An all-vegan food cart hub in Portland seems like a no-brainer.
But Shady Pines, the city’s first entirely plant-based pod, got a little unlucky with its timing. Launched by the owners of Fatsquatch, the pod planned to open in the Cully neighborhood in spring 2020 after steadily building hype with sporadic soft openings at the beginning of the year.
For obvious reasons, the official grand opening never happened. And its most unique amenity—a cozy indoor seating area with turquoise walls and wood paneling—has rarely been open over the past year. That doesn’t seem to have hampered the venture, though. Even on late afternoons in the middle of the week, there’s usually a constant flow of people picking up hearty vegan meals.
That’s partly due to the pod’s mix of established favorites—like Fatsquatch’s sauce-smothered onion rings and Sushi Love’s oyster mushroom-topped Don’t Be Shellfish roll—and intriguing newcomers, like the aromatic, Persian-influenced Safframen.
Arguably the biggest breakout success is Dirty Lettuce. The Mississippi transplant serves up seitan versions of down-home favorites like barbecue ribs and fried chicken with a rotating array of classic Southern sides.
Even if it’s more for soul food-starved vegans and curious omnivores than hardcore foodies, Shady Pines encapsulates what makes its carts so beloved: plant-based grub that’s rich, filling and unique.
5240 NE 42nd Ave., instagram.com/shadypinesveganfoodcourt. Hours vary by cart.