Before I moved in Seattle in 1999, I spent 7 years in Portland before the food cart craze began. I don’t get back as often as I’d like and this year, I chose a very hot and humid July to visit. Each time I visit I choose a couple of different pods to hit up to sample the cuisine.
One of the pods I choose was Rose City Food Park located at NE Sandy Blvd & NE 52nd Ave. I have to say, this is a very family friendly place. Children all over the place, knocking things over, running around, and enjoying the food. I even tripped over a few which is really hard since I’m really, really short. There’s street parking and a good-sized lot to park in. There are tons of picnic tables to sit at (both covered and uncovered). You can also pick up produce from Kruger’s Farm City Farm Market which is a perk. They have bathrooms onsite that are large and fairly clean.
Rose City boasts that they are home to 13 of the best food carts in Portland. Based on my sampling, I’m not sure that’s true.
PDX671 garnered fame from Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. The kelaguen mannok with titiyas is supposed to be quite good. No matter, they were out of it. Our group ordered the fiesta plate (grilled chicken thigh, red rice, shrimp fritters, and ensaladan kiukumba) for $7.25 and an order of 3 lumpia for $5.25. The grilled chicken thigh was marinated well with nice, crispy skin. The red rice was seasoned with annatto seed. The flavor was very mild and I didn’t taste much salt. The shrimp fritters were fried crisp and had really interesting flavors. The shrimp blended well with the sweetness of the carrots, peas, and corn. The lumpia was wrapped perfectly and had all the right ingredients. I appreciate garlic sauce but think it could benefit from a bit of heat. Finally, the ensaladan kiukumba (think cucumber salad with kimchee dressing) was refreshing. The dressing had a little spicy kick. Overall, it was okay and definitely a value for $12.50.
Captain Dillie’s Starlite Coach & Catering caught my eye with a blue paint job and an interesting menu. I ordered a grilled mac ‘n’ cheese sandwich. Mac ‘n’ cheese in a sandwich? Yowza! For $4, it was a pretty decent size. The bread was nice, thick, and buttered well. I got that “crunch” when I bit into it. The mac ‘n’ cheese was cooked well but lacked seasoning, primarily salt. It was a good sandwich but rather plain. The star of the show was the spicy strawberry jalapeno lemonade. Sweet, spicy and perfect on a warm summer day! For $2, that was a steal!
|Captain Dillie’s Starlight Coach|
|Grilled Mac ‘n’ Cheese Sandwich|
El Guero offered a nice cup of horchata. It was perfect! At $1.50, I could drink a gallon of it. However, the burrito and quesadilla were both lackluster. The prices were very reasonable with both those items coming in at under the $10 mark.
Overall, I found the atmosphere at Rose City Food Park to be pleasant and welcoming. However, the three carts I sampled were just okay.