by Natalie Baker, Kelly Clarke, Casey Jarman, Michael Mannheimer, Kat Merck, Aaron Mesh, James Pitkin, Henry Stern and Ben Waterhouse
It's been an incredible year for Portland's cart culture. New pods of wheeled restaurants have spread across the city like spring dandelions, attracting fawning coverage from the L.A. Times and Bon Appétit magazine, among others. In December, the New York-based blog Serious Eats declared our street food to be superior even to that of its hometown. Here's a brief sampling of carts that opened in the past 12 months (find reviews of more established carts on wweek.com). You'll find a few of them among the 30 new and established carts participating in Eat Mobile, Willamette Week's annual food-cart festival, this weekend (see Eat Mobile below for details).
O.G. Pod (Southwest 5th Avenue and Stark Street)
Taste of Poland
997-5467. 10 am-3 pm Monday-Friday. Cash only.
This cart should really be called "Heaping Plate of Poland," or "Truckload of Poland," because "Taste" seems conservative, and the servings here—of giant, flame-cooked sausages; slippery potato pierogi; troughs full of cucumber chunks and heaping spoonfuls of sour cream—are immense. And while two patrons could easily split a single item, TOP's diverse menu—it has everything from greasy, crispy potato pancakes to Polish dogs and even Chicago-style hotdogs—makes it hard to decide on a single dish. Our server, a first-generation Pole with a sweet demeanor and motherly insistence on gorging us with Way Too Much Polish Food (another good alternate cart name) made the experience all the more appealing. (CJ)
BEST BITE: The $7 Combination Plate, with pierogi; home fries; a gigantic, juicy sausage or blackened chicken cutlet; and some other goodness.
CHEAPEST BITE: The $5.50 Potato Pancake Vegetarian Plate, which includes four crispy potato pancakes, applesauce, sour cream and sautéed onions (they threw in pierogi on our visit).
The Swamp Shack
281-4675. 11 am-3 pm Monday-Friday. Cash only.
The Cajun/Creole specialties at this shack (literally—note the tin roof and "quaint" hand-lettered wooden signage) are served in red-and-white-checked paper trays that sag under the weight of their contents. We recommend the spicy jambalaya with chunks of dark-meat chicken and andouille, topped with green onions and a wee cornbread muffin; a single serving could easily serve two for lunch. There's even a vegan version—of dubious authenticity, but on offer nonetheless—made with corn and root vegetables. Be sure to check out the upcoming expanded menu, which is reported to include fried chicken. (KM)
BEST BITE: Chicken and sausage jambalaya, $6.50.
CHEAPEST BITE: Fried crawfish pie, $3.50.
3rd Ave. Pod (Southwest 3rd Avenue between Washington and Stark Streets)
971-340-3011, justthaipdx.com. 11 am-6 pm Monday-Saturday. Cash only.
This friendly Thai cart rightly festoons its pink sign with hearts—you're bound to fall in love with its mountainous portions of lightly fried noodles or vivid curries, which come at prices so low they look like typos (everything's $5, and that's with chicken, tofu or shrimp). Share a huge takeout box of pleasantly fish-saucy pan-fried noodles tossed with green onions and peanuts, or gorge on thick hunks of Thai eggplant stir-fried with basil and crunchy peppers. Meatless peeps: Just Thai will make any dish on the menu vegetarian or vegan if you want it, and even boasts a special mushroom-based house sauce. Now that's just nice. (KC)
BEST BITE: Delicate red curry with peppers, $5.
CHEAPEST BITE: A large takeout box filled with golden deep-fried tofu squares, with a sweet chile-peanut dipping sauce, is only $3.
Beez Neez Gourmet Sausages
11 am-4 pm Monday-Thursday, 11 am-6 pm and 10 pm-3 am Friday, 10 pm-3 am Saturday. Cash only.
Exotic-game aficionados and Sarah Palin's extended family, take heed: This unassuming hot-link stand serves reindeer sausages. The other tubed-meat selections at Beez Neez range from kosher beef to wild boar, but how can you pass up the opportunity to consume one of Santa's little helpers? The caribou, raised on a farm outside Anchorage, are seasoned with coriander and alder-smoked; topped with caramelized onions, the sausage sits agreeably in the belly. You could even say it glows. (AM)
BEST BITE: Alaskan reindeer sausage, $4.75.
