Margarita’s Recipes

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Margarita's Recipes

Margarita’s Recipes

Location: NE 15th and Alberta
Hours: Mon-Sun, 12pm-12am

The Story: Alberta street really has changed since I first moved to N Portland last century. With all the new restaurants, boutiques and buildings, I’m glad spots for food carts have continued to thrive. East of NE 15th is a new lot with a few food carts including Margarita’s Recipes who focuses on Colombian and Italian cuisine.

Ceviche de Cameron

Ceviche de Cameron

I’m a fan of pictures when I order. A photo of a dish will draw me to it more than the description. Trust me, I’ve had some strange dishes due to picking a photo instead of a name. But, street food is an adventure. Margarita’s Recipes offers up a fusion of Colombian and Italian-American items. Camilo, the owner works long days to create some excellent dishes at affordable prices. You can enjoy spaghetti with Alfredo sauce or empanadas. Based on the photo, I picked up Ceviche de Camarón, a shrimp cocktail mixed with fresh green onions, cilantro and house made sauce. A 16oz cup chock full of spicy shrimp and a super fragrant sauce thanks to the fresh herbs. I also picked up some empanadas – light and fluffy. Only $11 for everything. A great value for great food.

Margarita’s Recipes may not be in the most beautiful food lot on Alberta, yet Camilo has a beautiful cart and soul. Open daily for lunch through dinner and into the night, drop on by, enjoy what he has to offer and let him know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Empanadas – chicken, beef or vegetarian – 3 for $2,  5 for $3
  • Ravioli – beef or chicken with Alfredo sauce – $5
  • Ceviche de Cameron – $9
  • Spaghetti – $3; add meatballs, $5
  • Bunuelo – fried cheese balls – 2 for $1.50

Phone: (503) 754-9817

Bridgetown Bagel Company

Lizzy Caston

Bridgetown Bagels1

Location: NE 52nd and Sandy – Rose City Food Cart Pod
Hours: Mon-Fri, 7am-1pm; Sat & Sun, 8am – 2pm

The Story: I call it the collective “Portland Bagel Freakout”.  I’m not quite sure why, but out of all the cities I have lived, worked in, and visited (and there have been many), Portland rivals only NYC and Montreal for what can only be described as a love of good bagels that borders on crazy zealously. That is, Google “bagels Portland, Oregon” and you’ll see countless, passionate (and sometimes uncivil) discussions on who has the best bagels in PDX, lamentations that Portland “has no real bagels”, cries for “I wish we had authentic bagels here!”…you get the idea. Mike Russell, the food critic for the Oregonian, sure found out about the Portland Bagel Freakout when he dared write about “Portland’s Best Bagels”. Check out these reader comments from that article for a chuckle for a chuckle. The message is clear: DON’T MESS WITH PORTLAND’S BAGELS. Portlanders will cut a biche over a bad, or even a mediocre bagel. It’s a BAGEL WAR.

So when a great bagel does appear on our fair streets of Bridgetown, people get a whole bunch of excited. Enter Bridgetown Bagel Company. Created by owner/baker Jonathan Park, an alum from the much loved, now sadly gone Kettleman Bagels, Bridgetown does the bagel right.

I won’t make claims this is THE BEST bagel in Portland (I’m not up for that knife fight). For I’ve learned, them there’s fightin’ words among Portland’s bagel cabal (that’s a joke, people). However, if you are looking for a very quality, fresh bagel of the East Coast style made they way they should – yes they are boiled, yes they use malt, yes, they are golden on the outside and dense and chewy within, yes, they aren’t super sized like some Godzilla bastard bagel – then Bridgetown Bagels is for you.

Bridgetown Bagels 3

Along with the usual cream cheese spreads, Bridgetown bagel offers the classic bagel and lox combo (with tomato, sliced red onions, and capers if you wish), breakfast and other bagel sandwiches.

I do want to give one big caveat about Bridgetown Bagels. And it’s no dis on them. Bridgetown, like most food carts is a small (read TINY) operation run by one person. He’s the one up at 2 in the morning making and proofing dough, cooking them just the right way, preparing and serving and cleaning up. And because Portlanders are such Bagel Hoarders, it’s hard to gauge from day to day how many crowds will show up and when and if they will buy the cart out on the spot. If you really really have your heart set on a bagel from Bridgetown, as we recommend here at Food Carts Portland for any cart visit, CALL AHEAD. Although they are consistent with their hours, Bridgetown can’t snap their fingers and make new bagels in 15 minutes if they have a rush and run out, and I bet you they’d rather close down than serve a crappy frozen and defrosted bagel. And so, when Bridgetown runs out, they run out for the day.  They are often sold out by noon, especially on weekends.

