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Eat Mobile 2014 Recap

Even though I was drenched in a downpour of sideways rain the moment I stepped off the bus onto the Burnside Bridge to walk to Eat Mobile 2014, I was not deterred. Judging by the line of a 20 people already in front of me 30 minutes before the VIP admission started, neither were many other food court lovers.

This year, this annual food cart festival was held on a Sunday rather then a Saturday, and less tickets were sold, resulting in a less crazy experience in terms of lines and crowds. Although it alternated between rain and sunshine, the attendees persevered on, and I seem to be improving in terms of my food photos at food festivals held outdoors!
Eat Mobile 2014 Eat Mobile 2014

There were about 30 food carts that participated this year. The award winners for this year included PDX Sliders for the Carty Award (judged by a select panel) for their Broadway Slider, a juicy sammie of braised pork, Mama’s Lil Peppers, baby arugula, housemade spicy aioli all on ciabatta.
Eat Mobile 2014 - bite from PDX Sliders, won the Carty Award for their Broadway Slider, a juicy sammie of braised pork, Mama's Lil Peppers, baby arugula, housemade spicy aioli all on ciabatta Eat Mobile 2014 - bite from PDX Sliders, won the Carty Award for their Broadway Slider, a juicy sammie of braised pork, Mama's Lil Peppers, baby arugula, housemade spicy aioli all on ciabatta Eat Mobile 2014 - bite from PDX Sliders, won the Carty Award for their Broadway Slider, a juicy sammie of braised pork, Mama's Lil Peppers, baby arugula, housemade spicy aioli all on ciabatta

Meanwhile the People’s Choice award went to 808 Grinds for their kalua pig on crispy wonton with Asian Slaw.
Eat Mobile 2014 - The People’s Choice award went to 808 Grinds for their kalua pig on crispy wonton with Asian Slaw. Eat Mobile 2014 - The People’s Choice award went to 808 Grinds for their kalua pig on crispy wonton with Asian Slaw.

Here’s my Eat Mobile 2014 Recap in photos, which is all I know you came for anyway.

My personal vote for best food cart sample was Mama Chow’s Kitchen with their sample of fried chicken wings with honey soy glaze, garlic noodles… YUM. Also, their cart is adorable!
Eat Mobile 2014 My vote for best food cart sample was Mama Chow's Kitchen with their sample of fried chicken wings with honey soy glaze, garlic noodles... YUM. Also, their cart is adorable! Eat Mobile 2014 My vote for best food cart sample was Mama Chow's Kitchen with their sample of fried chicken wings with honey soy glaze, garlic noodles... YUM.

My personal vote for best style went to Hungry Heart Cupcakes for their beautiful display of baked treats on silver platters. Talk about being incredibly prepared for this event but never giving up on detail!
Eat Mobile 2014 - bite from Hungry Heart PDX Eat Mobile 2014 - bite from Hungry Heart PDX Eat Mobile 2014 - bite from Hungry Heart PDX
I wanted to have more than one, but respectfully only took one sample, and of all the offerings zeroed in on the “Sweet n Salty” chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting and bacon and salted caramel.
Eat Mobile 2014 - bite from Hungry Heart PDX of the Sweet n Salty chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting and bacon and salted caramel Eat Mobile 2014 - bite from Hungry Heart PDX of the Sweet n Salty chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting and bacon and salted caramel

The next vote for style would have been Mix and Match Creamery, who was putting on quite a show as they were making various combinations of ice cream and toppings with liquid nitrogen at their station, such as mint + Heath bar, vanilla + Butterfinger, and what I tried which was with Cap’n Crunch.
The ice cream show at Mix and Match Creamery as they they were making various combinations of ice cream and toppings with liquid nitrogen at their station, such as mint + Heath bar, vanilla + Butterfinger, and what I tried which was with Cap'n Crunch The ice cream show at Mix and Match Creamery as they they were making various combinations of ice cream and toppings with liquid nitrogen at their station, such as mint + Heath bar, vanilla + Butterfinger, and what I tried which was with Cap'n Crunch The ice cream show at Mix and Match Creamery as they they were making various combinations of ice cream and toppings with liquid nitrogen at their station, such as mint + Heath bar, vanilla + Butterfinger, and what I tried which was with Cap'n Crunch The ice cream show at Mix and Match Creamery as they they were making various combinations of ice cream and toppings with liquid nitrogen at their station, such as mint + Heath bar, vanilla + Butterfinger, and what I tried which was with Cap'n Crunch The ice cream show at Mix and Match Creamery as they they were making various combinations of ice cream and toppings with liquid nitrogen at their station, such as mint + Heath bar, vanilla + Butterfinger, and what I tried which was with Cap'n Crunch The ice cream show at Mix and Match Creamery as they they were making various combinations of ice cream and toppings with liquid nitrogen at their station, such as mint + Heath bar, vanilla + Butterfinger, and what I tried which was with Cap'n Crunch

