I love living in Portland. It has green landscapes, beautiful architecture, quirky neighborhoods and a disproportionately large volume of coffee to people.
Portland has a great culture of micro communities on the whole. It’s a very open and caring environment where people consciously consume, and support local businesses. One thing we really love in Portland is food, and we’re pretty famous for our food carts, but not just your solo taco truck perusing the town looking to sell tasty taco’s to unsuspecting locals.. no, here we do it big! We have Food Cart VILLAGES, or more commonly referred to as, PODS.
All over the city there are these micro food communities where locals flock daily to eat cheap and delicious cuisine. However, and I say this with deep seriousness…. NOT ALL FOOD CARTS ARE CREATED EQUAL!
Tourists are often lured by mediocre food carts in convenient locations such as outside the Saturday Market or the ones at SW 10th and Alder. Conveniently located, to give the illusion that they are the best we have to offer… I mean they are close to so much cool stuff! But these are not our golden geese! These carts are the equivalent to knock off Prada bags you’d find in NYC’s China Town…. pretty good, passable, but not the “real thing.”
These are my favorite food cart pods in Portland.
St Johns Beer Porch: Located on Lombard Street, in the middle of a pretty residential area lies a boozy gem. Colorful carts, coffee, gyros, chowder and BEER (also cider)! What more could you want?! Sporting lots of seating, a fire pit, a covered and semi-enclosed “Beer Porch” with ample heating for colder weather this cart Pod is awesome all times of the year. It’s also close to Cathedral Park which is highly instagramable.
Portland Mercado: So I grew up in California… I know… I know. Any native Portlanders reading this are probably rolling their eyes and burning internally with rage and the white-hot passion of a thousand suns. Too many of us have transplanted here… but like, I fucking love tacos. In California Mexican food, good, authentic, delicious Mexican food is EVERYWHERE. I moved to Portland and POOF! NONE! Then when we relocated to Lents, which is adjacent to the Foster Powell neighborhood, we discovered the Mercado. I love it here. For those of you visiting Portland, you should know it is off the beaten path, but Fopo (Foster Powell Neighborhood) is definitely somewhere to put on your list. It’s up and coming, and non-touristy, so you’ll get a truly local experience here. The Mercado is where my neighbors and friends from the area meet up after work, and it’s rich with a diverse selection of Latin foods from Mexico and beyond which is great for me as many South American dishes are naturally gluten-free. Plus, it is so colorful, I just LOVE IT!
Cartopia: Located at the corner of 12th and Hawthorn is a long-standing food cart pod but a recent discovery for me personally. Fire pits, ample seating, covered eating area’s and my favorite food cart in all of the city “Chicken and Guns”…. first of all, is that not the most epic name for a food cart? Second of all… guns= crispy potatoes with rock salt and lemon zest and it’s gluten-free y’all. I recommend chimichurri sauce. However, there are A LOT of other options, crepes, burgers, wood fired Pizza, and more so it’s an awesome option if you have a group of mixed food preferences and dietary needs!
Cartlandia: Deep in SE Portland is a local favorite. While not like, TOP of my list it’s definitely a solid option. Indian food, waffles, Mexican, Chinese, Sushi, even a Voodoo Donut Cart. That’s right people, a VOODOO DONUT CART.
The Lot: Scout brewery storefront used to be located at the food cart pods on SE Division and SE 23rd. They were my favorite food cart pod in all the city. They had Swedish food, Smaaken Waffles, a Salad food cart, and a gluten-free vegan dessert cart which was the bomb… and then the owner sold the lot to a developer and all the Portland locals wept heavily. BUT, very happily, Scout bought a storefront down the street and converted the parking lot into a food cart pod! Many of the original carts that we knew and loved from the SE Division Pod transplanted and while smaller in stature this pod still has the same good vibes, good food, and good people that made me love their previous location!
As you can see Portland has A LOT of food carts, and these are some of the best! But each pod has its own vibe and different options. Good news for all you celiacs out there, every single one of these cart pods has at least 2-7 gluten-free options and all of them are delicious.
What is your favorite food cart in the city? Which do you think has the best vibe?! Drop your comments below, shoot me an email or comment on my insta and tell me about it!