Writing – Photos – Travel – Crafts

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Location: SE 50th and Divison
Number of carts: 14
Covered: Yes
Pros: Lots of entertainment options, wet naps, free wifi, good food choices.
Cons: Beer is only on weekends, really close to Los Gorditos.
Types of food (check their site for current carts): Turkish, burgers, coffee, seafood, Pork, Venezuelan, chicken and waffles, Pizza, Southwestern, Vietnamese, Korean, Thai
http://www.alacartspdx.com/

Ala Cart is much more than just a cart pod. It’s like a cart experience filled with fun for the whole family. What does that even mean? Well, I’ll tell you. In addition to some 14 food carts, there’s also a little playground for kids, cornhole for big kids, sidewalk chalk for beautifying the parking lot and trivial pursuit cards on the tables. Care about cleanliness? They have free wet naps and the port-a-potty has a sink in it. Oh and perhaps the most exciting for a nerd such as myself- FREE WI-FI! And that’s not all. There’s a hair salon (perhaps a trim while you wait?), an ATM and plenty of covered and uncovered seating.
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Of course, if all the carts sucked, all this would be unexciting (although you could grab food at Los Gorditos – the best Mexican food in Portland right down the street and sneak it in) but that’s not a problem. There are several carts that serve interesting and delicious food. I’ll be honest, I fully judge a cart by its cover, and today I selected La Arepa because their menu was all pictures. The cart specializes in Venezuelan food, which is rice and bean based, but was sold me was avocado and plantains. I got the number 15, which was awesome because I didn’t have to attempt to speak Spanish and it tasted damn good. You can tell this place is muy authentico since the dude had a really hard time with my name and ended up calling out “Brulalala” or something.

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Jared was not in tow so I don’t know what food was spicy but not too spicy, but Stan got a stuffed burger from the burger Guild with sweet potato fries. Including a drink, he paid $9 which is a damn value if you ask me. It was certainly not the neatest burger ever eaten, but his review was quite favorable, and like I said, free wet naps!

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The pork chop cart hooked up Lemmy with a water bowl and even a treat, giving this cart high marks for dog friendliness too. Over all, I would like to go back and try more of the carts and Stan gave Ala Carts a hearty two thumbs up. Oh and I almost forgot to mention, how can you be mad at the fun play on words that is the name?

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Location: Corner of SE 52nd and Foster
Number of carts: 11
Covered: Yes
Obligatory Score: 3

https://www.facebook.com/CartsOnFoster

The parking lot that houses Carts on Foster has come along way since it was All Pets Playhouse – a decrepit-looking animal boarding house that I never saw open. Now it’s a bustling cart pod, with a lot more carts than the one other time I awkwardly walked through and then decided to go somewhere else a few months ago.

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Pretty flowersss!

I use the term bustling loosely, it’s not that crowded which is a good thing if you hate waiting in line for food like I do. (That’s one issue with food carts over all I have, is the amount to time it takes to get your food can vary widely if you decide to go to different carts.) The inside is filled with plants, there’s both a tent and a covered porch for seating when it rains. (I heard it does that here.) There’s enough variety in the carts that you have choices but not too many, and the drone of Foster Road is drowned out by the way it’s set up. Basically, it’s nicer than I thought it would be, but ya know, still eating outside in a parking lot. Kinda what you’re signing up for.

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The falafel from El Sultan

As far as food choices go, there’s a couple sandwich carts, a Mexican/Mediterranean cart, a coffee cart, a pastry cart, a breakfast cart and a Hawaiian cart (which actually used to be at Cartlandia.) Again, this changes so don’t trust me on this one, check the facebook or at least, don’t get your hopes up for Mexi/Medi before you go there. ┬áThere’s also a bar, which is partially inside and offers an indoor-outdoor seating experience. It actually would be a kinda sweet place if you’re looking for a patio to drink on some sunny summer day.

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A sub from Pressed.

