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Apr 5, 2012 11:38 AM

Portland Food Trucks and Food Cart Tour

We're visiting Portland in June and wanted to check out what seems to be the very interesting food truck scene there. There's a Living Social coupon on offer now for a food truck / cart tour for $22/pp (The tour includes small samplings at each truck, and they say the total amount of food one will get is about equivalent to a lunch). Is this worth it? There will be three of us, and it seems like $66 would by a lot of food truck food if we just found them ourselves. Last question, what would be your selection of five or so must-visit food trucks in Portland? Thanks for your help, Ninrn, Albuquerque

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  1. I hear ya, and I agree with you...$66 would, indeed, buy a lot of food from carts.

    Here's one good guide, but they are mostly an info site, so there's noting really critical about the carts on it:

    The cart pods downtown are mostly open on weekdays for lunch, pods outside of the downtown core generally are open for lunch and dinner during the week and weekends - lots of exceptions. Best advice I can give you is to decide whereyou want to go and figure out if they are open before you go - and hours listed on websites/Facebook/etc. are often estimates.

    Some places to start:

    Tabor (for a schnitzelwich with pork or muenster cheese or other Czech specialties
    )Nong's Khao Man Gai (all khao man gai, all the time)
    Grilled Cheese Grill

    Good Food Here Pod on SE Belmont:
    Lardo (everything I have tried there is good)
    EuroTrash (fishy chips)
    Viking Soul Food (various lefse sandwiches/wraps)
    Aybla Grill (great, if not terribly exciting, grilled chicken on a salad)

    Other pods worth checking out:
    Mississippi Marketplace
    North Station

    ...and really, so many others it boggles the mind...

    Do a little research online and I am sure you can do your own food cart tour!

    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. 66 bucks buys a lot of food cart food.

        Top of my head five cart tour:

        9th and Alder: Porchetta Sandwich at People's Pig.

        5th and Stark : Samosas at Real Taste Of India

        12th and Hawthorne: Fries with your choice of sauces at Potato Champion

        42nd and Belmont: Smoked salmon lefses at Viking Soul Food

        50th and Division: Tiger prawns and chips at Year of the Fish

        That's probably $40-$45 worth of food and you will likely be stuffed out of your gourds if you get through it all.

        Or you could just hit four or five carts at 9th and Alder.

        JMHO there's not one or two 'can't miss' carts here in Portland... it's very hard to go wrong as the carts that just are flat out bad tend to fail pretty fast... when all else fails, choose the cart with the long line... a lot of the magic is just in exploring the different pods, smelling, looking, talking to people, trying things on a whim... anyway, have fun...

        1 Reply
        1. re: jonoropeza

          Thanks so much. This all sounds shockingly good.

        2. I just returned from Portland and did a self-guided food cart tour at the pod on 10th and Alder. We found it totally straightforward and easy to do as a group. We had thought about doing the organized tour, but ended up trusting our instincts to find good food with our noses, and it totally worked for us. 10th and Alder is a great starting point because there are so many carts and such a good variety. We did a reconnaissance lap around the block first, making note of what smelled or looked good, then split up and each grabbed a few things. We reconvened in the little park at the bottom corner of the block and shared bites of each others, then went back for another round, and kept up that pattern until we were about to pass out. We were there shortly before lunch time, and a good indicator of deliciousness was watching where the local office workers made bee-lines to!
          I'd suggest taking the time to really read through the placards and postings on the carts so you get a good sense of everything available -- there were some hidden gems we might have missed, like the tempura soft shelled crabs ($3!). My favorite item was the pork belly bao at Bao PDX, and Aybla had a delicious lamb gyro on offer. I thought the prices were great -- about $6.95 for portions that could easily serve as lunch and a lot of things for $3 that were good snack or sample size -- and yes, a lot of places had free samples too!
          Next time I'm in Portland I'll explore some of the other pods, but I think the 10th and Alder location is a great start. There are also a few good iPhone apps -- Cart Compass and TruxMap that have a lot of useful information. Happy trucking!!

          2 Replies
          1. re: Fargo

            Thanks for this great description and plan, Fargo. We're going to do the exact same thing. And the tip about the apps is great. Thanks again.

            1. re: ninrn

              Agree 100% about reading the placards carefully. I didn't notice till I had massively overordered at Tabor that you can get half a schnitzelwich. Would have stopped me wasting a ton of food :-(.