Some people would have you believe that the downtown food cart pods are a beacon of the mobile kitchen scene in Portland. I would argue it’s the east side of the Willamette that really has things figured out.
Southeast food cart pods are just as much about the experience as they are the food. Here are three food cart havens you’d be an idiot not to cross the river for.
S.E. 12th Ave. & Hawthorne Blvd.
After a night of barhopping through inner-Southeast Portland, nothing beats the late-night food carts at Cartopia. Open later than the bars, this pod boasts some delicious snacks that will satisfy even the drunchiest of drunchies. When I’ve exceeded my beer quota for the evening, there’s only one thing I want in my belly: Potato Champion. This cart has perfected the art of smothered fries, and choosing only one item from the menu is almost impossible. I’d suggest tag-teaming the poutine (they have a veggie gravy option for the herbivores among us) and the PB&J fries (a spicy Thai take on America’s favorite sandwich) with a partner. The outdoor, family-style seating is covered, meaning you’ll always have a place to nosh on them ‘taters—rain or shine.
Good Food Here
S.E. 43rd Ave. & Belmont St.
The best thing about Good Food Here—aside from the overwhelming variety of delicious food carts—is the atmosphere it provides. This pod has multiple seating areas and an arrangement that makes you feel like you’re walking the gravel streets of a small marketplace. For the dairy lovers among us, Herb’s Mac & Cheese offers cheesy noodles your way (pro tip: add a fried egg for $1). But if cheese isn’t your bag, Divine’s Café has an impressive vegan menu right next door. Around the bend you’ll find Blues City Biscuits, which is an entire cart dedicated to the art of biscuits and gravy. Need I say more? Personally, my favorite reason for coming to this pod is Fried Egg I’m In Love. This cart’s breakfast sandwiches are so well done that I just can’t get them out of my head. Actually, I think I might be in love.
à la carts
S.E. 50th Ave. & Division St.
This is easily my favorite food cart pod in Portland. There’s free wifi, live music on Saturdays during the summer months and seating that is both covered and uncovered. Oh, and did I mention some really great food cart options? My go-to window is Dolicious, a Vietnamese food cart with excellent service and a bánh mì that makes me purr with satisfaction. Pro tip: add a fried egg for $1 (are you sensing a pattern here?) and definitely make it dope if you can handle the heat (dope is just another way of asking for hot sauce). When I’m all bánh mì’d out, I like to hit up Istanbul Delights for a falafel wrap or Stumptown Kimbap for Korean rice rolls smothered in kimchi. If you’re thinking this place can’t get any better, you’re wrong: à la carts is located right across the street from North Bar, making it the perfect stop to fill up before a night of beer drinking and dart throwing.