Welcome to Pod Cast, the new Eater Portland column covering all food news on wheels. From seasonal specials to brand-new pods, this is your go-to guide to the latest CartWire. The upside of slow winters spent in a cramped, frozen food cart is the downtime-inspired creativity that keeps cart owners forward-thinking toward spring. This year, March struts in with changed locales, special events, and intriguing menu developments.
FRESH CATCH — On March 1, Bamboo Sushi veteran Yoshi Ikeda, with the support of his trusty sidekick Nino Ortiz, opened Yoshi’s Sushi in the Multnomah Village French Quarter food cart pod after a month of trial-and-error. With a remarkable reception, this duo is moving through sushi at high speed — aka, the cart’s fish is super fresh. Tips: Ikeda has a particularly deft way with sauces; visitors shouldn’t skip his ginger miso. Newbies should imitate the Village locals by grabbing a bottled beer or a glass of wine next door at the coppery cart, Bird In Hand, and head inside the French Quarter for live music and hyper-local boutique shopping.
TACO TIME — Even with his bustling Mississippi barbecue cart and the opening of his Thai barbecue restaurant Eem, Matt Vicedomini can’t sit still: This Friday, the pitmaster will start serving smoked meat at his third spot, Matt’s BBQ Tacos. He says eaters can expect Tex-Mex breakfast tacos on made-to-order flour tortillas from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m.; the cart will also serve all manner of barbecue tacos, including a vegan smoked mushroom taco served all day. Matt’s BBQ Tacos has taken over the former Fried Egg, I’m In Love cart on SE Hawthorne, brushing it with a coat of blue paint and sprinkling it with a smattering of Texas stars. Vicedomini pulled out his original smoker from storage for the occasion.
CARTLANDIA WIRE — In other Southeast food cart news, Cartlandia has begun opening at 7 a.m. with breakfast items from three carts: Pancake Underground, Puddletown Bagels, and 4 Dubs Grub. Two other carts have opened at this food pod, specifically Shawarma Express Arabic Halal and Outside the Lunchbox. The latter offers hot and cold sandwiches and upgraded Carolina pork sliders: think blue cheese and apple coleslaw with candied bacon on a cart-made bun. The veteran-owned cart offers veterans and first responders a 10 percent discount on all menu items.
SCONE SWEEP — PieCake, the savory and sweet pie shop at Carts on Foster, has expanded its reach by supplying scones and pop-tarts to the Great Notion Brewing coffee cart outside of its new taproom in NW Portland. Co-owner Amanda McCoy isn’t sitting back to enjoy the expansion; instead, she and her husband Rob McCoy created several new hand pie varieties, such as curried veg, ham and cheese, and Hawaiian pork.
IT’S AMOVING — The wood-fired pizza from Gracie’s Apizza mobile cart has left Royale Brewing, but plans are in the works for a second pizza cart opening by the end of this month. In the meantime, pizza fans can find Gracie’s on Friday nights at Mayfly, the new taproom in North Portland, and various other locales throughout the week; check the cart’s Instagram for the latest location updates.
SETTING NEW TRAPS — Trap Kitchen, famed for serving one of Snoop Dogg’s favorite fried chicken plates, has moved from SE Stark over to what will be a new pod on NE Fremont, tentatively named Rocky Butte Station food pod. Friday’s are still “Pineapple Friday” with the “Deadliest Catch” pineapple boat. The Trap Kitchen menu has expanded to include a deep-fried, Cajun-mac-and-cheese-stuffed game hen. If that’s not enough, eaters can opt to have the hen filled with a chicken and andouille sausage jambalaya.Trap Kitchen has added a second cart at the new food pod, as well: Sister cart Rip City Tacos has begun dishing up L.A.-style tacos around the city.
GOOSE MIGRATION — Fine Goose has reopened after a six-week break. Owners Jean Broquere and Sebastien Guarderas spent their time away traveling to France and Africa; now diners can expect to see a French-Mediterranean menu featuring a tagine, a North African ratatouille, and a burger with kofte, an African savory-sweet spice blend.
EMPANADA MAMA — Those seeking a weekend food festival should head to Portland Mercado, where food carts are gearing up for Empanada Weekend March 8-10. Flavors will range from Peruvian to Puerto Rican, with vegetarian and gluten-free options, as well.
WILD FARTHER NORTH — Wild North, which is now settling into its new digs at Base Camp Brewing, will reintroduce its sought-after brunch March 17. The highly anticipated star is the cart’s Donut Benny — a cart-made glazed donut with Dungeness crab, poached egg, and a thyme-brown-butter hollandaise.
DODO GOES EXTINCT — In sad news, Mauritian cart Chez Dodo closed February 28 after an eight-year run. Owner Shyam Dausoa says dealing with constant graffiti, break-ins, drug use behind the cart has made staying open untenable. Chef Dausoa has taken a new job making food for airlines; he hopes to continue serving his menu at occasional pop-ups and to bottle his chutney and gravy for grocery store sales.
Clarification, March 14, 2019, 8:52 a.m.
This story has been clarified to show that Yoshi’s was serving sushi on-and-off through February.