Smak Dab’s

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Burger Food Cart Portland

Smak Dab’s

Location: NE 52nd and Sandy – Rose City Food Park
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.

[Smak Dab’s moved to Rose City Food Park in June of 2014]

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

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

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

Vivi’s Yummy Rolls

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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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