Location: Corner of SE 52nd and Foster
Number of carts: 11
Obligatory Score: 3
The parking lot that houses Carts on Foster has come along way since it was All Pets Playhouse – a decrepit-looking animal boarding house that I never saw open. Now it’s a bustling cart pod, with a lot more carts than the one other time I awkwardly walked through and then decided to go somewhere else a few months ago.
I use the term bustling loosely, it’s not that crowded which is a good thing if you hate waiting in line for food like I do. (That’s one issue with food carts over all I have, is the amount to time it takes to get your food can vary widely if you decide to go to different carts.) The inside is filled with plants, there’s both a tent and a covered porch for seating when it rains. (I heard it does that here.) There’s enough variety in the carts that you have choices but not too many, and the drone of Foster Road is drowned out by the way it’s set up. Basically, it’s nicer than I thought it would be, but ya know, still eating outside in a parking lot. Kinda what you’re signing up for.
The falafel from El Sultan
As far as food choices go, there’s a couple sandwich carts, a Mexican/Mediterranean cart, a coffee cart, a pastry cart, a breakfast cart and a Hawaiian cart (which actually used to be at Cartlandia.) Again, this changes so don’t trust me on this one, check the facebook or at least, don’t get your hopes up for Mexi/Medi before you go there. There’s also a bar, which is partially inside and offers an indoor-outdoor seating experience. It actually would be a kinda sweet place if you’re looking for a patio to drink on some sunny summer day.
A sub from Pressed.
On our visit Jared and I got falafels from El Sultan, which has been there as long as I can remember. Now going to a cart boasting cuisine from two non-adjecent parts of the world may be risky, but for $5 I was satisfied with my purchase. It came with chips and the pita was super soft and yummy. The fillings we’re kinda bland and there was way too much iceberg lettuce. Plus pickles. Who puts pickles on a falafel? Stan got an Italian sub from “Pressed” and was thoroughly disappointed. For $9 at least it came with deep fried french fries, but the bread was an even bigger buzz kill than the sandwich. Sorry Stan.
Over all, Carts on Foster is not the worst pod I’ve been to. Considering the location, it’s decent. That said, it’s not a must-visit cart pod by any means. According to Stan, if he had people in town, he wouldn’t bring them there and I’d have to agree.
Location: 45th and Woodstock Ave
Number of Carts: 3
Covered Section: No
Obligatory score: 5
Note: This was supposed to be my introductory post, but I spazzily posted about Cartlandia first.
I may start writing about every cart individually and inserting Jared’s “spicy but not too spicy” input in each one, or more likely just highlight the ones I like, but I really want to start with the pods themselves. After all, part of dining is the experience and I don’t care how good the food is if you feel icky eating there.
So let’s start with the neighborhood I claim to live in (even though my house is technically in Brentwood/Darlington), Woodstock. This pod popped up a few years back and has gone through a few carts, but the line up as of August 14th, 2013 is Graffiti Sandwiches, El Gallo Taco and a breakfast cart, Yolk, which I’ve heard is run by the same people that own Toast.
I really like this pod. One of the best things is there’s not actually too much choice to be made. Three genres, breakfast, Mexican and Sandwiches. I can handle that no matter how my day is going. Plus all three are actually good. I’ve never gotten anything at these cart I’ve been bummed out. Oh yeah, cause not all Food Carts in Portland are the stuff of Food Network legend. There are a lot of them that were opened by people who have no idea what they’re doing.
As far as ambiance, this place is great. There’s no flapping tarps or major thorough-fares, just the cute, Reed College influenced Neighborhood. The tables are wood picnic tables, but not like the crappy kind. They’re heavy duty and feel handcrafted and all Portland-y, and the Mexican cart even has an a house plant.
Basically, this is the perfect cart pod. Not too big, not to small, good choices and a nice place to sit. Of course, if it’s raining you’re grab and go only, but I guess, who goes to Food Carts when it’s raining?
This cart gets a 5 out of whatever number I decide to give the best cart pod I’ve been to. I guess I’m setting the bench mark here. EXCITING.
PS. I’m gonna stick to Southeast Food Carts. That way I don’t have to leave my quadrant.
PPS. Anyone know of any Food Cart blogs I should be reading for inspiration?
PPPS. I don’t remember the log in info for the FTP of this site, so the rebrand may take awhile.
Location: 82nd Ave at Spring Water Corridor
Number of Carts: A lot
Obligatory Score: 1
Despite it’s adorable kitschy name, Cartlandia is about the least “Portlandlandia” place in Portland. Yes, it claims “bike-centric” and is on the Springwater Corridor — a Portland-y bike path lined with wild blackberries– but the PDX stereotypes end there. There are tons of carts, but this must be the cheapest place to rent space in Portland, because is seems it’s mostly people who probably shouldn’t own restaurants and are just “trying it out.” Some I’ve tried are fine, but certainly not food you’d drool over and want to seek out again.
