The food cart scene is a little different than the food truck scene. Though there are some that are mobile (see below) the “scene” is based around pods. That is, areas around town dedicated to these businesses. They look more like food stands with kitchens, the ones you find at food festivals. However, they’re permanent kinda like the hawker centers in Singapore. And like the ones in Singapore, there are some gems you’ll have to seek out.
I ate at a couple before wondering why I paid so much for mediocre food and why I didn’t do my research. When I did, I found out why Portland cherishes its food cart scene. And no, there weren’t any ridiculous lines, i.e. 2014 San Francisco Ramen Festival.
My favorite area was Adler Street, around 10th Ave. That’s where I found Nong Khao Man Gai. A great food cart that’s been in the media for quite some time. And the owner was still there, a carbon copy from the news clipping, beaming a smile to each customer. It’s so awesome to see a place showcased for delivering one main dish. A dish they nailed. And walking around, you get the sense that the more specialized food carts, the better it’ll be. Don’t take that as fact. I only deduced that the few places I ate at and my observations of the crowd.
One thing to note, there’s not too much seating. People find benches or curbs to sit down and enjoy their meal. Some do have tables, though, don’t come here expecting one.
Verdict: When in Portland, you need to get yourself out here. I’d recommend lunch time on a nice day.