Portland Food Carts - Unique Dining On The Go

Want a unique dining experience? Portland Food Carts are growing in both number and popularity and are definitely worth your attention, especially if you love to eat and try different things.

As of 2013, there existed over 700 food carts around the Portland area.

More and more, these mobile dining shacks are causing other parts of the country to take notice. News services (Internet, television and print) are talking about the hundreds (yes, hundreds!) of food carts popping up around these city streets.

New York City, known for it's food service on the streets, has even caught wind of the tantalizing aromas coming from the City of Roses. Budget Travel presented Portland the first place award for "World's Best Street Food." (2010)

Eat St.: Recipes from the Tastiest, Messiest, and Most Irresistible Food Trucks

The why is understood by the flavors. These are not fast-food, greasy-spoon establishments, thrown together on a whim. They are well-thought-out revenue streams for the up and coming restaurateur who's passion is to bring new and exciting tastes, both traditional and ethnic, to local Portlanders.

food cart cuisine

Now, if you wanted to start your own restaurant here in Portland (or anywhere, for that matter), you're looking at permits, zoning, the establishment itself, employees to pay, and on and on and on.

For hundreds of thousands of dollars, you too could have your very own brick-and-mortar culinary kitchen....and now the chore of attracting patrons begins. More debt anyone?

The Portland food cart scene is a breath of fresh air to both the newbies and the veterans of the food trade. A couple thousand dollars can get you into a cart of your very own, grab a license from the city for a few hundred more, and you're off and running.

Both time and money have been cut to a small margin of what it could be to own a restaurant. Plus, if after a while, you find the location is all wrong and you would be happier elsewhere, simply pick up and move, with minimal hassle. It truly is a relatively inexpensive avenue into the restaurant business.

To some owners, their Portland food cart is a stepping stone to one day seeing their dream of a traditional restaurant realized, while others see it as their dream come true...period.

Some of the long-time traditional owners have cried foul and pleaded with the city to decree the food carts in Portland as unfair business practices, but that hasn't stopped new carts from appearing day after day.

On the other side of the coin, most restaurant owners understand and all is good. Whether there is war or peace, the patrons of Portland are the ones that benefit.

From Thai, Hawaiian, Czech, Japanese, German, Polish plates (etc, etc!) on down to unique burgers, fries and pizza, you're going to find anything and everything that will satisfy your palette on the streets of Portland...and usually at $6 and less!

Some food carts are open for breakfast and lunch, while others don't open their windows until 8pm and proceed to service hungry lines of hungry people until the wee hours of the morning.

There's also a popular trend among many Portland food cart owners to band together, creating their own villages or pods.

Taking up entire lots, these professional foodies have no problem rubbing shoulders and sharing the wealth while giving their customers convenience and selection.

How hygienic are the food carts in Portland? Not to worry. All carts have two random health inspections each year, are subject to the very same health regulations as all the local Portland restaurants, and employees are required to have valid food handler certificates. Your tummy is in good hands! ;)

Something to keep in mind when you're combing the city streets of Portland for something to satisfy your appetite: make sure you are carrying cash when visiting the food carts. Only a small minority take fantastic plastic. Most are on a cash-only basis.


Here's are a few of my favorite Portland food carts:

  • Bloop - SW 3rd Ave & SW Stark, Portland, OR
    Sugar, spice, and everything nice for breakfast. Oats, bananas, almond milk, brown sugar, and more natural, tasty goodness.

  • Big Ass Sandwiches - 304 SE 2nd Ave and 4233 N. Mississippi Ave., Portland
    Voted "Best Portland Food Cart" by Willamette Weekly readers, their sandwiches are a BIG slice of Heaven! Yum!

  • Grilled Cheese Grill - 1027 NE Alberta and 113 SE 28th Ave, Portland
    Two locations serving up an old favorite with yummy, new twists!

  • Parkers Waffles and Coffee - NE 18th and Alberta, Portland, OR
    Various waffles wrapped like burritos...and coffee! ;)

  • Potato Champion - SE 12th Ave & Hawthorne Blvd, Portland.
    Amazing fries with dips to die for!

  • Saucy's BBQ - N Killingsworth and Greeley, Portland, OR
    Serving up some of the most aromatic and best tasting BBQ you'll ever have!

  • The Big Egg - 4233 N. Mississippi Ave, Portland
    If breakfast is your favorite meal, this Portland food cart will hit the spot. Try their Mississippi Monte Cristo!

  • The Sausage Shack - 598 SE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd., Portland
    Winner of the 2011 Bacon Cup, this Portland food cart serves up bacon-wrapped corn dogs, wings, huge burgers, and dogs. Read my Sausage Shack review.

  • Voodoo Doughnut Food Cart - 8145 SE 82nd Ave, Portland
    Located at the famous Cartlandia pod of Portland food carts, this is the another place to get your bacon maple bar fix. Open year-round.

  • Whiffies Fried Pies - SE 12th and SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland
    Tasty fried delicacies stuffed with all sorts of delicious things!


What Is Your Favorite Portland Food Cart?

Tell us about your favorite food cart in Portland. What is the attraction? What do they offer? Are the prices good? Let us know so we can join you. ;)

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Your Favorite Portland Food Carts...

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Favorite Portland Food Cart: Holy Cannoli 
Holy Cannoli! Wicked Italian has the best Italian sandwiches yet seen in PDX! And they have cannolis (reported to remind those from NYC of home) which …

Dogfeathers Coffee and Juice Not rated yet
Dogfeathers Coffee and Juice is a Portland Food Cart that has no food, just beverages...done right. It's a cross between Starbucks and Jamba Juice, …

The Sausage Shack Rocks! Not rated yet
The Sausage Shack rocks! The food is incredible, and I have to say the burger I had there was THE BEST burger I've had in Portland, hands down. I …

I Love The Sugar Cube Food Cart in Portland!! Not rated yet
The Sugar Cube food cart has very good desserts! EDITOR'S NOTE The Sugar Cube is located at N Mississippi at Skidmore and serves up sweet and sugary …

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So, if you're visiting Portland, choose to treat yourself by having one of two of your daily meals out at one of the many food carts in Portland. When you go back home, you're sure to have some unique stories to tell.

Bon Appetit! ;)


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