The longest line of the whole food cart festival was for Fifty Licks. You could have a little mini scoop or baby ice cream cone with choices of flavors such as Blood Orange Creamsicle, Jasmine Rice with Pandan, Coconut Lemon Saffron Sorbet, Stumptown Coffee, Chocolate Brown Butter, or my choice, the current new seasonal flavor of Pip’s Original Salted Honey Doughnut! They won the prize for Style Award.
The longest line of the whole food cart festival was for Fifty Licks. You could have a little mini scoop or baby ice cream cone with choices of flavors such as Blood Orange Creamsicle, Jasmine Rice with Pandan, Coconut Lemon Saffron Sorbet, Stumptown Coffee, Chocolate Brown Butter, or my choice, the current new seasonal flavor of Pip's Original Salted Honey Doughnut! The longest line of the whole food cart festival was for Fifty Licks. You could have a little mini scoop or baby ice cream cone with choices of flavors such as Blood Orange Creamsicle, Jasmine Rice with Pandan, Coconut Lemon Saffron Sorbet, Stumptown Coffee, Chocolate Brown Butter, or my choice, the current new seasonal flavor of Pip's Original Salted Honey Doughnut!

I couldn’t help but adore the deep dish pizza served up by Thick Deep Dish pizza since I am originally from Chicago.
Eat Mobile 2014 - bite from Thick Deep Dish Pizza Eat Mobile 2014 - bite from Thick Deep Dish Pizza

Also, I loved the enthusiasm of Bro-Dogs & Burgers who was killing it with their sample bite of Baby Dude, which includes a smoked bacon and cheddar sausage, bacon, cream cheese, and house bbq sauce.
Eat Mobile 2014- Bro-Dogs & Burgers who was killing it with their sample bite of Baby Dude, which includes a smoked bacon and cheddar sausage, bacon, cream cheese, and house bbq sauce Eat Mobile 2014- Bro-Dogs & Burgers who was killing it with their sample bite of Baby Dude, which includes a smoked bacon and cheddar sausage, bacon, cream cheese, and house bbq sauce Eat Mobile 2014- Bro-Dogs & Burgers who was killing it with their sample bite of Baby Dude, which includes a smoked bacon and cheddar sausage, bacon, cream cheese, and house bbq sauce

Hapa Ramen‘s Shaka Bowl, or pork belly ramen
Eat Mobile 2014 - sample of Hapa Ramen's Shaka Bowl, or pork belly ramen Eat Mobile 2014 - sample of Hapa Ramen's Shaka Bowl, or pork belly ramen Eat Mobile 2014 - sample of Hapa Ramen's Shaka Bowl, or pork belly ramen

I really like the ratio of the pimento cheese to crackers that Southern Belle’s served up. I also loved the intensity of flavor from the half of a chicken dumpling sample from Momo Cart, the dumpling is stuffed with chicken, garlic, onion, and Nepali spices. Gonzo also delivered on flavors and texture fun with their falafel and hummus sample.
I really like the ratio of the pimento cheese to crackers that Southern Belle's served up at Eat Mobile 2014 Eat Mobile 2014 - bite from Momo Cart, nice intensity of flavor from the half of a chicken dumpling sample from Momo Cart, the dumpling is stuffed with chicken, garlic, onion, and Nepali spices Eat Mobile 2014 - Gonzo's also delivered on flavors and texture fun with their falafel and hummus.

Props to the personable service and considerate option of meat or vegetarian from the Love Belizean cart of either Roasted Red Pepper Tritip or Red Beans in Coconut Curry, either one served with coconut rice and habenero hot sauce was very tasty. Meanwhile, Koi Fusion previewed a taste of their just opened Division brick and mortar location via their sample of Kimchi tortilla soup and that now they can rotate and try out more Korean American fusion dishes.
Eat Mobile 2014 - bite from Love Belizean, option of meat or vegetarian from the Love Belizean cart of either Roasted Red Pepper Tritip or Red Beans in Coconut Curry, either one served with coconut rice and habenero hot sauce Eat Mobile 2014 - bite from Love Belizean, option of meat or vegetarian from the Love Belizean cart of either Roasted Red Pepper Tritip or Red Beans in Coconut Curry, either one served with coconut rice and habenero hot sauce

Whole Foods also thoughtfully offered a meat or vegetarian option with their healthy samples of Asian Rice Noodle Salad with seasonal and organic vegetables, with or without French Prairie Pork.
Eat Mobile 2014- Whole Foods also thoughtfully offered a meat or vegetarian option with their healthy samples of Asian Rice Noodle Salad with seasonal and organic vegetables, with or without French Prairie Pork. Eat Mobile 2014- Whole Foods also thoughtfully offered a meat or vegetarian option with their healthy samples of Asian Rice Noodle Salad with seasonal and organic vegetables, with or without French Prairie Pork.

