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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!).
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!)
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.