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A Guide To The Best Food Cart Pods, Portland
Wikimedia Commons
Via Wikimedia Commons

Food trucks (locally known as food cart pods) flourish in Portland’s dynamic culinary scene, serving everything from authentic Chinese food to favorites from Afghanistan, India, Hawaii, and Turkey. In fact, the street food scene in Portland has become so well-known and beloved that CNN named the city one of the best places to go to for street food.

Portland’s food cart pods function as more than just places to get the best grub, they also serve as the launching pad of up-and-coming cooks, many of whom have gone on to earn a loyal following and open their own brick-and-mortar restaurants.

Today, food carts continue to thrive thanks to the easy access to affordable restaurant-quality food.

Pioneer Courthouse Square

Nestled right in the heart of downtown Portland is the Pioneer Courthouse Square food cart pod. This pod is well-loved by locals, especially those looking for lunch.

There are plenty of food carts to try out in the area, including Fried Egg I’m in Love, which makes the best breakfast sandwiches, and Amelia’s Mexican Food, which offers a variety of Mexican favorites like tacos, tortas, and burritos.

Hawthorne Asylum

The Hawthorne Asylum food cart pod is named after the hospital that once treated mentally ill patients in the 1800s. Today, the pod, which opened in 2019, sees long lines of foodies carrying their trays to the covered outdoor seating area.

The pod is home to at least 21 food carts, each serving comfort food perfect for outdoor dining. Some of the best food carts in the pod include:

  • Bark City BBQ, offers generous BBQ dishes like beef and brisket;
  • Daily Fuel, features exclusively vegan and vegetarian menu items, and;
  • Korean Twist, churns out the best Asian fusion dishes, such as bulgogi burrito, chicken katsu rice bowl, and tofu burrito bowl.

In addition to the food carts, the pod is also home to the Black Dagger, a cart that sells a great selection of local craft beer.

Third Avenue

The Third Avenue Food Cart Pod is a great place to go if you’re looking for a pod with plentiful outdoor seating and picnic tables. Located near Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park, this Portland food cart pod offers dishes from Mexico, Egypt, Thailand, and Vietnam.

One of the most popular food carts in the Third Avenue pod is Stretch The Noodle. The food cart features Chef Xuemei Simard’s hand-stretched noodles perfect for bowls of beef soup or stir-fries.


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The Cartlandia “super pod” in Southeast Portland is the best place to go for those wanting to try a wide range of cuisines. The pod is home to over 30 carts representing 15 different countries, including Thailand, China, India, Taiwan, the United States, Mexico, the Middle East, and more.

One of the most popular carts in Cartlandia is The Blue Room, which features a full-service bar with 18 beers and ciders on tap. This dog-friendly bar also has a beer garden, live music, TV sports, and comfortable indoor and outdoor seating.

Eastport Food Center

Located on 82nd Avenue, Eastport Food Center is a large pod offering dishes from different parts of the world and ample gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options. It also offers both outdoor and covered seating.

One of the most unique carts at the Eastport Food Center is Bobablastic. This local chain is one of the first food carts to sell bubble tea in Portland. The store offers over 50 drink-and-topping combinations, which you can pair with poke bowls, croissant sandwiches, and desserts.

Piedmont Station Food Carts

The Piedmont Station Food Carts in Portland is a great place to go if you’re not quite sure what you’re craving for. There are plenty of food carts and seating in the pod.

Two of the food carts to try include The Original Halibuts, which sells crispy fish and chips and creamy clam chowder, and PDX Donerland, which serves German-Turkish food such as doner kebabs and salads.

Nob Hill Food Carts

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Located in Northwest Portland, the Nob Hill Food Carts features a charming food cart community serving a wide variety of cuisines for a diverse culinary experience.

Local favorites include Bing Mi, offering simple and savory Chinese crepes from the villages of Northern China; Farmer and the Beast, serving burgers and sandwiches made using the freshest local products; and Ramen Ippo, featuring authentic Japanese-style ramen noodles by chef Daisuke K.

Collective Oregon Eateries (CORE)

CORE PDX Website
Via Square Space

Opened in 2021, CORE features a new indoor dining space and rows upon rows of indoor picnic tables where guests can enjoy food from carts selling everything from fresh seafood to Hainanese chicken and lechon.

