Monk’s

dieselboi
cheesesteak food cart portland

Monk’s

Location: SE 43rd and Belmont at Good Food Here
Hours: Mon, 11:30-8pm; Wednesday-Sunday, 11:30-8pm

The Story: We all know about the infamous Philly Cheesesteak. There are documentaries about the sandwich and some have tattoos of their favorites. Crazy right? Well, beyond Philly, the east coast has other amazing treats and Monk’s food cart focuses on the sandwiches out of Delaware.

Andrew Heckcrote hails from the tiny state that is also home to everyone’s favorite vice president. Upon first glance of the menu, I also believed it was “just another cheesesteak cart,” but after chatting with Andrew, I was corrected. Delaware has it’s own take on over the top beef or Italian sandwiches. It’s like seeing all the different apples at the market. Each regional sandwich is unique. While I could have opted for a cheesesteak with Wiz, I needed something with some veggies, albeit – pickled peppers. They are still veggies right? The Italian Hoagie comes with ham, salami, capicola, provolone and pickled peppers. Andrew even poured on a bit of the pickle juice for good measure. Being a hoagie, the toasted bun scrunches down so you can shove the sandwich into your mouth-hole for a satisfying first, second and last bite. Pickle juice and oil drip down your wrists, the price to pay for such a treat. My only wish was for a cold bottle of lager. A great sandwich.

cheesesteak food cart portland

Italian Hoagie from Monk’s

The menu at Monk’s offers up the Delaware version of the cheesesteak, a roast pork Italian sandwich, a pressed Cubano and for the vegetarians, a “Portland Steak” with kale, onion, mushroom and swiss. Monk’s is tucked in the back of Good Food Here in SE Porltand which now has an on site beer perveyor – Scout. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Cheesesteak – $8
  • Steak Italian – broccoli rabe, sharp provolone – $9
  • Portland Steak – $9.50
  • Roast Pork Italian – pork, broccoli rabe, sharp provolone – $8.50
  • Italian Hoagie – $8

Facebook: Monk’s

Brazilian House

dieselboi
brazilian food cart portland

Brazilian House

Location: SE 43rd and Belmont, Good Food Here
Hours: Weekdays and weekends, lunch

The Story: I was just telling someone the other day that we really don’t have much cuisine out of South America represented in the street food scene and then, Boom!, I discover Brazilian House at Good Food Here. Woo hoo!

Brazilian House is one of the newer carts on the lot and seems to already have a following. At least threw different groups were sharing a plate from the vendor. Menu items include Moqueca, Tropeiro and Feijoada. Moqueca is a stew made with red pepper, green pepper, onions, tomato, palm oil and coconut milk. Traditionally served with fish, at the cart you can get it with fish, shrimp or chicken. I was sold on that knowing I could return for the other dishes, but the owner convinced us to get her most famous dish – Feijoada, a black bean, bacon, beef and sausage stew served with rice and covered with thinly sliced collard greens. What a dish. The greens were fresh and bright and melded perfectly with the salty and meaty stew. An excellent and hearty dish for the coming winter months.

brazilian food cart portland

Feijoada

Brazilian House is one of the only vendors in town doing Brazilian cuisine. We didn’t have room for dessert, but others had picked up the Pudim, a sweet condensed milk flan which looked simply divine. Find Brazilian House at the Good Food Here pod on SE 43rd and Belmont and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Coxinha – chicken balls shaped into drumsticks, battered and fried – $4.50
  • Moqueca – stew served with rice and tomato – $8
  • Tropeiro – beans, bacon, beef, sausage, eggs, green onion, garlic, served with rice and collard greens – $8
  • Feijoada – black beans, bacon, beef, sausage, green onions and served with rice and collard greens – $8

Phone: (503) 360-7688

A Cajun Life

dieselboi
cajun food cart portland

A Cajun Life

Location: SE 43rd and Belmont – Good Food Here
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, lunch and dinner

The Story:

[A Cajun Life Food Cart moved to SE Portland’s Good Food Here in November 2014]

I grew up in deep SE Portland. We actually lived in unincorporated east Multnomah county, a mysterious rural land between Portland and Gresham. I raised pigs that usually went to “pig camp” while I was at summer camp. Food options in the area consisted of jojo’s at the local market or Subway or Dairy Queen. What I would give to have have been able to eat at A Cajun Life while a kid. It would have been childhood favorite.

