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.
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
Feast is upon us. An entire weekend of activities featuring Oregon’s Bounty. I call it a weekend of indulgence and joy. So many events featuring the amazing food of Oregon and Portland with top chefs and competitions and opportunities to eat your heart out. If you’re visiting, take a moment to check out Portland’s amazing street food scene while you’re here.
Portland’s Food Carts are congregated in pods throughout the city. These are surface area parking lots with food carts parked and vending out to the public.
- SW 3rd and Stark – 20+ vendors. Many open late night
- SW 5th and Stark – 20+ vendors, mostly lunch – check out Tabor Czech and Real Taste of India, two venerable vendors who have been around 10+ years
- SW 10th and Alder – 60+ vendors – lunch and dinner all weekend – an entire city block of food carts. Check out Nong’s Khao Man Gai, The Dump Truck, Rua, Kargi Gogo (Georgian), The People’s Pig, Grilled Cheese Grill, Sawasdee Thai, Delicious (Romanian) and more. Haggis dinner from The Frying Scotsman may be poignant.
- SW 4th and Hall – 20+ vendors
East side pods and neighborhood pods close in and accessible by public transportation:
- Mississippi Marketplace – N Mississippi and Skidmore in the Mississippi Historical District. Features covered seating and 9 vendors including The Big Egg (breakfast), Minizo (ramen), Native Bowl (vegan), Home Grown Smoker Vegan BBQ, Koi Fusion and Miss Kate’s Southern Kitchen. Bring your food into PROST!, the German pub on site.
- Tidbit – SE 28th Pl. and Division – Portland’s newest pod with 18 vendors including Love Belizean, Timber’s Dog House, Hapa PDX (Ramen), Lodekka (Vintage clothing), Smaaken Waffles and an onsite beer cart. Great for evening relaxation.
- 23rd and Alberta Pod – NE 23rd and Alberta in the Alberta Arts District – 5 vendors including Uncle Tsang’s Szechuan, The Cheese Plate, Garden Monsters and The Sugar Shop. Covered seating, live music on the weekends and beer from the Hoppy Camper.
- Pod 28 – SE 28th and Ankeny. A great little pod featuring beer by Captured by Porches and vendors including Burrasca (Tuscan), Grilled Cheese Grill, Wolf & Bears (falafel and Iraqi street food), Guero and Steak Frites PDX. Covered seating available
- Cartopia – SE 12th and Hawthorne. Portland’s original late night pod stays open until 4am. Vendors include Pyro Pizza, Potato Champion (Begian Fries and Poutine), Whiffies Fried Pies, PBJ’s Grilled and Perierra Creperie.
The east side has over 20 food cart pods to explore with over 200 vendors.
Porltand’s street food scene continues to evolve, so even if you’ve explored in prior years, more than likely, there are new exiting vendors to eat from.
Feast is an amazing event for Portland. For a full list of Feast events, visit FeastPortland.com.
Tidbit, Portland’s newest food cart pod on SE 28th pl and Division is celebrating their official grand opening Saturday September 13 from 12-8pm. If you haven’t been to the lot, you should check it out. Put together in just a couple of months over the summer, it is one of the most welcoming food cart lots I’ve been to in the city. The vendors are setup to surround a seating area replete with a fire place and a beer vendor. Come for food from Aybla, Namu, Pyro Pizza, Love Belizean, Hapa PDX, Buki and more. Fresh produce from Parsons Farms. Get some shopping done at Menagerie, DragonflyMonet or Lodekka. Live music will greet you starting at noon.
Tidbit – SE 28th Pl and Division. Grand Opening September 13 from 12-8pm
- Dogbone Farm – Tidbit
- Stacy’s 65 – Tidbit
- Ingrid’s Scandinavian Food – Tidbit
- Dog Town – Tidbit
- Buki – Tidbit
- DragonflyMonet – Tidbit
- sushiLove – SE 26th and Belmont
- Leo’s Novelty – SW 4th and Burnside
- Pi Squared Wood Fired Pizza – Carts on Foster
- Taqueria Seafood El Morrillo – Cartlandia
- Neue Souther PDX – SE 26th and Belmont
- Lower East Side Deli – SW 3rd and Washignton
- The Spicy Spoon – N Mississippi and Fremont
Location: SW 5th and Stark
Hours: Daily for lunch and dinner
The Story: Portland has seen a significant growth in Middle Eastern cuisine in food carts in the last 18 months with vendors popping up every week. Small Pharoah’s was one of the first of this new generation of vendors to bring Egyptian and New Yorker food to the eaters.
Small Pharoah’s is the work if Islam Elmasry who came to Portland after some years working and vending in New York. Working at a sidewalk hot dog stand by Macy’s, Islam learned the business and decided to come to Portland to try his hand at opening his own food cart. His first cart was at 9th and Alder and he quickly expanded to SW 5th and Stark, SW 4th and Hall by PSU, SE 48th and Woodstock and this summer opening at Mississippi Marketplace. Four carts in two years and at prime locations throughout the city. Islam is a businessman and Portland welcomed him. In speaking with him, he stated it was much easier to open a food cart in Portland than in NYC. His goal is to offer good food and empower his employees. He couldn’t have done this without them.
At Small Pharoah’s, you’ll find a mix of Egyptian, Greek and American cuisine. Islam wanted the menu to be broad so as to attract most every eater. Gyros with either lamb, falafel, kafta or chicken are their signature items. I picked up the falafel gyro at the cart at Mississippi Marketplace for lunch and was a bit overwhelmed by the size. Large freshly made falafel with pickled carrots and cauliflower and tahini all wrapped up in a toasted pita. I’m a stickler for falafel – I prefer it to be softer and not so deep fried – Small Pharoah’s did it right. Great flavors without the hard crust you sometimes get from other vendors. The entire qyro was enough for two people or two meals. A great value.
