The Lunch Box

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lunch box food cart portland

The Lunch Box

Location: NW 19th and Quimby – Q19
Hours: lunch, weekdays

The Story: There are food trucks and food trailers. Large and small. There are vendors on bikes. But, The Lunch Box is probably the cutest, coziest little food cart I’ve seen in awhile. Creating wraps both hot and cold, the cart sated my lunchtime needs for a cool and crisp Friday.

Wraps for me are either awesome of not. I’m not sure what it is, yet I tend to shy away from them. Maybe because every corporate box lunch ever made had a poorly made wrap in it – all cold and soggy. Yet, I know wraps can be done well and Portland’s food carts have proved that. At The Lunch Box, they offer up both cold and hot pressed wraps with a variety of ingredients. Being a cool fall day, I chose the Tuna Melt hot pressed wrap. A layer of cheese on the tortilla, topped with fresh tuna salad and tomato, the wrap is then pressed similar to a panini until hot with all that tasty cheese melted throughout. Inside Quimby’s, the onsite bar, everyone asked what I had. No one had seen such a glorious sandwich from a cart I guess. Being a sucker for anything with the words tuna and melt in it, I dove in and enjoyed every bite. A great mix of tuna with seasonings and mayo. The wrap was crisp and toasty. Overall, I would trade this over some of the traditional melts I’ve had in town.

lunch box food cart portland

Tuna Melt Hot Pressed Wrap from The Lunch Box

The Lunch Box is located at Q19 Food Cart Pod in NW Portland. There is outdoor seating or you can take you food inside and warm up in the bar. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

Hot Pressed Wraps:

  • Philly Steak – $8
  • Chipotle Chicken – $7
  • Tuna Melt – $7
  • Chicken Cordon Bleu – $7
  • Grilled Cheese w/bacon and tomato – $7

Cold Wraps:

  • Italian – ham, salami, basil – $7
  • Chicken Bacon Club – $7
  • Tuna – $7
  • Veggie – $7
  • Roast Beef – $7

Gastro Mania

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Gastro Mania

Gastro Mania

Location: NW 19th and Quimby
Hours: M-Sun, 11am-3pm

The Story: Looking for some grilled porchetta or a foie gras burger? Look no further than Gastro Mania, a new food truck posted up at Q19 in NW Portland.

Gastro Mania opened this past spring promoting “The Best of Mediterranean Cuisine,” yet except for the top item of a Gyro, the menu is chalk full of treats that we don’t think of as from that part of the world. Salmon Sliders, Swordfish Steak, a Porchetta sandwich and what has caught the most attention – the foie gras burger. While getting foie gras is a treat for many, I opted for the Porchetta, a monster of a sandwich with more than enough grilled pork belly and charred fat. I tend to describe porchetta as bacon wrapped pork, so use your imagination. Alex, the chef, believes he has the best porchetta in town, so I had to give it a shot. A thick layer of porchetta between a crunchy seared roll with plenty of dripping fat and butter. Crazy delicious and oh so wrong. I couldn’t put it down. Each bite, a palatable bliss. This sandwich is not for those who cut off the fat when eating steaks. You have to dive right in and clean up later. The Porchetta is served with a side greek salad with feta so you can at least claim you ate your veggies that day.

Porchetta from Gastro Mania

Porchetta from Gastro Mania

Gastro Mania is at Q19, the lot adjacent to Quimby’s where you can sit indoors and enjoy a libation while chowing down. Open daily for lunch. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Gyros – chicken or lamb – $7
  • Porchetta sandwich – $8
  • Foie Gras burger – $8
  • Salmon Sliders – $8
  • Tuna Steak served over salad – $8
  • Chicken Breast Scallopini – $8

Phone: 5036893794
Facebook: Gastro Mania

Korean BBQ Box

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Korean BBQ Box

Korean BBQ Box

Location: NW 19th and Quimby, Q19
Hours: Mon-Fri, 11-7; Sat, 11-3pm

The Story: For many years, I would visit different vendors throughout downtown for something new – bento. These vendors were grilling marinated chicken and placing it sliced over rice – truly groundbreaking for a kid from a farm. Some even added steamed vegetables. Around 2008, when the collective food cart eater began experiencing a sea-change in what was offered at the carts, I was introduced to bi bim bop from a Korean vendor. Ever since, this delightfully colorful dish has been a staple in my diet. Korean BBQ Box at Q19 does it up right.

