April 14, 2024

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Food Carts | The Official Guide to Portland

12 min read

For a taste of Portland’s legendary food cart scene, stop by these popular food cart pods.


10 min read

Whether you call them food trucks or food carts, they’re flourishing in Portland — with hundreds throughout the city, food carts are a vital part of the city’s culinary scene. The flavorful proliferation has drawn raves from Bon Appétit magazine and CNN (which declared Portland home to the world’s best street food). In 2023, Food & Wine ranked Portland number one on its list of America’s “Best Food Truck Cities.”

Food Trucks, Food Carts & Food Cart Pods — A Primer

Though they’re known as food trucks elsewhere in the country, “food carts” is the more common term in Portland (we love doing things just a little bit different). 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. Options range from street food favorites to elevated delicacies, from snacks to full meals to decadent desserts.

Explore international flavors and unique new food concepts — without the wait of a sit-down restaurant — at Portland’s many food cart pods. Many smaller groups and stand-alone carts are scattered around the city, but here are some big, noteworthy pods you don’t want to miss.

Downtown and Southwest Portland Food Cart Pods

Pioneer Courthouse Square

Sitting right in the heart of downtown Portland, the Pioneer Courthouse Square food cart pod is home to several lunchtime favorites. You’ll find Amelia’s serving crowd-pleasing Mexican specialties; Fried Egg I’m In Love is known for its namesake sandwiches. Grab a delicious meal at any of the carts and take your seat on the bricks in Portland’s living room.

Portland State University

Located near 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, kebabs and more.

The Cart Blocks

Opened in 2021, the Cart Blockscomprise a group of food carts that were previously located at the (now closed) Alder Street food cart pod, including Kafta House and Rachel & Rose. Grab a bite and enjoy a stroll through the adjacent North Park Blocks.

Third Avenue

The Third Avenue Food Cart Pod is home to the popular Stretch The Noodle, known for its toothsome hand-pulled noodles made fresh every day, as well as carts offering fare from Mexico, Egypt, Thailand and Vietnam. Once you’ve got your meal, stroll to Tom McCall Waterfront Park and pull up a bench (or find a spot on the grass) — it’s an instant picnic.

Midtown Beer Garden

Located just steps from a busy MAX Light Rail station, the Midtown Beer Garden sates downtowners’ daytime appetites with offerings like Korean tacos or Asian-fusion rice bowls at Korean Twist, along with myriad other cuisines, including Mexican, Thai and Egyptian. In a recently renovated lot, the beer garden now accommodates up to 300 diners and hosts events.

Multnomah French Quarter

Located in Multnomah Village, a charming neighborhood with small-town vibes just 5 miles (8 km) south of downtown, the Multnomah French Quarter is many things in one: a village square, a shopping center, a gathering place, a top-notch people watching destination — and, of course, an excellent food cart pod. Yoshi’s offers some of the city’s best sushi; choose from rolls, bowls, nigiri and sashimi (and note that you’ll need to order by phone). DelToro Steak serves its namesake dish in sandwiches, salads, tacos or with a side of mashed potatoes and veggies. Other offerings at this unique pod include Thai, Mexican, vegan comfort food, baked goods and beverages.

Questions About Portland Food Carts

What’s the difference between “food trucks” and “food carts”?

In Portland, these terms are generally synonyms, both of which describe a restaurant that’s compact and mobile (and usually delicious). “Food truck” is more common nationally, but Portlanders favor “food cart.”

How many food carts are there in Portland?

It’s difficult to calculate the exact number, because that number is always changing. That said, it’s estimated that there are well over 500 food carts operating across Portland at any given time.

Do food carts accept cards, or is it cash only?

These days most food carts accept cards, especially those in the larger cart pods. If a cart only accepts cash there’s often an ATM close by. But if you want to avoid any potential ATM fees, it doesn’t hurt to keep a little cash on hand.

How can I find a good food cart that’s nearby?

The food cart finder near the top of this page lets you search carts by offering or attribute, then sort the results by proximity. Our Near Me Now tool is another great resource.

Explore international flavors and unique new food concepts — without the wait of a sit-down restaurant — at Portland’s many food cart pods.

Southeast Portland Food Cart Pods

Cartopia

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). 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 from cilantro, jalapeños and sour cream.

