Central Eastside Food Carts Put the Mmmm in MLK

A new Southeast Portland cart pod is dishing out Mexican, Thai, ice cream, and more—with plenty of room to grow.

By Allison Jones June 7, 2013

Now that the east-side loop of the Portland Streetcar is operating, we can expect to see plenty of new businesses cropping up along the central arterial of 99E.

In true PDX style, one of the first new enterprises will capitalize on the potential influx of foot traffic is actually a collaboration of small businesses: the Central Eastside Food Cart pod.

The pod officially opened on June 1, just in time for the sunshine. Though still in its early stages—housing only seven carts with room for thirty—the pod has already attracted some familiar names to its convenient location between MLK and Grand on SE Washington:

  • Scoop Handmade Ice Cream: The third permanent location of Amanda Rhoads' artisan ice cream truck is currently offering flavors like oatmeal and brown sugar, banana chocolate chip, peppermint patty, maple walnut, strawberry balsamic sorbet, and salted caramel. 
  • El Local: Recently relocated from the Carts on Foster pod, this eclectic truck offers avocado chilaquiles, steak panini, chicken gyros, pollo sabrosas, and huevos rancheros with handmade tortillas and fresh guacamole (each for $6).
  • Castle Cauldron: Owned by Travis and Angela Landchild, a husband-and-wife team of Army combat veterans who met in Baghdad, this chili, stew, and chowder truck tried seven other location before settling in the Central Eastside pod. Try the clam chowder (it's gluten free, thickened with mashed potatoes) and award-winning Dragon Chili with bacon, brisket, and chipotle.
  • Taqueria Las Piedritas: The second location of Old Town/Chinatown's late night taco truck is now offering its $1 handmade-tortilla taco specials in addition to tortas, sopes, burritos, flautas, enchiladas, and nachos. Across from Las Piedritas sits the fiesta-festooned Tacos Gadea, no doubt sparking a pod taco truck rivalry. A point in Gadea's favor: they've got tripe.
  • SiLa Thai: A recent NoPo transplant, this cart offers huge portions of curries, noodle dishes, soups, and veggie-packed specials.
  • Rockin' Robyn's BBQ Bento: Offering meat skewers from the "Original Steer" meat market on SE Division and 123rd Ave, from the folks behind Rockin' Robyn's Sassy Burger on NE Sandy. Opening soon.
A stone's throw from downtown and much of the east side, the pod also offers a tented eating area, free Wi-Fi, and portable loos—and, thanks to the streetcar and high visibility to the 25,000+ vehicles that pass per day, it has the potential to become one of the most visited pods in Portland. 

If you're a cart owner looking for a fresh location for the summer, check out the Central Eastside Food website or email [email protected]

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