On our visit Jared and I got falafels from El Sultan, which has been there as long as I can remember. Now going to a cart boasting cuisine from two non-adjecent parts of the world may be risky, but for $5 I was satisfied with my purchase. It came with chips and the pita was super soft and yummy. The fillings we’re kinda bland and there was way too much iceberg lettuce. Plus pickles. Who puts pickles on a falafel? Stan got an Italian sub from “Pressed” and was thoroughly disappointed. For $9 at least it came with deep fried french fries, but the bread was an even bigger buzz kill than the sandwich. Sorry Stan.

Over all, Carts on Foster is not the worst pod I’ve been to. Considering the location, it’s decent. That said, it’s not a must-visit cart pod by any means. According to Stan, if he had people in town, he wouldn’t bring them there and I’d have to agree.

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Location: 82nd Ave at Spring Water Corridor
Number of Carts: A lot
Covered: Yes
Obligatory Score: 1
http://www.cartlandia.com/

Despite it’s adorable kitschy name, Cartlandia is about the least “Portlandlandia” place in Portland. Yes, it claims “bike-centric” and is on the Springwater Corridor — a Portland-y bike path lined with wild blackberries– but the PDX stereotypes end there. There are tons of carts, but this must be the cheapest place to rent space in Portland, because is seems it’s mostly people who probably shouldn’t own restaurants and are just “trying it out.” Some I’ve tried are fine, but certainly not food you’d drool over and want to seek out again.

My biggest issue with this place is the sheer number of carts. I NEVER know what I want for lunch (hence the Lunch blog – it was supposed to provide direction) so I’ve already suffered with one decision by the time I make it to Cartlandia. Then I get there and have to decide all over again. To make matters worse, there’s always new carts which means I have to walk by awkwardly and try and look at the menu without actually talking to people. (For some reason I feel bad when I don’t get their food if I’ve spoken to them, ok.)

As far as genres go, like you’d expect on 82nd ave, there are a bunch of Thai places. There’s also a few carts representing various Central American countries, and at one point there were two Hot Dog carts. There’s a crepe and wrap place, and pizza. There’s also a sloppy cart that I’ve never seen open. Oh and there’s a British Pastys cart that I almost forgot about. I’m just not interested in bready English food, sorry. Anyway, it changes a bunch so for the current list go here.

Anyway, once that is taken care of and I get food, the atmosphere feels much like the county fair. I mean, I don’t really know what else I’d expect from a cart pod on 82nd. They have a beer garden with giant blaring TVs, you’re sitting in a shitty parking lot surrounded by like shady car mechanics, and there are tons of tables full of normal, non-hip people eating with the occasional tweaker mountain biker thrown in for good measure. Finally, with so many carts, the whole place smells like fried food.

My hope is that it will get better, as now that I am an 82nd aver, I’m cheering for urban sprawl and redevelopment. According to the Cartlandia blog they just cleared out 7 new spaces maybe someone will put an epic cart in there, but for right now, Cartlandia is kind of a bummer. Oh shit, I just came up with the best idea! Maybe they should start hosting Bingo there, really play off the fair theme! I heard that’s getting hip again on the news, which is where I learn about everything hip, so it could work to be the tipping point for 82nd. Just an idea.

 

Food-Cart

So you may have guessed I got bored with trying to eat lunch on Hawthorne every day. It was expensive, we ran out of restaurants we weren’t specifically avoiding, and oh yeah, I moved my office to felony flats. Well, technically we’ve rebranded it the “Flavel Arts District” hoping it’ll catch on like Alberta did, but apparently white trash people are harder to gentrify. Anyway!

I was just in a heated debate with Stan about our two nearest Food Cart pod locations (actually it wasn’t heated at all, we agreed) and realized, I could start food blogging again, but about cart pods. I’m way better at keeping these things going when I have some sort of structure (or it’ll at least give me entertainment for the next couple weeks until Winter starts.

So get hyped! I’ve got thoughts.