Straits Kitchen

Malaysian food cart portland

Straits Kitchen

Location: SE 11th and Tacoma – Piknik Park
Hours: Tuesday, 11am-2pm; Thursday-Monday, 11am-7pm

The Story: Malaysian street food in Portland. Until this past month, when asked, I would have to tell people we don’t have the region well represented. Straits Kitchen hit the street running with a new food cart at a new pod down in Portland’s Sellwood neighborhood and we’re excited.

Straits Kitchen gets its name from the western coast of Malaysia, specifically the port cities of Malacca and Penang. The cuisine is influenced by the Baba-Nyonya, also known as Straits Chinese. Centuries ago, native Chinese arrived in the region, marrying Malay women and creating an entire new heritage of flavor and color. A blend of Malay and Chinese. Chef Angie, born and raised in Malaysia, brings traditional dishes to Portland, along with creating some fusion of her own. I’ve personally been seeking out dishes from my travels in SE Asia and found them at this cart.

malaysian food cart portland

Left – Inche Kabin Wings; Right – Roti Babi Sandwich

The menu offers a number of dishes for both meat eaters and vegetarians. Small bites include Roti Babi – shredded braised pork, soy sauce, cinnamon and star anise served on a mini baguette with chili sauce and pickled cucumbers. A tasty little sandwich with bright flavors. Perfect for sharing. The Inche Kabin, Nyonya fried chicken wings, are marvelous. Spicy marinated chicken wings fried and served with a soy-lime-jalapeno dipping sauce. If you’re wanting to try multiple flavors, go for more dishes at lower prices. Bowls inlude a spicy pickled salad with pickled vegetables, chili, spices and served with tovu, bean sprouts and more. Straits Kitchen even has Laksa Lemak, a spicy coconut curry and one of my favorite dishes.

Straits Kitchen crushed it on my first visit and I plan to return. A cart I will recommend to colleagues, not just for great dishes, but for the breadth of flavors. Open every day but Wednesday, plan a visit. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample menu (full menu on website):

  • Loh Bak – five spice pork roll – $5
  • Roti Babi – $6
  • Inche Kabin – $6
  • Acar Salad – $4 or $7
  • Laksa Lemak – $10

Facebook: Straits Kitchen
Twitter: @StraitsKitchPDX

La Cubana

cuban food cart portland

La Cubana

Location: 3405 SE 82nd, just north of Powell
Hours: Tues-Sun, 11-8

The Story: Portland is embracing everything south of the border and I don’t necessarily mean Mexican cuisine. Salvadoran, Argentinean, Brazilian and more and more, Cuban. La Cubana, a new food truck located at the food cart pod on 82nd and Powell presents us with island delights.

Mario and Vivian opened La Cubana earlier this year in a new pod featuring Mexican and Korean offerings. I’ve visited a few Cuban vendors in town, yet haven’t seen as diverse a menu as Vivan and Mario offer. Start with simple tostones, deep fried smashed green plantains with garlic and lemon with a dash of salt. Or maybe sauteed Cuban style okra – Quimbombó. The Ropa Vieja, “old clothes” in Spanish, is slow cooked shredded beef with savory bits of onion, pepper and garlic in a rich tomato sauce with salad and beans and rices on the side. So many options. So many flavors. In the end, the Cuban Sandwich landed in my hands with a side of plantain chips. A pressed baguette with Swiss cheese, ham, grilled pork, pickles and mustard. Mustard – my dessert island condiment. First bite – I marveled the yellow mustard poked through the savory pork and cheese with a brightness and tang. No mayo or ketchup on this classic. The baguette, an ideal vessel for the goods, held together with crunch. A wonderful sandwich made by wonderful people.

cuban food cart portland

Cuban Sandwich from La Cubana

La Cubana opens for lunch and dinner and also offers a wide range of drinks. Next time you’re down off 82nd and desire something new, drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Ropa Vieja – $9
  • Cuban Sandwich – $9
  • Picadillo – ground beef with potato, white rice, onion and maduros on the side – $8.50
  • Yuca con Mojo – yucca root cooked until soft, dressed with olive oil, fresh smashed garlic, lemon juice and choice of meat – $10
  • Qumbombo – Okra – $4.50
  • Tostones – $4

Phone: 503 754 4044


Back to Eden Bakery Cart at Tidbit

Bakery food cart

Back to Eden Bakery Cart

Location: SE 28th Pl and Division at Tidbit
Hours: Daily, 9am-9pm

The Story: Back to Eden Bakery knows how to feed Portland. With cases of treats and baked goods catering to vegan, gluten-free and those with food sensitivities, one doesn’t need to go far to get your sweet-tooth on. Back to Eden expanded, bringing a food cart with their delectable morsels to Tidbit on SE Division. Back to Eden opened on NE Alberta in 2009 with the goal of bringing diverse and flavorful baked goods to everyone. A full gluten-free bakery, they want to offer any customer, whether they have allergies to soy, dairy or sugar, a special treat. No one should have to forgo enjoying a raspberry bar due to a sensitivity. After much success at Alberta, the company expanded with a hand built food cart at Tidbit last spring. The cart offers many of the items available at the bakery which includes fudge, cake, cookies, macaroons, cream pies, seasonal fruit pies, cupcakes, vegan ice cream and ice cream floats. The list goes on. The entire sidewalk window of the cart is chalk full of delightful treats. A chocolate chip cookie. A veggie quiche with tomato, zucchini and basil. A chocolate hazelnut sea salt macaroon. Wow! Not normally a sweet tooth, I dove in and ate it all. bakery food cart
I’m so happy to see companies who have successfully grown a brick and mortar restaurant open food carts. It allows other neighborhoods the opportunity to try new dishes and explore new cuisines. Back to Eden did it right. Now, they just need to open an outpost in my neighborhood. The Back to Eden Cart is open daily, so drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Find their menu at

