Today we learned that the food cart pod at SW 6th and Columbia in downtown Portland will close at the end of June. As a rather young pod, having only been open for a little over a year, it had gained a strong following for some of its more well known vendors. The carts were notified on Friday, giving them only 1 month to find new locations or close. A couple of vendors just located there in the past week, so they're facing even more challenges, the cost to set up and move along with now finding a new location. According to one of the vendors, this isn't about development, but about parking spaces for an adjacent building.
The vendors who will be displaced include Aybla Grill, Morning Wood Espresso, Taqueria So Mexican, Saffron indian, E-San Thai, Love Belizean and Thai Pasta 2.
The news comes a week after Portland learned that east side pods Cartopia, Good Food Here and North Station will all be closing after this summer season. The lots on the east side are closing in order to be developed for residential space. Heartbreak at learning that Cartopia, Portland's original late night food option on the east side, will be closing, displacing some of the vanguards of the street food scene of the last 7 years. I distinctly remember the nights spent by the fire enjoying poutine and fries from Potato Champion or a crepe from Perierra Creperie. Losing such a beacon for the food cart scene will have an impact on Portland's street food culture. Hopefully, another lot will take the reigns for late night indulgement.
With these closures, we're seeing a shift in the overall scene here in Portland. There have been food carts in the city since it was founded, yet, as we have seen, the last 6 years has put Portland on the map as one of the best street food cities in the world. Our pod structure and the liberal interpretation of laws and regulations has allowed entrepreneurs and visionaries to carve out a place where great food and unique culinary experiences meet. Portland is a food town and the carts are a part of that.
I've always felt that the street food scene will continue to evolve and this is just another example of how the vendors will deal with an ever changing city they call home. I ate at my first cart in 1991 - Honkin' Huge Burritos in Pioneer Courthouse Square. They're still open an slingin' burritos after all these years. That tells me the food carts are here to stay.
I ask of everyone who loves street food, and I mean you, the reader, to head out a couple extra times in the coming months and patronize those vendors who may be looking for new homes in the near future. Thank them for all the wonderful bites and throw them an extra buck if you have it. Street food is egalitarian and for us all. Without it, many of us wouldn't have been exposed to Georgian cuisine or Kalua pork from Hawaii or wood-fired pizza or a Big-Ass Sandwich. Where else in Portland can you find khao man gai - Thai chicken and rice - but from a food cart.
Thank you for your continued support of Portland's dynamic and ever evolving street food scene.
Vendors affected by upcoming closures:
Cartopia - SE 12th and Hawthorne
Whiffies Fried Pies
Good Food Here - SE 43rd and Belmont
Cackalack's Hot Chicken Shack
Timber's Dog House PDX
Blue's City Biscuits
Herb's Mac 'n' Cheese
Namu Killer Korean BBQ
Taste of Poland
SW 6th and Columbia
Morning Wood Espresso
Taqueria so Mexican
Thai Pasta 2
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