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The Best Food Cart Pods in Portland, Oregon
In a city where the taste and quality of street food rivals that of a sit-down restaurant, Portland's legendary food trucks are the best way to experience the city's culinary scene. Food trucks - also known as food carts, booths or stalls - are such an essential part of local culture that the city prefers to group them together in 'pods', not unlike the hawker centers of Singapore and the yatai-mura of Japan. For a taste of Portland's world-famous gourmet street food, head to one of these bustling food cart pods to get your fill.
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The Best Food Cart Pods in Portland, Oregon
Cartopia Food Cart Pod
Cartopia Food Cart Pod has a decent selection of vendors and a spacious, covered seating area to enjoy rain or shine. The vendors are typically standard American fare like pizza, fried chicken and Tex-Mex, but new shops pop up occasionally. This place really shines in the evening as most of the food trucks stay open until midnight or later. First open in 2008, Cartopia was one of the first food truck pods in Portland and is credited with helping to start the trend in the city. Find Cartopia at the corner of Hawthorne Boulevard and SE 12th Avenue.
Portland Mercado is lively market and colorful food cart pod where shoppers can try out some interesting Latin-American street eats. A hub for Latin-American culture and cuisine in Portland, the market is also an incubator where businesses can take advantage of the supportive community and low-cost rent to get started. Outside, the food trucks offer a tour of South American cuisine with vendors specializing in cuisines from Peru, Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela and more. Inside, the more permanent businesses include a grocery store, coffee shop and bar.
Fifth Avenue Food Cart Pod
A popular choice for weekday lunches in Portland's downtown core, the Fifth Avenue Food Cart Pod offers a variety of ethnic cuisines geared to the city's working professionals. With everything from Shanghai-style dumplings to Turkish kebabs, there's something for everyone at this bustling street food hub. Fifth Avenue Food Cart Pod is situated between downtown Portland and the Pearl District, on the corner across from the SW 5th and Oak MAX Station.
Cartlandia Food Cart Pod
Cartlandia Food Cart Pod is a huge collection of over 30 food trucks as well as a permanent on-site bar and pet-friendly beer garden. The so-called 'super pod' is one of the biggest in the city, and offers a dizzying array of cuisines from across America and beyond and both indoor and outdoor dining spaces to try them. A few of the specialist food trucks include ramen, tamale (South American cornbread wraps) and cheese-steak sandwiches. Cartlandia is located on Portland's southeast side near the SE 82nd and Crystal Springs bus stop, and offers free parking and WiFi. A recent addition to the Portland food pod scene, Hawthorne Asylum, is located nearby.
The Barley Pod
The Barley Pod is a cluster of gourmet food carts surrounding the Baerlic Brewing Taproom, where the pod gets its name, 'baerlic' meaning 'of barley' in Old English. With free parking and some of the best craft beer in the city on tap, it's no wonder The Barley Pod has quickly become a local favorite. Some of the standouts include the Native Bowl, a food truck offering vegan cuisine, and Hapa, a spot with five different types of ramen base including gluten free options. To wash it down, the anchor of the community, Baerlic Brewing, has over 15 different locally brewed beers on tap. The Barley Pod is located in the Rose City Park neighborhood.
Prost Marketplace is another community of food trucks brought to you by a local drinking establishment, this time Prost, a German pub serving imported beer, sausages and pretzels. Surrounding the pub, a handful of food carts are set up serving everything from tacos to pastrami sandwiches. Prost allows food truck customers to use their pub and patio to enjoy the grub so long as they indulge in a drink. Prost Marketplace is located on Mississippi Avenue, one of Portland's most vibrant hipster enclaves.
America's growing food truck trend and affinity for street eats started in Portland, where food trucks range from quick bites on the cheap to inspired recipes nothing less than gourmet. Visiting one of the city's food truck pods is now one of the top recommended activities while in Portland, so add one or two of these top spots to your itinerary for a taste of the best street food in the USA.