Luang Prabang

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Laotian food cart

Luang Prabang

Location: SE 13th and Lexington in Sellwood
Hours: Monday-Friday, 11am-7pm; Saturday, 11-8, Sunday, noon-5:30

The Story: Laotian cuisine is foreign to me. I’ve enjoyed Thai, Cambodian, Malaysian, Singaporean and Vietnamese, yet Laotian hasn’t been on the radar. So, when I read a review of Luang Prabang, a food cart on Sellwood’s antique row, I made a beeline to the cart.

Laos is one of those countries who’s cuisine has jumped borders. Matthew Korfhage of the Willamette Week nailed it in their article about the cart. Dishes we know as standard fare at Thai restaurants originated in Laos. In perusing the menu at the bright yellow cart, I recognized dishes that I’ve seen on menus throughout town like Tam Tam Lao, the papaya salad I enjoy. So, if I’ve actually tried some of these dishes, albeit prepared from a different culture’s perspective, how does one choose? Let the owners tell you what they recommend.

Laotian food cart

Larb fro Luang Prabang

After more than a few tasty recommendations from the menu on the side of the cart along with a few from the book of “expanded menu,” I landed on the Larb salad. My lunch mate picked up the Cozy Noodle which is “for feeling good tummy day!” The salad, prepared with beef was insane. A large plate of mixed beef, scallions, mint, cilantro and chopped green onions with a few spicy red and yellow peppers thrown in layered over lettuce leaves. When asked for spice level, I chose medium. Note to self. Lao medium is like Thai hot. I dove in, scooping the salad with a bit of sticky rice onto a lettuce leaf and chowing down. The herbs, especially the cilantro came through exquisitely. The spice was there, melt my face spice, yet flavorful. It didn’t diminish the overall enjoyment of the meal. My buddy’s Cozy Noodle soup was also a treat with thick noodles and one of those broths you know is immediately boosting your immune system.

Luang Prabang is a great addition to the food cart scene here. I just wish it were in my neighborhood. If you visit, chat up the chefs and ask them what they recommend and then return for more. Sellwood is a great place to spend a day exploring and the lot offers covered seating should you need to get out of the weather. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu (just a small sample)

  • Lucky Chicken – Mook Kai – chicken on coconut milk mixed with smushed to a pulp veggies wrapped on banana leaves to steam – $9.00
  • Dream Salmon – Mook pha – same as lucky chicken but with salmon – $9.50
  • Larb – $9
  • Xin Beef – Xin savane – caramelized marinated beef jerky with side of pickled carrots – $9
  • Little Town – Lao salad – lettuce, cucumber, hard egg, carrots, cilantro, scallion, jicama, slow cooked chicken, grilled onion and peanut salsa – $8
  • Cozy Noodle – Seenht piark – thick noodles cooked with ginger, green onion, cilanntro, dried fried onion, dried garlic, chicken – $7.50

Russian Horse

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Russian Horse Portland

Russian Horse Portland

Location: SE 13th and Lexington in Sellwood
Hours: Wed, 11-3, Thurs-Sat, 11-6, Sun, 12-3

The Story: When asked what we’re missing in the Portland street food scene, I realize we don’t have a good presence of eastern European or Russian cuisine. That has changed in the last year with a couple of vendors opening and now the Sellwood district has the Russian Horse food cart to sate their pierogie needs.

Russian Horse opened early this spring offering a menu inspired by the simple peasant foods of Russia, Ukraine, and Poland. Carmel and John Theesfeld, came to Portland chasing a dream of opening a food cart. After some discussion on cuisine, they  came up with the idea of pierogies, a traditional staple of that region. John’s family is the inspiration behind the pierogi, so they obtained the recipe and a cart and launched. Initially, it was just pierogies and borscht, but the menu quickly expanded to salads and dessert. 

