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.”
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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.
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.
Located just steps from a busy MAX Light Rail station, the Fifth Avenue Food Cart Pod 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.
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?
Southeast Portland Food Cart Pods
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.
The Cartlandia “super pod” 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.
Carts on Foster
Head to Carts on Foster, an all-weather pod in Foster-Powell, to sample from over a dozen food carts. Order from Bari for classic Italian street food or indulge in flaky fish and chips from Year of the Fish. Lorell’s Chicken Shack serves up comfort food classics: chicken wings, chicken tenders and fries. 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.
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.
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.
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.
The Lot at John’s Marketplace
What’s better than a food cart pod with mouthwatering mac and cheese (Cheese Mac’n Me Crazy) 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 plus a covered patio with plenty of seating at The Lot 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.
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.
With up to nine 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 includes a grocery, smoothie spot, bar and more.
North Portland Food Cart Pods
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Northwest Portland Food Cart Pods
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 ramen from Ramen Ippo. To quench your thirst, The Pour House serves up fresh pints of draft beer from a charming vintage trailer.
After working up an appetite at the weird and wonderful Freakybuttrue Peculiarium, stop by the nearby Slabtown Food Carts pod. You can grab a Louisiana hot link or a farm-raised reindeer sausage at Beez Neez Gourmet Sausages, or a plate full of carne asada fries at La Sabrosita.
Discover Something New
Black Community in Portland
With a diverse range of organizations and businesses, Portland’s Black community provides visitors with resources and a friendly welcome. Explore the city’s Black history and cultural events, as well as Black-owned businesses and restaurants.
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