CHEAPEST BITE: Kosher Polish sausage, $3.25—$2 on Tuesdays.
The People's Pig
Near 3rd Avenue pod at Southwest 2nd Avenue and Stark Street, thepeoplespig.com. 11 am-3 pm Monday-Friday. Cash only.
Not to be confused with the People's Sandwich across Burnside Street, this cheerfully painted yellow truck is pork, all pork and nothing but the pork, so help us God. No vegetarian options, no sandwiches over (or under) $8, no nonsense. The specialty here is porchetta (save yourself the embarrassment and call it PORK-etta, not PORSH-etta)—thick, juicy rolls of roasted pork belly and loin. There's also sopressata, spicy salami served on toasted ciabatta with provolone, pickled peppers and vinaigrette-dressed arugula; Cuban pork with sour-orange sauce; and ham with arugula and butter-poached apples and onions. Sooey! (KM)
BEST BITE: Sopressata and arugula, $8.
CHEAPEST BITE: Somewhere else, but keep in mind you get what you pay for.
Alder Street Pod (Southwest Alder Street between 9th and 10th Avenues)
Addy's Sandwich Bar
267-0994, addyssandwichbar.com. 11 am-3 pm Monday-Friday. Cash only.
All the sandwiches at this distinctive red, black and silver cart, served on baguettes from Little T American Baker, are $5.50. The three sandwiches we tried were all bready, but in a crisp way. The pesto chicken salad with red onion stood out as filling, and the ham with Gruyère as well as the turkey with brie offered a yummy meat and cheese mix. Make sure to take advantage on a sunny day of the seating on a small, south-facing wooden deck that's part of the cart. (HS)
BEST BITE: Pesto chicken salad with red onion sandwich, $5.50.
CHEAPEST BITE: Cup of soup or side salad, $2.50.
Valhalla Sandwich Co.
Twitter.com/valhallacartPDX. 11:30 am-4 pm Monday-Friday. Cash only.
Our mid-March visit found a work in progress for this cart offering grilled veggie and vegan sandwiches—the cart moved downtown recently from Southeast Portland—but the sandwiches we ate, all grilled on bread from Grand Central, encouraged us to return to this no-frills spot. The vegan ham-and-cheese ($6) had good texture and bite. And the horseradish, cheddar, avocado and mushroom sandwich ($5) featured a tasty blend with just the right hint of spice. We were bummed there wasn't yet the promised side of hand-cut home fries, but got a dollar off the sandwich as a result and a friendly explanation from the server that he was tinkering with the recipe. (HS)
BEST BITE: Horseradish, cheddar, avocado and mushroom sandwich, $5.
CHEAPEST BITE: Fresh juice, $2.
971-344-3704. 11 am-6 pm Monday-Friday. Cash only.
Back in the old country, Central Europeans have their own soul food, founded on the triple pillars of broiled pork, carbs and cabbage. Eurodish serves up heaping piles of Polish love, like classic pierogi (sweet or savory), stuffed cabbage and kielbasi, slow-cooked and stewing in their own juices. Those who aren't prepared to punch a new notch in their belts can nibble on soup, salads and sandwiches, including the mighty pan-fried schnitzel on rye. Smacznego! (JP)
BEST BITE: Go big with the Polish plate, $7.95.
CHEAPEST BITE: Kielbasa sandwich, $4.
SomTum Gai Yang
522-9543. 11 am-4 pm Monday-Saturday. Cash only.
Be happy Jenny Prangsuarng is a quitter. The Chiang Mai native ditched her job as a local claims analyst to open her own home-style Thai cart three months ago, focusing on som tum and gai yang—the addictive barbecued chicken and spicy green papaya salad, respectively, sold from stands lining every street in Bangkok. Although the crunchy, lime- and cane sugar-dressed papaya salad could use a bigger vinegar punch, at $6 the cart's big portion of its namesake meal ($7 with sticky rice) is an affordable Southeast Asian treat. Rotating specials, like khao kha moo (cinnamon-stewed pork with mustard greens and a salted egg), are even better. (KC)
BEST BITE: Thai barbecued chicken, khao kha moo (both $6).