Bi Bim Bop

Bi Bim Bop

Bi bim bop is considered the most representative of Korean cuisine. A low calorie dish, it combines numerous ingredients into the same bowl and can be done with or without meat. The word even translates to ‘mixed meal.’ With a base of rice, the dish is then topped with sauteed and seasoned vegetables, just a small bit of each, and then topped with meat and a fried egg. The idea is to add go chu jang, a Korean chili paste, and mix it all together. I chose a different route, dipping each of the savor vegetables into the paste in order to A) eat slower and B) enjoy the broad flavors. I’ll admit, the chopsticks were eventually replaced by a fork when my hand cramped. What I love about this dish is the diversity of flavors from zucchini to radish to shittake mushrooms to sprouts. Each has its own distinct flavor and when mixed with others or just simply the fried egg, it all tastes great. Such a fun and colorful meal.

Korean BBQ Box also offers Korean BBQ, noodle dishes like udon and yakisoba, stir fries and daily specials. Located at Q19, you can take your order inside Quimby’s and stay warm. Next time you’re in the mood for something different, drop on by Korean BBQ Box and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Chicken and Beef with vegetables over white rice – $7.99
  • Chicken and Pork with vegetables over rice-  $7.99
  • Chicken and Gyoza with vegetables over rice – $7.99
  • Korean Spicy Pork BBQ with vegetables over rice – $7.99
  • Bulgogi Beef BBQ with vegetables over rice – $7.99
  • Yaki Udon – stir fried vegetables and thick noodles in special sauce – $5.99
  • Yakisoba – $5.99
  • Fish Cutlet deep fried with rice and sides – $7.99
  • Bi Bim Bop – $7.99

Phone: 503 490 1662

Lebanosh

Brett Burmeister
Lebanosh

Lebanosh

Location: NW 19th and Quimby
Hours: Mon-Fri, 7am-2pm

The Story:

When the owners of Lebanosh contacted me about their new cart, I couldn’t figure out where it was. I am intimate with the Alphabet district in NW having lived up there for years, but didn’t know there was a Wilson st. Just of the 405 exit, across from Carl’s Jr is the Lebanosh cart, on NW 23rd and Wilson. [Lebanosh moved to NW 19th and Quimby in February 2014]

NW Portland has everything from boutique shopping to high end condos to venerable old Portland mansions, Portland’s largest urban park and industry. Original home to the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in 1905, the area that is now mostly industrial was a giant lake and wetlands. We’re now seeing the latest growth in street food vendors up this way. Lebanosh owners Ryan and Angela found a spot ideally located to serve the many who work in the area and open at 6am to feed them breakfast. Inspired by Angela’s family recipes, the menu is meant to be simple and fast in order to serve the patrons quickly. The day I visited, it was a constant stream of welders, businessmen and others coming to check out the food cart.

Kefta sandwich from Lebanosh

Kefta sandwich from Lebanosh

Breakfast starts out with hot nosh buns which are stuffed with egg, cheese and bacon or sausage and is served from 6am- around 10:30am. Is is then they switch to Lebanese food. Lunch options include kabobs with rice or kabobs in sandwiches. You can opt for 7-spice chicken or kefta which are made with allspice, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and more. I chose the kefta sandwich with cucumber tomato salad and hummus and pita. Kefta is similar to meatloaf. Ground beef mixed with spices and mint and onion, roll it up, skewer and grill. The sandwich had the kefta wrapped in a lightly toasted pita with tzatziki, fresh sliced tomato, onion and leaf lettuce. The first bite reminded me why I wanted this dish. A burst of flavor from the kefta mixed well with the creamy tzatziki. The fresh veggies added a brightness I love in sandwiches like this. Beyond the excellent kefta, the cucumber salad seemed so fresh, I think he made it after I ordered, but you could tell it had been marinating for a bit. The hummus had the perfect balance of citrus and garlic. Tough not to dip everything in it. A great meal. Enough for any hungry eater.

