Less than three years ago, Cultured Caveman emerged as the first paleo food cart on the west coast, hawking bone broth and bacon collards to Portlanders hungry for a new style of eating. Today, the NE 15th & Alberta Street pod that debuted the region’s first grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free menu is a veritable paleo paradise, thanks to the addition of two new carts proffering donuts, dahl, popsicles and pork belly that any caveman would love.
Perhaps surprisingly, vegans can also find plenty to love here; skip the chicken tenders and other clearly meat-centric dishes, and the remaining menu items are mostly plant-based, thanks to paleo eaters’ aversion to dairy and love of fresh produce. Read on for profiles of the pioneering paleo carts and a recipe for dairy-free strawberry ice cream!
DesiPDX is one of the most delicious mid-life crises you ever did see. “Some people buy a car,” chuckles 39-year-old cart owner Deepak Saxena. “Other people buy a food cart.”
But this wood-paneled food cart is no mere whim. Saxena discovered his love of cooking in his early twenties, and developed a passion for healthy, sustainable eating after reading Fast Food Nation. Raised on traditional Indian food, the world traveler has cooked on four continents, fed hungry crowds at Burning Man, and ran a micro-catering business off his bicycle. And after a decade of dreaming, he abandoned his 20-year career in software development to create DesiPDX.
Believing that “eating is inherently political,” Saxena proudly maintains a menu that’s entirely gluten-free, primarily paleo and vegan, and uses local, organic, and non-GMO ingredients whenever possible. But don’t let labels distract you; this food speaks for itself. Take the cart’s signature dish: a half-pound of free range chicken drumsticks, brined and steamed in black tea, deep fried, glazed with coconut sugar chai spices, and finished with toasted cardamom Jacobsen Salt. Delightfully dynamic flavors burst from dishes that could have easily been humdrum, like shredded cabbage slaw and “Portlandian” fried rice. Don’t skip dessert, a decadent cup of just-sweet-enough shredded carrots simmered in creamy coconut milk.
Still in its infancy, Saxena plans to let the menu evolve organically, with items like seafood, quail eggs, and spicy (GF/vegan) garbanzo bean waffles already in the works. Further down the road, he’s hoping to start a supper club “where I can go totally crazy once a month” outside the confines of a cart. Sign us up, Deepak!
Evergreen College education students Leland Chazen and Linus Binns got their entrepreneurial start selling artisanal popsicles out of a pushcart on the streets of Olympia. Soon after, the super cute couple moved to Portland, purchased the Pie Spot’s old food cart, and began peddling petite, pillowy, paleo donuts.
Sugardoodle’s sweet creations are astonishingly special diet-friendly, side-stepping grains entirely in favor of yucca root, sweet potato, coconut flour, and coconut oil. The tiny treats come dusted with matcha, drizzled with maple syrup, sprinkled with sugar, topped with strawberry slivers, or dolloped with sunbutter and chocolate sauce. (Think Pip’s Original, but even smaller and sans gluten and animal products.)
The cart plans to add nut butter-based cookie dough and customizable popsicles (flash-frozen with liquid nitrogen!) in the coming months, as a throwback to their OlyPop beginnings. In the meantime, they’re offering creamy banana ice cream, and have kindly provided us with a recipe that’s as simple as it is satisfying. Read on to learn the secret behind Sugardoodle’s strawberry-banana soft serve!
Strawberries & Cream Banana Soft Serve
Serving: 1-2 people
1 ripe banana (yellow with brown speckles), frozen in an airtight container for at least two hours.
4 plump strawberries, frozen for a minimum of two hours.
We have the special machines that aerate the bananas to make them creamy instantaneously, but if you're using a food processor, simply pulse both strawberries and banana in food processor until smooth and creamy. Enjoy!