Burgers: PDX Sliders
PDX Sliders represents one of those rare moments when Yelp actually gets it right. Users voted it "4th Best Burger in America" in 2016, and although this claim will remain the subject of fierce debate, the pair of unsexy brick-and-mortar operations spawned by this beloved food cart are certainly busy enough that there may be a kernel of truth there. The competitive advantage at play is the modest price and size of each sandwich, most of which run around $5 for a 3-ounce slider and yield an unheard-of amount of flavor for such a small package. If your heart's set on a burger, try the Sellwood ($4.75), which combines grilled onion, bacon, Beecher's cheddar and aioli for a zesty, smoky classic. The pecan-smoked pulled pork on the Burlington ($5.50) is a crowd pleaser, as is the pesto, arugula and herb-marinated chicken on the Morrison ($5.25). It's easy to get hung up on the breadth of the menu, but an average customer can easily put down two or three of these things along with some crispy truffle salt-dusted fries, so check your FOMO at the door by ordering more. PETE COTTELL.
Pizza: Double Mountain
One of Hood River's most beloved breweries recently landed in Portland, and with it came a hearty food menu as tasty as it is inexpensive. Crowd pleasers like the turkey bacon cheddar ($11.50) and the bratwurst ($9.50) offer an impressive amount of food for the price, but real fans of the spacious, relaxed pub's grub will immediately recognize the one true standout that put Double Mountain on the map: the Jersey Pie. Covered in hot capicola, Mama Lil's peppers and provolone, it's a zesty throwback to a part of the country that takes pizza much more seriously than we do. At $14 for a 10-inch personal pan setup, it's one of the most dense blasts of flavor you can find in a pie anywhere in town. Paired with a pint of Vaporizer, it's one of the most perfect lunches in the Woodstock neighborhood. PETE COTTELL.
Mexican: San Felipe Taqueria
6221 SE Milwaukie Ave., 503-235-8158. 10 am-8 pm Monday-Thursday, 10 am-9 pm Friday-Saturday.
San Felipe lands comfortably between the spartan, taco-centric options of a Mexican food cart and the proper family-style spots with big booths and chalices of margarita like La Carreta or the nearby Iron Horse. The chips are crispy, the salsa is bountiful, and the menu leaves very few fans of classic Mexican food in the dark. Your best bet is one of the plates in the middle of the menu, which features chips, salsa, beans, rice and your choice of entree for just shy of $15. The consensus favorite is clearly the fish tacos, which contain soft white morsels of fish coated in a puffy crust that's doused in a neon green spicy mayo. Be sure to swing by on Saturdays for the pozole—and don't forget the cocktail menu, which features generous margaritas for $6.99 as well off-brand oddities like a mai tai ($7.95) or a glowing blue AMF ($8.95). PETE COTTELL.
Taiwanese: Wei Wei
Look south, to Sellwood, and you'll find a solid local rendition of Taiwanese cuisine next to the convenience market with which it shares a small parking lot. Wei Wei, under new ownership, is also small, seating a dozen or so in bright yellow metal chairs from hell or along a bare wooden banquette. Not to worry, the food arrives fast. Influenced by Japanese cooking, Taiwanese food emphasizes simplicity and clean, uncluttered flavors. Start with a bowl of Sichuan peppercorn pickled cuke spears ($3) to wake up your tongue, then move on to a magnificent thin-sliced, bone-in, crunch-coated pork chop, on its own ($7) or headlining an ensemble ($11), or a variety of bao. To drink, select from a well-chosen tea list. MICHAEL C. ZUSMAN.
BBQ: Reverend’s BBQ
Reverend's BBQ is exactly what the mind's eye conjures when you imagine a family-style barbecue joint in Portland. Totems of shitkicker charm line the walls in the form of handpainted signs and old jugs of moonshine, and the portions of 'cue are well above what any rational humans should be eating on their own. Still, the sandwiches are a perfect jumping-off point to gradually move your way through all that Reverend's has to offer, with the barbecue beef brisket being the most sterling representation of its wares. It's dusted lightly in a piccalilli BBQ sauce and crispy fried onion, and the sweet and spicy Ozark sauce placed at the table is a fine complement to the kiss of smoke and char that graces the tender meat. This hulking pile of Southern comfort will set you back a mere $13.95, and it includes a side selection that we implore you to devote to the tangy, crunchy mac and cheese or the zesty potato salad. PETE COTTELL.
Wildcard (Guyanese): Bake on the Run
1122 SE Tacoma St., 503-877-8602. 11 am-7 pm Monday-Saturday, noon-5 pm Sunday.
You probably wouldn't expect to find chow mein on the menu at Portland's only Guyanese food cart. But then, given the rarity of the cuisine at Bake on the Run, just about everything is unexpected. Bordered by Brazil to the south and Venezuela to the west, Guyana also has historical ties to China—hence Bibi's Chow Mein, with noodles marinated in teriyaki and soy sauce, with vegetables and chicken. That unique cross-cultural exchange is exemplified all the way down the menu. The titular bake is a soft, fried, semi-sweet puff bread that came to Guyana by way of Trinidad and Barbados. Traditionally halved, and stuffed with all things spicy and sweet, the bake is the main vehicle for the cart's standout dish, bake with egg and bacalhau, a hash of scrambled eggs, minced Portuguese salted cod, scallions, onions and tomatoes. Think of it as a homemade Hot Pocket. It's an addictively savory snack that's versatile enough to eat for brunch or dinner. TIARA DARNELL.
Bonus: Pok Pok Wing
The fourth restaurant in Andy Ricker's sprawling local Thai food empire offers a faster, more breathless counter-service experience. You can't go wrong with the Vietnamese fish sauce wings, but take a look at the steam buns before you decide, especially the sweet pork.