In recent years plenty of Portland food carts have been brazenly dropping their hitches well beyond downtown's Cart Row—the popular lunch landing strip along Southwest 5th Avenue. North Killingsworth Street is home to two such daring chuck wagons artfully making use of cramped quarters.
Squatting in a corner lot along with an espresso/cigarette stand and an auto detail shop, Soup Savvy is as cute as a cart can get. A gazebo-ish dining nook adjacent to the cart with flower-topped tables and a nice selection of food mags hems you in from traffic-heavy North Greeley Avenue.
April Snow and sister Amber Snow flipped the open sign in February, luring nearby Adidas employees up the hill and enticing passersby to park it for a bite.
Four daily from-scratch soups and six hot sandwiches, including one of the tastiest meatball subs in town, have hooked enough regulars by now. The thick and dreamy white chicken chili ($3.95 a bowl) is rib-sticking and super savory, while the tomato-basil soup is so fresh and creamy it could be dessert. For a heartier meal try the meatball sub ($6, $8 with a cup of soup)—100 percent beef meatballs with plenty of thyme, basil and oregano; a not-too-sweet tomato sauce studded with garlic and onion; and melted mozzarella couched in a chewy, toasted bun.
Down the road, Pbong's Thai Food—pronounced with equal and simultaneous emphasis on the "p" and "b"—sets up shop in the front yard of Supakjanat Brunjongaksorn and Kris Haefker's house. Supakjanat, nicknamed Pbong, captains the two-and-a-half-year-old cart while her husband, Kris, helps out behind the scenes.
The cart is open for business April through October, so the dining area is always in full bloom with colorful flowers while Pbong's own cast ceramic art, displayed on large wood panels, divides the cart space from the house.
"Fresh, healthy Thai food" is the short order—less oil and more water dominates prep of the noodles and curries. Fresh produce comes from Vieng Lao Oriental Food Center a few blocks down the road. A recent weekly special featured a mango curry ($6) with ripe chunks of sticky mango cooked with sliced yam in a mild red curry sauce with a choice of chicken or tofu. Signature touches such as house-made tamarind hot sauce make dishes like the pad Thai ($6) stand out. The slightly sweet imported Thai iced tea is the house pour and a steal at $1.
Stay tuned for upcoming live shows at Pbong's. Members of 3 Leg Torso periodically drop by in the evenings and break into song cart-side. Live shows are free, so save your cash for some salad rolls. It's easy to fill your belly and tap your toes at the same time.
Soup Savvy, corner of North Killingsworth Street and Greeley Avenue. Lunch 11 am-3 pm Monday-Friday year-round. Pbong's Thai Food, 2034 N Killingsworth St. Lunch and dinner 11:30 am-8 pm Monday-Friday April-October. Both $ Inexpensive.