Anyone that visits Portland knows that endeavoring to find the best food cart pods in Portland is a rite of passage. In fact, our street food scene is so well known that Portland was ranked one of the best street food cities in the world by CNN in 2018.
According to CNN: “Portland occupies a particularly privileged spot, near the ocean and surrounded by fertile green lands that produce excellent wine and the kind of small farms that make any straight-to-the-table business a viable option. With an abundance of fresh and local ingredients, this is a city where street food rivals the finest restaurants.”
I must admit, as someone that was fortunate to grow up in Portland I was completely oblivious to how good we have it with our food trucks. I assumed all cities had a robust street food scene and didn’t realize that the best food trucks in Portland can rival those in much larger cities, like New York.
In my 30+ years of living in the City of Roses, I’ve gone to more of Portland’s food cart pods than I can remember. I’ve learned a thing or two about the best food trucks in Portland and wanted to share a quick roundup of my personal favorites.
Best Food Cart Pods Portland, Oregon
Named after a hospital that served the mentality ill in the 1800s, the Hawthorne Asylum food cart pod in Portland opened in 2019 but you wouldn’t know it based on the popularity. Most days of the week you can expect to find long lines of foodies elbowing past food trucks en route to the covered seating area.
This Portland food cart pod is home to 21 food trucks that specialize in comfort food. The star of the show is Black Dagger, which serves an impressive selection of great draft beers that pair with whatever meal you choose. Between the great selection of eateries and the “mini brewery” it’s not hard to understand why locals consider this one of the best food cart pods in Portland.
Best Portland food carts at Hawthorne Asylum
Bark City BBQ: Voted 2018 Portland Food Cart of the Year by Eater PDX, Bark City BBQ offers generous meat-forward BBQ dishes like brisket and ribs. The sandwiches and burgers deserve a standing ovation.
Daily Fuel: On the other side of the spectrum you’ll find Daily Fuel, a great Portland food cart churning out vegan and vegetarian meals exclusively. The food always hits the spot and doesn’t leave you disliking yourself, which is a win in my book.
Korean Twist: Asian fusion at its finest. Come here for the bulgogi burrito for a punch of flavor you won’t soon forget. The tacos are also great.
Black Dagger: If you’re looking to wash down your food cart finds, swing by Black Dagger for a great selection of beers. They have 16 beers on draft, which is quite impressive considering this is a food truck and not an actual brewery. Highly recommend.
Tiny but mighty is the best way to describe this beloved Portland food cart pod. Located a stone’s throw from Hawthorne Asylum, Cartopia is home to 8 Portland food trucks. You’ll find locals congregating well into the late midnight hours at this pod because they’re open late and serve some of the best hangover-preventative eats.
Equipped with a covered seating area and three cozy fire pits, this is the place you’ll want to linger with good friends in tow.
Best Portland food trucks at Cartopia
Chicken & Guns: This Portland food truck churns out some of the best chicken in Portland. Flavorful side dishes complement the main course without competing for attention, this food cart never disappoints.
Pyro Pizza: Wood-fried pizza from a food truck? Yep, turns out it’s possible. Somehow the owner of this popular Portland food truck was able to fit an entire brick oven into the cart and we’re all better for it. The pizzas are so popular that Pyro Pizza opened a second location.
Potato Champion: If you have a soft spot for fries (or a soft spot because of fries), make a beeline for Potato Champion for some of the best twice-fried Belgium style fries you will ever have. Try their version of Poutin, the homemade sauces always hit the spot.
St. John’s Food & Beer Porch
Located at the edge of the St. Johns neighborhood, John’s Marketplace is often considered one of the best food cart pods in Portland by those in the know. Home to 16 great food trucks that would be worth driving out of the way for even if they were solo, the selection is hard to beat.
If you have a hankering for Japanese, Italian or comforting southern food, you’ll find it all. Plus, just like the food cart pod at the Hawthorn Asylum, you can grab a brew or kombucha from the beer porch.
Best Portland food carts at St. John’s Food & Beer Porch
Jojo Food Cart: A beloved Portland staple serving some of best fried chicken in Portland. With a name like Jojo the fries are non-negotiable, you won’t want to miss them. The lines are super long, but also warranted. Get there early to make sure they don’t sell out before you place your order.
