Sam’s Saj Mediterranean Sandwiches

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mediterranean food cart portland

Sam’s Saj

Location: SW 10th and Washington
Hours: breakfast, lunch and dinner weekdays

The Story: Portland continues to attract some unique dishes from different parts of the world. Sam’s Saj, a food cart at the 10th and Washington pod focuses on a unique Mediterranean sandwich called the Khubz.

Mediterranean food cart portland

Kafta Saj from Sam’s Saj

Sam and Diala took over a former Thai cart last fall and did a total remodel. Sam wanted to offer up a handmade dish different than the other Mediterranean options in the lot. The Khubz is a sandwich, but seems like a mix of a burrito and maybe a crepe. The Saj griddle is the key to making this flatbread. Growing up, Sam remembers the circular convex griddle being heated by coals. In Portland, that wasn’t possible, so Sam had a griddle handmade in order to utilize propane. I always say, Portland’s DIY culture leads to some tasty creations. The flatbread is grilled and then topped with cheese or Zaatar or labne, a yoghurt cheese. Once cooked up, they roll it all up to enjoy. Breakfast options can include Zaatar with tomatoes, cucumbers and fresh mint or maybe Nutella, banana and toasted hazelnuts. For lunch, I picked up the kafta with seasoned lamb and beef along with lettuce, tomatoes and pickles. The flatbread is thin and flavorful, creating a great envelope for the savory kafta and fresh veggies.

Sam’s Saj opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so no matter when you arrive, Sam and Diala are there to make you a treat. I have visited twice and the second item I enjoyed came with Zaatar, a blend of herbs and spices that will blow your mind. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Zaatar – $4
  • Cheese and Zaatar with tomatoes, cucumbers and mint – $4.75
  • Labne and Zaatar with tomatoes, cucumbers, mint and green olives – $5
  • Turkey and Cheese – lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, mayo, mustard – $5
  • Kafta – $7.75
  • Lamb Shawarma – $9
  • French Fries – $3.50
  • Cauliflower Saj – crisped cauliflower, cabbage, tomatoes, onions, cumin vinaigrette – $6

Facebook: Sam’s Saj

Bing Mi!

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chinese food cart portland

Bing Mi!

Location: SW 9th and Alder
Hours: Mon-Friday, 7:30am-3pm; Saturday, 11am-4pm

The Story: While Portland has some great Chinese restaurants, Chinese cuisine has not made much inroads into the street food scene. A couple here and there, but with the proliferation of Chinese throughout the American landscape, one would think a food cart would be another foray. The owners of Bing Mi! thought just that. A food cart focusing on a unique Chinese dish.

Bing Mi! opened earlier this year with their single dish, the Jian Bing, ubiquitous street food from northern China. Similar to a crepe and using the same tools, the owners create a unique wrap which includes scrambled egg, black bean paste, chili sauce, pickled vegetables, green onion, cilantro, and a crispy fried cracker. They first spread out the crepe mix on a circular griddle and drop an egg atop which then scrambles before adding the additional goodies. The end result is crisp and crunchy with the fried cracker adding texture. You can order it mild, medium or spicy (about a Thai 3.) Truly a savory treat and just the right size for $6. The spicy and savory mix of egg and black bean paste along with the bite of pickled veggies create a great treat for a sunny walk in downtown.

Chinese food cart portlandBing Mi! is open for breakfast and lunch throughout the week and lunch on Saturdays. Located on SW 9th, just north of Alder, the cart is right in the middle of food cart heaven. If you’re looking for something fresh and new, drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Jian Bing – $6

Website: BingMiPortland.com
Twitter: @Bing_Mi

Dog Town Food Cart

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hotdog food cart portland

Dog Town Food Cart

Location: SE 28th Pl. and Division at Tidbit
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 5:30pm-9:30pm

The Story: When discussing the history of Portland’s street food scene, there is a time around 2007 or 2008 where the cuisine offered at the carts shifted. More international, more fusion, chef driven items and gourmet. In downtown, you can no longer find a simple hotdog. Reindeer sausage, yes. But not a cart focusing on a good old fashioned hotdog done well. I’m glad to find Dog Town Food Cart at Tidbit focusing on the dog.

hotdog food cart portland

The Sonoran

Dog Town starts with a handcrafted hot dog or artisanal sausage and then creates magic. They bake their own buns, make their own pickles and condiments and use only the highest quality, local ingredients. Each bite showcases the care. A hotdog can be simple with a bun, a steamed or grilled dog, ketchup and mustard. I love it. No frills. Yet, sometimes one needs to get a bit crazy and break out of the norm. Dog Town has you covered. The Rocky Balboa, a Philly Cheesesteak Dog. The Memphis, slow cooked bbq pulled pork atop an all beef dog. Farmer’s Daughter – a veggie sausage with romesco sauce, grilled leeks, shaved fennel, arugula and pickled red onions. Something for everyone. I picked up the The Sonoran, a traditional delight out of the state of Sonora in northern Mexico. Bacon wrapped all beef dog with refried beans, salsa verde, avocado cream, grilled onions, and pico de gallo served in made to order fry bread. So beautiful, I didn’t want to eat it. I wanted to preserve it for my mantle. But alas, my cravings took over and I devoured it. Crisp salty bacon, a solid dog. Spicy salsa and the bitterness of cilantro. Every bite, a treat. Made me want to get a second.