CHEAPEST BITE: Green papaya salad with sticky rice, $5.
Ash Street Pod (Southwest 3rd Avenue and Ash Street)
803-0619, bigasssandwiches.com. 11 am-4 pm Monday-Friday, 11 pm-3 am Friday-Saturday. Cash only.
Lettuce? Screw that. Husband-and-wife duo Brian and Lisa Wood stuff warm ciabatta rolls with roasted beef, turkey or ham, oozy béchamel cheese sauce and a fistful of french fries—not to mention grilled onions, peppers, sweet slaw and other goodies—to create their Big-Ass sammies, then drizzle the whole mess with lip-tingling Secret Aardvark sauce. It's like a Snuggie for your stomach. Eat 'em hot, still wrapped in foil like a burrito to minimize drippage (otherwise you'll look like something out of a fetish video). Swing by every third Wednesday, when Big-Ass gives 100 percent of the cart's profits and tips to a different local charity. "If you can't help the people who keep you in business, what's the fuckin' point?" Lisa Wood points out. (KC)
BEST BITE: Juicy Big-Ass house-roasted beef with pickled jalapeños and cheese, $6.50; Big-Ass french dip, $7 with Swiss cheese.
CHEAPEST BITE: Cheese fries, $3.
Mississippi Marketplace (4233 N Mississippi Ave.)
11 am-late afternoon daily. Cash only.
What a pleasant surprise: A vegetarian falafel cart unburdened by fidelity. Instead, it mixes and matches seasonal ingredients—whoever thought up the acorn-squash baba ghanouj is a damned genius—to create the lightest fried food you'll ever scarf. A falafel sandwich (if the cart's out of the ghanouj, the black-eyed pea hummus ain't bad) should be paired with a bag of finger-licking-good rosemary shoestring fries and orange-blossom anise iced tea. Hold the feta, and voilà! You're a vegan with functioning taste buds. For a brief moment, you won't hate Jonathan Safran Foer. (AM)
BEST BITE: Falafel sandwich, $4.
CHEAPEST BITE: Lemon-pepper garlic or rosemary fries, $2.
339-222-1685, therubydragonpdx.blogspot.com. 10 am-6 pm Tuesday-Sunday. Cash only.
This member of the Mississippi Marketplace defines its cuisine—which is all vegan and organic, mostly local and gluten-free—through more of a nutri-political stance than a specific geographical origin. Curries drawing from Thai and Ethiopian inspiration, pancakes made with South American grain but served with maple syrup, home fries with curry spices, tofu scrambles and sandwiches are just some of the widely varying menu items. The hours change once in a while, so make sure to check before heading over. (NB)
BEST BITE: "The Abbot," handmade curried tempeh with Vegenaise on Dave's Killer Bread, $4.50.
CHEAPEST BITE: House fries, $2.50.
The Sugar Cube
See full review here.
PSU Pod (Southwest 4th Avenue between College and Hall Streets)
Parkers Waffles and Coffee
780-5363, parkerswaffles.com. Second location at 1805 NE Alberta St. 7:30 am-2 pm Monday-Friday downtown, 8 am-2 pm daily and 8 pm-2 am Thursday-Saturday on Alberta. Cash only.
If "bacon-wrapped" is the ultimate food prefix, "on a waffle" is the ultimate suffix. The battered blank canvas has long been the object of foodie affection in Portland, and Parkers Waffles takes that love to the next level. Its waffles are crisp-edged, caramel-toned launch pads for flavor, making sweet and savory love to their toppings in rapturous, edible synergy. The menu abounds with unexpected waffle creations like the dynamite pulled-pork topped with crunchy coleslaw ($6). (EMILY JENSEN)
BEST BITE:Nutella and grilled banana waffle, $5.
