I’m still a bit new to the Portland scene so food carts still get me really excited. They probably always will because it’s just something I’ve never really seen in many other spots… and I’ve been blessed to travel and live in a LOT of other spots around the country. Last week my friend Sankar (the creative genius behind The Immigrant Story) and I met up on SW Alder and 9th to enjoy some classic Middle Eastern food from Shawarma Express (Facebook | Yelp). The Iraqi who runs the place is from Baghdad and has been in our area for only a few years. He’s friendly and happy for a chat, so be sure to strike up a conversation. (Many food cart vendors I’ve met from other countries get really good at all the vocab related to their food, but struggle with normal conversation.) I’m a sucker for lamb and my friend and I ordered a gyro and shawarma with some spicy fries. Seating is always a bit of an issue at food carts, but there’s a park just across the street that provided benches.
While in the area I wandered around the block and found a lot of other great spots I look forward to checking out in the future: Raha Persian Cuisine (Yelp), Baghdad Iraqi Grill (Yelp), Noah Halaal (Yelp), Kafta House (Yelp), Sams Saj (Yelp), Bing Mi! (Yelp), Rolls Plus Grill (Yelp), Potatoes on 9th (Russian Vietnamese fusion – Yelp) and many others that fit within the purview of “New Portlanders”.
—reviewed by Tim Cowley