El Taco Yucateco

mexican food cart portland

El Taco Yucateco

Location: Mobile
Hours: Weekdays, lunch

The Story: Elloy Martin makes an amazing panucho. Simple, satisfying and oh, so flavorful. Elloy Martin has been making Mexican street food magic in his food cart El Taco Yucateco for a couple of years and now comes to serve the downtown Portland eaters.

I first met Elloy a year or so ago when he was at Green Castle. I made the mistake of assuming his cart was the same as a similar named vendor out east. Lucky for me, it wasn’t a huge error as it was his brother’s cart I had visited. After some ups and downs at Green Castle, Elloy moved the cart downtown this year and opened up on SW Alder between 9th and 10th. The menu at the cart is what you would expect from most Mexican vendors – tacos, burritos, quesadillas and tortas. All fresh, made to order with pride. What stands out here are the panuchos, a special type of taco. Elloy has to go as far as Sandy to source his special masa paste for the tortillas. A panucho is different than a taco and served open face like a tostada. He makes a tortilla then quickly fries it, puffing it up. Elloy then pulls it out, slices it open and stuffs it with black bean paste. Back in the pan to finish up, he then tops it with lettuce, cabbage, shredded and seasoned chicken, pickled red onion, tomato and avocado. A panucho, done right, is one of those dishes you don’t want to eat – so beautiful. If I could, I would take it somewhere so they could preserve it for all time. Each bite is a treat from the avocado mixing with the marinated onion and the creamy beans. The tortilla isn’t hard, so you don’t have to worry about it breaking up in your hand. A couple of panuchos and a Jarochita on a sunny day is all this boy needs to make him smile.

mexican food cart portland

Panuchos from El Taco Yucatecos

While waiting for my order, a few other patrons came along for burritos. One woman came up proclaiming that the cart “had the best taco salad in town.” I’ll have to try that next. Elloy is one of those vendors who smiles and engages his customers whether he’s busy or not and I enjoyed chatting with him about Mexican street food. Makes me want to take a trip. Drop on by El Taco Yucateco next time you have a craving for something new. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Panuchos – $2
  • Tacos – beef, chicken, cactus – $1.50
  • Quesadilla-  $3, add beef or chicken for $1
  • Tamale – $3
  • Taco Salad – beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese, sour cream, cilantro, your choice of meat – $7
  • Burritos – $5
  • Tortas – $5

Phone: (503) 901-0768
Facebook: El Taco Yucateco

Thrive Pacific NW

rice bowl food cart portland

Thrive Pacific NW

Location: check their website for current location

The Story:

Earlier this year, after returning from a trip to California where I had to seek out food trucks all over the city, I drove down Division and saw a food truck parked in front of APEX bar. We have food trucks here in Portland, but most of the mobile vendors are congregated in lots throughout the city, so seeing a truck on the street is something kinda new. Thrive Pacific NW has been roaming the streets of Portland all summer feeding hungry eaters.

Thrive is the work of Stephanie and Erika who only met a year or so ago but have years of experience in the kitchen and wanted to try something new. With a beautifully outfitted truck, they launched with the goal of hitting events and under served areas where there aren’t any food vendors. You may have seen them at Powell’s Street Fair or Sunday Parkways or even the Zoo Concerts.

rice bowl food cart portland

The Argentinean from Thrive

The menu is designed around Erika’s travels internationally, but the food is all local. Vegetables sourced from local farms and vendors like Kruger Farms and Draper Valley. They even have their own garden plot which they harvested vegetables from throughout the summer. As the seasons change, so will the menu, focusing on what’s fresh and available. Delicata squash was mentioned and my mouth watered. I am a fan of sauteed fresh veggies whether it be kale or broccoli or snap peas. Done well and they retain the fresh out of the garden flavor with a bit of sear on the edges. The Argentinian bowl I enjoyed had a good assortment of sauteed vegetables, seared and seasoned tempeh and a to die for garlicky chimichurri sauce. All served over brown rice. Every bite, whether it was kale or brocolli or carrot or squash had a burst of flavor from the chimichurri. Such a wonderful dish, it made me rethink dinner plans for the nights to come.

