With hundreds of tiny kitchens throughout the city, Portland’s food-cart scene is legendary. The flavorful proliferation has drawn raves from Bon Appétit magazine and CNN (which declared Portland home to the world’s best street food).
Unlike other cities’ mobile food trucks, most Portland carts stay put in groups dubbed “pods,” making it a snap to sample several at a time. You’ll also find smaller groups and individual carts scattered around the city; Pioneer Courthouse Square features several carts. Here are some big pods to check out.
Downtown Food Cart Pods
Set on the MAX line, the Fifth Avenue pod sates downtowners’ daytime appetites with offerings like Korean tacos or Asian-fusion rice bowls at Korean Twist, and myriad other cuisines, including Indian, Thai and Egyptian.
Pioneer Courthouse Square
Sitting right in the heart of downtown Portland, the Pioneer Courthouse Square food cart pod is home to several lunchtime favorites. Here, you’ll find Melty & Meaty Sandwich Eatery, which is what you get if Olympia Provisions and Tillamook Creamery had a baby, and Fried Egg I’m in Love, known for its namesake sandos. Grab a classic grilled cheese with a side of creamy tomato fennel soup or a fried egg and seared ham sandwich oozing with sriracha and take your seat on the bricks in Portland’s living room.
Portland State University
Located in the south end of downtown, the PSU pod is handy to the university campus and the shady South Park Blocks. Carts here include Thai, Mexican and Indian options, along with bento, sandwiches and more.
The Third Avenue pod includes the popular DC Vegetarian, known for its vegan and vegetarian burgers and sandwiches, as well as carts offering cuisine from Mexico, Egypt, Thailand and Vietnam. Once you’ve got your meal, stroll to Waterfront Park and pull up a bench (or spot of grass) — instant picnic!
Southeast Portland Food Cart Pods
The Cartlandia “super pod” in Southeast Portland is home to The Blue Room, a full-service bar with 18 beers and ciders on tap, a family- and dog-friendly outdoor beer garden and more than 30 carts representing 15 different countries.
A favorite of late-nighters, Cartopia hosts Potato Champion, which dishes up crispy, twice-fried Belgian-style fries and gravy-doused poutine (pretty much perfect post-drinking food). Pyro Pizza delivers beautifully singed pizzas from a wood-fired oven, while Chicken and Guns heats up the night with its wood-fired Latin chicken, served with crispy, sea-salted potatoes and an addictive Peruvian sauce made of cilantro, jalapeños and sour cream.
Carts on Foster
Head to Carts on Foster, an all-weather pod on Southeast Foster Road, to sample from over a dozen food carts. Order from Bari Food Cart for some classic Italian street food or indulge in traditional Turkish dishes from Istanbul Delight. Complete your meal with a drink from Pod Bar, boasting an impressive tap list alongside craft ciders and nonalcoholic drinks. You can even get a haircut after lunch in the ‘70s-inspired vintage trailer that houses Salon Bucci.
Eastport Food Center
Eastport Food Center stands on bustling 82nd Avenue, near the diverse Jade District and Foster-Powell neighborhood. Bring your appetite to this large pod with indoor and outdoor seating and spend the day trying out dishes from different parts of the world. You’ll find ample vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. For a sweet treat, hit up the Bobablastic cart, where you can mix and match flavors to craft the perfect cup of bubble tea.
Opened in 2019, Hawthorne Asylum is a large pod not far from Cartopia with ample covered seating, a fire pit and several food carts. Standouts include Smaaken Waffle Sandwiches, Burmese Delight and Montage Ala Cart, the reincarnation of beloved Cajun eatery Le Bistro Montage, which closed in June 2020. You can even get beer and cider at on-site bar, Black Dagger.
Piknik Park Food Cart Pod
After exploring the charming Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood, swing by the Piknik Park Food Cart Pod. Besides ample dining options, there’s a craft beer garden with a stand-up bar, bathrooms and a covered, heated seating area. Choose from comfort food at Sauc’d, classic Moroccan cuisine at Taste of Casablanca or traditional Nepalese street food from Yatra PDX, among several others.
With up to nine carts offering Mexican, Colombian, Peruvian, Argentinian and Venezuelan specialties, Portland Mercado is a must-stop for lovers of Latin American flavors. This incubator for local Latinx-owned businesses also includes a grocery, coffee shop, bar and more.
