Cart to Bricks Boomtown

Five erstwhile food carts turned brick-and-mortar eateries that keep us coming back

By Allison Jones November 1, 2013 Published in the November 2013 issue of Portland Monthly

Fifty Lick's brick-and-mortar scoop shop showcases new flavors and cocktail creations from French custard-style ice cream guru Chad Draizin.

Image: Allison Jones


From the ashes of chef Michael Kennett’s Fuego de Lotus food cart, this colorful destination rose in July. Bring a crowd and order platters of buttery fried corn arepas, herbaceous grilled lamb, and slow-cooked pork belly in red chile maple sauce to feast upon in the restaurant’s cozy second-story bar or spacious back patio. 1615 SE 12th Ave; 971-888-5281

Pie Spot

With a bright bakery tucked within the Ocean’s cluster of microeateries, owners Ashley Ragsdale and Jessica Woods expanded their cart’s offerings of pie holes—“the cupcake of pies”—in February. Complete with a roll-up garage door, a full coffee bar, and a menu of savory mushroom and gruyère potpies, this sweet spot satisfies. 521 NE 24th Ave; 503-913-5103

El Cubo de Cuba

Downtown’s erstwhile Cuban food cart is now a lively Hawthorne Boulevard hub, plating slow-roasted mojo pork, guava chicken, Cuban sandwiches, and maduros (addictive fried sweet plantains). Counter service keeps things casual, while a full cocktail menu promises daiquiris, mojitos, and sangria poured with a soundtrack of Cuban classics. 3106 SE Hawthorne Blvd; 971-544-7801

Sok Sab Bai

After two years slinging cult-forming Cambodian cuisine from his food cart near Ladd’s Addition, chef Nyno Thol made the jump to a 45-seat restaurant in March. The new menu admirably expands on the mobile kitchen’s greatest hits: palm sugar–glazed spicy wings, ginger-fried bass, and charred beef sausages bursting with garlic and galangal. 2625 SE 21st Ave, Unit B; 971-255-0292

Fifty Licks

Chad Draizin’s powder-blue ice cream trucks evoked childhood memories in many of us—even without a speaker blaring looping jingles. At his new scoop shop, he’s able to tap even deeper nostalgia with more dreamy flavors and a soft-serve machine. Draizin also offers a sweet date-night idea: sophisticated sorbet cocktails served until close. 2021 SE Clinton St, #101; 954-294-8868

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