Moberi also provided a healthy option with their bicycle powered kale coconut water mango pineapple mint smoothies
Eat Mobile 2014 = Moberi also provided a healthy option with their bicycle powered kale coconut water mango pineapple mint smoothies

Taqueria la Merced delivered on flavor with these tacos
Eat Mobile 2014 - Taqueria la Merced delivered on flavor with these tacos Eat Mobile 2014 - Taqueria la Merced delivered on flavor with these tacos

Samples of all the colors via the chicken thighs brined in Thrive Special sauce over brown rice and vegetables from Thrive Pacific NW / Khao Man Gai dish over brown rice from Kesone Asian Fusion
Eat Mobile 2014 - chicken thighs brined in Thrive Special sauce over brown rice and vegetables from Thrive Pacific NW Eat Mobile 2014 - Khao Man Gai dish bite from Kesone Asian Fusion

Two kinds of popcorn were at the festival this year, Topped IKC (kettle corn that could be topped with chocolate or caramel or both) and also a little booth for Masala Pop (mixed with Indian spices)
Eat Mobile 2014 - Topped IFC (kettle corn that could be topped with chocolate or caramel or both) "Eat

Bite from the Art Institute of Portland / a sample from Creperie du Lys / sweet taste of dessert thanks to Mildred’s Sweet Treats
"Eat Eat Mobile 2014 - bite from Creperie du Lys Eat Mobile 2014 - bite from Mildred's Sweet Treats

Since like before, it was held in the OMSI parking lot, OMSI had some food science demos roving around.
Eat Mobile 2014 - OMSI food science demos roving around the food cart festival

I am looking forward to the festival again next year, rain or shine!

Did you attend Eat Mobile? Did you wish you did? What taste would you have said was the best?

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Eat Mobile 2014 is Sun April 27!

Have you heard of Eat Mobile before? It’s a food cart festival that is located in the parking lots outside of OMSI. More than 30 food carts are in attendance, offering samples of their foods. Several carts offer more than one sample item. It’s a great way to try food carts that are usually all over the city, all gathered together conveniently in one place for you, and offering you samples to help you know what they are each about with the hope you will visit them in the future!

This year, it is being held on April 27, which is a Sunday. You can buy tickets now and they are $50 Pre-Tasting Sold Out! (this gets you early admission and free beverages for that pre-tasting time of 1-2:30pm before continuing to eat until the end at 6pm) or $30 General Admission (eating time from 2:30-6pm). All the food samples are included in the price of admission, but alcoholic beverages are on your own.

I personally always buy the pre-tasting because if you are fast, you can hit most of the carts even before the General Admission crowd enters, and so you won’t be waiting in line as much. I call that well worth the price. According to the FAQ this year they are calling it a “carefully curated roster of Willamette Week’s favorite food carts”, so I’ll report back if anything has changed. In all my previous years though, all the carts were open and giving samples during the pre-tasting.

Attending Eat Mobile is a great way to get to know all the up and coming carts- there have been several times that’s how I got introduced to places that later became brick and mortar, such as Lardo and Fifty Licks and Cheese & Crack, to name a few. According to the list at Willamette Weekly, the carts signed up to participate include

  • 808 Grinds
  • Bamboo Café
  • Bardo’s Grill
  • Bro Dogs
  • Creperie du Lys
  • Dalo’s Food Cart
  • Fifty Licks
  • Gonzo
  • Hapa Ramen
  • Hungry Heart PDX
  • Kalua Pig PDX
  • Kesone Asian Fusion
  • KOI Fusion
  • Little Boba Truck
  • Love Belizean
  • Maine Street Lobster Co.
  • Mama Chow’s Kitchen
  • Masala Pop
  • Mildred’s Sweet Treats
  • Mix N Match Creamery
  • Moberi
  • Momo Cart
  • Native Bowl
  • PDXSliders
  • Sila Thai Food, LLC.
  • Sivad’s House of Soul
  • So Cold
  • Southern Belle’s
  • Taqueria La Merced
  • Thick Deep Dish Pizza
  • Thrive
  • Topped ICK

I also promise you, you will get very, very full. I actually want to try a lot of carts so endeavor to only take 2 bites of every sample, and carry a little tote bag with ziploc bags when samples are bigger so I can enjoy them over the next couple days too!

Map of Eat Mobile 2012 layout
Map of Eat Mobile 2012 layout

Here are a few photos from previous Eat Mobile years to give you a glimpse of the atmosphere and samples of food, and also a link to my previous recaps if you want to learn more about what might be available!

Will you be there? This is one of my favorite food events in Portland all year!

Eat Mobile 2014 

Sunday April 27, located in the parking lot outside of OMSI

$30 General Admission (2:30-6pm)

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Photo Retrospective: Eat Mobile 2013

Eat Mobile 2013 on April 27 was the sixth annual food cart festival event, a one price but then all you can sample (but to respect the individual cart owners, one taste per cart) event for charity, sponsored by Willamette Week and OMSI, among others (for instance, I totally covet the waxy chapstick that Yelp offers, and this is why I always lean towards Vitamin Water for flavored waters). With 50 carts participating, even a small bite from each is more than filling. The general admission tickets are a steal for such a meal at $20, but since they sell a few thousand tickets, you should expect the lines… or do as I always do every year, buy the $50 pre-tasting tickets for early entrance for an hour along with complimentary beverages from Pabst Blue Ribbon and Bota Box and move fast!

