Location: SE 26th and Belmont
Hours: Tues-Fri, 12-8, Saturdays, 12-5 (subject to change, check Facebook for updates)
The Story: Portland is a people magnet, not just for the young and tech entrepreneurs, but also for chefs. Lauren and Graham, the owners of Neue Southern PDX traveled 3000 miles from Greenville, SC to open their cart. One of Portland’s latest additions to the food cart scene.
Lauren and Graham opened Neue Southern in Greenville two years ago, but the siren song of Portland’s street food scene called and they sold the truck and bought a cart from a local builder and set up shop on SE Belmont, an ever evolving food destination. The cart pod, Belle Carts, hosts three vendors at this time with covered seating. Lauren and Graham attended the much vaunted culinary school Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte and opened their food truck shortly thereafter. Their goal, a menu offering local, sustainable, in season items crafted into tasty dishes. When I visited, the chalk written menu spoke to an ever evolving range of options based on their culinary expertise but also what’s in season. There are few vendors who can pull this off, but after enjoying lunch from Neue Southern PDX, I’m sold.
Lauren greeted me with a smile and welcomed me to the cart. Always a good sign. Menu for that Wednesday included deep fried brussels sprouts, a butternut squash soup with apple, shallot, vanilla, thyme and brown butter cream, and event fried quail with a buttermilk biscuit. While I’m eager to try every dish, I didn’t have enough room in the belly entering Thanksgiving weekend, so I picked out the schnitzel sandwich, always a favorite for my tastebuds. An organic pork shoulder, battered and fried, topped with Bibb lettuce, sweet and sour pickles and served on a house made bun with lemon cream. The schnitzel was easily 25% larger than the bun which I love. Mixing the sweet and sour pickles with the schnitzel and lemon cream is genius – so many disparate flavors put together to create sandwich harmony. A rather sizable sammy, so if you’re visiting, bring a friend and order two items and share.
Neue Southern PDX is a great addition to Portland’s street food scene. Each day I’m surprised by what chefs are crafting in the little kitchens that are food carts and am happy to have a taste of the south as an offering. Drop on by the next time your down that way and let Laurent and Graham know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
Sample Menu (see website or Facebook for menu updates):
- Brussels sprouts deep fried – $4
- Schnitzel Sandwich – $9
- Fried Quail – $12
- Seasonal Soup – $7
- Steamed Bun with pork belly, sorghum + blackstrap rum, sweet and sour pickles, penne, house bun – $9 for 2
Ever wonder what to get for that someone in your life who can’t get enough food carts or trucks? Here are some literary recommendations. All books available locally from Powell’s Books in Portland, OR.
- Cartopia Portlands Food Cart Revolution – A great book with some amazing photography written when the street food scene was blowing up in Portland at the tail end of the last decade.
- Food Trucks: Dispatches and Recipes from the Best Kitchens on Wheels – Heather Shouse looks at the food truck scene nationally. A great read.
- – Steven Shomler tells the stories of Portland’s street food vendors and more.
For the Cartivore who wants to replicate their favorite street food dish – Cookbooks:
- The Truck Food Cookbook: 150 Recipes and Ramblings from America’s Best Restaurants on Wheels – John T. Edge puts together a compendium of street food recipes.
- Eat St.: Recipes from the Tastiest, Messiest, and Most Irresistible Food Trucks – Eat Street, the show that put street food in America’s living room gathered up some of their favorite dishes.
- – From the team Behind the Food Carts, a street food road trip.
- The Adobo Road Cookbook: A Filipino Food Journey-From Food Blog, to Food Truck, and Beyond
- Trailer Food Diaries Cookbook: Portland Edition, Volume One (American Palate) – Tiffany Harelik is one prolific writer with Trailer Food Diaries for Portland, Austin, Houston, Dallas and beyond.
- Trailer Food Diaries Cookbook: Portland Edition, Volume II (American Palate)
- The Southern Food Truck Cookbook: Discover the South’s Best Food on Four Wheels
- Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand – One of Portland’s most famous little carts that turned into an empire.
For the entreprenuer who wants to start a mobile business:
- The Food Truck Handbook: Start, Grow, and Succeed in the Mobile Food Business
- Running a Food Truck for Dummies (For Dummies)
- How to Start a Home-Based Food Truck Business (How to Start a Home-Based Food Truck Business)
- The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Food Truck Business (Complete Idiot’s Guides)
There are many more, so hit up your local bookstore and keep on supporting the carts.
