Oregon Road Trip: The Skinny on Portland Food Carts

I love food. That might be an understatement. I’m sure someone out there is giggling as they read this.

I’m no foodie, but I definitely like to eat a good meal as often as possible.

As we planned our mini-road trip around Oregon this past July I was so excited to get back to Portland. The food cart movement had exploded since the last time we were there. Facebook and Twitter were abuzz with new carts opening up offering savory and sweet delicacies.

Mike and I agreed that we would try to only eat at food carts during our weekend stay. This would save us a bit of money as well as expose us to some amazing food in a very kid-friendly dining sort of way. Loads of options and dining al fresco; what could possibly go wrong?

Have you ever been to a food cart in Portland on a weekend? 

Yup. That’s what went wrong.

Many of the food carts near our hotel closed down for the weekend. They catered primarily to the downtown work crowd.

You have no idea how bitterly disappointed I was. We were not able to complete our self-imposed challenge to only eat at food carts. We walked by several carts that looked too amazing to pass up, except we had to because no one was inside cooking. Waffles, beignets, Cuban sandwiches; all were shut down as they enjoyed the sunny weekend we were soaking up.

We did get to eat at a few carts that remained open near our hotel, just not for every meal. I had some tasty BBQ pork and brisket, a little yakisoba and some Kalua pork with rice. It was a start, but not what I was hoping for.

Lesson learned. We will be researching food carts a bit more thoroughly before we head down next time. I will not give up on my quest to only partake in the delicious treats the carts can provide on a return visit.

On the upside, we did go to some delicious restaurants and got to know the bell staff at our hotel pretty well. They always pointed us to their favorite spots.

Now whether we listened or not is a whole other story.

Know Before You Go

Only 1 tip: Check out Food Carts Portland before you head down.

  • Maps of where food carts can be found
  • Food listed by category to help you narrow down your choices
  • New spots and closing announcements
  • Also offers tours of the food carts

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Hop on over to Wanderfood Wednesdays for more food fun.

written by Keryn Means

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10 comments

  1. I would love to try food from the many different food carts!
    Recently we went to the food and wine festival in Mackay. When we got there we only saw about 6 food carts. Which we thought was weird ~ we chose what we wanted, sat down to eat it, and then walked to the other side of the event….gee we were pissed off! That was were all the food carts were at. Next time we realised it pays to do a bit of research before trying to eat :)
    At least you still got out to explore the restaurants ins oregon.

  2. Ahh, bummer on the food carts! Definitely give it another go on your next visit to NYC…we have them 7 days a week!;-) My current favorite is the grill cheese truck!

  3. Oregon is still on my To Do list – so many interesting things happening with their culinary scene these days. I’m based in LA, so we’ve had the food trucks for a while and I love them. Always interesting, always pushing the envelope and doing something different.

  4. Thanks so much for linking up to my blog today, you were the first one of the whole day! I love doing mini-road trips like this. It’s too bad the carts were closed, dang! At least you got some good food though. Hope to see you again next week with more adventures, same time and same place! Have an awesome night!
    talesoftheyoungertwin.blogspot.com

  5. When you come back to PDX, the food carts on at Mississippi Market in N. Portland and at at SE 32nd and DIvision are open on weekends and are also great kid spaces.

    • Thank you!!! I knew I was just missing something but by the time we got to PDX I was too tired to do more research. Plus we were hoping to just park and walk from our hotel everywhere. Next trip we plan on exploring out of downtown even more. It’s such a cool city!

  6. I’m pretty sure that all you have to do to be a “foodie” is enjoy eating – and it sounds like you’ve got that covered! :-)

  7. I’m a bit wary of good trucks in general because I’m a strict vegetarian, so the only ones I’ve tried are the dessert trucks and Fro Yo. But that said, I know so many people who LOVE them. Sorry to hear they were closed during the weekend–who would have thought?

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