Springwater Cart Park

The Springwater Cart Park “super pod” (formerly Cartlandia) in Southeast Portland is home to roughly 30 carts representing cuisines from all over the world. Explore the numerous culinary options, then chow down in the expansive seating area.

Lil’ America

Bursting onto the Portland food cart scene in 2023, Lil’ America is a community of BIPOC and queer chefs serving up a wide variety of tempting, inventive eats. Try the snow cheese chicken at Korean fried chicken cart Frybaby, or sample the fry bread bakes (among other authentic Guyanese dishes) at Bake on the Run. Level up your visit with a vegan espresso drink from Speed-o Cappucino or a local pint from the adjoining Fracture Brewing Taproom.

Food

“Food” in Portland can mean so many things, and there’s always more delicious exploring to be done — from food carts to farmers’ markets (and award-winning restaurants, of course), the Portland food scene is an eclectic culinary haven.

Flipside

The Flipside pod brings food cart fun to the Lents neighborhood, providing a variety of dining options including J&W Fish and Chips, E-San Thai and Shawarma Grill. They also offer a full indoor bar and a rooftop seating area.

Eastport Food Center

Eastport Food Center is located on bustling Southeast 82nd Avenue, near the eastern edge of the 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.

Hawthorne Asylum

Opened in 2019, Hawthorne Asylum is a large pod not far from Cartopia with ample covered seating, a fire pit and a wide variety of food carts. Standouts include Smaaken Waffle Sandwiches, Burmese Delight and Le Bistro 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 Black Dagger, the on-site bar.

Piknik Park

After exploring the charming Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood, swing by the Piknik Park Food Cart Pod. There’s a craft beer garden with a stand-up bar, bathrooms and a covered, heated seating area. Choose from classic Moroccan cuisine at Taste of Casablanca, vegetarian Chinese food from Uncle Tsang’s Kitchen and a variety of other options.

  • Loncheria Los Mayas

    Stop by this friendly food cart for authentic Yucatecan cuisine. Enjoy regional specialties like poc chuc (pork marinated in citrus) served with beans, veggies and handmade tortillas. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options are available.

  • Kim Jong Grillin

    Kim Jong Grillin features Korean-style street food. The menu focuses on steamed perfectly marinated meats like bulgogi beef or chicken marinated with kim chee along with an assortment of bibim boxes, their take on bibimbap.

  • Smart Donkey

    This popular food cart is owned by Oswaldo Bibiano, chef of former Autentica and Uno Mas, serving delicious and generously proportioned burritos, specials and sides. Wash it all down with a draft beer or a margarita.

  • Thai Champa

    Chef Air immigrated to America from Laos and opened Thai Champa food cart to share her love of cooking with Portland. This cart’s menu items include Thai favorites like Pad See Ew, Red Curry rice bowls, and more.

  • Tito’s Taquitos

    This popular Southwest Portland food cart specializes in hand-rolled taquitos and tacos made with hand-pressed, made-to-order tortillas. They also offer tempting desserts, like tres leches cake and Mexican chocolate brownies.

The Original at John’s Marketplace 

What’s better than a food cart pod with 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 plus a covered patio with plenty of seating at The Original at John’s Marketplace on Southeast Powell Boulevard.

Collective Oregon Eateries (CORE)

The extensive seating options — including covered outdoor tables and cozy indoor spots in the food hall — make the Collective Oregon Eateries (CORE) pod a great option in any weather. Try salt and pepper squid at Sou’S, flavorful Vietnamese fare at Broken Rice, Mediterranean flavors from Shawarma Express and more. They also host frequent events, including game nights, live music and comedy.

Portland Indian Food Carts and Takeout

From comforting aloo gobi to softball-sized samosas, explore our non-comprehensive local’s guide to excellent Portland Indian food trucks and takeout.

Hinterland

For an elevated spin on the food cart experience, check out Hinterland Bar & Food Carts, located less than a mile west of Mt. Tabor Park. You’ll enjoy a covered, modern seating area; permanent dishes and cutlery for guests who are dining in; TVs for special events and sports; and a full, tastefully appointed bar offering craft cocktails, draft beer and local wine. Standout culinary offerings include the eclectic blend of flavors (from Peru, Japan and the American South, among others) at Third Culture Kitchen, the slow-roasted meats and house-made tortillas at Matt’s BBQ Tacos, and more.

Portland Mercado

Know Before You Go

The Portland Mercado was heavily damaged by fire and is currently closed until further notice.

