Food Cart City: Redux

September 7, 2010

Video by Michael Cogliantry

Pod Perfection

Mississippi Marketplace: N Mississippi Ave, south of Skidmore St

Garden State, Nuevo Mexico, The Big Egg, Moxie Rx, The Sugar Cube (Find them!)

Curated and comfortable, Mississippi Marketplace boasts 10 spiffy carts, pop-up vendors, and a craft-food mentality, plus plentiful shaded tables in a revival-tent atmosphere. Don’t expect fast-food or deep-fried goofs here. Think Slow Food-Cart Movement, where dedicated cooks grind quinoa into flour, carefully source ingredients, and pay attention to presentation.


SE Hawthorne Blvd & 12th Ave

Bubba Bernies, Perierra Crêperie, Potato Champion, Pyro Pizza (Find them!)

Whatever evening escapades may have led you to be awake and hungry after midnight, there is one destination sure to satisfy your wee-hour cravings: Cartopia. With six quirky carts encircling tented clusters of communal picnic tables—lit by strands of Christmas lights and serenaded by a symphony of vintage rock—Cartopia is an intimate and often boisterous haven of edgy urbanity.

The Melting Pot

SW Alder St between Ninth & 11th avenues

Addy’s Sandwich Bar, Cool Harry’s Yogurt, Ziba’s Pitas, Nong’s Khao Man Gai, Eurodish (Find them!)

For the mobs of clock-watching cubicle dwellers who queue up daily (rain or shine), there are two strategies for taking on the sprawling food bazaar: join the same ol’ long line for a favorite fix, or ramble about, eyes peeled for a quick opening. Either option has its pros and cons, but what’s certain is quality—the competition is fierce here; half-baked concepts have come, but then always gone.

The Original

SW Fifth Avenue between Oak & Stark Streets

La Jarochita, Brunch Box, Tábor, The Swamp Shack (Find them!)

Just steps away from the US Bancorp Tower, the Green and Yellow MAX lines, and Broadway’s mix of hotels and high-dollar fare, the food-cart scene here is a boon to both veteran downtown nine-to-fivers and curious tourists looking to garnish their Stumptown experience with some local fare.

The Pioneer

North Station: N Greeley Ave & Killingsworth St

Brown Chicken Brown Cow, Caraqueña Michelle’s Amazing Venezuelan Kitchen, Saucy’s, Scoop Organic Ice Cream (Find them!)

North Station is a family-friendly destination with a distinctly global collection of cuisine. Whether you’re hankering for burgers, barbecue, mac and cheese, Venezuelan, Korean, Mexican, Thai, or even Guamanian food, you’ll find it here. Just don’t be surprised if the wealth of choices leaves you wandering from cart to cart, tripping over freewheeling toddlers as you go.


Carts that go it alone

Joslyn’s Ciao Chow, Eat This!, Namu Killer Korean BBQ, Wolf & Bears, Built to Grill, The People’s Pig, PBJ’s (Find them!)

Beyond the bazaarlike clusters of good eatin’ found in the city’s frenetic major pods, there are the go-it-aloners, the quieter clusters, and the sturdy pioneers of bold new pods-to-be. Indeed, at the rate they’re spawning across Portland, it would be best to keep your gate sturdily locked, lest you find someone serving up pasta, soup, or tacos a little too close to home.

Li’l Googies

Carts that were designs to be seen

A Streetcar Named Inspire, Joslyn’s Ciao Chow, Pyro Pizza, Homegrown Smoker Barbecue, Solar Waffle Works (Find them!)

As Portland’s parking lots and empty corners fill up with food carts, “cartitecture” is quickly becoming a new mode of competition. These carts stand above the rest.

Morning Glory

Breakfast carts all across the city

The Big Egg, Moxie Rx, Parkers Waffles, Bloop (Find them!)

Sweet or savory? It’s an agonizing breakfast-time decision that often leaves the grown-up part of our brain arguing for eggs while our inner 10-year-old begs for pancakes.

Goin’ mobile

Food carts that move

Truck Yeah!, Sol Pops, Burgerville Nomad, Etta, Koi Fusion, Spudnik (Find them!)

The concept of the tweeting mobile food truck may have begun with LA’s infamous Korean taco truck, Kogi, but Portland now boasts its own cool copycats.

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