What’s better for wiggly kids than an outdoor dining experience where you can choose your own adventure? Food carts are a perfect bet for families, where movement is encouraged at all of the local pods, diners can hop between choices and never have to sit in a booth waiting for a server to take an order. Portland is blessed with a large variety of cuisines and food cart pods – some with added features like fire pits, movie screenings and games. Many carts are still open during COVID, offering a streamlined ordering experience either online, by phone, or even delivery. Read on to check out our favorite food carts to visit with kids!

photo: Megan S via yelp

Smaaken Waffles

Take a waffle, add practically anything and you’ve got a winner of a meal for any kid. Smaaken (the Dutch word for “tasty”) creates delicious sandwiches out of thin, crispy waffles that can veer either savory or sweet, breakfast or lunch. Try the bacon maple, or grilled cheese, or even the pb&j version!

Hawthorne Asylum
1080 SE Madison St.

The Lot at Scout Beer
5029 SE Division St.
(503) 688-8214

BG’s Food Cartel
4250 SW Rose Biggi Ave.
Beaverton, OR
(971) 235-6578
Online: smaaken.com

Bao Bao

Fluffy steamed buns are a carbo-licious treat any kid will love. The ones at Bao Bao are handmade and stuffed with things like pork, chicken, red bean paste, or mushrooms. Try the lotus paste one for a sweet treat! They also have noodles and even frozen bao so you can take them home.

Bao Bao NE
545 NE Couch St

Bao Bao Downtown
232 Southwest Washington St.

Portland, OR
503-477-8911
Online: baobaopdx.com

photo: patty b via yelp

Matta

This cart serves up super cozy, homey food from family recipes inspired by Vietnam. The “Vietnamese soul food” includes fried chicken and rice, stir-fried beef, and “mom’s omelet” as menu toppers, and any tiny sweet tooth is sure to be pleased by the pandan donut. Matta’s been working hard all spring and summer to serve up as many free meals as they can to restaurants workers and kids, and any in need.

1533 NE Alberta St.
Portland, OR
971-258-2849
Online: mattapdx.com

Matt’s BBQ

For the kiddie carnivore in your life, head to the very popular Matt’s BBQ cart at the Prost food carts on Mississippi Ave. Here you’ll find every type of smoked meat one could wish for, plus fun sides like the queso mac and cheese. Order online to help them reduce contact– you can even order a day ahead so dinner’s already taken care of!

4233 N Mississippi Ave
Portland, OR
Online: Mattsbbqpdx.com

Potato Champion

One of the original food carts in Portland (it opened in 2008!) Potato Champion serves up all manner of fry-related goods. Poutine is their specialty, that Canadian dish of French fries and cheese curds covered in gravy. They’ve expanded to a range of housemade sauces like peanut curry or pesto mayo. Kids will enjoy the buttermilk ranch, or bravely try the pb&j poutine!

1207 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Portland, OR
503-477-7265
Online: https://www.potatochampion.com

photo: Fried Egg I’m in Love

Fried Egg I’m In Love

The catchy names of their menu offerings will make parents smile, and kiddos will love the fresh OJ and sandwiches. Try the Built To Spill, for obvious reasons, which features a fried egg and cheddar on toasted sourdough. Then stroll among the bricks in Pioneer Courthouse Square to see what interesting names you can find.

To cut down on facetime, you can order online before you arrive at your nearest food cart.– they’ll have it ready to pick up.

Hawthorne
3549 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
503-610-EGGS
971-808-5727

Pioneer Courthouse Square
780 SW Broadway
503-704-FELT

Prost! Marketplace
4237 N Mississippi Ave.
503-869-5915
Online: friedegglove.com

The Whole Bowl

Slung out of a super-cute retro-looking trailer with wood paneling, The Whole Bowl has the beans and rice bowl scene covered. Check out the Bambino Bowl for only $6, which includes brown rice, black and red beans, avocado, cilantro, black olives, Tillamook cheddar, sour cream, salsa and sauce. Delicious, and healthy!

Eight locations in Portland, six are currently open and serving
Online: thewholebowl.com/portland.html

photo: molly s via yelp

Arlo’s Fish and Chips

Check out the tasty homemade fish and chips from Arlo’s! Each bite is battered and fried to perfection and served with a side of french fries. A kid and crowd-favorite! Grab a scoop of ice cream at the neighboring Beau Berry cart afterwards. They’re open until they sell out each day! To make ordering faster, you can call it in ahead of time, or order when you arrive. 

St. John’s Food Cart Pod
7316 North Lombard 
971-813-9711
Online: www.facebook.com/Arlos-Fish-Chips-342577826084713/

–Katrina Emery

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