I Heart This Cart

Jonathan Amato
comfort food cart portland

I Heart This Cart

Location: SW 3rd and Washington
Hours: Mon-Sat, 11-4

The Story:

Multicultural Comfort Food is the theme for I Heart This Cart at SW 3rd and Washington. Looking at the diverse items on the menu, I see what they mean.

On a cool winter day, I revisited the cart to chat with the new owner Heather and check out the latest menu offerings. Heather trained at Western Culinary and has worked in every restaurant and catering spot she could. She even worked a kitchen at a fly fishing camp in Alaska and at the Playboy mansion. How ’bout them apples? Heather worked with the previous owner and took over the cart earlier this year and has made it her own. The goal is to make people happy. Heather can pretty much cook anything, but prefers to create dishes where she can “stand over a pot and stir.” Comfort food.

At I Heart this Cart you can pick up everything from pulled pork sliders to a chicken sub or jalapeno mac & cheese. If you’re truly into the ultimate comfort food, check out the different tater tot dishes including cajun tots, loaded tots with cheese, bacon, green onion and chipotle ranch or go crazy and enjoy a plate of carne asada tots with everything you can imagine plus seared carne asada. If you’re looking for a healthy dish, I heart this Cart offers up a fresh cobb salad also.

I Heart This Cart has a steady stream of patrons while I stood around chatting with other vendors. Heather has built a following of regulars, but also attracts newcomers who are looking for good home cooked food. Drop on by next time you’re looking for something new and let him know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Tater Tot dishes range from $2-$8 depending on toppings and size
  • Cobb Salad – $7
  • Chicken Caesar Wrap – $7
  • Pulled Pork or Roasted Chicken and Grits – $8
  • Pulled Pork Sliders – $8
  •  Cheesesteak – $5 or 8 depending on size

Phone: 971 407 9930
Facebook: I Heart This Cart
Twitter: @this_cart

Starchy and Husk


SW 2nd and Oak

The Story:

As my generation grows up, I think we’re rediscovering some of the comfort foods that got us through our childhood – PB&J, Tater Tots, and Mac & Cheese. Portland is lucky to have a restaurant that has been serving up tasty mac & cheese now for 20 some years – Montage. Now Portland can get some tasty mac & cheese from a cart. I give you Starchy and Husk.

Starchy and Husk opened in early April and seems to be doing brisk business at the North Station cart pod. A bright red refurbished sportsman trailer from yore is home to one of the most beautiful stainless steel modern kitchens I have seen in a cart. As I looked in the window, I was blown away at what they had built. Starchy and Husk gets the name from the 1970’s show Starsky and Hutch and the design is around the Gran Torino paint scheme. They even have items on the menu referencing the show – The Gran Torino and Huggie Bites.

I ordered up the Gran Torino meal at the recommendation of Tom, the owner. His statement of “it may have too much pancetta in it…” convinced me. My response was obvious – “how can you have too much pancetta in anything?”  The Gran Torino is mac & cheese made with chunks of baked butternut squash, pancetta, 7 cheeses and then baked with panko bread crumbs on top. It is a good portion and the butternut squash gives is a sweetness I have never thought to add to mac n’ cheese. The pancetta was a nice touch and not overwhelming as Tom had been concerned about. The meal I ordered came with a green salad and a piece of cornbread.

Starchy and Husk is serving up mac & cheese at this time with the cornbread acting as the “husk.” As sweet corn comes into season here in Portland and the surrounding area, Tom will have a roaster in order to serve up fresh roasted corn – the “husk.” Such a great idea and a food that pulls at my childhood heartstrings. I will probably be spending some quality time getting to know Starchy and Husk this summer. If you are up in North Portland, look for the bright red and silver cart and enjoy a childhood memory. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

[Update: January 2010, Starchy and Husk moved to SW 2nd and Oak]

Sample Menu:

  • The Gran Torino: 7 cheeses, chunks of butternut squash, pancetta, topped with panko breadcrumbs – $6
  • The Classic: made with sharp cheddar and topped with panko – $5
  • add side salad and cornbread to either meal for $1
  • Huggie Bites: gluten free sweet potato hush puppies – 5 for $2

Hours: Wednesday-Friday, 11am-7pm; Saturday and Sunday, 12-8pm
Phone: 503 708 7819
Facebook: Starchy and Husk


side cart


side cart

side cart

[sidecart closed in early 2010]

Location: SW 5th between Stark and Oak


Remember that first time you visited a really nice expensive steak house and were shocked that your steak didn’t come with anything but the steak on a plate? Those amazing mushrooms or curly fries or green beans were an extra $5 each. How could they do that? Oh, and since then, at every restaurant you go to, you wish you could just order sides. I know you do. I do. Well, now you can get all the sides you want. From the creators of the wonderful BrunchBox, they give you side cart.

I first saw the menu for side cart on FaceBook and it immediately made me drool. So many options for sides, and almost everything on the menu is vegetarian. Hushpuppies, seasoned curly fries, onion straws, cheesy tots, vegetable medley, okra bites, mac and cheese. And all of the offerings are under $3, so you can get a couple. Upon my first visit, I really couldn’t decide what I was hungry for and then I saw the option of mix and match – 3 items for $5. I opted for okra bites, mac and cheese shells and baked beans.

side cart mix and match

side cart mix and match

As you can see, these aren’t tiny portions, but enough to sate you for lunch. You can order larger portions of each item on the menu if you so desire. The okra bites were my favorite that day. Little crunchy nibbles of goodness. I know many don’t like okra, but for me, it is one of the best tasting veggies out there. The mac and cheese was appropriately cheesy with the shells perfectly al dente. The beans were simple, like those you would pick up at a BBQ. Nothing here was over the top nor too fancy and that is what I liked. They served up a great meal at a great price with a great portion.

side cart has daily specials and “Meatless Monday.” You should watch their Twitter feed for those or just swing by. They do offer desert in the form of a battered and deep fried candy bar. Lastly, there is a line item on the menu –

How’s-this-for-awesome – you bring us something edible, we batter (sweet or savory) & fry it. $1-$3

I understand a certain someone who likes food carts is challenging them with items like squash and thin mints. side cart is yet another example of a cart I wouldn’t have thought of, but Portland has embraced and loves. When your out and about, even if you already have your lunch, drop by side cart for a little extra…and tell them Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:
[prices reflect side portions. full orders are available]

  • Seasoned curly fries – $1.50
  • Zucchini sticks – $3
  • Hushpuppies – $2
  • Tater tots – $2
  • Cheesy tots – $3
  • Okra bites – $2
  • Mashed potatoes – $1.50
  • Mac and cheese shells – $2
  • Stuffing – $2
  • Thanksgiving: mashed potatoes, stuffing, vegs – $5
  • Mix and match any 3 dishes – $5
  • Smorgasfry: curly fries + tots + onion straws – $5
  • Battered and deep fried candy bar – $2-$3

Contact: sidecartpdx@gmail.com
Twitter: sidecart
Facebook: sidecart fan page