My biggest issue with this place is the sheer number of carts. I NEVER know what I want for lunch (hence the Lunch blog – it was supposed to provide direction) so I’ve already suffered with one decision by the time I make it to Cartlandia. Then I get there and have to decide all over again. To make matters worse, there’s always new carts which means I have to walk by awkwardly and try and look at the menu without actually talking to people. (For some reason I feel bad when I don’t get their food if I’ve spoken to them, ok.)
As far as genres go, like you’d expect on 82nd ave, there are a bunch of Thai places. There’s also a few carts representing various Central American countries, and at one point there were two Hot Dog carts. There’s a crepe and wrap place, and pizza. There’s also a sloppy cart that I’ve never seen open. Oh and there’s a British Pastys cart that I almost forgot about. I’m just not interested in bready English food, sorry. Anyway, it changes a bunch so for the current list go here.
Anyway, once that is taken care of and I get food, the atmosphere feels much like the county fair. I mean, I don’t really know what else I’d expect from a cart pod on 82nd. They have a beer garden with giant blaring TVs, you’re sitting in a shitty parking lot surrounded by like shady car mechanics, and there are tons of tables full of normal, non-hip people eating with the occasional tweaker mountain biker thrown in for good measure. Finally, with so many carts, the whole place smells like fried food.
My hope is that it will get better, as now that I am an 82nd aver, I’m cheering for urban sprawl and redevelopment. According to the Cartlandia blog they just cleared out 7 new spaces maybe someone will put an epic cart in there, but for right now, Cartlandia is kind of a bummer. Oh shit, I just came up with the best idea! Maybe they should start hosting Bingo there, really play off the fair theme! I heard that’s getting hip again on the news, which is where I learn about everything hip, so it could work to be the tipping point for 82nd. Just an idea.
August 14th, 2013 | Cart Pods, Uncategorized | Comments »
Photo via EatAdventures.com
So you may have guessed I got bored with trying to eat lunch on Hawthorne every day. It was expensive, we ran out of restaurants we weren’t specifically avoiding, and oh yeah, I moved my office to felony flats. Well, technically we’ve rebranded it the “Flavel Arts District” hoping it’ll catch on like Alberta did, but apparently white trash people are harder to gentrify. Anyway!
I was just in a heated debate with Stan about our two nearest Food Cart pod locations (actually it wasn’t heated at all, we agreed) and realized, I could start food blogging again, but about cart pods. I’m way better at keeping these things going when I have some sort of structure (or it’ll at least give me entertainment for the next couple weeks until Winter starts.
So get hyped! I’ve got thoughts.
1423 SE 37th
Date of visit: June 28, 2010
Cost for 2 (with tip): $20
Our “new” options on Hawthorne are limited, so there have been a lot of trips to the same old places lately, but yesterday we finally decided to get back on blog-wagon and try out something new. Toney Bento is tucked just off the strip on 37th, and is one of the few places left on our list that isn’t a dingy-looking sports bar. In fact, it looks quite appealing and even has sweet samurai swords on display. How can you go wrong with swords!? Despite the name, there is also more on the menu than bento, specifically a sushi bar. The menu is quite long in fact, and after staring at it for awhile I finally opted for one of the many combo meals.
A decent value at around $8, the Hawaiian combro included a spicy shrimp roll, a giant bowl of udon miso soup and a salad. On the other side of the table Jared went with the Vegan combo: an avocado roll, pot stickers, rice, salad, and a small bowl of miso. Seemed safe enough. As usual, Jared didn’t have much to say, this time blaming the food for being “too basic” for him to formulate a real opinion on the place. But I have no problem forming an opinion, so here goes.
The soup come out first and started things off well. It was simple udon noodles in regular miso, and was actually quite tasty. Unfortunately though, it would be the highlight of my meal. The shrimp roll was made with pre-cooked (and probably previously frozen) shrimp meat and if the sauce it was in was spicy, I couldn’t tell. There was also avocado and cucumber, but overall, it tasted no better than the stuff you get in the grocery store: like it had been made and then refrigerated for hours, if not days. The salad was also a miss for me. Basically just chopped napa cabbage in sweetened rice vinegar with a garnish of carrots and black celery seeds, it was not particularly good as far as consistency or flavor were concerned.
Overall, Toney Bento proved to be a place I would have been fine with never eating at (but at least it didn’t make me sick, or anything!) I think the lesson here is when a place has “bento” in the name, probably best to stick with chicken terriyaki.
Veggie options: A couple veggie combos, fairly basic veggie rolls