Ever wonder where the awesomeness is in your own city? Or, are you visiting and want to find the hidden gems? Liz Crain has put together an amazing book of all things food for our fair city. Food Lover’s Guide to Portland is a road map for finding anything you’re interested in whether it be cheese, charcuterie, restaurants, breakfast joints and even food carts. In the second edition of the book, readers get 30+ new full listings and 150+ new businesses. I wrote a section on food carts highlighting pods and specific vendors who one can’t miss. Nick Zukin of Mi Mero Mole put together a Hispanic Market section. Just flicking through the book opened my eyes to cheese shops I haven’t visited, new pickling operations I need to try and a huge list of distilleries.
So much changes in this wonderful city from week to week, so even if you call yourself a foodie, the book will open your eyes to something new to check out the next time you’re up for an adventure. The book is out next month and Liz would love to have you at the launch party at Reverend Nat’s Cider House on September 1. There will also be other events where you can meet and chat with Liz throughout the month of September. More details on the book and Liz Crain here.
Today is opening day of MLS All Star week which will culminate in the MLS All Star Match on Wednesday, August 6 at Providence Park. A huge week for Portland, showcasing our beautiful city to a national and international crowd. The MLS All Star team will take on FC Bayern Munich, one of the best teams in the world. Here are some activities this weekend and next week where you can find food carts/trucks.
Friday August 1
- MLS Flick’s on the Bricks. The MLS will take over Pioneer Courthouse Square the entire week for the MLS Experience presented by Adidas. Friday night launches with the classic soccer film Sixty Six. 9-11pm. Food trucks and other vendors will be onsite to feed ya.
Saturday, August 2
- The MLS Experience at Pioneer Courthouse Square will be live from 12-9pm with a Timber vs. LA Galaxy viewing party. Food trucks and carts will be there in force to feed ya.
- There will be an MLS Food Truck up on N Mississippi and Skidmore in the late afternoon slinging MLS Team sliders for free.
Sunday, August 3
- Waterfront Park is where the action is Sunday. The Grilled Cheese Throwdown takes place at the MLS Experience at Waterfront Park in the bowl starting at 3pm. Retrolicious, The Grilled Cheese Grill, MooPing, Bro-Dogs and Burgers and Pressed will all be there to show off their best grilled cheese. And you’ll get to try each. The event will culminate in a live concert by The Flaming Lips.
- If you’re interested in meeting some players, head on over to PROST! on N Mississippi and Skidmore. There will be a meet and greet with Claudio Pizarro and Rafinha of FC Bayern. Arrive early and enjoy lunch at the food carts at Mississippi Marketplace. Event is at 3:30pm.
Tuesday, August 5
- MLS All Star Graham Zusi will be at Tursi Soccer Store in SW Portland from 4-6pm for a signing. Bro-Dogs and Burgers will be in residence to feed hungry soccer players.
Wednesday, August 6
- The All Star Game is at Providence Park 6:30-9pm. Big-Ass Sandwiches will be the vendor of choice for the Food Cart Alliance and is taking over the concession stand above section 95.
- Koi Fusion will be fully stocked at their location on SW 20th and Burnside outside the park.
- Other trucks and vendors will be posted up around the park including Churros Locos on 19th for before and after treats.
The city is gonna go soccer bonkers for the next six days. Welcome the MLS visitors with open arms and direct them to the best food carts you know.
Location: NE 52nd and Sandy, Rose City Food Park
Hours: Tues-Sat, 9am-8pm; Sun, 9am-2pm
The Story: Bacon. We’ve seen bacon vodka, bacon toothpaste, bacon band-aids, bacon ice cream and more. Bacon over the last decade became as integrated in our culinary diet as corn and wheat. Now, Portland has a food cart dedicated to Bacon. I give you Bacon PDX at Rose City Food Park.
David Elkin opened the bacon focused cart in May and has been crisping up the pork ever since. Sourcing from Carlton Farms, the bacon can be had by the slice or in a sandwich or other tasty concoction. You even chose regular, thick or premium. David knows bacon. Menu offerings include bacon wrapped sweets, bacon and veggies, frittata cups made fresh daily and the kalua double pig sandwich. Two strips of bacon, a pile of kalua pig, bbq sauce, pineapple slaw served open face on a hoagie roll, this is a pork lover’s delight. Every bite is pork. I enjoyed the mix of pineapple juice with the salt of the pork. Add in the fresh cilantro with every bite and BANG!, joy. I tried to pick it up and enjoy it as a sandwich, yet it overwhelmed me and a fork and knife were required.
