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.
Azul Tequila has opened a second food cart at Tidbit. Excellent menu of Mexican cuisine. Open daily for lunch and dinner.
Excellent Thai cuisine from one of Portland’s best Thai restaurants now in a food cart.
The Story: Lodekka, a vintage London double decker bus, opened its doors a few years ago on N Williams in North Portland. The quirky little vintage shop was one of the first to embrace the use of a mobile unit for something more than food. Now in its fourth year, Lodekka has moved to Tidbit on SE Division. If you’re looking for some cool vintage clothes or maybe a knick knack or two, you may find it at Lodekka.