I always find this worthwhile, and have it marked on my calendar every year as a must do event. I have attended previously as evidenced by my previous blog posts in 2012, in 2011 (which also included opportunities to purchase tickets for a special Friday food cart tour and a Saturday food cart tour I also participated) in conjunction with Forktown Food Tours, and in 2010. As many of you know, I don’t own a car so rely on walking or public transit which means I don’t too far (aka across the river) for unknown food explorations, and working full time in Beaverton means I miss many food cart hours that cater to lunch (sorry the after drinking/dancing late night is too late for me!). So this event is always an exciting way to be introduced to what is out there in food carts for me.

My personal picks for favorites among the tastes I had this year included…

The beautiful taste and design of Cheese & Crack‘s adorable little setup that advertised their cart wares (Portland’s second cheese food cart!) during the festival in a rustic charming way, and their taste was mapped out expertly and presented gorgeously. Cheese & Crack’s taste was Castelvetrano olive mousse, Cana De Oveja cheese, pork terrine, and a chocolate filbert ganache with rock salt all served on a handmade special edition Rustic Butter Cracker. No surprise they won the Eat Mobile 2013 Style Award.
Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Portland Cheese & Crack, cheese cart Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Portland Cheese & Crack, cheese cart Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Portland Cheese & Crack, cheese cart

Judge’s Choice award winner La Sangucheria with their empanadas, fried fresh and worth waiting in line for. Though since I paid extra for the pre-tasting (totally worth it because if you come with the larger crowd you will inevitably spend a lot of time waiting in lines), the line was only maybe a handful of people, and later I returned and they had gotten into a better rhythm and had more laid out- though once the regular crowd of you know, thousands came in, there is no avoiding being in the weeds.
Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week La Sangucheria Food Truck empanadas Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week La Sangucheria Food Truck empanadas Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week La Sangucheria Food Truck empanadas Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week La Sangucheria Food Truck empanadas

Hungry Heart Cupcakes, where I turned away from the obvious choice of the “Sweet n Salty” cupcakes with creamy peanut butter frosting and Carlton Farms applewood smoked bacon to reward myself with the incredible apple panna cotta with hard cider caramel and browned butter blondies. I was surprised they didn’t win people’s choice with their sweet but savory treats.
Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Hungry Heart Cupcakes apple panna cotta with hard cider caramel and browned butter blondies tastes Portland Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Hungry Heart Cupcakes tastes Portland  Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Hungry Heart Cupcakes tastes Portland bacon cupcakes Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Hungry Heart Cupcakes tastes Portland bacon cupcakes Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Hungry Heart Cupcakes tastes Portland Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Hungry Heart Cupcakes tastes Portland

But I did understand why People’s Choice award winner Garcelon’s Soup & Grilled Cheese did get votes, as the spicy crab chowder was complex in flavor and was so comforting.
Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Portland Garcelon's Soup & Grilled Cheese spicy crab chowder Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Portland Garcelon's Soup & Grilled Cheese spicy crab chowder

I liked the taste from Gamila, offering Moroccan American Cuisine, I appreciated the layering of all the flavors of sweet, salty, savory, even hints of sour, and the warm chicken with the cool sauces.
Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Portland Gamila Moroccan American Cuisine Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Portland Gamila Moroccan American Cuisine

I appreciated Moberi and their super refreshing smoothies powered by bikes, and the aromas in the air that wafted from Bora Bora’s grilled chicken. I couldn’t find a website for Bora Bora so this Portland Food.org forum thread will have to suffice for you to find out more.
Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Moberi Smoothies Portland Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Moberi Smoothies Portland Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Bora Bora's grilled chicken Portland Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Bora Bora's grilled chicken Portland

Another sweet temptation was Sugar Shop and their delectable goodies of salted caramel gooey stuffed brownies, molasses spiced cookies, and red velvet cake with cream cheese icing. Also, they had the cutest aprons!
Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Sugar Shop Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Sugar Shop Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Sugar Shop

I waited in line to finish all my tastes with ice cream scoops from Scoop and Fifty Licks. I can’t decide between you two, I love you both. At Fifty Licks I had the toasted milk ice cream, while at Scoop I had both the Salted Caramel and the Bourbon Buttered Pecan at Scoop. Sorry, you were too good to only have one taste.
Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Fifty Licks toasted milk ice cream Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Scoop Salted Caramel and the Bourbon Buttered Pecan ice cream Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Scoop Salted Caramel and the Bourbon Buttered Pecan ice cream Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Scoop Salted Caramel and the Bourbon Buttered Pecan ice cream Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Scoop Salted Caramel and the Bourbon Buttered Pecan ice cream

More photos of the bounty of this food cart festival: Ramy’s Lamb Shack with gyros and baklava, Popcorn Publishers and kettle corn, PDX 671 offering tastes of Guam, Creperie Du Lys and their buckwheat crepes, a Lettuce Wrap taste from Kesone Asian Fusion, J Mo’s Sandwich Shack offering meatballs or pulled pork tastes, Pizza Contadino with handmade sourdough crust, Fuego Portland Burritos and Bowls wisely decided to give tastes of burrito bowls, and Thrive Pacific NW gave me a chance for a healthy sustainable taste!

Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Ramy's Lamb Shack tastes Portland Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Ramy's Lamb Shack tastes Portland Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Popcorn Publishers kettle corn Portland Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Popcorn Publishers kettle corn Portland Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week PDX 671 representing Guam tastes Portland Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week PDX 671 representing Guam tastes Portland Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Creperie Du Lys Portland Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Kesone Asian Fusion Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week J Mo's Sandwich Shack, offering meatballs or pulled pork tastes Portland Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week J Mo's Sandwich Shack, offering meatballs or pulled pork tastes Portland Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Fuego Portland Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Fuego Portland Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Thrive Pacific NW taste Portland

Chez Dodo and a taste of Mauritian Paradise with this deconstructed samosa, Frank-N-Stein is rocking a little red cart, Gaufre Gourmet and their lil liege waffles you choice of a sweet or savory taste (seriously, check out their websites, it is the best I have seen for a Portland food cart, with food porntastic photos of all their menu items!).

Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Chez Dodo and a taste of Mauritian Paradise with his deconstructed samosa Portland Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Chez Dodo and a taste of Mauritian Paradise with his deconstructed samosa Portland Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Frank N Stein Portland Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Frank N Stein Portland Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Gaufre Gourmet Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Gaufre Gourmet Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Gaufre Gourmet Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Gaufre Gourmet

Happy Flower Food Company offered cute little Hummingbird Cake with bananas, pineapple, pecans, cream cheese frosting, I was introduced to the interesting blend of crunch and Indian spices from Masala Pop, Hawaii was cheerfully represented by 808 Grinds and their 808 fried chicken, the Bunk Truck (the mobile truck version of Bunk Sandwiches) gave generous portions of the Cubano sandwich, Taco Pedaler managed making fresh tacos while also offering a chips and salsa bar, Gonzo was rocking some intense sauces with their chickpea fries, and Snoop helped pimp out So Cold Shaved Ice.

It was such an buffet of riches. During the evening, DJ DMoe Funk made waiting so much more fun by giving us music to dance in line or groove to. There was also a culinary stage with presentations of food demonstrations and food science sponsored by Whole Foods and OMSI but I needed to lie down to digest… well at least, after walking briskly back home (I also walked from home to OMSI/Eat Mobile… though I don’t think that burned nearly enough calories to counter what I sampled!)

Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Happy Flower Food Company Hummingbird Cake with bananas, pineapple, pecans, cream cheese frosting Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Masala Pop Indian spiced kettle corn popcorn Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week 808 Grinds Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week 808 Grinds Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Bunk Truck Sandwiches Cubano sandwich Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Taco Pedaler Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Taco Pedaler Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Taco Pedaler Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Gonzo food cart Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week Gonzo food cart Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week So Cold Shaved Ice Snoop Eat Mobile 2013 food cart festival Willamette Week So Cold Shaved Ice Snoop

If any of these pictures intrigues you, please go out and support your local entrepreneurs and visit these food carts! These local businesses work hard to participate in this event and everyday in their food cart (mobile or not), show them that you appreciated the exposure they had at Eat Mobile and give them your money and get some yummy food! You can look up any of these food carts at Food Carts Portland to see what food carts may be in your area and what their menus might offer, and look up reviews and more photos on Yelp Portland and reviews also at Willamette Week.

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Pics from Eat Mobile Festival 2012

This year, the location for the fifth annual Portland Food Cart Festival, Eat Mobile Festival 2012, moved a few blocks over to the OMSI parking lot. This gave this festival of one admission price ($18 for General Admission and $47 for Pre-Tasting VIP which gives an extra hour before GA) and then graze at each of the carts (1 sample a cart) the physical space to expand to three rows of 52 carts. In the middle and back row (towards the waterfront), there was also room for cocktail tables and sitdown tables, with butcher paper stamped Eat Mobile 2012, in order to eat, another great improvement. But, the row without tables, the one closest to the street, was the most comfortable to move around thanks to the lack of tables (though this left people sitting against the chain link fence they put up surrounding the parking lot) so it was easier for lines to each cart stand to logistically be queued in a straight line. They still seemed to be oddly pinching on the number of garbage cans, which seemed far and few between.

One of my first stops because I recall good things about their cart last year was PDX Six Seven One, serving Guam food.  They had a meat and veggie option: the veggie option of Linechen Gollai, Spinach served ina  spicy citrusy coconut milk, and a meat option of Estufao, Carlton Farms pork shoulder simmed in a marinade of soy sauce, vinegar, onions, garlic, and bay leaves served with white rice. PDX 671 would go on to win the Judge's Choice Award. Their cart location is at D Street Noshery.

The one I actually voted for though for People Choice award was Briskets, who offered two options of brisket- and sides of mac n cheese, maple bacon beans, slaw or potato salad. I wish they had a sign up which had advertised their awesome sample concoction… I was already on my 2nd glass of wine and the list of details eluded me when they told me verbally. But, it was awesome. They are only open M-F for lunch at their NW 19th and Quimby location though, so I'm not sure how I will get to them for more given I work in Beaverton.

