Casablanca Express

Casablanca Express

Casablanca Express

Location: SE MLK and Stark at Central Eastside Food Carts
Hours: Mon-Sat, 11am-5pm

The Story: Portland has plenty of options for Mediterranean cuisine, but at Casablanca Express, it comes with a taste of Morocco. From shawarma on the spit to lamb to Mezza salad plates, this vendor has it all. Open for lunch daily in SE Portland.

Facebook: Casablanca Express




Location: 6550 N Interstate Ave
Hours: Wednesday-Friday, 11am-7pm; weekends, 11am-4pm

The Story: I love telling people about the diversity of cuisine here in Portland’s street food scene. At the food carts throughout town, you can enjoy falafel from every country in the Middle East and beyond. Everyone does it different. Now we have a local falafel maker – let’s call it a NW falafel. ChickPeaDX is now open in North Portland.

Yair Maidan opened ChickPeaDX this summer in the parking lot of Home Brew Exchange on N Interstate, just north of Rosa Parks blvd. The neighborhood has few options for falafel, so I know I’m excited to have him. Yair, originally from Florida, was lured to Portland to participate in our ever evolving food scene. He worked behind the scenes in some of the city’s best restaurants before launching his food cart this year. The goal is to highlight the chickpea, the primary ingredient in falafel. Yair informed me that a majority of the country’s chickpeas come from just north of us in Washington, so why not leverage the locality of them.

Falafel Sandwich from ChickPeaDX

Falafel Sandwich from ChickPeaDX

ChickPeaDX’s menu starts and ends with falafel. He blends the chickpeas with fresh herbs and his own secret spice mix. It is up to you to decide how you want to enjoy it, whether on a pita, a salad or sandwich. When I learned he sourced his sandwich buns from An Xuyen Bakery, the decision was made. The falafel sandwich comes with fried eggplant, carrot ribbons, tomato cucumber salad, shredded cabbage and the falafel. Yair also has his own sauces – Amba, a spicy pickled mango sauce, Tahini – a rich sesame seed sauce and Zhuq, a fiery Yemeni herbal condiment. I dove in, the flakey bread was a great way to enjoy the soft and flavorful falafel with all the freshness of the vegetables. Each bite enjoyable. The Zhug sauce in small amounts added a kick you sometimes crave. Yair had made a great falafel.

ChickPeaDX is open Wednesday- unday. You can get lunch or dinner during the week. There is seating on the lot, so you don’t have to leave. Sit and enjoy your meal. Next time you have a craving for falafel, check them out and let Yair know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

All dishes come with handmade falafel, tomato cucumber salad, carrot ribbons, fried eggplant and shredded cabbage.

  • Pita – $6
  • Salad – $7
  • Sandwich – $8.50

Facebook: ChickPeaDX
Twitter: @ChickPeaDX

The Gyros Spot


Location: SE 82nd and Harney, Cartlandia
Hours: Weekdays/weekends, lunch

Gyros, Falafel and other gourmet Greek specialties.

Babylon Iraqi

Jonathan Amato

Babylon IraqiLocation: SW 5th and Oak Pod
Hours: Mon-Fri 11 am – 6 pm

The Story: I think there’s a tendency to lump all Middle Eastern food together.  Generally, many do all have common dishes (often with the same name) Hummus, Pita Bread, Shawarma, Falafel and the like. Yet like Europe, the Middle East is a vast place with some distinct variations and dishes found country by country and region by region.

Take Falafel for example. Sure, it’s usually ground chickpeas with some spices and fillings then rolled into balls and fried. But have you ever had Israeli Falafel with it’s all you can eat buffet of topping choices? Or what about Egyptian Falafel, generally made with bright green Fava Beans and not just Chickpeas? Some are balls, some are patties, some are golf ball sized and others much larger. Seasonings vary from country to country too from mild to spicy to herbal to garlicky.

Enter Babylon Iraqi. This nicely decorated cart, nestled into the bustling SW 5th and Oak pod downtown, offers menu items you might be familiar with through “Middle Eastern” cuisine, but here things are just a bit different. They are also very, very good. It’s the quality, care and freshness of the ingredients that matters, and Babylon Iraqi has all three.

b iraqi 2The tender, and really, I mean melt in your mouth moist Falafels at Babylon Iraqi come with herbal notes and a bit of spicy heat, also drizzled with bright red hot sauce, have become my top Falafel in Portland – Chickpea based, in case you are wondering. At $5.00 for a sandwich, or $6.00 for a heaping plate that includes salad, saffron rice, and hummus, they are a BARGAIN.  Don’t just stop at the Falafels though. Rice Burianey is enough for 2-3 meals with my appetite, and comes heaping with aromatic rice, and falafel, chicken, or lamb as you wish. Chicken Shawarma, hummus, and my favorite garlicky, smokey, creamy eggplant dip known as Baba Ganouj are also available. Hey, you can even get a Halal  hot dog or burger if you’d like to try some Western/Iraqi fusion cuisine. Come to think of it, a burger with hummus on it sounds pretty good right about now…

Sample Menu: 

  • Hummus with Pita Bread – $3.00
  • Rice Burianey (Falafel, Chicken, or lamb) – $6.00 – $8.00
  • Shawarma chicken  – $6.00 for a plate, $5.00 for a wrap
  • Falafel Plate (with salad, rice, hummus) – $6.00
  • Falafel Wrap – $5.00
  • Iraqi Tea – $2.00

Phone:  Coming Soon

Aybla Grill at Tidbit


Location: SE 28th Pl and Division at Tidbit.
Hours: lunchtime weekdays

The Story: Portland’s venerable Middle Eastern vendor has expanded again with a cart at SE 28th Pl and Division