Thrive Pacific NW cruises around town to different venues and events. They are regulars outside APEX Bar on SE 12th and Division on Wednesday nights, but you can find their whole schedule on their website which they update regularly. This is a truck to seek out and try. You’ll be glad you did. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Thrive is a Mobile Food Truck in the city.

Sample Menu (see website for current menu and pricing):

Protein can be added to any bowl: organic tempeh, $1; free-range chicken, $2; grass-fed hanger steak,

  • Japanese Rice Bowl: brown rice, sauteed veg, sesame seeds, cilantro, tamari-sesame sauce, sea weed
  • Thai Rice Bowl: brown rice, sauteed veg, cilantro, mint, peanuts, Thai coconut sauce
  • Mexican Rice Bowl: brown rice, black beans, sauteed veg, tomatillo salsa, avocado, creamy lime sauce
  • Argentinean Rice Bowl:
  • Kashmir Rice Bowl: brown rice, sauteed veg, basil, cashews, Indian curry sauce

Hours: check website
Website: ThrivePacificNW.com
Facebook: Thrive Pacific NW
Twitter: @ThrivePacificNW


Los Roast Hatch Green Chile

Los Roast Hatch Green Chile

Los Roast Hatch Green Chile

Location: Roaming, Check Facebook

The Story:

A few years ago, when Portland experienced a re-birth of street food which continues till today, a cart opened that surprised many with the uniqueness of the cuisine and the affability of the owner. Jesse Sandoval had brought his family recipes to Portland in the form of Nuevo Mexico, a cart that fed many a Portlander for a couple of years. Jesse is back, partnering with his cart owner Marshall Berg to bring something new – roasted Hatch Green Chiles.

Hatch Green Chiles are from Hatch, New Mexico where they can be found literally growing everywhere. Not really, but if you drive down the main street there during harvest season, you’ll find the chiles in every form, from fresh to dried to roasted and incorporated into every kind of cuisine. Hatch is where its at for these priceless peppers. But why should Hatch have all the fun? Cart owner Marshall Berg partnered with Jesse and have imported more than a few bushels of Hatch Chiles and have been roasting and packaging them to sell. When I first heard of this, my mouth watered as I’m a big fan of most chiles. When I visited the cart at Last Thursday on Alberta I was blown away by the flavor and quality of the product. The team built a custom roaster which they lit up just for me to show how the final product is produced. The contraption is like a bingo ball tumbler but made of heavy gauge steel mesh so when hit with the gas flames, it roasts the peppers tumbling about inside. The smell is memorable and if you purchase some, you can take it home and pull them out of the fridge every day and re-live the roast. These are some amazing peppers.

Los Roast Chile will only be around for as long as green chile season. I’m happy to see Jesse back in the mobile food scene here in Portland and have some of the chiles waiting for my next meal. The cart and roaster will be at the Belmont Street Fair on September 8 with plenty of peppers. Beyond that, check them out on Facebook for their next location. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Facebook: LosRoastChile
Twitter: @LosRoastChile
Phone: 503 830 5310

Momo Cart

Momo Cart

Momo Cart

Location: Roaming, check Facebook
Hours: check Facebook

The Story:

Young man visits Nepal. Young man returns to Nepal. Best friend from Nepal moves to Portland and marries. Three friends are together in the same city and Momo Cart is born.

Evan, a California native, lived in Nepal learning Nepalese and teaching English when he met Roshan, his now business partner. Roshon went on to marry Hailey, another friend and all three ended up in Portland to start the cart. Momos are steamed Himalayan dumplings and are available throughout Nepal from carts similar to the Momo Cart they crafted from a bike trailer here in Portland. Many parts of the cart were salvaged from one place or another in order to create something unique. Hailey even pointed out the timber bamboo on the corners that they harvested from the neighbor’s yard.