A Cajun Life is the work of Chris Fontenot and his wife Hillary. Chris, a Louisiana native who ended up moving around the nation a bit before landing in Damascus, discovered the one thing he truly missed about home was the food. A common theme heard when talking with transplants to our fine town. Luckily for us, they chased this dream down and opened the cart named Roux down off HWY 212 and SE 202nd right in the heart of Damascus. It wasn’t easy. Damascus is a new city with little or no regulations regarding mobile vendors, so Clackamas County became the final arbiter. They too are new to mobile vending, so in the end, everyone has been on a learning curve trying to support this small business, get them open and keep them open.

Cajun food cart portland

Bayou Boogie and Crawfish étouffée

A Cajun Life’s menu features all the dishes I have fell in love with during my numerous trips to New Orleans. While everything on the menu looked simply amazing, I asked Chris for his specialty and he put together a combo of his Bayou Boogie and crawfish étouffée. Normally, this quantity of food would give me pause, but after that first bite of hot sausage and rice with a bit of chicken, I couldn’t put the fork down. The hot of the sausage was so different than what I’ve had, I couldn’t get enough. I quickly realized I had picked out most of the sausage and left everything else there. I felt like a kid separating items on the plate. The difference here was that the rest of the dish was amazing even though I had already ate the sausage. The crawfish étouffée, crawfish tails smothered in sauce, was equally flavorful and a treat. I asked Chris about a crawfish boil and he stated it may end up on the menu in the future. Mmmm, crawfish!

A Cajun Life, located in Damascus, may be a bit far for many of our readers here, but it is on the way to and from Mt. Hood and elsewhere east. Take a different route next time you’re out for a hike and drop on by. Their hours are weekend focused open on Friday at the cart and Saturday at the Gresham Farmers Market. If you’re a Timbers fan, you can check them out at Saturday, September 29th’s match against DC United. I’m happy to see mobile vendors succeeding beyond Portland but close enough to visit. Drop on by if you’re in the area and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Authentic Cajun Gumbo: chicken, sausage, Tasso served with potatoes in roux based sauce over rice – $8
  • Crawfish étouffée: crawfish tails smothered in sauce served over rice – $8
  • Bayou Boogie: chicken, sausage and Tasso gravy served over rice – $8
  • Crawfish Pistolettes: French bread stuffed with crawfish cheese sauce – $3.50 each

Website: ACajunLife.com
Facebook: A Cajun Life

Fishbox

Lizzy Caston

fish taco food truckLocation: SE 43rd and Belmont, Good Food Here
Hours:
Tues-Sun, 12 – 8pm

The Story: A friend and I were lamenting the lack of great seafood restaurants in Portland. No, sushi doesn’t count. Yes, we have Granddad places of varying quality such as Jake’s or Dan & Louis Oyster Bar, Fish n’ Chip shops, and a couple of young gastronomic upstarts (the fancy fish place in Fox Tower downtown for example). And yes, you can get great seafood in markets, a few other carts, and it’s always available on most restaurant menus. But, unlike other port cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, Boston or New Orleans, Portland dining isn’t just very seafood focused. Perplexing.

When Dustin and Angie, the owners of the very new Fishbox cart started daydreaming, FISH is what they came up with, a plan that’s been hatching in Dustin’s head since at least 2003. “I was up on the Columbia River, and it was salmon season, and people were up at Mt. Hood fly fishing for trout, and I thought, man, we have all this seafood around and near Portland, we need a really great fish cart,” Dustin told me in an interview one sunny spring day. He comes from formal culinary school training, and years and years working in Portland’s restaurant industry. Dustin was burned out working for crazy restaurant owners and living the often hard livin’, hard partyin’ restaurant lifestyle. The man knows his way around a kitchen for sure though, and knows how to handle fish dishes. From the food I sampled, he’s a hell of a great cook.

Dustin and his partner Angie took their time opening and have put a lot of thought into the menu and kitchen of this simple white van. It’s a great lesson for other wanna be cart owners. “I wanted to build out my kitchen and truck from scratch so that I have it and the equipment EXACTLY the way I need it. I didn’t inherit bad equipment or a clunky layout, which will save me money and time in the long run, especially when I get ready to expand” Dustin explained. Dustin was also very picky about getting a van, rather than a trailer type cart to offer more mobile flexibility and because a van is easier to move for catering and other special events. Dustin continued, “it was more expensive upfront than a cart and the build out took longer, but I think it will be worth it.”