Pierogies from Russian Horse

Pierogies from Russian Horse

Pierogies are a type of dumplings made of unleavened dough. First boiled, then baked or fried usually in butter with onions. Traditionally, they are stuffed with potato filling, sauerkraut, ground meat, cheese, or fruit. At Russian Horse, they have traditional pirogies with a potato filling served with caramelized sautéed onions or you can enjoy their tater tot or garlic mash pierogie. Such ingenuity from the food carts. I love it. Pierogies are a simple wholesome dish to enjoy with a bit of sour cream and pickle. Nothing spicy or eccentric, just good filling food. I enjoy that. I reminds me of an earlier part of my life when I was able to enjoy home cooking from the region. 

Russian Horse is now open in the Sellwood district Tuesday-Sunday for lunch and Wednesday through Saturday into the dinner hour. They offer more than pierogies, so check out their menu and enjoy. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu: (see website for updated menu and prices)

  • Vinegret: mix of beets, potatoes, carrots, onions, pickles and kraut in a sunflower oil dressing – $4.50
  • Borscht: beet and cabbage soup – sm, $2.50; lg, $3.50
  • Chicken Wings Kiev – 4 chicken wing drumsticks deep fried and tossed in Kiev butter sauce – $7.50
  • Pierogies – 3 for $5
  • Dark Chocolate Pierogies – 3 for $5

Website: RussianHorse.com
Facebook: Russian Horse

Ash Wood Fired Pizza

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Ash Wood Fired Pizza

Ash Wood Fired Pizza

Location: SE 13th and Lexington in Sellwood
Hours: Tues, 11:30-3pm; Wed-Sat, 11:30-3 and 5-8pm; Sun, 11:30-3

The Story: A few years ago, a food truck the size of a shipping container debuted with a wood fired pizza oven. Huge! Yet, you don’t have to go big to create a quality product. Ash Wood Fired Pizza has a wood fired pizza oven inside their diminutive food truck and still have room for two people to craft the magic.

Ash Wood Fired Pizza opened last month in the Sellwood district at one of Portland’s oldest east side food cart pods. The owners, Ted and Alexandra Scharpnick traveled as far as B.C. to pick up the truck already outfitted with the yellow tiled wood fired pizza oven. The truck is eye catching-  smaller than the behemoths that roam the streets of many cities with a flat black finish and their welcoming logo. I see a lot of trucks and Ash Wood Fired is one of the best. Ted let me in on how they make their dough. Using grapes, water and flour, he created a starter. The yeast is all wild and the starter continues to grow to create a unique and changing flavor in the dough. Pretty cool. I’ve heard of using vodka in pasta, but not grapes in dough.

Margherita from Ash Wood Fired Pizza

Margherita from Ash Wood Fired Pizza

Ash Wood Fired has a great list of pizza options and offers up specials daily. On my visit, the ubiquitous and always amazing Margherita topped the menu. Other options included mushroom and garlic with pesto and maitake mushrooms or mustard greens and zucchini with a house made marinara. I’m a sucker for the Margherita, a clean, uncomplicated pizza with fresh lively flavors and at this time of the year, fresh basil. A single pizza is great for one person, so get two and share with a friend. I hadn’t planned on finishing it, but suddenly and surprisingly, I was devouring the fourth slice. Excellent crust.

The pod in Sellwood has five different vendors with Ash Wood Fired right on the corner. They have covered seating and a welcoming atmosphere. If you’re down on antique row, drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu: menu changes daily, so check their Facebook page

  • Margherita – house made marinara, fresh mozzarella and basil – $8
  • Peppers and Tomatoes – cilantro pesto, padron peppers, sungold tomatoes, ovoline Mozzarella
  • Asparagus and Fennel – house made marinara, Viridian Farms asparagus, shaved fennel, scallions, Ovoline Mozzarella

Phone: 503 941 0196
Website: Ashwoodfired.com
Facebook: Ash Wood Fired Pizza

Star Attraction

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Star Attraction

Star Attraction

Location: SE 13th and Lexington in Sellwood
Hours: Wed-Fri, 8am-3pm; Sat/Sun, 8am-2pm

The Story: Portland! We know you love breakfast and brunch. Long lines and crowds prove it. Now’s the time to check out Star Attraction, a breakfast food cart down in the antique wonderland of Sellwood.

