Unlike other cities’ food trucks, most Portland carts stay put in groups dubbed “pods,” making it a snap to sample several at a time. You’ll also find smaller groups and individual carts scattered around the city; Pioneer Courthouse Square features several carts.
Food Cart Pods
Explore like a local, check out these Fab Food Cart Pod options. Content courtesy of Travel Portland: Food & Drink.
Set on the MAX line, the Fifth Avenue pod sates downtowners’ daytime appetites with offerings like Korean tacos or Asian-fusion rice bowls at Korean Twist, and myrid other cuisines, including Indian, Thai and Egyptian.
The Third Avenue pod includes the popular DC Vegetarian, known for its vegan and vegetarian burgers and sandwiches, as well as carts offering cuisine from Mexico, Egypt, Thailand and Vietnam. Once you’ve got your meal, stroll to Waterfront Park and pull up a bench (or spot of grass) — instant picnic!
Portland Statue University
Located in the south end of downtown, the PSU pod is handy to the university campus and the shady South Park Blocks. Portland Soup Company offers elevated lunch items like apple-wood-smoked trout chowder and handmade fresh mozzarella sandwiches. It’s also home to the beloved Nong’s Khao Man Gai, which serves its iconic (and Food Network-famous) khao man gai: garlic- and ginger-infused chicken and rice paired with dipping sauce, along with pork and vegetarian dishes.
A favorite of late-nighters, Cartopia hosts Potato Champion, which dishes up crispy, twice-fried Belgian-style fries and gravy-doused poutine (pretty much perfect post-drinking food). Pyro Pizzadelivers beautifully singed pizzas from a wood-fired oven. Night owls flock to Perierra Crêperie for Nutella-banana or avocado-cream-cheese-and-turkey crêpes, while Chicken and Guns heats up the night with its wood-fired Latin chicken, served with crispy, sea-salted potatoes and an addictive Peruvian sauce made of cilantro, jalapeños and sour cream.
Across the street from Cartopia is Lardo, one of the city’s many cart-turned-brick-and-mortar success stories. Stop in a for a decadent sandwich (mortadella and mozzarella, cold fried chicken) and try to save room for dessert from the Hungry Heart Cupcakes cart on-site.
Set on hip, walkable North Mississippi Avenue, the choices at Mississippi Marketplace include breakfast standout Hash It Out, which serves meat- and egg-heavy hash using organic and locally sourced ingredients. For lunch, sample vegan-friendly rice bowls packed with fresh ingredients at Native Bowl and animal product-free barbecue at Homegrown Smoker Vegan BBQ. Adding to the feast, Koi Fusion’s truck dishes Korean-style tacos every day but Monday.
The pod is anchored by brick-and-mortar German pub Prost, where you are welcome to eat your cart meal if you buy a drink. (Lagers go great with bulgogi burritos!)
The Cartlandia “super pod” in Southeast Portland is home to The Blue Room, a full-service bar with 18 beers and ciders on tap, and a family- and dog-friendly outdoor beer garden. More than 30 carts representing 15 different countries include a Voodoo Doughnut mobile van and three carts serving lobster.
Food Carts: Morning, Noon & Night
From breakfast to dessert, Portland’s eclectic food carts have diners’ cravings covered, all over town.
Rise and shine any time you please with the all-day breakfast sandwiches available at Fried Egg I’m In Love. This cart on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard features a tasty array of music-pun-themed offerings, like the signature Yolko Ono, the spicy Sriracha Mix-A-Lot or the vegetarian Back in Black Beans.
On culinary destination Southeast Division Street, Smaaken Waffles reinvents the breakfast classic, turning it into a vessel for delightfully diverse fillings. Sandwiches on their thin Dutch waffles include combinations like sausage, egg and cheddar; ham, Swiss, house-made strawberry jam and powdered sugar; and the Smaaken: apple, brie and bacon. (The cart also offers gluten-free waffles and vegan and vegetarian sandwiches.)
At its iconic yellow school bus eatery on Alberta Street — Grilled Cheese Grill whips up sandwiches including its Tillamook-cheddar-stuffed, crust-cut-off “Pre-schooler” and “BABS,” a crumbled blue-cheese-marble-rye wonder stacked with bacon and sliced Braeburn apples.
If you’re more in the mood for a slice, Pyro Pizza has managed to cram a brick oven into its cart in the Cartopia pod, where they wood-fire margherita and puttanesca pies that are sized perfectly for sharing or hoarding.
To satisfy a range of cravings, head to the Portland Mercado in Southeast Portland’s Foster-Powell neighborhood. Outside of the market is a row of rainbow-colored food carts, each serving up its own traditional recipes infused with Portland flair. Dig into stuffed arepas and friend yucca at Colombian cart Que Bacano, or sample specialties from its neighbors, who are serving up dishes from Mexico, Cuba, Argentina and El Salvador.
Dinner options include an earthy vegan mole, belly-warming pozole, thick and cheesy Salvadorian pupusas or pizza-like Oaxacan tlayudas (14-inch crispy tortillas topped with queso fresco, fresh veggies and pork rinds). In other words, Portland Mercado’s offerings stretch way beyond standard Tex-Mex fare.
Snacks & Treats
A sweet or savory substitute for any meal (or good as a snack), the waffle sandwiches at Flavour Spot will have you wondering why we ever used bread to begin with. These delicious handfuls come in varieties like ham and Gouda, sausage and maple, or even Nutella and raspberry jam. Advice: Ask for extra napkins.