Location: SW 3rd and Washington
Hours: Sun-Thurs, 11am-8pm; Friday/Saturday, 11am-2am
The Story: Fried Chicken. Quick, what is your first thought? I think of buckets of KFC and cringe. Fried chicken, when done right is moist, flavorful and almost sinful. Whole Time Chicken, a food cart in downtown Portland, has it dialed in.
Whole Time Chicken opened this past fall on the Washington side of the 3rd avenue food cart lot. Portland has seen an increase in southern fare being offered up with chicken and biscuit restaurants and even some new carts showcasing cuisine various southern states. So exciting to see the newcomers. Whole Time Chicken focuses on both deep fried and pan fried chicken served up in sandwiches or over rice or a salad. Upon arrival, you’re offered up a small sample of what they have cooking inside. Just that little nibble of seared moist chicken solidified my decision to enjoy lunch from them that day. Trying to mix the healthy with the sinful, I picked up fried chicken over rice and a mixed green salad. I pretty much asked him to make me something special and he did. I love a good fried chicken and with the right crust and seasoning, it becomes a memorable meal. This dish, with spicy chicken, greens and rice was fully enjoyable down to the last bite. No dry chicken here.
Whole Time Chicken is now open daily for lunch through the dinner hour and even late night on the weekends. Craving some fried chicken after a few visits to the downtown clubs? Whole Time will hook you up. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Chicken Sandwich – $6
- Chicken and Rice – fried or pan seared – $6
- Chicken and Salad – $7.50
- Chicken, rice and salad – $8
Facebook: Whole Time Chicken
Location: 67886 E Highway 26, Welches, Oregon
Hours: Daily, 11-6, yet check Facebook for updates
The Story: Amber, the owner of SissyMama’s, emailed a few weeks ago informing me that Mt. Hood does indeed have food carts – and her’s offers up a Gluten Free menu. I’m aware of summer vendors in Gov’t Camp, but Welches, nope. So, a field trip was in order.
Remember field trips as kids? There was always food whether it be a meal at a topical restaurant or a bag lunch made by mom. I enjoy field trips and get out of the city to visit food carts whenever I get the opportunity. Welches is a cute little village on HWY 26 on the way up Mt. Hood. Just before you get to the single stoplight, Amber has set up her red and white camper trailer – SissyMama’s. With snow blanketing the ground, I pulled up for lunch. Amber trained at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, the world’s largest nutrition school and offers up a menu of Gluten Free and Paleo options. She uses the cart as a means to explore food and create amazing dishes for everyone. Being on the mountain in winter, hot soup is daily treat.
The menu is ever changing both with the seasons and at Amber’s whim, yet after trying three dishes, I trust there will always be something on the menu that is delicious. The day I visited offered up roasted cauliflower and potato soup, a vegetarian hand pie and a paleo dish of red cabbage, green pepper and Italian sausage. The hot soup, served in a 16oz cup with no spoon was delightful. Standing in the snow, sipping at the soup while chatting food made my day. Also, it fit perfect in the cup holder for the drive home. The hand pie, a newcomer to the menu and one of Amber’s first melted in my mouth. Gluten free and full of goodies, I even dipped it in the soup. The cabbage roll in a bowl offered up Asian flavors with a dash of sesame seeds. All around, three different items with three distinct flavors and all rather delectable.
SussyMama’s is open daily and offers indoor and outdoor seating. I can only imagine how magical a bowl of Amber’s soup would be on a snowy winter afternoon or a sunny summer afternoon. Either way, next time I’m headed up the mountain, I know I’ll stop. Do check her Facebook page for updates on hours. Next time you’re on the mountain, drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
Location: NW 19th and Quimby – Q19
Hours: lunch, weekdays
The Story: There are food trucks and food trailers. Large and small. There are vendors on bikes. But, The Lunch Box is probably the cutest, coziest little food cart I’ve seen in awhile. Creating wraps both hot and cold, the cart sated my lunchtime needs for a cool and crisp Friday.
Wraps for me are either awesome of not. I’m not sure what it is, yet I tend to shy away from them. Maybe because every corporate box lunch ever made had a poorly made wrap in it – all cold and soggy. Yet, I know wraps can be done well and Portland’s food carts have proved that. At The Lunch Box, they offer up both cold and hot pressed wraps with a variety of ingredients. Being a cool fall day, I chose the Tuna Melt hot pressed wrap. A layer of cheese on the tortilla, topped with fresh tuna salad and tomato, the wrap is then pressed similar to a panini until hot with all that tasty cheese melted throughout. Inside Quimby’s, the onsite bar, everyone asked what I had. No one had seen such a glorious sandwich from a cart I guess. Being a sucker for anything with the words tuna and melt in it, I dove in and enjoyed every bite. A great mix of tuna with seasonings and mayo. The wrap was crisp and toasty. Overall, I would trade this over some of the traditional melts I’ve had in town.