fish taco food truckBut how about that fish? It’s not purely focused on wild seafood or local seafood, but it’s super fresh, very high quality and prepared with a light touch. The day I visited, the menu featured items such as a very chunky, very creamy clam chowder as good as anything you’d find at the coast, a wild salmon satay with Asian style pesto served with rice, a textbook Caesar Salad (with option Ahi tuna or wild salmon), an Ahi Tuna melt sandwich, a dark roux non-seafood gumbo, and Wild Salmon or Ahi Tuna seared tacos. “It’s funny because before I opened I was always telling people, I’m NOT going to be a taco truck,” Dustin laughed, “but tacos have turned out to be my biggest seller and most popular item.”

fish taco food truckThere’s a reason why. These aren’t your regular petite fistful Mexican tacos in corn tortillas, but large gourmet tacos in soft big flour wraps. Bursting with perfectly cooked and seasoned seafood, and a generous amount of lightly dressed slaw, three to an order is worth the $9. I was plenty full after just two.

Food is always the best part about visiting Portland’s intense food cart scene, and the Fishbox keeps its side of the bargain up quite nicely on that end. But the stories behind the carts really make me smile. Everyone is unique, and has a terrific story to tell. We think it’s the people that contribute as much to our vibrant cart community as much as the food does. The Fishbox is yet another wonderful, friendly, and tasty addition to our always cool food cart scene.

Sample Menu (contact vendor for current menu and pricing):

  • Seared Ahi Tuna or Wild Salmon Tacos – $9
  • New England Style Clam Chowder – small $4, large $6
  • Veggie Fried Rice Bowl – $5. With tuna or salmon, $9
  • Wild Salmon Satay with Asian pesto and veggie fried rice – $9

Hours: Tues-Sun, 12 – 8pm
Phone:
503-348-5244

Sushi PDX

aaron_jd
Sushi PDX

Sushi PDX

Location: SE 43rd and Belmont
Hours: Tue-Sun, 12pm to 3pm; 5pm to 8pm

The Story:

Sushi has gained greater acceptance in American culture over the years. There are now countless variations of this delicacy, using multiple meats, fish, vegetables, and sauces. The best part: sushi is an ideal street food. People likely use chopsticks, but it is OK to pick the sushi up and eat it with your hands.

Toshi, a sushi chef for over 20 years, opened Sushi PDX about eight months ago. Each piece of sushi and bowl of udon soup exiting his cart showcases the skills he acquired over the years. I visited Japan on a summer study abroad nine years ago, so Toshi and I briefly talked about our experiences there. He’s originally from Japan, but has only been back twice in the last quarter-century.

Sushi PDX

Sushi PDX

The DST Roll is one of the top-selling items. No, probably not what you’re thinking, either. It’s shorthand for double ST, or spicy tuna and shrimp tempura. Crab salad is also added inside the roll. I salivated imagining the crunchy tempura, the mild spicy tuna kick, and the creamy crab salad. The sushi is rolled perfectly, with a generous helping of seafood in the center. The tempura is crispy, contrasting with the other ingredients and the fresh fish is comforting and satisfying. The pickled ginger and wasabi, both served on the side, each add that extra zing to the experience.

There are some vegetarian items on the menu as well. If you’re not a big sushi lover, Toshi offers five different udon noodle soups at dinner time, perfect on a cold, rainy evening. Oh, and Sushi PDX now delivers, using Pegasus Delivery to get food to your home or office (hand rolls not included, likely because it loses its freshness en route to its destination). Head over to Sushi PDX and try Toshi’s food. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya!

Sample Menu:

Various sushi rolls ($3 to $8.50); includes:

  • Vegetable Roll – $4.50
  • Spicy Tuna Roll – $5.50 (add 50 cents for avocado)
  • DST Roll – $6
  • Crunchy Roll – $6.50
  • Soft Shell Crab Roll – $8.50

Various hand rolls – $3.25 each, two for $6, three for $8.50

  • Choices include spicy tuna, California, salmon skin, vegetable, and spicy scallop

Udon Soup (dinner only)

  • Kake (plain) – $5
  • Sansai – $6
  • Niku (with Pork or Chicken) – $6
  • Tempura – $6.50 (two pieces tempura); $7.25 (three pieces)
  • Curry (with pork or chicken) – $7

Miso soup – $1.50

Hours: Tue-Sun, 12pm to 3pm; 5pm to 8pm
Website: SushiPDX.com
Twitter: @SushiPDX
Facebook: Sushi PDX

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