomato on a ciabatta roll that just rocked my world. Bacon is the focus of this cart, so drop on by, dive in and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Bacon by the strip – $1-2/item
  • Kalua Double Pig Sandwich – $9
  • Bacon & Sautéed Veggies: bacon apple kale, bacon cabbage pineapple, etc – $5
  • Frittata Cups – denver style, pipey jack, swiss guard – $4.50
  • Bacon Sweets – $1.50

Website: BaconPDX.com
Facebook: BaconPDX
Twitter; @BaconPDX

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