Full disclosure: I was originally planning on going to Portland to write a "Seattle vs. Portland" food truck story. I wanted to compare and contrast the miraculous mobile food scene of our two cities - but once I got to PDX, things drastically changed. Why you ask? Because as much as I love Seattle, Portland dominates when it comes to their food truck game. There's no competition. At all.
So - I veered right and decided to call out the best food trucks I ate my way through when I was down there. And Seattle, take note.
After some intense research (and by that we mean face-stuffing), we've rounded up the top food truck spots to hit up in the City of Roses. There's so many food trucks that there's multiple food-truck 'pods' around town. So, we've helped organize the best of the best based on location.
Alder Street Food Cart Pod
The largest downtown collection of Portland’s famed food carts is located between Southwest Alder and Washington streets, from Southwest Ninth to Southwest Tenth Avenues. Most carts are open extended lunch hours on weekday afternoons. A few carts have limited sidewalk seating; Director Park is nearby. Be sure to check out there favorites:
- Grilled Cheese Grill: O-M-CHEESE! This Grilled Cheese Grill serves outrageously good grilled cheese sandwiches (think melted brie with roasted peppers and fresh tomatoes) and the Cheesus, a 1/3 lb. burger set between two you guessed it grilled cheese...
- Nong’s Khao Man Ghai: One of the most popular Thai foods found almost everywhere in Thailand, especially Bangkok, has made its way to a Downtown Portland food cart. Nong’s has a tiny menu limited to Khao man ghai: poached chicken served with rice cooked in the broth and an amazing pungent, sweet garlic-heavy chili and fermented soybean sauce. The simple ingredients come together harmoniously, completed by cucumber, parsley and a light, clear soup to tie it all together.
- The Dump Truck: Yum! You guys, I ate a 'cheeseburger dumpling'. There's a handful of creative dumplings to pick from as well as a traditional option that didn't disappoint.
Cartopia Food Cart Pod
The Cartopia pod is located on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard at Southeast 12th Avenue, has a covered, heated seating area and most carts are lively late at night, staying open until midnight Tuesday-Thursday and until 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
- Potato Champion: These champions dishe up crispy, twice-fried Belgian-style fries and gravy-doused poutine (pretty much perfect post-drinking food.) Just look...
- Pyro Pizza: Pyro Pizza delivers beautifully, handcrafted, singed pizzas from a wood-fired oven.
- Perierra Creperie: Night owls flock here for the Nutella-banana or avocado-cream-cheese-and-turkey crêpes. My FAV was the sugar and butter (drool).
The Portland Mercado is located right off of SE Foster road and has 9 food carts representing the diverse flavors of Latin America. Open daily from 10am-9pm, with some occasional flexibility. On Monday's and Tuesday's, 4 carts are open, and the others take a day off. They also offer indoor heated seating that welcomes their anchor businesses for all shopping, grocery and professional needs. Open daily from 10am-9pm. Coffee at 7am. Service business hours vary.
- Don Churro: Delicious dessert items including scones, elephant ears, churros and more. And if you don’t have a sweet tooth, Don Churro also offers hotdogs and nachos to enjoy.
- Tierra Del Sol Oaxacan Cuisine: Tierra Del Sol is the perfect representation of authentic Oaxacan cuisine. From their organic, handmade, blue tortillas to their made to order tlayudas, their food is exactly what you want.
- Que Bola Cuban Kitchen: A delicious Cuban kitchen showcasing all the island flavors. This is the perfect complement to a rainy Portland winter and the warm summers when you need refreshing flavors.
- Fernando’s Alegria Burritos & Wraps: Fernando's puts a creative spin on classic burritos and wraps. From mojito vegan wraps to casa carnitas burritos, there is something to be found for everyone on their extensive and innovative menu.
Portland State University
Located in the south end of downtown, the PSU pod is handy to the university campus and the shady South Park Blocks. Some favorites include:
- Portland Soup Company: Offers the good people of Portland the tasty food they deserve. Seasonal Soups, Sandwiches, and Salads crafted by hand, from scratch, and served up daily in an equally homegrown and quintessentially quaint cart.
- TidBit Food Farm and Garden: Located on foodie-favorite Southeast Division Street, it’s no surprise that this newer pod is home to delicious new carts and some long-time city favorites. Also check out their on-site garden and produce stand, retail boutiques, and beer garden. And don’t forget about the fire pit and frequent live music.
- Love Belizean: This Latin American, Mediterranean cuisine adds new flavor to the food cart scene in downtown Portland. Stop by and try their famous chicken or their pineapple upside down cake.
The Mississippi Marketplace, located on North Mississippi Ave. & Skidmore St., is one of the best places to enjoy a quick bite of food, find authentic ethnic cuisine and experience Portland’s quirky culinary scene. The choices include:
- Native Bowl: All the food at Native Bowl is made from scratch with love. They pride themselves on serving you the freshest, most delicious, healthy, fun bowls in town!
- Homegrown Smoker: This newly opened food cart is already a fan favorite to locals. Enjoy smoky, savory animal product-free BBQ at the new Homegrown Smoker.
Is your mouth watering yet? More food for thought - my hubby and I stayed at the Rose Hotel and the best part is that they offer guests darling yellow bikes free of charge to stroll around town. We literally rode our bikes from one food truck pod to the next.
Let us know what Seattle food trucks can compete with Portland!