David has been expanding the menu and offering specials over the last month. I saw one with smoked salmon, bacon, spinach and tomato on a ciabatta roll that just rocked my world. Bacon is the focus of this cart, so drop on by, dive in and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Bacon by the strip – $1-2/item
- Kalua Double Pig Sandwich – $9
- Bacon & Sautéed Veggies: bacon apple kale, bacon cabbage pineapple, etc – $5
- Frittata Cups – denver style, pipey jack, swiss guard – $4.50
- Bacon Sweets – $1.50
Food Cart Events this coming weekend
- Plaza Palooza at the Oregon Convention Center. Tony Furtado will perform and Taco Pedaler and Bunk Sandwiches will be in attendance. 5:30-7:30 at across from the OCC. More details.
- Bethany Village Summer Concerts will welcome Ramy’s Lamb Shack and Voodoo Donuts for the evening. More details here.
- The 23rd and Alberta Food Cart Pod will host The Golden Country performing at the lot from 5-7.
- Vertigo Brewing in Hillsboro will have Bro-Dogs and Burgers there to feed those enjoying a Friday evening refreshment.
- Movies in the Park at Peninsula Park in North Portland will be showing a South African movie – White Wedding. Bunk Sandwiches will be in attendance.
- Oregon City will celebrate their First City Celebration all day. Along with Oregon City restaurants and vendors, Bro-Dogs and Burgers will be there.
- Movies in the park – Bunk Sandwiches will be at Concordia University in the evening. Move is The Sandlot
- The Party in the Park at HMT Recreation Complex in Beaverton all day. Mama Chow’s will be there with their amazing Chinese street food.
- The Big Float down the Willamette River will end with an after float party. Food trucks will be in attendance.
- Ciccina, a pop-up of Cascadian-inspired re-interpretations of Sicilian soul-foods will take place at Artigiano on SE 33rd and Division. Chef Francesco Tripoli will take over the cart all weekend offering up menu items inspired by his Sicilian grandmother.
- Union Wines will showcase their new mobile tasting truck, a vintage Citroën van at SE 33rd and Division all weekend.
Have a great weekend.
Location: SE 33rd and Hawthorne behind the Hazel Room
Hours: Wed-Sat, 12-8pm, Sun, 12-3pm
The Story: Good Food, Good Music and Community. That comes from Umai’s Facebook page and in my opinion defines food carts here in Portland. Umai is one of the latest vendors to open offering up ramen and more.
Umai is the work of Austin Moore and Forest Carter, a couple of bluegrass musicians who decided to explore the wide world of Japanese ramen and open a cart. Located in an alleyway just off 33rd north of Hawthorne, the pod sports four different vendors, seating and the day I visited, live World Cup action. The guys offer up ramen along with sandwiches and sides. For ramen, they focus on three styles – shio which is sea-salt broth; shoyu which is soy sauce based; and miso. Everything is made in the cart, even the house noodles.
Being a fan of shio, that was my first choice. The bowl, full of noodles with the thick broth comes topped with steamed greens, pork shoulder, marinated egg, pickled shiitake and scallions. The broth is steaming hot, so I picked at it for awhile to allow it to cool. Delicate tongue here. That picking allowed me to taste the different items individually. The shiitakes are amazing offering a cloying sweetness that when mixed with the broth or a piece of pork just took my breath away. Crisp edges of pork shoulder and the egg’s still runny yolk and the greens, cooked, but still crunchy. All these items made up a superb bowl of ramen.
Umai is open Wednesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner. Lunch only on Sundays. Due to limited space, they do have a sign stating they can only do so much, so my recommendation is to get there early. I’m so looking forward to returning for some other great flavors. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
Sample Menu: (Full menu available on their website.)
- Ramen – $10
- Vegetarian Ramen – $10
- Brothless Ramen: warm house noodles tossed in miso tare and topped with ginger, fried chicken or eggplant, pickled veggies, steamed greens and marinated egg – $9
- Chicken Karaage sandwich with bacon chutney – $8
- Eggplant Karaage sandwich with yuzu kosho aioli – $7
Location: SE 82nd and Harney at Cartlandia
Hours: Sun-Thurs, 11:30-7; Fri/Sat, 11:30-9
The Story: Who doesn’t like grilled cheese? There are some extremely successful food trucks and food carts around the nation who have succeeded with putting cheese between two slices of bread, grilling it to perfection and selling it to the masses. Zeek’s Cheese Grill at Cartlandia is the latest to offer up that childhood delight.