I really liked Timber's Doghouse PDX (located @ SE Woodstock) too- they had an amazing setup with their sexy ladies in their red tank top black skirt uniform, and a table that included dog water bowls and unicorns. Their sampling of burger (meat or veggie, pictured is veggie sample) with fresh greens topped with what they dub "Momentary Indiscretion" (they have a clever menu- this burger topping equals grilled mushrooms and onions, chantarelle salt, asiago, roasted garlic, and truffle aioli) was one of my favorite samples too, but unfortunately ran out pretty quickly: when I came back with friends with the regular admission entrance, there was nothing left.

Another one I enjoyed was the Mini Monte Cristos (they also offered Empanadas of spinach and gruyere with black olives) from BLT- Breakfast Lunch Today (NE Alberta).

I liked the cute setup of the sign for Bagel & Box (located at N Lombard), which advertises their Brunch Bindle of  1/2 dozen bagels, 1/2 lb of cream cheese, 1/4 lb smoked salmon salad, sliced tomato/cucumber/red onion, 1/2 dozen donuts, a quart of home fries, a quart of fresh OJ, and a checked table cloth… how adorable is that? I want an excuse to get one now. They were one of the few carts that really shined in taking advantage of Eat Mobile to advertise… it obviously worked for me! Their offering of an apple cream cheese with rosemary, white pepper, and bacon bagel bite also convinced me that their bindle will be tasty enough to offer at brunch. Later I saw them offering tastes of their home fries, but I had already had my 1 sample.

Other Misc Photos:

  • Batavia's Indonesian cuisine (from the 3rd and Washington downtown cart pod)
  • Visiting from Corvallis, OR was Creperie du Lys, offering both a sweet and savory crepe bite of either chocolate hazelnut spread or smoked salmon spread with sour cream and capers.
  • Buttermilk biscuits with sausage gravy and smoky collard greens from Blues City Biscuits (from D-Street Noshery cart pod)
  • Oregon Bay Shrimp ceviche from El Gallo Taqueria (SE Woodstock)
  • Little bites of dessert from Sweet Jane's at the front table of the Mara's Ladle food cart (SE 41st Hawthorne)
  • Shut Up and Eat's famous meatball sample of their Italian comfort food (SE 50th) never disappoints
  • Hog Time's fries with pulled pork and queso fresco and a touch of spicy aioli (from the 3rd and Washington downtown cart pod)
  • The Oregonzola fries at Violetta, courtesy of their rolling mobile truck version "Etta" (Violetta is located at Director's Park, Etta by definition travels around since it's an actual food truck, not a cart that theoreticaly can move…
  • I stopped at Fifty Licks as usual for ice cream… but also discovered a love for a new ice cream food truck, Scoop (N Killingsworth). I did have two of these- both the Salted Caramel and the Strawberry Balsalmic, both excellent. They also offered Trailhead Expresso and Basil Pineapple Sorbet to round out the four flavors
  • Taco Pedaler is an actual cart on a roaming bike that pedals to a location to deal out their locally sourced tacos… they bike pulling these carts you see them prepping on behind!
  • An actual conversation that took place between us and some strangers: "Hey, where did you get that chicken wing" "Oh, these spicy garlic chicken wings are from ::pointing:: These Guys" "From where? ::looking around behind:: which guys?" "Yeah… the tent there that says THESE GUYS" "Oh… ha ha…" These Guys Brooklyn cart (SE Milwaukee) offered samples of their smoked meats via smoked Carlton pork shoulder and spicy garlic chicken wings
  • 808 Grinds (Sw 9th Washington downtown cart pod) offered their 808 Fried Chicken and 808 Crunch (Chex Mix concoction)… one in my eating party found their concept for their 808 crunch apparently somewhat revelatory because he mentioned it several times afterwards as future inspiration. I just had enough going on as I had to restrain myself from taking a second portion of their fried chicken when I went back in line with my friends and there was a line behind me of others anxious awaiting for their truck doors to swing open so they can have their bite of fried wonderfulness.
  • Lardo's generous sampling of their pork meatball banh mi- people were lining up almost the length of an entire row to get their hands on these. (Lardo is located at the Good Food Here cart pod)
  • The Mini Sandwich Shack (SE Powell) generously was offering four options of sandwiches

Most of these carts are not used to having to prep and serve over 2000 people a day, and here at the Eat Mobile festival the attendance easily was over that, and all within 3 hours. This sweet cart of Breakfast Lunch Today was hand rolling individual empanadas in the last hour of the festival, trying to still feed hungry interested patrons. Because I sympathize with all these small business owners having to create all this food and so quickly getting in the weeds when the general admission opens, I purposely did not visit some carts that I already have tried their food- such as Pizza Contadino, Oregon Ice Works, Koi Fusion, PBJ's, Emame's Ethiopian, Gaufre Gourmet, Somtum Gai Yang, Flavourspot, Brazi Bites, The Dump Truck…

There are also other samplings I did not photograph, such as the always tasty healthy juice shakes of Sip, the beer chili of Robb's Really Good Food, spicy chicken of Cackalack's Hot Chicken Shack (awesome name), and clam chowder of Chowdah, the lil ice cream of Fifty Licks… all of which I really enjoyed despite lack of photographic evidence.

