A lovely Portland blogger, Amy from Eating My Way Through Portland, sent me some VIP tickets to the 2nd annual Portland Food Cart Festival. After a busy day of gym, gardening, and some time spent with a friend just hanging out in a park catching up, Michael and I went out to the festival being held at Mount Hood Community College.
It was a really nice summer day, nearly 80 degrees, and the place was packed. I was given VIP tickets which got me into the festival for free, a little swag bag and one drink ticket. We could have come earlier before it opened and gotten to try the foods without waiting in lines–which was probably a good idea but my schedule didn’t allow that.
We got there and did the loop around to see what the options were and saw long lines everywhere. Some of the carts at insanely long lines and I’m guessing they were the most popular carts. The first place we went to was Saucy’s.
They had huge grills outside the cart and as we stood in line waiting, I got to see them cooking the ribs. They look fantastic. Michael got an order of ribs and I got the pulled pork slider. We made our way to the beer garden to get our complimentary drink (Bridgeport IPA) and eat our first dinner. I was famished!
Michael said the ribs were okay but the sauce was fantastic. I had a small bite and agreed–the meat could have been a little better (I like my rib meat to fall off the ribs) but the sauce was great. My pulled pork was super good–but impossible to eat as a slider. I just ate it with a fork. The pork was cooked perfectly and topped with coleslaw and grilled pineapple chunks.
Next up was the Just Wing It food cart. All they sold was wings. BBQ, Buffalo, Chipotle, and one other that I can’t remember now. I got us an order of the buffalo wings to share. At this point my friend Mindie showed up and joined us.
The wings were pretty good but not the best I’ve ever had. The buffalo sauce was great, one of my favorites! It was really spicy and tangy and the wings had crumbled bleu cheese on them–great idea! But the chicken could have been a little more charred on the grill.
Michael got a lamb gyro from Ramy’s Lamb Shack and I had a few bites. I liked it but again, not the best I’ve ever had. The lamb needed a little more seasoning and I would have liked more tzatziki sauce. Mindie got a waffle from the Gaufre Gourmet food cart. It was a cornmeal waffle topped with pulled pork and coleslaw.
She thought the cornmeal waffle was weird but that the pulled pork was fantastic. The three of us finished up with some dessert and then called it good. Michael got two ice cream cones from Scoop – his was the oatmeal and brown sugar. I got the blueberry and cinnamon. It was an odd but pleasant combination!
Mindie went to the Churros Loco food cart and got a churro sundae! I think it was vanilla ice cream with whipped cream, churros, sprinkles and caramel sauce on top. She said it was great but over the top. I agree, I would be in a sugar coma had I eaten that! It looked so good, though…
We called it a night and Michael and I took our tired, sore bodies home. Gardening always gets me. Dammit!
I’m glad we checked out the festival. It was a fun experience. I only have a few criticisms. 1) The food carts need to post their menu on a sign or chalk board in larger writing and post it somewhere you can see –especially if the lines are long! Most of the places I had no idea what I was ordering until I got to the window. 2) The lines were really long. I kinda feel like these food carts should work out a better way to serve. Either have some tables and seating right next to the cart where people can wait for their food after ordering (instead of standing in line waiting) or have an extra person helping out during big events like this. The common complaint I heard from people was that the lines were too long and SLOW.
Other than that, it was a cool event. I enjoyed the food I tried, even if it wasn’t the best food cart cuisine I’ve had.
QUESTION: Have you ever been to a food cart or food festival similar to this? What were your observations?