Portland is food cart heaven, Mecca, and Valhalla, all rolled into one. So, when the Lovely and Talented had a week off work for a much-deserved vacation, where else could I take her?
We arrived in Portland about lunchtime, and we took off almost immediately for the PSU Pod of food carts. In Portland, the carts usually stay in one place – parking lot operators rent out spaces at the edges of the lots to food carts. They have installed electrical connections and, in some cases, plumbing facilities, resulting in “pods” around these parking lots. The presence of many carts at each of these pods attracts crowds, so the carts don’t have to move around to find customers.
The PSU pod is near Portland State University and has several great carts to choose from. The L&T had really wanted to try the Portland Soup Company, so we ran over there. We had one of the most delicious meals I have ever enjoyed: an amazing fresh beet soup with dill sour cream and an arugula salad with almonds, apples, and brie. Served with fresh bread, it was incredibly good on a crisp Oregon day. They had one fresh chocolate chip cookie left, and we finished our meal with that in all its soft, gooey, chocolatiness. It disappeared too quickly for a picture – this happened a lot on this trip.
An auspicious beginning, to be sure.
We had a few hours to rest and wander around, then we ambled over to the Alder St. pod between 9th and 10th streets to see who was available for dinner. EuroDish was one of the carts open late, with lovely pierogis. They had potato and cheese, veggie, and meat, so we had an order of six: three potato and cheese and three veggies. They were boiled up fresh and served with some delicious sauteed veggies and a dollop of sour cream. We gobbled them up like we hadn’t eaten all day- they were terrific.
Afterward, we looked for dessert possibilities and we found the Snow White House Cart with a huge variety of sweet and savory crepes available. We ordered a strawberry chantilly crepe with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.
This, unfortunately, is where things went a bit wrong. As we stood waiting for our crepe, we took a look inside the cart and realized that the blinds on the right side of the cart were covered in at least half an inch of dust and grime. Looking at that made us uneasy, to say the least – we were thinking seriously about just walking away.
However, we ended up talking to Abby, who runs the Snow White Crepe Cart, and decided to hang around. Abby was very entertaining, regaling us with a rambling explanation of how the “Hyenas” are stealing her ideas and ripping her off. She went on and on while she cooked the crepe, sliced fresh strawberries, filled it with whipped cream, wrapped it and served us, leaving us with two inescapable conclusions:
- She knows how to make a good crepe, and
- She is completely off her rocker. Not that “Oh, she’s so crazy!” kinda way, either. Use caution.
While we were eating, we got a call that would inform a chunk of the next day’s agenda.
Bill @foodtrucknerd had suggested I get in touch with Brett Burmeister @pdxfoodcarts, who is making a business of following, commenting on, advising, and helping with the HUNDREDS of food carts, trailers, and trucks in the Portland area.
Brett called to invite us along on his food cart walking tour in downtown Portland the following day. Looking forward to a good hour’s walk and Brett’s expertise in the history and current state of food carts, we felt the adventure was afoot – literally!