Growing up in Hawaii, I've developed a real fondness for Lunch Wagon grub. And I miss those no frills, inexpensive meals. So imagine my surprise as I turned the corner SW 10th and SW Alder to find this.
An entire street lined with what I'm told are called "Food Carts" in Portland. At this point in time, I had just completed checking in, taken a shower, and headed out for a quick bite when I ran into this informal food court lining a public parking lot. Sounded like a nice option for a fast meal. But now I had to make a decision........
Would it be the Bratwurst Wagon, which I dubbed the "Brat-Mobile"?
Or maybe something else?
I finally settled on something from this cart, Aybla Grill, after the wonderful smells drew me in:
I decided on a Lamb Shawarma "Super Gyro"($6.00):
This was a personal pan pizza sized pita, with quite a bit of tender Lamb Shawarma meat, onions, diced tomatoes, and tzatziki. I didn't care the flavor of the tzatziki, but the lamb sure was good, very tender and full of flavor.
The very next day, I happened to be passing the same food carts on my way back to the hotel. Hungry and need of a break, I decided to grab some food from from the Food Cart selling Thai Food, Sawasdee.
I just decided to go with the "special", Pad Kaw Gai with Chicken. Only 5 bucks. I waited while my dish was being stir fried, while watching a group of students from the Western Culinary Institute, smoke, eat, and chat, all the while wearing their Whites and Chef's Toques, looking strange and out of place in this jerry-rigged food court. A few minutes later my noodles were ready and I headed back to the hotel and ate:
There was quite a large amount of food in the container. But right off I knew I should have chosen the tofu version of the dish. Chewing the chicken was like chewing on an inner tube. On the positive side, the noodles were flavored well, nice touches of garlic and soy. Didn't quite know what to make of the bed of iceberg lettuce the noodles rested on. But for 5 bucks, you really can't complain much.
I had an inkling of how pervasive Food Carts were after my visit to Restaurant Murata. As I was crossing the street to get to the Portland State University street car stop; I spied two more Food Carts.
Right after I snapped this photo, a group of 5 people mobbed the New Taste of India Food Cart; and you could smell the curry all the way down to the street car stop.
Now I've had many Lunch Wagons Meals, visited my share of Taco Trucks in LA, not to mention the really good ones in Yuma. But nothing matches the size and scope of the group of Food Carts I saw on my way to breakfast at Mother's Bistro & Bar.
This collection of Food Carts lined SW 5th Avenue, from SW Oak Street, to SW Stark Street. The variety was impressive. Everything from Barbecue:
Which had the "best sign".
I'm not quite sure what tie in the Elephants have to Mexican Food.....
From the sleek:
To places that might give me a bit of a pause.
There's even what looks like a little rivalry going on. This Cart, The Real Taste of India:
Was just a few carts over from this Cart, the New Taste of India.
How 'bout we open one up a few carts over called the New Real Taste of India?
Short on cash? There's even a portable ATM!
Here are 2 carts, right across the Police Station on SW 2nd Avenue:
On my way to dinner at Pok Pok, I passed a Taco Truck:
Here are a few more for good measure. Some of them could even qualify for street art.
Portland Food Carts....they're everywhere!