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.
This place was calling my name. Literally. Get it? Okay, fine. I’m horrible at humor. I’m an eater not a comedian. And hopefully, my obsessive eating will help you out. Especially for this restaurant, Ox, which happened to be close to my hotel. I’ve been reading about ever since I landed. I would have tried it earlier, but Sunday had a wait list that had me rethink my plans. So here I was on a Wednesday when it first opened at five. Fork and spoon in hand.
Even though this place was known for their steaks, I mean it’s an Argentine restaurant after all, I decided on smaller dishes. Kinda had a tapas feel to the menu. And don’t worry. Those dishes filled me up. I went really heavy for dinner. All my pounds in Portland were probably from this one meal. And if I had the chance, I’d do it again. Maybe add some skirt steak.
Anyways, being one of the first patrons, the staff were attentive and they didn’t bat an eye when I snapped away at each dish. Each one came out at a good pace as I sampled and was ready for a different taste. Definitely got an intimate vibe here. Destiny allowing it, next time I’ll bring my soul moo with me.
2225 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Portland, OR 97212
+1 (503) 284-3366
Verdict: I highly recommend you try this place, if only for the clam chowder.
The Bacon Maple Bar was a wonderful end to the night. Tip, Voodoo Doughnuts is open 24 hours and Voodoo Doughnuts Too is less of a wait. Just throwin it out there!
Want good bar food? And no, it’s not a trick question. You got it. This place was a local recommendation. Good beers and surprisingly good food for a brewery. And to be honest, I don’t expect much when I go to these types of places. After eating here though, I realized I should expect good food. This place did it. Why not others? And to think about it, where’s the line between breweries and gastropubs anyways? Deschutes may be that missing link.
The place was large and there were people waiting. We grabbed a pager anyways and went to the bar. We found some standing room and found out they served a full menu there. Pretty cool. We ordered away and made some friends. Pretty lively place not to. And to give you a sense of the wait, by the time we finished, our pager lit up. That was about an hour later. Yikes.
Deschutes Brewery & Public House
210 NW 11th Ave
Portland, OR 97209
+1 (503) 296-4906
Verdict: I wouldn’t mind coming back if someone wanted to check out the place.
This place was right around the corner from Puppet Labs, a place we were suppose to be later. More about that toward the end. You’re here for this sushi place that I looked up. Not too hard to find when you’re walking around the area. It’s on the corner and had outside seating. Best of all, there weren’t any lines. Okay, so it was Monday. Still, I’d say it was crowded for a Monday.
Inside we sat at the sushi bar. Mainly to get a glimpse off their fish selection. And off the bat, I saw some interesting fish. Like the super white tuna and the Japanese mackerel which was imported in. Not knowing what the main course would be like, your sushi/sashimi combo and my chirashi don, we decided to try out some of the unique looking fish. The sushi chef was very attentive and gave us some good portions. The entrees also came with miso soup, which was average, and a salad, which was also average. Probably should have skipped it and saved room for my main course. You can read about the details below. But overall, I felt like I ate way too much. And it’s not the “oh I shouldn’t have eaten that extra helping. I feel guilty” too much. It was the, “This is so good, I’m going to try to finish it and not waste it” too much. By the time I finished, all I wanted to do was go back to the hotel.
Next time Puppet Labs. Heard the party was a stellar success.
Overall, a well run place. From the staff and the roominess of the restaurant, everything fit in nicely for dinner. The sushi area was right at the entrance. To the left, the place opened to the main dining area. That night wasn’t too noisy and I’d imagine most of it were the orders flying around and our many questions to the chef. I should start taking more pictures of the shops going forward.
Yama Sushi & Sake Bar
926 NW 10th Ave
Portland, OR 97209
+1 (503) 841-5463
Verdict: Definitely recommend this place and if they have it, try the live uni!