Portland, Oregon, is one of the most celebrated culinary destinations in the United States. Portland offers fresh, organic and local ingredients for farm-to-table dining experiences, is revered for its coffee and tea, and boasts more breweries than any other city on earth. Oh, and Portland has accumulated over 600 food carts.
With an estimated 400 food carts operating at any given time—serving up breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between—food carts make it easy for groups to eat.
Rather than moving around like other cities' food trucks, most of Portland's tiny kitchens remain in one location. Carts are clustered in groups called "pods," which act as neighborhood gathering spaces—so exploring the city's food cart scene isn't just a great way to sample Portland's diverse offerings; it's also one of the best ways for your groups to experience Portland culture.
Several companies offer tours of Portland's food cart scene (Portland Walking Tour, Food Carts Portland and Pedal Bike Tours), yet your groups could always explore the pods on their own. If they need a bit of direction, Travel Portland suggests checking out these pods.
Alder, one of Portland's largest pods, features favorites such as Nong's Khao Mon Gai, the Frying Scotsman and Mac & Trees. The Portland Art Museum is just a six-minute walk from Alder Pod, and groups could reach the Union Way Shopping Arcade by foot in four minutes.
The Cartopia pod is a great spot for lunch, dinner and late-night bites. Pyro Pizza offers wood-fired-oven pizza and Perierra Crêperie delivers unique Nutella-banana, avocado-cream-cheese-and-turkey, and other crêpes. Cartopia is located on Hawthorne Boulevard—a destination in itself. Top sites include Bagdad Theatre, as well as indie and vintage shops like Tender Loving Empire and House of Vintage.
If your groups are looking for an authentic taste of Portland's Latino culture, check out Portland Mercado in Southeast Portland. The rainbow-colored food carts of this cultural hub offer cuisine from Colombia, Mexico, El Salvador, Cuba and Argentina—all with a bit of Portland flair.
Tidbit Food Farm and Garden
In addition to 20-plus food carts, Tidbit Food Farm and Garden offers a few surprising additions, including a garden and produce stand, coffee cart, mobile gift and art boutique, and Lodekka—a vintage dress shop housed in a double-decker bus. Groups could also sip on Portland's famous brews in a beer garden, cozy around a fire pit and enjoy live music.
The "super pod" in Southeast Portland is home to The Blue Room, a full-service bar with beers and ciders on tap and an outdoor beer garden. More than 30 carts represent 15 countries, and groups could find three carts serving lobster, as well as the famous Voodoo Doughnut mobile van to satisfy their sweet tooth.