Small Pharoah’s is an example of success in the street food business in Portland. Islam is thankful not just for his customers, but also for those who helped him along the way including Al, Robin, Paula, Adianet, Elita and Khalid. Find Small Pharoah’s food carts throughout the city and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Chicken and Rice – $7
- Lamb Gyro – $5
- Chicken Gyro – $6
- Falafel Gyro – $8
- Greek Salad – $6
- Kofta over Rice – $10
Phone: 917 500 9181
A few new food cart pods have sprouted in the last month here in Portland. For the uninitiated, we call the lots where food carts congregate pods.
Tidbit – one of the coolest pods to open in the last few years, the lot boasts an impressive 18 vendors including a beer vendor, a vintage clothing shop, a florist and more. Located on SE 28th Pl. and Division, the carts surround a large welcoming and covered seating area replete with picnic tables and a fire pit. Vendors include Smaaken Waffles, Love Belizean, Earth Burgers, Tandoor Indian, Aybla, Hapa Ramen, Lodekka and more. Open daily.
The Fusion Food Pavillion- Located on NE MLK and Jarrett, this lot has hosted a number of food vendors over the years, dating back to the 90’s. This past summer, they built a welcoming seating area with a small fire pit and covered seating and attracted a few new vendors offering Thai, Mexican, BBQ and Jamaican.
Nick’s Parkrose Food Corral and Pub – Located on NE 118 and Sandy, this lot offers Nick’s Pub along with space for a number of food carts and trucks. Onsite as of September vendors include Aprisa Mexican and El Taco Regio.
Powell Food Carts – A new lot on SE 82nd Ave just north of Powell is setup ready for vendors. Rosita’s Place, a Mexican vendor has moved there. The area is quickly changing with Fubonn hosting the Jade Night Market on the weekends. If you’re looking for a new spot, check them out.
SE 26th and Belmont – A lot that has had a cart come and go over the years now has five who have arrived just in the past month. Pi Wood Fired Pizza, suchiLove and a few others that are new and not open yet. SE Portland seems to be getting the food cart love.
Multnomah Village Food Cart Pod – SW 35th and Multnomah, the lot has Karmady House with organic Juices and smoothies, Silva Cafe for coffee and pastries and Parsons Farms for local veggies and fruit.
Portland continues to redefine the street food environment. More vendors open every week bring us great food and culture. Keep on supporting local food carts.
Ever had a question on how to open a food cart in Portland. More specifically, open a food cart in Multnomah County? Well, our friends at Multnomah County Environmental Health received a grant to publish a playbook for aspiring vendors. I’ve always told vendors who have questions to give Multnomah County a call. They are your resource for those frequently asked questions. Now, they have a manual. And, if you’re looking to open a food cart outside of Portland, the playbook discusses the different types of mobile food units allowed in the state. What is a class 2 food cart? Where do you dump grey water? Do you need a commissary? All answered.
In many cities across the nation, it is a morass of regulations, rules and policy a vendor needs to wade through. Here in Portland, Multnomah County makes it simple and straightforward.
Find the Mobile Food Unit Playbook here or drop on by Multnomah County’s offices for a spiral bound copy. Thank you Multnhomah County Enrironmental Health.
Location: NE 23rd and Alberta
Hours: Tues-Fri, 11-2 and 5-9; Sat/Sun, 12-9pm
The Story: A few months back, I visited a Szechuan restaurant in LA and was shocked at the spice factor in every dish. Yet, it didn’t burn for hours, it simply drifted away after awhile. Ever since that fateful meal, I’ve been craving noshable spicy Chinese and found it at a new food cart named Uncle Tsang’s Kitchen.
Uncle Tsang’s Kitchen is at the 23rd and Alberta Food Cart Lot having taken over the cart that use to house Fijian Indian Curry. They’ve been open now for a couple of months, so have worked out any kinks. At first glance, the menu serves up what one expects from most Chinese restaurants except it offers more variety for vegetarian and gluten free options. They have beef and broccoli, eggplant chicken, ma po tofu, and potstickers. Yet, what caught my eye was chicken gizzards. Where in Portland do you get chicken gizzards? Along with Szechuan Tofu, I had a meal picked out. The gizzards, deep fried, yet with a light coating and then tossed with more than enough spicy peppers were divine. When delivered, I teared up, knowing the spice could wreck me, but I dove in and surprisingly enough, it didn’t melt my face off. It was that quick burn and then it tapered off. Each little morsel, a present from the Chinese gods of deep frying. The tofu dish with sliced celery, chopped peppers, succulent mushrooms and plenty of red chili flake was a treat. Not so spicy I needed milk afterward, but complex flavors that kept me eating.
Uncle Tsang’s is one of those gems you stumble upon and immediately want to return to. Finding a dish so unique like gizzards is the reason I keep going back to the food carts – they keep surprising me. Head on over to Alberta and give it a try. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Broccoli in garlic sauce – $6
- Gizzards – $5
- Curry Chicken – $9
- Szechuan Tofu – $9.50
- Lemon Chicken – $8
- General Chicken – $8
Facebook: Uncle Tsang’s Kitchen
Namu, a food cart serving up Hawaiian and Korean dishes has expanded to Tidbit in SE Portland. Excellent food and a great place to eat it.