I enjoy a good breakfast, not the lines. I would rather hit up the greasy spoon or truckstop than the latest hot spot to avoid a line. When I discovered Star Attraction the other day, no line. Star Attraction, located at the long time lot at SE 13th and Lexington, is tucked into the back of the lot, but offers covered seating away from the traffic. Focusing on simple, yet robust breakfast fare, the menu is short an sweet with only a few items. Focus on what you do well and master it is what I always say and they have done it. Breakfast burritos, breakfast gnocchi, french toast and what I enjoyed, a stunning breakfast gordita.

Breakfast Gordita from Star Attraction

Breakfast Gordita from Star Attraction

A crisp corn cake filled with chorizo, cheese and potatoes and then topped with two eggs over easy. Runny eggs, chorizo, seasoned grilled potatoes and mouth burning pico de gallo sated me that morning and throughout the day. I crushed it and enjoyed every bit, even grabbing a spoon to scoop up the itty bits of crumbs left over. Potatoes, not usually a fave of mine, were grilled with just the right seasoning – reminded me of tater tots. Best Breakfast of the year so far.

Star Attraction does it right and from what I saw in the few minutes I was there, they have garnered a following from the hood. Next time you’re looking for that perfect Tiffany lamp and get a breakfast craving, drop on by Sellwood and let Star Attraction know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Breakfast Gnocchi – potato dumplings made from scratch sauteed in brown butter with herbs, bacon, tomatoes and mushrooms and topped with two eggs over easy – $7
  • Breakfast Gordita – $6
  • French Toast – two thick pieces of French toast topped with a peanut butter-cream cheese spread, fresh banana, maple chocolate syrup with bacon or sausage on the side – $6
  • Breakfast Burrito – $6

Facebook: Star Attraction

Wrapmaster Lisa

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Wrapmaster Lisa

Wrapmaster Lisa

Location: SE 13th and Lexington
Hours: Tu-Fri, 11:00-3:30, Saturday, 12-4, closed Sunday and Monday

The Story:

The cart may look familiar as with what is offered. The Wrapture cart has been renamed, repainted and has a new owner. I give you Wrapmaster Lisa.

Lisa took over the cart in January and opened in February with a smaller menu, but still the same well made wraps. Lisa brings her own flavor though to the menu by adding savory wraps and grilled cheese sandwiches and daily soups. Hailing from Maryland, she brings her specialty Maryland Crab as one of the soups she’ll offer. Sounds tasty!

Tuna Med from Wrapmaster Lisa

Tuna Med from Wrapmaster Lisa

I had visited the original Wrapture and the menu was daunting with so many options to choose from. At Wrapmaster Lisa, she trimmed it down with only a few wraps that she can focus on like the Tuna Med which is tuna lightly tossed with mayo and wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla with spring greens, artichokes, roasted red peppers and Roma tomatoes. A great mix of flavors, especially the addition of the artichokes and roasted red peppers. Love that combination. All wraps are served with tortilla chips.

Wrapmaster Lisa is now open for lunch weekdays at the Q-19 food pod in NW Portland. You can grab your wrap and head inside the bar for a beer or just to catch the latest game. Drop on by and let Lisa know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Spicy Chicken Wrap: marinated chicken, blue cheese crumbles over baby spinach, topped with spicy raspberry mustard – $6
  • Caesar Wrap: chopped romaine, freshly grated Parmesan, croutons, gently mixed with caesar dressing – $6
  • Tuna Med – $6
  • Classic Gooey: cheddar on sourdough and grilled – $6
  • Granny’s Grilled Cheese: Brie, thinly sliced granny smith apples and drizzled w/ honey on sourdough – $6
  • Hot Mess: marinated chicken, blue cheese and spinach grilled on sourdough – $6

Hours: M-F, 11-2
Facebook: Wrapmaster Lisa

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