CHEAPEST BITE: The Original, a plain waffle brushed with sweet cream or maple syrup and dusted with powdered sugar, is just $2.50.
Vietnamese Banh Mi Sandwiches
10 am-5 pm Monday-Saturday. Cash only.
This tiny cart doesn't serve Portland's best banh mi, but where else can you get one downtown? The traditional Vietnamese version, with bacon and ham, and the barbecued pork are both good bets, with just the right crunch from pickled carrots offsetting the spicy and salty meat. The chewy baguettes leave a little to be desired, but it's hard to find a better lunch deal (two sammies for $6) in the city. (MM)
BEST BITE: Barbecued pork banh mi, $3.50 (or two for $6).
CHEAPEST BITE: Same thing.
Area 23 (2314 NE Alberta St.)
Fuego de Lotus
753-9167, fuegodelotus.wordpress.com. 11 am-3 pm Tuesday-Friday, 6-9 pm Wednesday-Friday, 2 pm-late Saturday. Cash only.
One of the members of the MarchFourth Marching Band opened this Venezuelan cart in the fall of 2009 on an empty corner lot at Northeast 23rd Avenue and Alberta Street, soon attracting additional waffle, juice and tapas carts to fill out the pod. If you can't make up your mind, check out the "revolutionaries plate," consisting of arepas (fried corn cakes with various fillings), beans, rice, cabbage, fried plantains and cotija cheese. And for those of you with stricter preferences, the meat is organic and some of the dishes can be made vegan. (NB)
BEST BITE: Chicken green-chile arepa, $5.
CHEAPEST BITE: Fried plantains, $3.
964-0126, monomalotapas.com. Noon-8 pm Tuesday-Thursday, noon-10 pm Friday-Saturday, noon-6 pm Sunday. Cash only.
The menu at Portland's first tapas cart consists of bocadillos (little sandwiches) and sides like patatas bravas (tasty fried potatoes in spicy tomato sauce) and arugula salad with roasted beet. If you're feeling especially famished, try raciones, a combination of four tapas for less than 10 bucks. The $5 estofada is a regularly changing stew, but if a recent heavenly spiced lamb, apricot and garbanzo bean concoction was any indicator of things to come, plan on getting soup with that sandwich. The hamburguesa ($4.50) is heaven on a bun, and the chicken villeroy (battered organic chicken breast with romesco on Grand Central campagnolo) is nothing to sneeze at. (NB)
BEST BITE: Hamburguesa—$4.50: a fresh, slider-size take on the classic beef sandwich, with sweet Spanish slaw and zesty paprika aioli.
CHEAPEST BITE: Montaditos—delicious, tiny breads with toppings. Choose from boquerones-and-potato or garlic-and-portabella, $1.
Cartopia (Southeast 12th Avenue and Hawthorne Boulevard)
929-1404, pyropizzacart.com. 6 pm-1 am Wednesday-Thursday and Sunday, 6 pm-3 am Friday-Saturday. Cash only.
This wood-walled cart is the latest and least flamboyant member of the Cartopia crew, but fire burns in its belly. The sister cart of downtown's Give Pizza a Chance, Pyro is a one-man operation that cranks out whole-wheat single-person pies with impressive speed. These babies are all about the crust—chewy, flavorful and lightly charred, the dough would overwhelm subtle toppings. So it's a good thing there's nothing subtle about the pepperoni from Otto's Sausage Kitchen. Chase your pizza with a housemade soda. (BW)
BEST BITE: Traditional margherita with buffalo mozzarella and basil, $8.
CHEAPEST BITE: Flatbread, $4.
3441 N Vancouver Ave., 971-506-0949, mumskitchen.vpweb.com. 7 am-6:30 pm Tuesday-Friday, 10 am-6:30 pm Saturday-Sunday. Cash only.
"I'm going to give you samples of everything, because how else are you going to really know what you want?" says the kindly woman who started this South African-influenced Indian cart last year after flying to the U.S. to be with her daughter. Hidden in an old gas-station lot with a dry cleaner and coffee kiosk near the busy corner of Northeast Fremont Street and Williams Avenue, Mum's serves up equally generous portions of freshly prepared Indian-South African cuisine and the kind of motherly comfort that's scarce in this drizzly city. Plus lots of vegan options. (NB)
BEST BITE: Spicy garlic pork and cabbage, $7.