Vegan Himalayan Dumplings from Momo Cart

Vegan Himalayan Dumplings from Momo Cart

On the menu at Momo Cart you can get chicken, vegan or chard n’ cheese momos. At Last Thursday on Alberta, the vegan dumplings were hot and ready, so they plated them up for me. Using sugarcane based compostable plates, the boys learned that if they placed the hot steamed dumpling directly atop, they would stick to the plate. To mitigate that, they spread their secret chutney on the plate first as a bed for the tasty morsels. Each plate is five dumplings and served with a dollop of said chutney in the center. The vegan momo comes with carrot, cabbage, onion, tomato, ginger, garlic, cumin, tumeric, salt and pepper. Such a great mix of flavors. The ginger, tumeric and cumin blend well with the veggies which still have a crunch and fresh farm flavor. These dumplings are amazing.

Momo Cart is one of those elusive mobile carts you have to track down to enjoy. While they were spending their summers at local parks, come fall, they will switch it up, so follow them on Facebook for up to date locations and times. If you see them on their bikes rolling down the street, wave and say hi. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Hours: check Facebook
Website: MomoCart.com
Twitter: @MomoCart
Facebook: MomoCartPDX

Organic Island Snow Shave Ice

Jonathan Amato

Location: On the Move (Often found at NE 15th and Alberta)

The Story: Aloha! Today on the Food Carts Portland’s It’s a Small World After All ride, we bring you a signature dish from the tropical islands of Hawaii. Yes, sun and beach loving Portlanders, it’s the sweet cold treat known as Hawaiian Shave Ice!

A True Shave Ice Machine

First off for the uninitiated, it’s SHAVE ICE, not Shaved ice. NO DEBATE. And Shave Ice is more than just a dessert or snack on the islands, it’s part of Hawaii’s soul. There are world famous Shave Ice shacks, and places with special signature flavors – everyone seems to have a favorite. The serious Shave Ice makers use only real fruit syrups made from real fruit purees, fresh juices, and fresh sugar cane (not just fruit flavored high fructose corn syrup junk). Real Shave Ice however, does share one other common trait – it’s all in the ice. Fluffy and fine, no grainy snow cone type ice crystals here. Organic Island Snow makes their Shave Ice the traditional way with a special hand cranked machine and a big block of ice, it looks like some Japanese steam punk art project inspired by the Industrial Age. Way cool (no pun intended).

Organic Island Snow, run by the dashing and charming Ilika, is the real deal Shave Ice. A native islander himself, Ilika is obsessive: all of his own syrups are made from scratch and he has his family ship over some of the fresh fruits, fruit purees, and yes, fresh sugar cane (in lieu of processed sugar) to make some of the most refreshing, bright and simply addictive icy sweets I’ve ever tasted. This is the only true Shave Ice way, my friends.

Flavors include all those wonderful tropical fruits we can never grow in Portland such as Litchi and Passion Fruit. While other closer to home flavors such as Strawberry and Peach, round out the offerings.

For now Organic Island Snow is a roaming cart – catch them as you can by checking out their Facebook Page. But, you can often find this open air cart at the Alberta15 pod on NE 15th and Alberta. Oh, and they also do catering in case you want some Shave Ice in lieu of a cake for your wedding, or even at your backyard BBQ. I know I would!

Mahalo, Organic Island Shave Ice for bringing a true taste of the Hawaiian Islands to Portland.

Sample Menu:

  • Kids Size (8 oz) – $2. Regular Size (16 oz) – $3
  • Flavors – Litchi Lemonade, Mango Pineapple, Passion Fruit, Mango, Peach Tangerine, Strawberry, Pink Guava, Peach

Hours: Varies
(503) 840-5252