Still, as the old saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder. So, get out your cell phone, call ahead, get there early and enjoy a Bridgetown Bagel before a bonkers bagel band of Portlanders beats you to it.

bridgetown2

Sample Menu:

  • Bagels: Plain, Sesame, Poppy, Garlic, Onion, Salt, Everything. Each – $1,   ½ Dozen- $5.50    Baker’s Dozen- $10
  • Spreads: Cream Cheese (Plain, Scallion, Smoked Salmon) – $1,  Tofutti, Hummus, $1,  Butter, $0.50
  • Cheeses: Cheddar, Provolone, Swiss, Mozzarella – $1,
  • Veggies: Lettuce, Red Onions, Black Olives, Pickles, Capers- $0.25, Tomatoes – $0.50, Avocados: -$0.75
  • Meats - Ham, Sausage, Bacon, Salami, Pepperoni –  $1 Lox: $6, Whitefish: $4
  • Breakfast Sandwich –  Egg & Cheese Bagel: $3, add meat: $1
  • 3 Little Pigs Sandwich (Ham, Sausage, Bacon, Cheese, Egg) – $5
  • The Bridgetown Sandwich (Ham, salami, pepperoni, mozzarella, provolone, black olives, pickles, tomato): $7
  • Pizza Bagel: 1 Topping: $5  add topping – $0.50/each

Website: Bridgetown Bagel

Phone: (503) 268-2522
Facebook: Bridgetown Bagel

Chefinos

Lizzy Caston

Chefinos

Location: NE 26th and Alberta
Hours: Tues-Sat, 11:00 am -7 pm

The Story: On a street with at least four Taquerias, in a neighborhood with just as many taco trucks and carts, we bring you yet another traditional Mexican food street vendor to the Alberta Street mix.  Chefinos is a bright red cart with homey touches such as potted plants and a covered area with benches and a tables for eating out of the rain. Over the years, several food carts have come and gone on this tire shop’s parking lot: I can recall a baked potato cart, a couple of different taco trucks, and I think at one point there was a juice truck. It’s hard to keep track.

No matter the reasons the other carts have come and gone, Chefinos is making a go of it, serving more than just tacos and burritos. Originating from the Mexican state of Oaxaca, owner Maria (last name not given) offers regional Oaxacan fare as well as burritos and tacos. Dust off your Spanish and look for items usually found in Mexican street markets such as  Tamales de mole oaxaqueno an hoja de platano (Tamales with mole sauce Oxacan style wrapped in banana leaves) and when in season, Elote Asado (Corn on the cob with mayonnaise, spices,  shaved Queso Fresca cheese, and lime).

Chefino also has Molotes –  described by this Oaxacan food and culture website as:

 …a very special “holiday street food”, found in Oaxaca during Guelaguetza, Easter, and Christmas times. It is made with a disk of fresh masa then filled with a Chorizo and Potato filling, fried, then topped with Black Bean Puree, Queso Fresco and garnished with sliced radishes.

On one of my visits, I tried the Tlayuda – a 14″ toasted tortilla with refried beans, shredded chicken, lettuce, red chopped radish, Oaxaca cheese (like a string cheese), and avocado. In some distant way you can see this dish might be a traditional precursor to a Taco Hell Tostado, or heck you might even call Tlayuda the original Nachos. Although, obviously resembling nothing like the neon orange cheese and salt-lick tortillas found in convenience stores across the great U.S. of A.

Chefinos `2

Hours here are spotty, and there’s no website, phone or even printed menu to take home. It’s what I call a “worth the hunt” kind of a food cart. One of the reasons we love food carts is the sense of adventure and discovery and the hunt. Sure, there’s carts you can rely on over and over – order online and pick up when ready even. Then there’s carts like this one – traditional to a capital Taco. Yes they use lard, and no they don’t take credit cards – it’s cash only, por favor.

Chefinos – keeping it real. One Tlayuda, Taco and Tamales de mole oaxaqueno an hoja de platano at a time.

Sample Menu:

  • Burritos (choice of meats from asada, chorizo, chicken, beans, among others) – $4.50 – $5.50
  • Tamales – $4.50
  • Tlayuda – $10.00
  • Elote – $2.50
  • Tostada – $3.00

Phone: None

Tacos Pa’ella

Lizzy Caston
photo by Adam Wickham www.humanradio.org

photo by Adam Wickham www.humanradio.org

Location: NE 15th and Alberta, East of 15th
Hours: Daily 10:00 am – 10:00 pm

The Story: “Tortillas Hechas a Mano”. Handmade Tortillas. So simple, but so much better than even the day-old store bought kinds. It’s like the difference between eating week old Wonderbread from the outlet shop, and a freshly made Baguette from a quality artisan baker. NO COMPARISON. “Tortillas Hechas a Mano” is a sign that a taco truck or cart might be a cut above the norm. Quite literally, a sign. Usually hand scribbled and stuck to a taco cart, it’s what taco hounds often look for when assessing the quality and how autentica an establishment might be.