CHEAPEST BITE: Curry pocket (large roll filled with meat curries or veggies), $3.75.
Wolf & Bear's
Southeast 20th Avenue and Morrison Street, myspace.com/wolfandbearskitchen. Noon-4 pm Wednesday and Thursday, noon-8 pm Friday-Saturday, Cash only.
Hey, Portland! Have you been looking for that perfect falafel? Opened by a young Israeli couple last spring, Wolf & Bear's serves a slightly skewed take on the old classic, with thinly pressed patties of lightly fried chickpeas, grilled eggplant, roasted red peppers, tahini and the best pita I've ever tasted. It's hands down one of this town's best sandwiches, so warm and fresh I can't imagine ever eating the bland, dry falafel at a county fair again. (MM)
BEST BITE: Falafel, $6.50.
CHEAPEST BITE: Daily housemade vegan soups, $3.
3131 SE 50th Ave., 701-5149, wyeastpizza.com. 4:30-9:30 pm Tuesday-Saturday. Cash only.
A welcome surprise: This camper, adorned with a landscape painting and parked in front of a weaving studio just north of Southeast Powell Boulevard, turns out 12-inch pizzas that are every bit as tasty as the goods at almost any wheel-less pizzeria in town. The paper-thin, slightly sour crusts are charred enough to be offputting to customers raised on Domino's; if artisan pizza's your thing, however, you'll want to eat two. The pizzas cook quickly but are in high demand, so call ahead. (BW)
BEST BITE: "Three Sisters," topped with kalamata olives, mushrooms and red onion, $13.
CHEAPEST BITE: Basic cheese, $11.
Cora y Huichol Taqueria
Southeast 82nd Avenue and Holgate Boulevard, 995-6606. 9 am-9 pm daily. Cash only.
Our new favorite taco truck resides on a noisy corner across from Eastport Plaza, implicitly inviting moviegoers to smuggle a torta into the matinee screening of Clash of the Titans. Cora y Huichol has much to recommend it: handmade tortillas, covered seating, excellent carnitas and carne asada, and the best ceviche we've ever had from a wheeled kitchen. Stop by Friday through Sunday for hot grilled chicken. (BW)
BEST BITE: Shrimp ceviche, heavily peppered, $2.99.
CHEAPEST BITE: Tacos, $1.25 apiece.
Peas In A Pod
by Ethan Smith email@example.com
To successfully grow food, one must tend his plot with the perfect fertile mixture. Water, spring sunshine, fresh concrete, Honey Buckets, RV park-style electrical hook-ups—those elements have combined to sprout a veritable thicket of food carts at the corner of North Killingsworth Street and Greeley Avenue. Seemingly overnight, a former gas station was transformed this winter into a hub of diverse street food called Refuel Station North. A single forlorn-looking bakery cart has been joined by nine carts and counting, ranging form Gulf Coast soul food to vegan Korean snacks. Six more carts are slated to open soon. Here's a rundown on what's on the menu at Portland's latest pod.
Brother Bob's Roving Bakery
780-8212. 7 am-6 pm Tuesday-Sunday. Cash only.
Brother Bob pioneered this pod, his adorably tacky cart standing lonely guard at the lot in the dreary days of winter, wind whipping its banners and whitewashed lattice façade. So it's a sad truth that every other cart that's moved in since has eclipsed the little bakery. With a repertoire limited to amateurish, irregularly sized brownies, cookies, turnovers and bready cinnamon rolls, Bob's offerings are closer to bake-sale fare than professional-grade pastries. But they are cheap (mostly around $2), and the staff is good-natured and goofily likable. In a pinch Bob's will satisfy a sweet tooth or complement a cup of coffee, and you'll feel good about giving it the business.
CARAQUEÑA. IMAGE: cameronbrowne.com
Caraqueña: Michelle's Amazing Venezuelan Kitchen
Lunch and dinner daily. Cash only.