Thank you to all the food carts and Willamette Weekly for putting together this event again, of which proceeds benefit Mercy Corp's Northwest's local economic development program that assists entrepreneurs in securing funds for small businesses (including food carts). I also appreciated Vitamin Water providing complimentary thirst quenching for all the food, and the music provided by the DJs and the performance of the Pynnacles kept me rocking.

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Eat Mobile does Forktown Tours- Saturday version

Another progressive meal- this time dinner, thanks to Eat Mobile does Forktown tours- a one weekend special tour offering after Eat Mobile 2011 (though they might do this again next year). It visits participating carts from Eat Mobile, but at their original home carts, and we visit multiple pods while riding in a comfortable Ecoshuttle. This one was dubbed “Southeast Sunset Snack-a-Thon”, as opposed to the other “Lunchtime Cart Hop” the day before. We started off at Cartopia, and made our way to D-Street Noshery, A La Carts, and Good Food Here, 4 food cart pods (grouped communities of carts) with 10 carts in all- and more samples then that!

At Cartopia (SE 12th and Hawthorne) we started out with one of my favorite carts there, with Pyro Pizza with their wood oven fired pizza. This is a great cart- you may think it’s just another pizza cart, but it’s so much more- as you would expect from an owner like John who has built what, like 9 pizza ovens by hand now?

Pyro Pizza food cart in Portland, OR Pyro Pizza food cart in Portland, OR

I like their white truffle pizza, add basil and tomato as additional toppings. As part of Eat Mobile this year I had become introduced to their organic homemade sodas, which we also got to taste here again and this time I got to try them all. I won’t be able to resist getting sodas here every time I stop at Cartopia in the future. They offer Cucumber, Sarsparilla, Basil Lime, and Hazelnut (almost like a cream soda with a bit of nuttiness), all made with real ingredients and sweetened with organic cane juice, no artificial flavorings. They also make bread in their wood fire oven- which we got a little sample of with a tapenade smear and cheese as compliment to the taste of their roasted beet and leek salad with butter and balsamic dressing on a bit of spinach, also really good.

Pyro Pizza food cart in Portland, OR Pyro Pizza food cart in Portland, OR Pyro Pizza food cart in Portland, OR

Next stop, still in Cartopia, was People’s Choice for the 2nd year in the row, Whiffies. We were able to try their standby and most popular savory and sweet fried pies, the bbq beef brisket with mozzarella, and the apple, fried pies. Gregg came out to tell us the story of Whiffies- how he runs the cart, and how it became so named. I really wanted to try their mac and Irish cheddar cheese with peas (and bacon) pie, and I thought I would since the tour would return here at the dropoff… but I was just too full. Next time I hope. The apple is my favorite sweet pie- I’ve always liked the apple pie from McD growing up, but I’ll never order it again- I’ll always come to Whiffies, it is  just like how I remember it from my childhood, but much better. Look at that buttery crispy but doughy crust!

Whiffies food cart Whiffies food cart Whiffies food cart Whiffies food cart's fried pies Whiffies food cart's fried pies Whiffies food cart's fried pies

Next the 18 of us piled into the Ecoshuttle and off we went to D-Street Noshery at SE 32nd & Division (see, the D is for Division). This pod is one of the rare that have beer as part of the offering of the actual pod, so it’s almost like a progressive food court including libations- thanks to Captured by Porches Brewing. I had seen this entire pod come into fruition per my previous visits to Pok Pok, which is across the street, and it was great to see it now functioning and doing well. We started off with Koi Fusion. I’ll just leave you with a photo of their cart (they now have several) and taste. Yes they do know the famous Kogi in LA, I’ve reviewed them before in more detail in a previous blog entry. I prefer their sliders, and burrito only if I’m starving as they are big- and the short rib and pork are the best meats in my taste, bulgogi is ok.

Then we walked to the other side of the D-Street Noshery to hear about Oregon Ice Works bringing the water ice of Norristown (known as Italian Ice) to Portland, but made with more of an ice cream touch: less ice-y and more smooth texture, which I can’t argue isn’t an improvement. They experiment with new flavors all the time (everything is with local fruit not flavoring or syrup ingredients), and this time I had a nice big scoop of the Pear Ginger- Oregon grown Bosc pears with bits of candied Ginger. He also has introduced a Philly Roast Pork sandwich in which he has his mom be his “supplier” by shipping the peppers from Philly- my problem from when I tasted it at the Eat Mobile 2011 is that it still can’t quite compare to a real Philly cheesesteak for me, though I appreciate the peppers- the meat and cheese weren’t quite rich enough. But I’ll be back at this cart anyway for those fruity firework gelatos.