Dog Town is located at Tidbit Farm and Food in SE Portland off Division. The lot offers up covered heated seating and a beer garden. Beyond the dogs, Dog Town does offer fried chicken along with house made lemonade. Open for lunch and dinner and weekends, there isn’t a reason for you to not check them out. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Return of the Mac – Mac ‘n Cheese Dog – $5.95
  • Sonoran Dog – $5.95
  • Rocky Balboa – $5.95
  • Farmer’s Daughter – $5.95
  • Getz Yourself a Beer – Beer bratwurst, sauerkraut, grilled onions, spicy mustard – $5.95

Website: Dogtownfoodcart.com
Twitter: @Dogtownpdx
Facebook: Dog Town Food Cart

Polli-Tico

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peruvian food cart portland

Polli-Tico

Location: SW 3rd and Oak
Hours: Monday-Friday, 11:30-6pm; Saturday, 11:30-4 or sell out

The Story: Rotisserie anything is a treat. Rotisserie chicken, slowly cooking and juicing up is crazy good. Polli-Tico opened this past month offering up Peruvian style rotisserie chicken from a food cart in downtown Portland.

Polli-Tico specializes in “pollos a la brasa,” otherwise known as charbroiled chicken. A traditional Peruvian dish of slow cooked whole chickens served with sides. The owners, two Costa Rican brothers that grew up eating Peruvian chicken in Washignton DC decided Portland was missing out on this unique dish. They even imported a rotisserie from Peru for the authenticity. They documented their challenges with customs and sourcing on their site – a good read and I’m thankful for the effort. On any given day, they do up 4-6 chickens and split them out for dishes as quarters or halves. The oven can handle up to 30, so I’m excited to see what summer brings.

peruvian food cart portland

Half Chicken Platter from Polli-Tico

While the charcoal rotisserie is truly the star of the show here, the fresh hormone and preservative free chicken can’t be overlooked. Having only enjoyed rotisserie chicken during my travels in both Germany and Mexico, I wanted to get the full meal deal, so ordered a half chicken with sides. Yup! A half chicken. I think I surprised them with the order by taking almost 20% of the chicken for the day, but I had research to do. A GO Box full of chicken with fried Yuca, a separate container held black beans and rice. I hesitated a bit with the first bite, but eventually threw caution to the wind and picked up a quarter and chomped down. Succulent, salty, fatty, but neither flavor or texture overwhelming the rest. Everyone is into chicken wings these days. I think rotisserie chicken is going to take the city by storm once people discover how juicy and flavorful it is. Also, 1/2 a chicken is a ton of food for $11. Brilliant.

Polli-Tico is exactly why I love street food. Something new. Something unique we havn’t tried before. And at the right price. Open daily for lunch and into the dinner hour, but they are still working out how many chickens to roast, so they may sell out early. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook for updates. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Pollo Bowl – sliced Peruvian chicken, white rice, beans, spring mix, tomatoes, cilantro, yellow sauce – lg, $8; sm, $6.50
  • Veggie Bowl – lg, $6.50; sm, $5.50
  • Chicken Platter – 1/4 chicken and 2 sides – $8.50
  • Large Platter – 1/2 chicken and 2 sides – $11
  • Whole chickens available
  • Sides include beans and rice, yuca, french fries, house salad, cole slaw

Website: Polli-Tico.com
Facebook: Polli-Tico
Twitter: @PolliticoPDX

Fry Guy

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fries food cart Portland

Fry Guy

Location: SE 13th and Lexington in Sellwood
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 12=6pm

The Story: Fries. I haven’t head the term French Fries for years. In the 21st century, we call them fries! One of Portland’s most famous cart does fries and now they have competition. Fry Guy in Sellwood does fries, poutine and more.

We all grew up on fries didn’t we? Heck, I worked at McDonald’s in the 80’s and got paid in fries. The only potato dish that may rival the ubiquitous fry is the tater tot, but we won’t go there today. Alex McGillivray, aka the Fry Guy, has worked for some of Portland’s favorite chefs doing gigs at Ping and Lardo West. At Lardo, he’s responsible for The Beet Generation sandwich. Nice! As with many culinary professionals, opening your own place is the goal and Alex chased the dream and opened his Fry Guy truck in Sellwood focusing not just on the Canadian classic poutine, but other treats as well.

fries food cart Portland

Portland Poutine from Fry Guy

Fry Guy offers everything from hand cut fries with sauces all the way to loaded fries with beef or mushroom gravy. They do have a reuben on the menu, but we’re here for hand cut fries right? Loaded fries come with traditional (meat) or vegetarian gravy and you can add items like cheese curds or pastrami. I opted for the Portland Poutine with house sausage gravy and an over easy fried egg. Put an egg on it! The sausage gravy covered the fries with plenty of fresh ground black pepper and bits of sausage throughout. Adding the fried egg? Genius! Letting the yolk waterfall through the fries and mix with the sausage made a mess, but a tasty, bold mess.

Fry Guy is now open down in Sellwood at the food cart lot smack dab in the middle of Antique Row. The lot offers covered seating, so you don’t have to wait until spring or summer to visit. Hop on down for a treat and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu (full menu on website)

  • Hand Cut Russet Potatoes – half order, $2; full order $3.50
  • Sauces – Fry Sauce, Tomato Bacon Jam, Sriracha Mayo, Buttermilk Ranch, Bacon Scallion Sour Cream
  • Poutine – $6
  • Portland Poutine – $6
  • Tiger Style – $5
  • Pan Roasted Cauliflower tossed in chimichurri – $4.50

Website: FryGuyTruck.com
Twitter: @FryGuyOregon

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