There are a number of carts that have quickly become a favorite among locals, including:

  • Mitate, a pop-up cart by Nino Ortiz and Summer Ortiz that offers vegan sushi, using ingredients like locally-made tofu black beans, and shishito peppers
  • Jas Kitchen, a food cart by Andy Kou, Jeffrey Doung, and Sam Yos that sells Singapore-style Hainanese chicken and rice with three distinct sauces — green onion and ginger, sweet and dark soy, and lemongrass and Thai chili
  • The Drip’n Crab, a new food cart by Shermain Scott that sells bags of buttery and savory seafood boils like snow crab, shrimp, sausages, and corn

St. John’s Food & Beer Porch

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Located at the edge of the St. Johns neighborhood is a pod often considered one of the best Portland food cart pods. There are more than a dozen food carts at John’s Marketplace selling Japanese, Italian, and Southern American cuisine.

One of the most popular carts in the pod (and perhaps in the entire city) is the Jojo Food Cart. Known to most locals, Jojo serves some of the best fried chicken and fries in the city. The lines can get super long, but the wait is well worth it.

Portland Mercado

Portland Mercado is one of the smaller pods, featuring up to nine carts selling Mexican, Colombian, Peruvian, Argentinian, and Venezuelan food. That being said, it’s well-loved by the Latinx community, especially because many of the businesses in the pod are Latinx-owned.

One of the most well-known food carts in the pod is Mathilde’s Kitchen. What started out as a humble food cart selling artisanal hibiscus beverages has since gone on to partner with grocery stores across the city. Their drinks can now be found on most grocery shelves.

Other carts in Mercado include the Kaah Neighborhood Market, which sells fresh-baked concha pastries and tortillas; Barrio, offering cold-pressed juices and freshly-cut fruits seasoned with chili powder or chamoy; and Que Bacano, a cart that serves traditional Colombian favorites like yuca frita and arroz con pollo.

Other Popular Portland Food Carts

There are about 500 food carts in Portland at any given time, making it hard to really choose where to go for the best grub. If you’ve been to all the pods listed above and are looking for more food cart options, we’ve listed below some of the hottest and newest carts in the city.

Yoshi’s Sushi

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Yoshi’s Sushi by Yoshi Ikeda is one of the newer food carts in Portland. First opened in 2019 in the Multnomah Village French Quarter pod. Yoshi’s Sushi has been serving high-caliber and innovative rolls, including lime green roll with sesame-crusted spinach, cucumber, roasted pepper, avocado, and microgreens.

In addition to the sushis, Yoshi also served rotating nigiri and hand rolls made only using the freshest seafood ingredients.

Address: 3530 SW Multnomah Blvd, Portland, OR 97219

Desi PDX

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Located along N. Mississippi Avenue, Desi PDX is a food cart serving some of the most delicious Indian food in the city. The dishes offered by this cart are inspired by Indian spices and flavors, further enhanced by the cooking styles from the West and other parts of the world.

Since Desi PDX began serving patrons in 2015, it has become a stalwart among North Portland diners looking for vegan thali plates, cardamom chai chicken, and crunchy chickpeas.

Address: 4233 N Mississippi Ave, Portland, OR 97217

Baon Kainan

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It’s safe to say that no food cart scene is ever complete without one selling Filipino dishes. Baon Kainan does just that.

This Couch Street Filipino food cart has rapidly grown into one of the most visited carts. It serves dishes that every Filipino living overseas chows on once they get home, including:

  • Palabok, a rice noodle dish topped with a rich sauce made with shrimp stock, annatto, and ground pork;
  • Chicken adobo, a grilled chicken dish bathed in a smoked tamari and vinegar sauce;
  • Tofu and Mushroom Sisig, a vegan take on a classic Filipino hot plate dish; and,
  • Ube bibingka, an ube-flavored rice cake topped with coconut crumble. This dish is a favorite among Filipinos, especially during the Christmas season.

Address: 807 NE Couch St, Portland, OR

Kim Jong Grillin

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As one might garner from its name, Kim Jong Grillin is a Portland food cart that serves mouthwatering Korean barbecue boxes. The menu features Korean classics like beef bulgogi, short rib galbi, spicy pork, and spicy chicken paired with japchae potato noodles, kimchi, and fried egg.

If you’re not in the mood for a bibimbap box, you can also go for Kim Jong Grillin’s hot dog, which features an Olympia Provisions hot dog topped with kimchi mayo, pickled mango, and spicy daikon.

Pastificio d’Oro

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If you’re craving pasta, visit Pastificio d’Oro along Lombard Street. This food cart makes a range of fresh paste by hand, including tagliatelle and anolini.

The best way to start your meal is with Maggie’s pickled vegetables, a recipe made by co-owner Maggie Irwin. Follow it up with any of Pastificio’s pasta, such as gnocchi with castelmagno cheese and egg yolk noodles with veal, pork, and porcini mushroom ragu.