Back onto the shuttle, and to A La Carts at SE 50th and Division Street. This pod is famous for the fact that there is a cart that you can get your hair done in a cart… well it’s really a trailer, but still who does this except for models and movie stars?

We visited Fon-due It, presenting “fast food” fondue in that they will have their own signature mix and a monthly special cheese to get your melted cheese fix. The cheese I had with toasted bread was the same as from Eat Mobile- and although not bad, didn’t stand out compared to other fondues I have had from fondue restaurants. Even the one he talked about which helped inspire this cart- one with Black Butte Porter and cheddar- sounded better. Maybe the cheese of the month is what to watch for.  I understand that they need to offer one that doesn’t have alcohol as an ingredient, but this cart is still a bit of a puzzle to me. I know at the Oregon Brewer’s Festival bread and cheese always seem to do well as a small snack with all the beer (that one is from Gustav and is just swiss cheese), but that’s because alcohol and cheese go well. I’m not sure how they would get that collaborative relationship at this pod, and with the hours they have now.

We did get to try their chocolate covered bacon too- I was thinking it would have more chocolate. Vosges chocolate bacon errs on too much chocolate (though Vosges *is* a chocolate shop so understandable), but shows this combination can work- I just want more bacon! Dip that sucker in!

Shut Up and Eat, also at this same pod, brings more Philadelphia to Portland (Norristown is a suburb of Philadelphia- so no surprise with the Philly team stickers back at the Oregon Ice Works cart) with their food cart- but with more Italian from Philly attitude. They gave us a a little – ha, little- meatball on marinara gravy and a stuffed popper. The meatball was so rich and wonderful, I think I would just get a order of the meatballs and gravy, leave out the bread- I don’t want anything else filling my stomach but that moist meat punched with flavor.

Next we journeyed to the food cart pod named Good Food Here, and which would be our last cart pod, located at SE 43rd and Belmont. This pod also has beer, right when you enter thanks to Buckman Village Brewing. More than that, this pod has a very European feel to it because instead of being a circle of carts with eating area in the middle like most pods, the carts are parked in rows so almost like alleys of food carts. They also host movie and other events, so it definitely feels like a little community- like a small town of food carts that represent all around the world.

A pork belly sandwich from Lardo at Good Food Here had everyone quiet and rolling their eyes in pleasure as we admired their very pretty cart- and they were apparently a runner up in the People’s Choice at Eat Mobile. This was my favorite savory bite of my dinner that night.

Next stop was Eurotrash and their bright pink cart and a sample of Fishy Chips, their anchovies breaded then deep fried to a crisp and finished with a little lemon and sea salt and aioli- it sounded intimidating to everyone at first but they came without heads (though they can be ordered with) and didn’t have the strong flavor most would expect- just crunchy lil fish, and was enjoyed by everyone.

Creme de la Creme is celebrating the 25th birthday of their 1961 home, a former school bus now home of French cuisine, and the bus is named Charlotte. This food bus, and its owner, were so cute, as they talked about how they made the bus the home of their little business.

 

They offered us a their rendition of Croque Monsieur with the traditional ham and Gruyere sandwich then topped with béchamel and more Gruyere and toasted- a great little sandwich. We also had what has brought them some fame (including a feature on Eat St)- Creme de la Creme’s famous Escargot, snails, garlic and butter sauce with sliced baguette. I liked the Croque Monsieur more- but I like my escargot extremely unhealthy with each in its own pond of butter, so there’s that.

Dessert course, and last course-  passonfruit szechuan peppercorn sorbet at Fifty Licks, winner of the Style Award at Eat Mobile 2011. It’s always hard to choose from the wonderful flavors they offer each time- except for the Red Bull one I had at Eat Mobile 2010, I have not been disappointed by any flavor from them.

Fifty Licks food truck, Portland OR Fifty Licks food truck, Portland OR
Fifty Licks food truck, Portland OR
Fifty Licks food truck, Portland OR Fifty Licks food truck, Portland OR

Well, that’s it… end of tour. Thanks to Heidi and Jessica, our lovely tour guides, for providing facts and fun about the food cart world of Portland, and for all the owners who took the time to step out of their cart to talk about their cartpreneurship challenges and victories, and Jess from Willamette Week- she and her mom (whose birthday was Saturday- mine was Friday) were with me and the tour guides in going on both tours! I think my stomach might need a rest from another day of multi-hour sampling, but I would recommend any of their food tours to any visitors of Portland or those who live in Portland and want to explore lots of little bites and learn about food culture- be it the food cart culture like these tours, or neighborhoods- Forktown Tours covers the Alphabet District (Northwest 23rd area I think) and North Portland (Alberta/Miss neighbohoodish) areas on walking tours on Thurs and Sat.

Heidi and Jessica were very gracious, knowledgable, and thoughtful- making sure everyone gets a sample, that we were hydrated and always gathered around to hear the food owner, making sure we had napkins and forks and wet naps and carrying Tums just in case. It is obvious they love food, love Portland, love spreading that love as if you were their own friend visiting them from out of town. Check them out!

And that completes my food cart report of two weekends of Eat Mobile 2011!

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