When I first moved to Portland lo these many years ago, there was nothing to eat. A damning indictment, as I was fresh from San Diego where fish tacos and mud pie were as haute as one could go.
Now, you can’t open Sunset or Gourmet without reading an article breathlessly praising a Portland chef, or a gushy review of the culinary craze that’s been sweeping the area in recent years: the city food cart.
Until last Friday, I worked a stone’s throw from one of the main lunchwagon pods downtown but rarely visited, preferring instead to eat a piteous salad at my desk. When I quit my lucrative job to travel and write—(remember Steve Martin’s joke about his book, “How I Turned a Million in Real Estate Into $25 In Cash”? Yeah, like that)—I vowed to make up for lost time and eat as many Portland lunch cart dishes as possible in the short weeks before our long summer Airstream trip.
During my quest I enjoyed Tabor’s “original” Schnitzelwich, a duck confit baguette sandwich from Addy’s, the meatball sub with chick pea fries at Garden State, and a surprising Jade Curry at Ruby Dragon. Whiffies fried pies (BBQ pulled pork, and the peanut butter creme and Mounds of Deliciousness dessert pies) were sublime. The jambalaya from Swamp Shack? Not so much.
The personalities of (and at) the food cart areas are what’s fun. Many have theme decor schemes. A crunchy crowd eats at the Mississippi pods, while the downtown carts cater to hungry white collar types and Japanese tourists.
I shudder to think about the calorie count of these meals. Diet starts tomorrow.