Satay Indonesia

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Satay Indonesia

Satay Indonesia

Location: SW 9th and Alder
Hours: Monday-Saturday, lunch and dinner

The Story: If you’ve traveled in Southeast Asia, when you hear the word satay, maybe you wax poetic about a certain vendor or the exotic smells of the streets. When I think of satay, I am reminded of the pile of sticks laying there after we devoured so many little morsels of grilled meat. Satay Indonesia is one of the newest carts in the Alder pod bringing skewered meats to the streets of Portland.

Satay or sate is a dish which originated in Java, Indonesia and is made up of seasoned skewered and grilled meat. Or as they say at the cart, “a bite of heaven on a stick.” Satay Indonesia sources local beef, chicken and pork and also offers organic tempeh and tofu for vegetarians. For $5, you get a full plate with five skewers, rice, marinated cucumber salad and grilled veggies. A good portion of food for the price. I got a mix of chicken, pork and beef and asked for some daily special lemongrass coconut curry sauce to top the rice. That first bite of succulent grilled pork had a hint of coconut sweetness. The chicken almost fell of the stick. The lemongrass curry sauce with the rice – divine. Finish everything with a simple marinated cucumber slice – cold and sweet. I enjoyed every last bit.

Satay from Satay Indonesia

Satay from Satay Indonesia

Satay Indonesia is open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner, yet sell out almost daily. If you’re in the mood for something new or just like meat on a stick, check them out and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Individual Satay – $1
  • Sate Lunch – 5 satay with spicy long beans and steamed rice or with salad – $5

Phone: 5034596477
Facebook: Satay Indonesia

El Taco Yucateco

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El Taco Yucateco

El Taco Yucateco

Location: SW 10th and Alder
Hours: Weekdays, lunch

The Story: Elloy Martin makes an amazing panucho. Simple, satisfying and oh, so flavorful. Elloy Martin has been making Mexican street food magic in his cart El Taco Yucateco for a couple of years and now comes to serve the downtown eaters.

I first met Elloy a year or so ago when he was at Green Castle. I made the mistake of assuming his cart was the same as a similar named vendor out east. Lucky for me, it wasn’t a huge error as it was his brother’s cart I had visited. After some ups and downs at Green Castle, Elloy moved the cart downtown this year and opened up on SW Alder between 9th and 10th. The menu at the cart is what you would expect from most Mexican vendors – tacos, burritos, quesadillas and tortas. All fresh, made to order with pride. What stands out here are the panuchos, a special type of taco. Elloy has to go as far as Sandy to source his special masa paste for the tortillas. A panucho is different than a taco and served open face like a tostada. He makes a tortilla then quickly fries it, puffing it up. Elloy then pulls it out, slices it open and stuffs it with black bean paste. Back in the pan to finish up, he then tops it with lettuce, cabbage, shredded and seasoned chicken, pickled red onion, tomato and avocado. A panucho, done right, is one of those dishes you don’t want to eat – so beautiful. If I could, I would take it somewhere so they could preserve it for all time. Each bite is a treat from the avocado mixing with the marinated onion and the creamy beans. The tortilla isn’t hard, so you don’t have to worry about it breaking up in your hand. A couple of panuchos and a Jarochita on a sunny day is all this boy needs to make him smile.

Panuchos from El Taco Yucatecos

Panuchos from El Taco Yucatecos

While waiting for my order, a few other patrons came along for burritos. One woman came up proclaiming that the cart “had the best taco salad in town.” I’ll have to try that next. Elloy is one of those vendors who smiles and engages his customers whether he’s busy or not and I enjoyed chatting with him about Mexican street food. Makes me want to take a trip. Drop on by El Taco Yucateco next time you have a craving for something new. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Panuchos – $2
  • Tacos – beef, chicken, cactus – $1.50
  • Quesadilla-  $3, add beef or chicken for $1
  • Tamale – $3
  • Taco Salad – beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese, sour cream, cilantro, your choice of meat – $7
  • Burritos – $5
  • Tortas – $5

Phone: (503) 901-0768
Facebook: El Taco Yucateco

Tony’s Cucina

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Tony’s Cucina

Location: SW 9th and Alder
Hours: weekdays, lunch

The Story: What’s that phrase – for every door that closes, another opens? It seems the story of the ever evolving street food scene in Portland. Just as you fall in love with one vendor, they close and you’re faith in food is dashed. Lucky for us, when the previous owner vacated, Tony’s Cucina opened offering something special.