This pastel-painted cart is the highlight of Refuel Station North, both for its flavors and originality. Arepas are the specialty here. Somewhere between a tortilla and cornbread, they're fried, split in half and filled with, for instance, cumin-coconut shredded pork. Paired with an empanada filled with caramelized papaya, cream cheese and bacon, and buttressed by rice and beans and fried sweet plantains, this daily special ran only $7. The cart's rotating roster of such recipes are owner Michelle Rossington's souvenirs from a childhood in Venezuela married with a stint in culinary school, where she studied South Indian cuisine.
Breakfast and lunch daily. Cash only.
Fresh-cut cilantro sprouts from a glass of water on the counter of this rolling taqueria. The bouquet is indicative of the fresh ingredients that set El Rancho apart from your average taco truck. Solid, hefty burritos and tacos are certainly worth ordering (the fish tacos in particular are crisp and pitch-perfect), but for a rarer treat try a breakfast plate like chilaquiles—eggs scrambled with peppers, onions and tortilla chips, and topped with salsa and queso fresco.
208-2242, thekettlekitchen.com. 10 am-6 pm Tuesday-Friday, 9 am-3 pm Saturday-Sunday. Cash only.
Soup can be hard to get excited about, but maybe that's not the point. Soup warms and soothes. Repeating the word "broth" is proven to lower your blood pressure. Besides, Chicago transplants Gina Dewald and J.R. Huntington do an admirable job of keeping their menu interesting and enticing, if not exhilarating. Indian curry with shrimp, redolent with onion and cilantro; Guinness chili; potato-dill pickle—all have been among the cart's four rotating soups. And while bacon, bean and kale or chicken orzo may be more pedestrian, they're equally tasty. However, the best thing here doesn't come from a kettle at all. The biscuits, in varieties ranging from straightforward buttermilk to jalapeño-and-cheddar to Gorgonzola-and-coarse pepper, are crumbly, airy vehicles for sopping broth.
247-7499, pizzadepokos.blogspot.com. 5-9 pm Monday-Friday, 5-10 pm Saturday.
Anchoring Refuel Station North is Pizza Depokos, which is not technically a cart at all, having taken up residence, along with its wood-fired oven, in the property's converted gas station and garage. But it's all semantics, considering Depokos' limited space and minimalist kitchen lack only an axle. Regardless, the pizza is damn good, ranging from classic pepperoni to creative specials (like black trumpet mushrooms, lamb, spinach and fontina—eh?), as well as classic Lebanese pies like the spice-and-sesame seed mixture zatar, all between $8 and $12. And it's the only spot on the lot that accepts plastic, saving you a few bucks in fees at the pod's ATM.
807-7015. Noon-7 pm Tuesday-Saturday, 1-7 pm Sunday. Cash only.
The name of this cart—and the endearingly irregular, hand-painted yellow characters that spell it out across the side of the trailer—is telling. Everything is simple, satisfying, cheap and, of course, generously doused with owner Rick Johnson's smoky-sweet sauce. The rib sandwich makes a good entry point. Two charred, bony ends of a hefty pork rib protrude from either side of an undersized white-bread bun, which exists principally to soak up excess sauce—the rib's bone necessitates disassembling this "sandwich." However you eat it, it's delicious, tender and a filling steal for just $3. Add a hot-link sandwich (no bone) and coleslaw (each $2) and you'll wind up sticky and stuffed.
887-1260. 11 am-2 pm and 4-9 pm Monday-Thursday, 11 am-2 pm and 4 pm-midnight Friday-Saturday. Cash only.
Frito pie: two words that don't share space on enough Portland menus. Now you can add Savvy J's to the short list of destinations for chili-smothered Fritos. Out of classic food-truck digs, this soul food joint serves bayou classics culled from the owner's native Mississippi. The fish po' boy ($6) was lo-fi perfection: four strips of crisp-battered whitefish drizzled with tartar sauce (and hot sauce, at your discretion) and perched atop lettuce, tomato and pickles, all nestled in a classic po' boy bun. It's a formidable portion, especially paired with potato chips and coleslaw ($1). Shrimp, oysters and pulled pork are also on offer, but save room for pie.
