Portland is known for its food cart scene. When a group of these semi-permanent food carts sets up shop, it is called a pod. I was impressed when I visited the Cartlandia pod just off the Springwater Corridor Bike Trail on 82nd Avenue.
The list of plus or minus 30 carts provides an impressive array of International and down-home foods. But what caught my attention was the service. We were there on a busy Sunday. Friendly parking lot attendants made suggestions on where to find a parking space. And we did. There are "real" restrooms and an ATM available.
If you want a beer with your cart meal, there was a beer tent. I didn't see it, but there is a full service sports bar on site, The Blue Room Bar and Restaurant. And, if you purchase a drink, you can take your cart food into these drinking establishments.
Cartlandia is home to some pretty notable food carts including Maine Street Lobster Company, an award winner from Willamette Week. On the Cartlandia website, you'll find a click through to individual pages for each cart. Carts open and close as they wish so you may or may not find your chosen cart open when you visit.
If you are perplexed by all the interesting sounding International dishes, many carts have photos of each plate to help you with your choices.
The day we were there we saw plenty of bikers coming off the Springwater Corridor Trail, families out for a Sunday meal and individuals picking up to-go dining for home.
We walked the pod twice before deciding on a cart (or two). I chose Pupuseria La Miguelena with food from El Salvador. Although their special is the traditional pupusa, I tried the yuca con chicharron and my friend, who loves plantains, savored the Platano Frito with beans and creamed cheese. Since that was sort of a dessert, she went hunting for a sandwich and came back with an amazing lobster roll from Maine Street Lobster accompanied by melted butter, cole slaw and chips.
The yuca con chicharron was a nice plate of lightly fried yucca plant with bits of delicious, but dry, beef and a tasty side salad. This cart plated their food on real plates.
Most carts have a shelter and tables so it was easy to find a place to sit at the Pupuseria. It was fun watching the people go by and see what they were selecting for their lunches. A young boy stopped to order pupusas while his family had Greek food. It's fun to mix up the nationalities at Cartlandia.
Cartlandia beats the downtown cart scene for its convenience, both for motorists and bikers.
They have a prime location. It is located at 8145 SE 82nd Ave. where the Springwater Corridor Bike Trail crosses SE 82nd. It is only 1/2 mile N. of Johnson Creek Blvd. Take Johnson Creek exit off I-205 Freeway and you are very close.