The Lunch Box is located at Q19 Food Cart Pod in NW Portland. There is outdoor seating or you can take you food inside and warm up in the bar. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
Hot Pressed Wraps:
- Philly Steak – $8
- Chipotle Chicken – $7
- Tuna Melt – $7
- Chicken Cordon Bleu – $7
- Grilled Cheese w/bacon and tomato – $7
- Italian – ham, salami, basil – $7
- Chicken Bacon Club – $7
- Tuna – $7
- Veggie – $7
- Roast Beef – $7
Location: NE 52nd and Sandy, Rose City Food Park
Hours: Mon-Sun, 12-7
The Story: Cackalack’s Hot Chicken Shack expanded this summer to open a second food cart at Rose City Food Park in NE Portland. Same menu as their SE location including some amazing wings.
See our post on Cackalack’s here.
Facebook: Cackalack’s Hot Chicken Shack
Location: SE 28th Pl and Division – Tidbit
Hours: Wed-Sun, 12-3pm, 5:30-8:30pm
The Story: Portland restaurants offer up some of the best burgers and even dedicate an entire week to them. At Earth Burgers, a food cart at Tidbit, they offer up tasty vegetarian and vegan options for burger lovers who don’t want to eat meat.
Earth Burgers opened earlier this year and moved to the Tidbit lot in August. Owners Diane and Stan came to Portland to launch their business after attending the ROAM Mobile Food Conference in 2013. Diane is a graduate of the New York French Culinary Institute and worked in a number of New York establishments to create a stellar resume and understand food and the complexity of flavors. The two of them put together an idea and ran with it, launching Earth Burgers focusing on healthy vegetarian and vegan burgers.
At Earth Burgers, the burgers are handmade with black beans and garbanzo beans from Washington’s Haricot Farms. Grains and flours are from Bob’s Red Mill. All mixed greens and spices are organic. See the theme? They offer Gluten Free buns from Happy Campers in Tigard. The American Graffiti first piqued my interest with a black bean and sweet potato burger, mixed greens, onion, ketchup and mustard. Just what a burger should be. Then I spied the PDmeX which added pickled jalapenos and a tomatillo-avocado salsa. Mix in spice with any burger and I’m sold. The PDmeX started off with great flavors in the burger and bun with the spice from the jalapenos coming in around the halfway mark. Whew, it spiced it up in a good way. What I loved about the handmade patty was it didn’t mush up and fall apart like some veggie burgers. The bun and burger stayed together till the last bite. Looking forward to a return trip to try one of the chickpea burgers.
Earth Burgers is a great addition to our overall burger scene here in the city. At Tidbit they have found a home in one of Portland’s most welcoming spots. Drop on by when you’re craving something new and let Diane and Stan know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- The Casbah – chickpea burger, cucumbers, tomato, pickled red onions, organic mixed greens, tahini sauce – $8
- Electric Sitar – potato and vegetable burger, caramelized onions, cilantro chutney, organic mixed greens, masala sauce – $8
- PDmeX – $8.50
- Beautiful South – black-eyed pea burger, vinegar based coleslaw, organic mixed greens, bbq sauce – $7.50
- American Graffiti – $7
The ROAM Mobile Food Conference is November 8-9 in San Antonio. Only a few weeks away. If you’re an aspiring mobile food vendor or want to take your existing mobile food business to the next level, this conference is for you. The only professional conference specifically for the mobile food industry. A Food Truck Academy for newcomers will feature national experts focusing on topics including business planning, permitting, equipment, branding, sales and marketing. There will be hands-on activities and plenty of opportunity to ask seasoned veterans questions. The Owner’s Summit the same weekend will feature speakers who have experience growing mobile food businesses whether it is expanding to multiple food trucks or figuring out how to hire the right employees.
- Keith Hill – owner of KHILL BBQ and Executive Directory of San Antonio Food Truck Association
- Warren Hansen – Street Vending Coordinator, City of Madison, WI
- Jennifer Lewis – Small Food Business
- Richard Myrick – Owner, Mobile-Cuisine.com
- Ross Resnick – Founder, Roaming Hunger
- Matthew Geller – CEO, SoCal Mobile Food Vendors’ Association
- Matt Breslow – Owner, The Grilled Cheese Grill
The ROAM Mobile Food Conference may be the single best investment of your year. This week, the conference is offering 50% off registration. Register here and use the code 1/2offRoam.
ROAM Mobile Food Conference
November 8-9, San Antonio, Texas
All Roads Lead To Roam