267-1727, wickedwaffles.net. 6:30 am-2 pm Wednesday-Friday, 8 am-2 pm Saturday-Sunday. Cash only.
Run by Jeanne Subotnick, former owner of the now-defunct Pearl District diner Shakers, and her son, Matthew, this latest outpost of the reinvented waffles trend is raising the bar. With rotating specials and a handful of creative batters, Wicked is frankly beating nearby waffle shack Flavour Spot, which has outposts on Lombard and Mississippi, at its own game. The "Wicked Perfect" layers fluffy scrambled eggs, Tillamook cheddar and bacon on a yellow corn waffle that has the crunch and flavor profile of cornbread; despite the cheese, dress it with maple syrup and hot sauce. Rotating specials have ranged from Texas chili-smothered to tropical fruit-piled, all with excellent results and most for less than $7.
11 am-6 pm Tuesday-Saturday. Cash only.
With vegan and gluten-free dishes, this new Korean cart has a built-in, dietary-restricted clientele who'll pedal their rehabbed Peugeots over for a taste. But even by carnivorous standards, the grub is pretty good. From this hot pink, graffitied trailer, chef Timber Adamson serves a pared-down, cutely titled menu: "Paper," pancakes laced with julienned veggies; "Rock," a rice-and-seaweed ball filled with various flora; and "Scissors," noodles stewed with chile, cabbage and scallions. Try a pair for $7. Flavors are sharp and vibrant, and while the gluey density that's so often the Achilles' heel of vegan cuisine does crop up, piquant dipping sauces cut through it.
And coming soon: ice cream from Scoop, creative mac 'n' cheese from Starchy and Husk, Chicago red hots from Olympic Hot Dogs, burgers from Brown Chicken Brown Cow PDX, Thai food from Sila Thai Eatery, and whatever the food of Guam is from PDX Six Seven One.
NOW SOLD OUT: Eat Mobile
Eat Mobile Logo & Photo: Adam Krueger
By Ben Waterhouse firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2008, inspired by the growing popularity of food cart culture in the city, Willamette Week threw together a party with 11 vendors and some cheap beer in a drafty warehouse on the river to raise money for Mercy Corps Northwest. We guessed a couple hundred people might show up; we got 800. Last year, hoping to avoid the long lines and griping latecomers of the first Eat Mobile, we moved the event to Disjecta and expanded the number of carts to 15. It was total chaos: The line of hungry hopefuls stretched literally around the block, and the 1,200 attendees who made it in the gate waited up to 30 minutes in line at each cart.
OK, we learned our lesson. This year's Eat Mobile is twice as big as last time, with 30 carts spread over two and a half city blocks under the Morrison Bridge, but we're capping admission at 1,200 people. UPDATE 3:30 PM WEDNESDAY APRIL 21: EAT MOBILE TICKETS ARE ALREADY OFFICIALLY SOLD OUT. Thanks so much for the overwhelming interest! Lucky ticket holders get samples from Altengartz Bratwurst, Addy's Sandwich Bar, Asaase Ital Palace, Bombay Chaat House, Fat Kitty Falafel, Fifty Licks, Flavour Spot, Garden State, Grilled Cheese Grill, Koi Fusion, Lulu's Confections, Micro Mercantes, Mono Malo, Moxie Rx, Nuevo Mexico, The People's Pig, PBJ's, Potato Champion, Pyro Pizza, Savor Soup House, Sawasdee Thai, Sip, Soup Cycle, Tábor, Taqueria Los Gorditos, Whiffie's Fried Pies, VanSchnitzels, Vietnamese Banh Mi Sandwiches, Violetta and Ziba's Pita.
Two of those carts will be awarded the purportedly coveted Carty prize by our judging panel of chefs, cookbook authors and food industry insiders (including Antoinette Bruno, Scott Givot, Brad Farmerie, Deborah Madison and Jeff Miller), while you sip soda by Tin Cantina, wine (from Wine by Joe) and beer (Pabst) and listen to live tunes by Dirty Mittens and Y La Bamba.