Calypso Southwest: Caribbean and American Southwest fusion food, the menu is customizable and suited for gluten-free, vegan and those practicing the paleo diet.
Arlo’s Fish & Chips: Generous portion of handmade fish and chips fried to perfection. The fish tastes fresh and is perfectly seasoned.
The Beer Porch: Serving 9 beers on tap, 3 hard ciders to choose from and one tap kombucha — not to mention the selection of bottled and canned beer.
Prost Marketplace (the original Portland food cart pod)
In many ways Mississippi Avenue is the only place you want to be on a sunny weekend afternoon. The fact that you can find some of the best food trucks in Portland in this area is only icing on the cake.
Neighboring German pub Prost Marketplace, this Portland food cart pod is often credited for starting the trend of using food cart pods as community gathering hubs. They’ve been doing it since 2009 and were the first to add patios with picnic tables and cozy lighting. Up until that point enjoying a meal at most of the food carts in Portland was a standing occasion.
As such, some folks call this the original and best Portland food cart pod. And it’s hard to argue otherwise, with 10 of the best food trucks in Portland, this place has crowds most days of the week.
Note: You are more than welcome to enjoy your meal at Prost Marketplace (the German pub) if you order a brew from them. Great vibe, great brews and memorable food, what’s not to like?
Best Portland food trucks at Prost Marketplace
Matt’s BBQ: Arguably the best food truck at Prost Marketplace, Matt’s BBQ serves handsome Texas style BBQ that attracts both locals and visitors alike. Ordering the brisket is non-negotiable in my book, but you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.
Little Conejo: Originally started in downtown Vancouver this restaurant decided to try its luck in the Portland food cart scene in 2018. They have been welcomed with open arms, folks love their tacos, which are made with handmade tortillas and quality local ingredients. You can pair your taco with a cocktail or margarita, making it easy to forget you’re eating from a Portland food truck at all.
Burger Stevens: Juicy cheeseburgers made using quality ingredients. The fries are served in a generous portion and are delicious as well. Expect to wait up to 10 minutes for your burger (longer if they’re busy) because they don’t make them until you order.
Koi Fusion: Grilling fresh Korean-inspired cuisine, what started as a humble food cart truck in Portland’s Prost Marketplace has now expanded to include three food trucks and two brick-and-mortar restaurants. Featured in The New York Times, Food & Wine Magazine, CNN and Forbes, among others, Koi Fusion lives up to the hype.
Desi PDX: If you love Indian fusion, you might find you’ll want to go to the best Indian food truck in Portland, Desi PDX. Serving traditional Indian recipes using Western cooking techniques and local organic ingredients — Desi PDX truly churns out some of the best Indian food in Portland.
Native Bowl: Homemade food made from scratch using fresh and local ingredients, what’s not to love? This is the best Portland food cart for vegetarians and vegans, expect to find an impressive selection of healthy food to choose from.
Cartlandia (the “super” food cart pod in Portland)
Cartlandia is considered a Portland food cart “super-pod” and it’s not hard to see why. Boasting 30 Portland food trucks that span the global cuisine gamut, a full-service bar and a beer garden, you won’t want for much after visiting this epic food truck pod.
Best Portland food trucks at Cartlandia
Ball-Z Food Cart: Run by Honey Thompson, Grill Ball-Z is one of the most popular food carts in Portland. They serve ball-shaped dishes from all over the world, making this one of the most unique food carts in Portland. Variety sometimes has a way of diluting perfection, but that’s not the case here, every order is practically guaranteed to impress. The mac and cheese is a must-order.
Shawarma Express: It can be argued that these are the best falafels in Portland. The owner makes falafels fresh onsite so you don’t have to worry about tasteless frozen or re-heated stuff you might find elsewhere. The passion and dedication is palpable, I swing by every chance I get.
Bobablastic: If your insatiable sweet tooth made an effort to show up to the party, don’t leave it hanging. Bobablastic serves up some of the best bubble tea in Portland.