Facebook: Back to Eden Bakery
Twitter: @Back_To_Eden

The 9 Food & Drink

Indian food cart portland

The 9

Location: SE MLK and Stark, Central Eastside Food Cart Lot
Hours: Monday-Friday, 10:30am-7:30pm; Saturday, noon-5

The Story: Portland has a number of Indian food carts – Taste of India, Real Taste of India, Indian Taste, Best Taste of India, yet when someone new comes along, with a catchy new name, they make the news. The 9, which serves a mix of Indian and Southeast Asian, has been making the rounds of everyone’s top food cart, so I decided to check it out.

Indian Food Cart Portland

Biryani from The 9

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Singapore. The farthest west (or east depending on how you perceive it) from home I’ve reached. Singapore boasts an culturally diverse food scene, which includes a large population of Indians. In Little India, I discovered cuisines, flavors and aromas I hadn’t seen before. Sitting at a Hawker market (their version of street food centers,) I spotted a young man devouring a pile of rice with chicken and veggies served atop a banana leaf with his hands. Biriyani. It became a go to dish for me when wandering the city. Fast forward to July in Portland and I’ve tried some of the biriyani offered at the carts, yet none have impressed me as what The 9 offered. The owners describe the cart as a mix of Indian and Asian, which bodes well for my first visit. The chicken biryani, a bed of moist stir fried rice topped with succulent chicken and fried scallions. On the side, a sweet chicken stock influenced by Thai and Burmese flavors. While offered a fork, I old-schooled it and ate freestyle, tearing off bits of chicken between my fingers and mixing them with the rice and filling my mouth. Simply the best. The broth. What can I say about the broth? I wish I could eat that every day – an elixir of spices and herbs. This is the biryani you’ve been waiting for in Portland.

The 9 is a gem. The Oregonian put them on their top 10 list for 2015 and I can’t agree more. Matthew Korfhage of the Willamette Week, one of my new favorite food writers in the city, jumped for joy after taking his first bite. I’m so glad to see them getting the press. As Matthew stated, go to this cart and spend money. Keep them here! Drop on by next time you’re in SE Portland and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Chicken Biryani – $7 for small, $10 for large
  • Vegetable Biryani – $7 for small, $10 for large
  • Roti and Curry – 2 pieces of wheat flour pan-fried bread with house made curry and choice of chicken or tofu – $7
  • Plain Roti – $1.50

Facebook: The 9

Chicken and Guns

chicken food cart portland

Chicken and Guns

Location: SE 12th and Hawthorne at Cartopia
Hours: Wed-Sun, 11:30am-12am

The Story: Cartopia continues to excite the food cart scene of Portland. Defined as Portland’s late night food cart pod, after a remodel this past winter, it may now be one of the city’s most welcoming pods with a large tent and a new vendor. Chicken and Guns opened in June featuring their signature roasted Latin chicken.

Dustin Knox is a name one would know if you’ve been eating at the carts for more than a few years. The founder and owner of Perierra Creperie at Cartopia, Dustin has also made inroads with a couple of brick and mortar locations in the past few years. Yet, the siren song of the food cart called him back and with his parter Todd Radcliffe, they designed and built the beautiful cart that houses Chicken and Guns. This isn’t you’re friend’s grilled chicken. Todd and Dustin wanted to shoot for the stars, so partnered with Canby’s Scratch Farm for naturally raised chicken. Further, Todd designed the racks and grill to roast the chicken just right. Then, they added salad. Who doesn’t enjoy a simple fresh salad with meal? A trifecta of awesomeness.

chicken food cart portland

Latin Roasted Chicken from Chicken and Guns

Chicken and Guns focuses on Latin chicken roasted over oak and mesquite. What makes it latin chicken? Well, a mixture of seasoning and chimichurri that adds a depth of flavor complimented by wood smoke. Portion sizes can be a quarter or half a chicken. If you’re an eater, go for the half, you’ll thank me. Sides include crispy potatoes with lemon and sea salt and a Peruvian sauce or a salad of seasonally selected greens and mandolin sliced veggies. You can add a fried egg to any meal and why wouldn’t you. Succulent, sweet, juicy. Messy, exiting, a moment of clarity. Seriously, some of the best chicken I’ve enjoyed in a long time.

Chicken and Guns nails it. The cart, with an eating bar crafted from a huge chunk of oak, was put together with reclaimed materials, giving it a weathered and authentic feel. Open Wednesday to Sunday for lunch and dinner and even later, you have no reason not to visit. Drop on by next time you’re in the neighborhood and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

Latin Chicken – 1/4 – $8; 1/2 – $14  – includes choice of sides – potatoes or salad

Add local farm egg for $2

Twitter: @ChickenandGuns
Facebook: Chicken and Guns