Zeek’s Cheese Grill offers up an array of appetizing delights. Not just grilled cheese sandwiches, although that is what I enjoyed. The menu offers soups, sides like roasted jalapeño fondue, a few types of Mac and Cheese and some fresh cart made salads. Just the other day they posted photos of pickles made fresh that morning. Sandwiches range from the classic with American cheese all the way to the Ciao with fresh mozzarella, basil, semi dried tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic reduction and black pepper. The Canard caught my attention with duck confit, brie and bacon caramelized onion jam. Whew! Writing that made my tummy rumble. Crisp buttered bread sandwiched in the unctuous and delightfully salty duck confit. The caramelized onion jam with a hint of bacon added sweetness to balance it all out. Dip an edge in the tomato soup and dive in. An excellent sandwich.
Zeek’s is open daily for lunch and dinner with extended hours on the weekend. Beyond the cheese grill, they have daily specials, numerous flavors of lemonade and assorted teas. At Cartlandia, there is covered seating along with The Blue Room bar so you can relax and enjoy your meal. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Soups – Tomato Basil Cream, Tomato Gorgonzola, Spicy Tomato – $3 cup or $5 bowl
- Roasted Jalapeno Fondue – $5.80
- Four Cheese Mac & Cheese – $7
- Caramelized onion, Gorgonzola and bacon Mac & Cheese – $8
- Julienne Kale and Romaine Salad – $6
- The Classic Grilled Cheese – $4
- Oregon Grilled Sandwich – Brie, Oregon pears, gorgonzola, caramelized onion bacon – $7.80
- Canard – $9.80
- Ciao – $7.80
Here’s a rundown of new and events this coming weekend:
Love Belizean, a food cart displaced by the closing of the downtown food cart lot on SW 6th and Columbia has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a brick and mortar just down the street from where their cart was located. So excited to see them move on to their next adventure.
Viking Soul Food has reopened on a limited basis at the Good Food Here lot. Their summer hours will be 12-8pm on the weekends or until they sell out. There will be a limited menu also. Head on down for your Scandinavian fix.
Dustin Knox, owner of Perierra Creperie at Cartopia was the guest on Right at The Fork podcast this week. A great discussion with an individual who started a successful food cart, went on to other endeavors and how he did it.
Friday, July 18
- 808 Grinds will be the featured food cart at the Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids match at Providence Park. Find them above section 94.
Saturday, July 19
- Drive Revolution will take place at OMSI during the day featuring food trucks serving up savory and sweet items. The event will showcase the latest in sustainable transportation options in bikes, cars, public transportation and more. Find Bro-Dogs and Burgers along with Aybla, Fifty Licks and Moberi Smoothies. More info.
- Cartlandia is hosting MS Bites, Food Carts Fighting MS. A fundraiser for the National MS Society. From 5-9pm, enjoy live music, raffle prices and some tasty items form the carts while supporting a great cause. More details at Cartlandia.com
- Dr. Joe Trio will be the musical guest at Artigiano in the evening. Located at SE 33rd and Division
- Russian Horse in Sellwood is doing a dessert special – ponchiki – similar to a donut hole made with sweet batter and farmer’s cheese. Sounds tasty. Free all day.
- Find the Bunk Truck along with other vendors at the NW String Summit at Horning’s Hideout in North Plains. More details.
- PDX Pop Now, a wonderful weekend of music is this weekend and Koi Fusion will be there slingin’ their amazing tacos and more. More details.
Have a great weekend.
The Story: Portland’s BBQ scene is ever changing with new blood launching restaurants and food carts seemingly weekly. Slick’s Big Time BBQ has been around for awhile and their food truck is now roaming the streets of Portland.
Dan and Barbi Slick started their BBQ business with a sauce product line which took off and allowed them to grow their business into catering and events and a BBQ drive-through in Newberg. Over the years, they have had the pleasure of traveling the states with their award winning BBQ and sauce line. Slick’s Big Time BBQ Truck came about as they saw the need to expand into other areas and it is gorgeous. Menu offerings from the truck include pulled pork, smoked turkey and brisket sandwiches, a Texas slaw dog or a rib plate. Brisket is my crutch, so Gene, the pit-master in the truck, set me up with a good size portion on a stadium bun along with house made coleslaw and macaroni salad. The brisket was moist and flavorful with just the right smoke ring. A great amount of food for only $9.
Gene, the pit-master on the truck visits weekly locations around the Nike campus or you can find them at wineries and events throughout the year. Next time you’re out looking for BBQ, check them out and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Pulled Pork sandwich – $8
- Smoked Turkey sandwich – $8
- Beef Brisket sandwich – $9
- Rib Plate – $12