Tony Velasquez open his cucina early this year with a menu of Mexican/Italian fusion cuisine. After spending a quarter century in the medical field, he jumped ship and went to culinary school. When a friend asked if he wanted to try out a cart, Tony took the leap. The menu is inspired by childhood favorites  – the best foods his mom use to make. Everything is made from scratch with care.

Sonoran Hot Dog from Tony’s Cucina

Tony lived in Arizona for twenty years where his love for the Sonoran dog came about. While there are different approaches on how to create this dish, Tony’s approach was to work with fellow fans to craft a signature dog in the style. Starting out with a bacon-wrapped dog on the grill, the bun from An-Xuyen, is sliced open just enough to hold the dog, beans, cheese, lettuce and tomato and then topped with a grilled jalapeno. It was so beautifully presented, I didn’t want to eat it. I will warn you, if you take that first bite, watch out for the pepper to roll off onto your hand, then your shirt, then the table. Lucky for me, I caught it before it hit the ground. The spice of the pepper mixed with the creamy beans, veggies and that dog create a wonderful mix of flavors. The bun is superb, one of the better buns out there with just enough chew, but not doughy.

Tony’s Cucina is a great new addition to the 10th and Alder lot. While there are other Mexican vendors, no one is doing the Sonoran dog nor are they offering dishes like an enchilada casserole. He will even make you a Cuban coffee. Drop on by next time you’re looking for something new and let Tony know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Squishy Taco – corn tortilla dipped in hot oil with chicken, steak or chorizo – $2
  • Fish Taco – $2.50
  • Enchilada Casserole w/ rice and beans – $7
  • Quesadilla – $2.50
  • Tortilla Dog – grilled hot dog wrapped in flour tortilla with cheese – $1
  • Sonoran Hot Dog – $6

Hours: Weekdays, lunchtime
Facebook: Tony’s Cucina

I Heart This Cart

Brett Burmeister
I Heart This Cart

I Heart This Cart

Location: SW 3rd and Washington
Hours: Tues-Thurs, 11-4; Fri, 11-4 and 9pm-2am; Sat, 11am-9pm

The Story:

Multicultural Comfort Food is the theme for I Heart This Cart, one of the newest to join the vendors at SW 3rd and Washington. Looking at the diverse items on the menu, I see what they mean.

On a cool windy January day, I read the entire menu trying to decide which amazing item I wanted. Cory, the chef, has an eclectic blend of sandwiches, soups and event homemade mac and cheese. Cory’s been cooking since his teens and was the head chef at the Lake Hotel at Yellowstone National Park for two years. Nice resume. Also, when neighboring food cart owners urge you to visit, you gotta know it’s going to be good.

At I Heart this Cart you can pick up small bites like Arancinis or full size sandwiches like a seasonal po’boy with pork belly or a classic Philly cheese steak. I chose the hearty Southwest Mac and Cheese with chipotle cream sauce, cavatappi pasta and tossed with black beans, sweet corn, scallions, roasted red pepper and sided with a few tortilla chips. At Cory’s recommendation, I added in pork belly. A hearty meal served in a GO Box, I loved that it wasn’t a traditional cheesy cheesy Mac and Cheese. The sauce had a spicy bite, but mild and smoky from the chipotle. Al dente pasta is the perfect choice. More like an al fredo sauce. Did I mention the pork belly added in a wonderful creamy fattiness also. More than I could finish in one sitting.

Southwest Mac and Cheese

Southwest Mac and Cheese

I Heart This Cart had a steady stream of patrons while I stood around chatting with other vendors. Cory has built a following in the three short months he’s been open and is here for the long term. Drop on by next time you’re looking for something new and let him know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Arancini – 2 breaded risotto balls stuffed with Parmesan and fresh Mozzarella, deep fried and served with marinara – $4
  • Chicken and Dumplings – braised chicken thighs, brussell sprouts, root vegetables and potato dumplings – $7
  • Southwest Mac and Cheese – $8; add protein for $2
  • Parmesan Crusted Grilled Cheese with Vegan Tomato Soup – $7
  • Seasonal Po’Boy – braised and seared pork belly, apple fennel and radicchio slaw, served with a curried remoulade sauce on po’boy roll – $8
  • Classic Philly Cheesesteak – $4/half; $7/full

Phone: 707-299-7711
Facebook: I Heart This Cart

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