With several carts offering Mexican, Colombian, Peruvian, Argentine, Costa Rican and Cuban specialties, Portland Mercado is a must-visit spot for lovers of Latin American flavors. This incubator for local Latinx-owned businesses also a smoothie spot, bar and more.

Portland Mercado

The Mercado is a food cart pod and also a hub of Latine culture and local entrepreneurship and may be one of the city’s most delicious destinations.

North Portland Food Cart Pods

Cartside

Conveniently located a stone’s throw from both the Moda Center and the Oregon Convention Center, Cartside Food Carts is the place to fuel up before a Blazers game, a concert or a big trade show. Here, you’ll find authentic Korean food at Ko Sisters Seoul Food, Mexican-inspired classics at Arelis PDX and Thai staples at Phi Phi Island Thai, among others. Best of all, you can wash it all down with some draft brew from the Cartside Taphouse.

Prost Marketplace

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’re welcome to eat your cart meal if you buy a drink. (Lagers go great with bulgogi burritos!) Cocktail cart Bloodbuzz offers drinks as well.

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, a Caribbean and Southwest fusion dish from Calypso Southwest for dinner, and an acai bowl or a smoothie from Sissy’s Beverage Emporium in between.

two people eating food and drinking wine at a picnic table

Portland for Foodies

There’s a reason foodies flock to Portland restaurants and bars — follow our three-day tour de fork for an ample taste of the best food city in America.

people sitting at a picnic table in front of a line of colorful food carts

Popular Food Carts

Portland has hundreds of food carts serving countless cuisines — eat your way through breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert at some of Portland’s award-winning, popular food carts.

groups of people at tables in an indoor market dining area

Great Latinx-Owned Eateries in Portland

Portland is home to authentic eateries from every corner of Latin America. Feast on tacos, tlayudas, pupusas and burritos; read on for some of the best Latinx-owned restaurants and food carts in Portland.

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. Enjoy fresh Vietnamese food at Vivi’s Yummy Rolls or satisfy your sweet tooth with an indulgent Nutella-stuffed pancake at Rocket Breakfast.

Baerlic Brewing at The Barley Pod

Anchored by Baerlic Brewing (“baerlic” means “of barley” in Old English), the 10 food carts at Barley Pod include La Arepa (Venezualen street food), Eat Well (rice bowls) and Bam Pow Burgers.

Piedmont Station

International offerings abound at Piedmont Station, a Northeast Portland pod. Enjoy flaky fish and chips at The Original Halibuts, gooey grilled cheese sandwiches at Melt, satisfying sushi rolls at Rollin’ Fresh and more. Amenities include a wide range of indoor and outdoor seating options, a play area for kids and on-site restrooms.

Park the Carts

Sitting near the border of North and Northeast Portland, Park the Carts offers a variety of tempting carts plus plentiful covered seating. Options range from tacos to Thai, from burgers to sushi burritos; wash it all down with a beer or a soda from the adjoining bar.

The Yard at Montavilla

Find Taqueria El Torito, Selena’s Custom Kitchen, Puddletown Bagels and many more at The Yard At Montavilla. Conveniently located just off Northeast 82nd Avenue in the Montavilla neighborhood, this pod also offers a bar cart, covered seating, cornhole boards and a fire pit table.

Portland Restaurants

Portland is a renowned culinary destination, and Portland restaurants run the gamut — no matter your budget, your location or the cuisine you crave, your next great meal awaits you in Portland.

Northwest Portland Food Cart Pods

Nob Hill

Located in a classic Northwest Portland neighborhood, the Nob Hill Food Carts pod is home to a wide variety of carts with plenty of covered seating. Favorites include Chinese crepes from Bing Mi, burgers and salads from the buzzy Farmer and the Beast, and authentic Middle Eastern fare from ABBAS. To quench your thirst, The Pour House serves up fresh pints of draft beer from a charming vintage trailer.

Slabtown

After working up an appetite at the weird and wonderful Freakybuttrue Peculiarium, stop by the nearby Slabtown Food Carts pod. You can grab a plate full of carne asada fries at La Sabrosita.

Discover Something New

A Guide to Specialty Markets in Portland

Hunt for the souvenirs you can eat and take a little bite of Portland back with you. Here’s where to find fine chocolates, fragrant spice kits and ready-to-eat snacks and meals that make a perfect picnic.

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