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Overheard at the Alder Street Food Cart Pod

As the food cart pod prepares to close, Eater PDX’s Conner Reed camped out to catch the final lunchtime chatter overheard at the iconic downtown pod

Conner Reed/EPDX

The food carts at 10th and Alder, long a downtown institution, close on June 30th to make way for Portland’s new Ritz-Carlton. Over the years, the pod has played host to some of the city’s greatest hits: Nong’s Khao Man Gai, Wolf & Bear’s, The People’s Pig. The loss extends beyond lunch options—in losing the Alder carts, downtown is losing one of its most quintessentially downtown spots. The daily lunch rush brings together a delightfully mismatched grab-bag of locals, commuters, and tourists for a semi-sacred Portland ritual. Hummus gets misidentified, nobody knows where to stand, the business-casual set breaks bread with a group of middle schoolers on a field trip, all with City Target in plain sight. It’s beautiful.

To honor the carts’ passing, here’s a collage of moments sourced from lunchtime observation:

(Tearing into garlic sauce) This hummus is so SPICY!

(Re: tzatziki) “David loooooves this tiki hummus.”

“It was like, a mild hangover? But I still shouldn’t have hit that rollercoaster.”

Extremely Indignant Matriarch: “They’re trying to find waffles, but they’re not gonna find them.”

“Oooooooh, Thai food is spicy.” (Possibly an endorsement, possibly fear-based)

“You can actually schedule Ubers now.”

White woman with dreadlocks chastising her rabbit: “Lenwar! No dairy!”

“Sorry! Quick question! How small does a sausage have to be for you to consider it ‘tiny.’”

“A double? That’s… what? Twice as much as a single?”

(In reference to an old friend’s humble beginnings) “A few years ago, he could barely afford to live in that 5-bedroom by himself.”

(World’s Best Host Explains Food Cart Pods) “This isn’t the only one of these things! There’s another one over there.”