Eastport Food Carts
Much like Cartlandia, the Eastport Food Center is home to a sizeable (and diverse) selection of some of the best Portland food carts. You’ll find 25 trucks offering cuisine from all over the world — Turkey, Afghanistan and Ethiopia.
It seems like beer gardens are a requirement to be deemed a contender for the best food cart pods in Portland and Eastport Food Center doesn’t disappoint. The beer garden offers both beer and wine and there’s plenty of outdoor seating for visitors.
Best Portland food trucks at Eastport Food Center
E-San Thai: This Portland food cart is so popular they’ve turned it into a brick-and-mortar restaurant. In addition to the classics like pad-thai and drunken noodles, they also offer great vegetarian and vegan options. Very flavorful dishes guaranteed to fill you up.
Recoop Food Cart: If you love fried chicken this one’s for you. Recoop Food Cart makes traditional classic Southern fried chicken and serves them alongside West Coast waffles. To say they’ve perfected the art of frying chicken is an understatement, highly recommend.
Fresh Fish Poke: Generous portions of super fresh fish, these poke bowls deliver a punch of flavor. In fact, remembering these bowls makes my mouth water as I type this, if you love fish you won’t be disappointed.
Nob Hill Food Carts
Located at the north end of the charming NW Portland neighborhood, Nob Hill Food Carts is home to 8 carts, but most of them are award-winners. Effectively making this one of the best food cart pods in Portland.
Apart from the great selection of Portland food trucks, you’ll also find a pleasant covered seating area, swing by the Pour House beer cart to properly cap off your meal.
Best Portland food carts at Nob Hill Food Carts
Farmer and the Beast: Serving some of the best burgers in Portland, Farmer and the Beast is one of the most popular food carts in Portland.
Bing Mi: Serves delectable savory Chinese crepes filled with eggs and pickled vegetables. The duck crepe is especially memorable and my go-to item from the food truck.
The Pour House: Casual tap trailer offering rotating list of local beers, ciders and wines. You can enjoy the drinks in the cozy seating area or take them to-go in sealed mason jars.
Website: Nob Hill Food Carts Portland, Oregon
If you’re a fan of Latinx cuisine then the Portland Mercado food cart pod is the only place you need to be. The pod was opened in 2010 and offers 9 carts that cater specifically to Latin cuisine. Expect to find authentic food that spans the gamut, from Cuban to Colombian.
There’s a heated covered seating area for you to enjoy your meal without feeling the need to rush out. The indoor portion of the Mercado is currently closed due to COVID.
Best Portland food trucks at Portland Mercado
Tierra Del Sol: Arguably the most popular Portland food cart at the Mercado but not without reason. Fantastic food and efficient service, what more could you ask for? The carnitas are a clear standout especially when you add the homemade sauce.
Havana Station: Serving authentic Cuban food, the flavorful and juicy Cuban sandwich from Havana Station is a personal favorite in my household. Also, if you like plantains, this is the place to get them.
Visit the website: Portland Mercado
Park the Carts
Part the Carts is your one-stop destination for some of the best food trucks in Portland. Located on MLK Blvd, these carts are buzzing with cheery energy seven days a week. There’s plenty of seating and a variety of dining options, plus clean restrooms.
Make sure to try the burger at Union Burger and the catfish at Jadas Soulful Eatz.
Piedmont Station Food Carts
Piedmont Station Food Carts in Portland is a great place to go when you don’t quite know what you’re craving. Not only do they have a great selection and variety of food carts, but they also have beautiful seating areas peppered throughout.
Best Portland food carts at Piedmont Station Food Carts
The Original Halibuts: Long gone are the days of having to drive out to the Oregon coast for fish and chips.
PDX Dönerländ: Food cart serving German-Turkish food like homemade doner kebabs & salads.
Best Food Carts Portland, Oregon (Post Summary)
- Hawthorne Asylum
- St. John’s Food & Beer Porch (SE Powell)
- Prost Marketplace at Mississippi Avenue
- Eastport Food Carts
- Nob Hill Food Carts
- Portland Mercado
- Carts on Foster
- Piedmont Station Food Carts
Best PDX Food Cart Pods (Map)
I hope you found this guide to the best food cart pods in Portland helpful, don’t hesitate to reach out with questions or comments!