The Lot at John’s Marketplace
What’s better than a food cart pod with made-to-order miniature cakes (Penny Cakes), mouthwatering slow-cooked barbecue (Holy Trinity) and Insta-worthy fried chicken sandwiches (JoJo)? That same pod right next to beer-topia John’s Marketplace, one of Portland’s largest bottle shops. You can find all of the above and more at The Lot at John’s Marketplace on Southeast Powell Boulevard.
North Portland Food Cart Pods
Cartside Food Carts
Conveniently located a stone’s throw from both the Moda Center and the Oregon Convention Center, Cartside Food Carts pod is the place to fuel up before a Blazers game, concert or a big tradeshow. Here, you’ll find authentic Korean food at Ko Sisters Seoul Food, traditional Lebanese food at Yaba Yabaa and Thai staples at PP Thai Food Cart, among others. Best of all, you can wash it all down with some draft brew from the Cartside Taphouse.
Park the Carts
Sitting at the crossroads of North and Northeast Portland, Park the Carts offers a variety of options, including several Black-owned carts, as well as indoor and outdoor seating. Sample a rotating menu of Hawaiian classics from the acclaimed Grind Wit Tryz or go for the melt-in-your-mouth barbecue from Premium Smokehouse PDX. If a classic—but by no means ordinary—burger is your jam, then Union Burger will not disappoint.
Set on hip, walkable North Mississippi Avenue, the choices at Prost Marketplace include vegan-friendly rice bowls packed with fresh ingredients at Native Bowl, acclaimed barbecue from Matt’s BBQ, Korean-style tacos from Koi Fusion and delectable breakfast sandwiches from Fried Egg I’m in Love.
The pod is anchored by brick-and-mortar German pub Prost! where you are welcome to eat your cart meal if you buy a drink. (Lagers go great with bulgogi burritos!) Or try a drink from cocktail cart Bloodbuzz.
St. Johns Food & Beers Porch
Located in the quaint St. Johns neighborhood, the St. Johns Food & Beer Porch has over a dozen food carts and a variety of local brews, ciders and more on tap. With a covered seating area and regularly scheduled events, this food cart pod will keep you fed and entertained all day long. Try a po’boy sandwich from NoPoBoys for lunch, one of the Caribbean and Southwest fusion dishes from Calypso Southwest for dinner and an acai bowl or smoothie from Sissy’s Beverage Emporium in between.
Northeast Portland Food Cart Pods
Rose City Food Park
The full-service Rose City Food Park pod houses about a dozen carts and features frequent live music performances.
Shady Pines Vegan Food Court
Home exclusively to vegan food carts, Shady Pines Vegan Food Court opened in 2020 in the Cully neighborhood. From vegan mac and cheese at Avocadamama, to Persian-Japanese fusion at Safframen, to barbecue “ribs” from Dirty Lettuce, there’s no shortage of creative plant-based creations to choose from. This pod also boasts indoor and outdoor seating areas and a restroom with a changing station.
William Gordon Plaza
Located off Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, William Gordon Plaza offers several food carts with international flare and a covered outdoor seating area. Take your pick from West African offerings at Kabba’s Kitchen, specializing in Senegalese and Gambian dishes, Mediterranean cuisine from Barakat Al-Sham Food Cart, or Southern favorites from NERDBOXER Food Cart or Kee’s Loaded Kitchen.
Northwest Portland Food Cart Pods
Nob Hill Food Carts
Located in a classic Northwest Portland neighborhood, the Nob Hill Food Carts pod is home to a wide variety of carts. Favorites include Chinese crepes from Bing Mi food cart, burgers and salad from the buzzy Farmer and the Beast, and authentic ramen from Ramen Ippo. To quench your thirst, The Pour House serves up fresh pints of draft beer from a charming vintage trailer.
Popular Food Carts
Rather than being overwhelmed by the hundreds of food carts in Portland, choose a day's worth of meals from these popular food carts.
Portland’s Best Dumplings
Every February, Portland celebrates its love for dough-wrapped delights with Dumpling Week. Best of all? Delicious dumplings are available year-round.
Alberta Arts District Dining
Diverse Alberta offers food for every taste (vegan to carnivore), craving (foie-gras to fried chicken) and budget (PBR to Dom Perignon).
Eat your way through North or Northeast Portland to find Southern food dishes that taste like they were flown in from the Mississippi Delta.
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