Tacos Pa’ella is an honorable, authentic taco truck with a little sign on the side that says in English and Spanish, “Handmade Tortillas”. But, this basic yet colorful cart also provides a very deep commitment to what I like to call THE ART OF THE TACO. It’s a simple cuisine, but the simplicity is the art: Handmade food, quality, made fresh.

photo by Adam Wickham www.humanradio.org

photo by Adam Wickham www.humanradio.org

Specializing in foods from the Jalisco region of Mexico, an area legendary for it’s outstanding chefs, Tacos Pa’ella’s owner takes his craft seriously. How seriously? The cart’s tortillas aren’t just handmade, they are made using a wooden press without lard or oil. This isn’t just traditional, it’s mucho traditional.

I’m a fiend for good chile rellanos – an Anaheim or similar pepper, stuffed with ingredients such as mild white cheese, dipped in a whipped egg batter, pan fried, then sometimes doused with a flash saute tomato sauce. Served with rice, beans, and tortillas on the side, it’s just one of those “food of the gods” foods for me, sadly it’s often very hard to find in Portland. Tacos Pa’ella however, makes a terrific version – can stand up to any fancy Mexican restaurants anywhere.

photo from Cartlandia www.cartandia/tacospaella.com

photo from Cartlandia
www.cartandia/tacospaella.com

Other items at Tacos Pa’ella are similarly deceiving. Sure, the menu might be a mirror of what you can find at most taco trucks and carts, but it’s the quality of ingredients, careful preparation, and overall care that matters. Tacos Pa’ella dishes up all three with an additional serving of friendliness.

 

Sample Menu:

Meat/Veg options: asada, pastor, tripa, carnitas,  chorizo, pollo, or lingua

  • Tacos – $1.25
  • Burritos – $4.25
  • Tortas – Mexican sandwich – $4.99
  • Enchiladas – $6.95
  • Asada Plate – $7.99
  • Chile Rellenos Milanesas – $6.25

Phone: 503 729 9614

Vivi’s Yummy Rolls

dieselboi

IMG_8055Location: NE 52nd and Sandy, Rose City Food Park
Hours: Mon-Sat, 11am-8pm; Sun, 11am-4pm

The Story:

Orange is one of those colors that catch your eye. When was the last time you didn’t turn your head at the sight of an orange car? At Vivi’s Yummy Rolls, a Vietnamese vendor, a friend luckily suggested the orange paint job and it really draws one to the cart.

Vivi’s is the work of Christina and Vinh, who are originally from Vietnam but have lived here in Portland for many years. Having worked in the restaurant industry for many years, Christina had a love for food and wanted to give it a try. Since opening a restaurant is usually cost prohibitive, the cart was born. Both Christina and Vinh are the cooks behind the scenes. When I asked who the head chef was, they pointed at each other and laughed. Christina has a goal to not only present Vietnamese cuisine like banh mi or noodle soup or salad rolls, but also to highlight cuisines and street food from different regions of Vietnam. Most recently, they had Bun Bo Hue, a spicy beef noodle soup from Vinh’s home town.

Roasted Pork Banh Mi

Roasted Pork Banh Mi

In Vietnam, they have a tradition to make your own rolls right at the table. A hot grill for marinated meats and all the fixin’s so you do it yourself. Christina wanted to make it simpler for her eaters, so they have the Nem (Pork) and lemon grass beef rolls made fresh in the cart. An item you may not find at other vendors in town. The grilled pork with noodles, lettuce and fresh herbs comes warm with a light peanut sauce. Each bite brought through the salty pork with the cool wet of the lettuce and bitter of the greens. Mouthwatering. The grilled pork banh mi was exactly what I expected. Crunchy flaky bun with pork, sliced carrots, jalapeno peppers and cilantro. So good, I’ll remember this sandwich in my dreams.

While I was eating, Christina joined me and brought out some of the fresh herbs and greens they use. So kind,  generous and friendly. I’m really looking forward to watching their Facebook page to keep up to date on regional specials. If you’re looking for something new and fresh, drop on by Vivi’s and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Nem Roll  - $4
  • Lemon Grass beef rolls – $4
  • Salad Rols – $4
  • Chicken Baguette – $4.50
  • Grilled Pork Baguette – $4.50
  • Vegetarian Baguette – $4.50
  • Grilled Pork with Rice – $6.50
  • Sauteed Shrimp with Rice – $7
  • Chicken Noodle Soup – $6
  • Tofu Vegetable Noodle Sopu – $6

Phone: 503 810 7051
Facebook: Vivi’s Yummy Rolls

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