Updated April 7, 2019 – Portland has what we think is the best food cart scene in the world. These Portland food carts & food trucks are our favorite food-on-wheels options in the city! (The order is not indicative of a ranking and this is certainly not an exhaustive list!)
Ever heard of a pelmini? If not, you’re missing out! These slavic dumplings filled with chicken and topped with sour cream are amazing the the portions are generous. Located in one of Portland’s newest pods, Hawthorne Asylum, you can enjoy your slavic bites under cover on the rainy days, by the fire on cold days, or get it to-go and walk around nearby historic Ladd’s Addition. No matter where you eat it, the pelmeni is delicious, comforting, and filling. More info here.
A gluten-free-friendly Indian cart creating delicious Desi meals using organic and often locally sourced ingredients. Deepak Saxena is not a long-time professional chef, but he has always had a passion for cooking. It wasn’t until his 40th birthday that Saxena moved out of tech start-ups and into the world of food carts. Desi is a word meaning authentic or pure as well as of Indian or Pakistani descent – and Saxena is a Desi person who is creating food that is decidedly not what you might consider typically authentic Indian food. His food combines many regions of India, not just recreating dishes from one specific part. Desi PDX has a menu that is vegan and paleo friendly! You gotta try his Cardamom Chai Chicken and his Pakora Waffles. See the menu and find the location here.
Jianbing is finally making its way into western countries – and we’re so glad the rest of the world is waking up to the excellence that is the perfect Chinese breakfast crepe. And Bing Mi! in particular is doing an excellent job acting as an ambassador of Jianbing to Portland. Stop by for a tasty meal that may be as much as 2000 years in the making! Bing Mi’s website describes the crepe best, saying “made with a freshly scrambled egg, the Bing includes black bean paste, chili sauce, pickled vegetables, green onion, cilantro, and a crispy fried cracker all rolled into a perfectly grilled crepe.” We LOVE these in our China food tours and we think they are worth trying out here in Portland, too! Details here.
Bao is Chinese for bun – and the buns served here are an experience on par with authentic buns in China. The couple that runs Bao Bao met in China, where the husband was teaching English. However, when they came to Portland, they felt that there was a lack of authentic Chinese food – and decided to try and fix that. And so Bao Bao was born. After perfecting their bao making skills in China, they opened their restaurant and food cart. We recommend the pork or curry chicken bao for meat eaters and the mushroom or sweet red bean bao for vegetarians! See what people have to say and get the directions here on their Facebook page.
Black Star Grill
West African cuisine has come to Portland! Black Star Grill has only been open since early 2017 but has become a fast favorite of Portland locals. Enoch Aggrey, originally from Ghana, is the mastermind behind this unique and delicious addition to Portland’s food cart scene. Having lived in Okinawa for a few years and working at a Cajun/Creole restaurant as a dishwasher, he is also planning on bringing his own version of some Japanese foods to the cart. Build your own bowl of white or Jollof (lightly spiced tomato) rice, caramelized fried plantains, spicy cabbage and carrot coleslaw, and topped with a protein of your choice. We recommend you build a bowl and grab a pineapple ginger fizz on a hot day. See more here.
A paleo friendly cart that was created by husband and wife Brian and Kelia as they tried to develop delicious recipes that could still be eaten by people with diet restrictions. From their website, “our kitchen is 100% grain, gluten, tree nut, legume, soy, cow-dairy, MSG, preservative, and other weird food additive free.” They pride themselves on a menu that is paleo friendly that can also be tailored to those on a keto diet as well as those who are vegan. We recommend trying the cauliflower rice or a tricerabox – a skewer or dinosaur egg (grilled avocado filled with cauliflower sticky rice, topped with mango and cilantro) and some sides! Check out their story and menu here.
East meets South in this unlikely fusion of Korean and Mexican. Bo Kwon is the child of Korean immigrant parents and was putting together unusual flavors long before he opened his first food truck. The truck promises authentic home-style Korean flavors with a twist – and delivers! Pick your protein, that has been prepared or marinated in Korean style spices or sauces, and pick how you want it – tacos, rice bowl, slider, burrito, or cheesesteak. Koi also offers kimchi quesadillas and has potato chips alongside kimchi, chips, and salsa for sides. We recommend ordering anything with the bulgogi beef, especially the Korean sliders! Have a look at their full menu and location here.
Fried chicken showcasing the best of Korean and Southern styles – with gluten-free options! Run by Sun Kim, who is both Korean and was raised in the south, the chicken offerings are plentiful and tasty (not to mention organic and locally raised). We recommend trying out any of the Korean fried chicken options and the mashed potatoes. Have a look at what they offer here.
Jouk Li Jou/Mathilde’s Kitchen
Haitian comfort food on the streets of Portland. Located in the Portland Mercado food cart pod, Mathilde’s brings the unique flavor and heat of Haitian cuisine. Mathilde Aurelien Wilson creates incredibly rich food at a price point you just can’t beat. Haitian food is a mix of many influences, including African and French, and these influences combine beautifully into dishes that are both delicious and addictive. And even better – profits go to a charity started by Mathilde and her husband. We recommend trying the pikliz, a spicy pickled cabbage and carrot salad, fried green plantains and the roasted chicken. Have a look at the directions, menu, and reviews here.
Stretch the Noodle
Chinese style noodles pulled by hand at this downtown Portland food cart, available Monday through Friday! Xuemei and Duane Simard run this little food cart that is pumping out huge portions of fresh noodles with big flavors. Chinese soup with noodles, pan-fried noodles and jianbing (Chinese breakfast crepes) are on the menu here, and as you can tell by the constant line, they are doing noodles and jianbing right. Add your own dried chili flakes for more spice, and get ready for an absolutely worthwhile carb coma. More details here.
Texas style BBQ served from a food cart in Portland! Matt Vicedomini learned how to cook up BBQ in Australia of all places, at a Texas-style restaurant. Matt is originally from New York but that doesn’t change the fact that he is churning out some incredible smoked meats and great sides on par with what you would find down in Texas. Beef brisket that melts in your mouth, perfectly prepared pork belly, sausages made in-house, and more await you at Matt’s. The best part is there are two locations to choose from now that the newest outpost, Matt’s BBQ Tacos, opened (yes, that means bbq tacos)! See the full menu and location details here.
MF Tasty is a cool little food cart that serves up Southwest-inspired dishes by Eric and Nicole Gitenstein. Their motto is “Southwest Inspired, Portland Made,” and everything on their menu has been created based on the flavors of Arizona, where Eric lived for 20 years. Eric loves the fresh and local ingredients available in Portland that make it easy for the food to turn out delicious every time. Because southwestern foods have a Mexican influence, that means awesome flavors and spices are on the menu. We recommend the Paella and whatever the weekly special is! Have a look at their story and their menu, here.
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