Lebanosh joins just a few other carts in the large area of industrial NW Portland. With the number of workers out there, there seems to be opportunity for carts and trucks. Open Monday-Friday at 6am, skip the fast food and drop on by.  Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Hot Nosh Buns – stuffed with egg and cheese, bacon or sausage – $4
  • Coffee/Bun combo – $5
  • Noshin’ Left Out – Lebanese 7-spice chicken or kefta kabob served with rice and one or two sides – $8/9
  • Sandwich with sides – $8/9
  • Chicken or Kefta Kabob and rice – $6/9
  • Kabob Sandwich – $6
  • Lentil soup – $4

Hours: Mon-Fri, 6am-2pm
Contact:
lebanosh@gmail.com

El Diablito Tortas

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El Diablito Tortas

El Diablito Tortas

Location: NW 19th and Quimby at Q19
Hours: Mon-Fri, 11-6pm

The Story:

Q19, the newest pod in NW Portland continues to evolve with a few carts leaving, but new ones taking their place. With the sun shining, every cart had a line the other day including the newest arrival, El Diablito Tortas.

El Diablito Tortas creates Mexican sandwiches that will make your mouth water. When I first heard of a cart offering “twisted Mexican sandwiches,” I didn’t know what to think, but then seeing the first on the menu, the Diablito with pork in chipotle sauce, refried beans, tomato, romaine, chipotle cream salsa and avocado with steak fries atop, I was sold. Erik Sandoval is the man behind these creations and wanted to introduce Portland’s eaters to something new. Other items on the menu include a grilled portabella and crimini mushroom sandwich, chicken breast in mole sauce, shredded flank steak and spiced ham with avocado. So many unique sandwiches, there is something for everyone.

La Vaca Loca from El Diablito Tortas

La Vaca Loca from El Diablito Tortas

While the chef was preparing a customers sandwich, I watched eagerly him build it from the toasted roll to the addition of the flank steak, peppers and finally wrapping it and serving it. I had originally wanted a different sandwich, but blindly just said, “I’ll get one of those.” The La Vaca Loca is grilled steak, mayo, caramelized onion, cheese, tomato, avocado, stick fries, romaine and green Diablito sauce. Cut in half and served with a grilled hot pepper, this is one twisted sandwich. Spicy and full of flavor, everything about this sandwich screams perfection. Caramelized onions ad a bit of sweetness that mixes well with the fresh vegetables and steak.

El Diablito is a great addition to Q19. I enjoyed my sandwich inside the bar on site while catching up on some sports news. I love that model. Drop on by for a Torta and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Diablito: Pork in chipotle sauce, re-fried beans, tomatoes, romaine, mayo, chipotle cream salsa and avocado and steak fries – $7.50
  • La Flaca: grilled portabella and crimini mushroom, pesto, sun dried tomato, feta, fresh mozzarella, grilled zucchini, roasted red peppers, mayo – $7.75
  • Akumal: grilled chicken breast, mole sauce, sour cream, stick fries, queso fresco, avocado – $7.50
  • Molotov: shredded flank steak, sauteed with onion, green pepper, tomato, green Diablito sauce, avocado, mayo, lettuce – $7.75
  • La Vaca Loca: grilled steak, mayo, caramelized onion, cheese, tomato, avocado, stick fries, romaine, green Diablito sauce – $7.50

Hours: Mon-Fri, 11-6pm
Phone: 503 781 0081

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