Just because they put a fork in there doesn’t mean they’re done.
Three months after a crane descended on Fairview Food Plaza, installing a world record-breaking pitchfork sculpture on Northeast Halsey Street, neighboring Troutdale has added its own massive food cart at Troutdale Station, while Gresham has hosted the first modern dining room in the region at Rockwood Les Halles.
While Portland’s new food cart pods focus on handpicking popular carts to pair with high-end cocktail bars, cart pods are still price volume, seeking to attract customers with critical mass. of kitchens. Collectively, the three new projects will add dozens of new and relocated food businesses to East Multnomah County.
Fairview Food Plaza is easy to find – just walk down Halsey until you see the 37-foot, 2.5-ton fork sculpture that stands proudly on the corner of 223rd Avenue. Although the city-backed pod was aiming for an April opening, finishing touches were still underway on a recent visit, as carts including Daily Dose of Aloha – and its summer-ready Dole Whip machine – patiently awaited final inspections. Cart owners hope to open in time for a farmers market in the nearby parking lot this Sunday, May 22.
I rode my bike right past the new Troutdale Railway Station on first pass, wrongly assuming it was closer to downtown Troutdale. When you find it – just up the hill on Southwest 257th Drive – don’t be surprised if you get a sense of deja vu. The pavilion, trolley pod, and parking lot are the spitting image of Happy Valley Station, owner Valerie Hunter’s first foray into pod development.
As with the original, the newly opened Troutdale venture has about a dozen carts on either side of a sprawling indoor structure with a cafe and bar with 40 taps of familiar Oregon beers. There are plenty of seats. Outside, Tita’s Kitchen’s second restaurant serves Peruvian sanguches (sandwiches), including one made with fried sweet potatoes, chicharron (roasted pork shoulder) and creamy criolla sauce; while Soul Korean Fusion prepares a Korean hotteok (pancake filled with brown sugar) – two dishes rarely seen before in Troutdale.
Although the Troutdale Project seems remote from the excitement building in and around the gateway to the Columbia Gorge, Rockwood Market Hall feels like a catalyst for growth in his own historically underfunded neighborhood of Gresham. Just steps from MAX, the food hall will one day house a dozen food and grocery vendors alongside a European-style plaza with a playground and seasonal wading pool, all lined with offices, a white-tablecloth Mexican bar and grill at La Villa and an upcoming apartment building.
Although the food hall held its grand opening earlier this month, the project is still filling up, with only a handful of micro restaurants open during two recent visits. These empty storefronts show promise – like other micro-restaurant projects such as The Zipper and Bethany Village, the ideal tenants would appear to be food carts looking to make the brick-and-mortar leap – but Rockwood Market Hall already features several compelling reasons to visit now.
At Hank’s Place Southern Kitchen, owner Mary Denise Lincoln serves delicious fried shrimp po’boys and simple fries from a window overlooking the parking lot. Inside, Cox Hanal is the metro area’s newest Yucatan restaurant, with salbutes, panuchos, relleno negro and polcanes (literally “snakeheads” or football-shaped masa fritters stuffed with ground pumpkin seeds and crushed beans). Across the hall, the former over-performing Flavors of India food cart has made way for a large tandoori oven in their small space, serving up well-roasted meats and some of the best curries, breads and tinted basmati rice. saffron east of the Willamette River.
Like the solar-powered trash cans hidden inside, not all design decisions make sense at first glance. The bathrooms are outside and down a ramp, away from most restaurants and even further from the playground. And the confusing and seemingly useless vehicular right-of-way that crosses the square between the large roll-up door and the attractive paddling pool will give parents of young children nightmares – with the hot weather upon us, the space would be better used for the outdoors seats.
But the potential is there. Seventeen years after its purchase by the Gresham Redevelopment Commission, the former 5.5-acre Fred Meyer site finally looks poised to become a gathering center for communities far beyond its Rockwood neighborhood, home to already an impressive foodie scene, from taco carts ringing the bell near the Oregon Flea Market to restaurants including nearby La Tia Juana, not to mention the paleta vendors who cycle past the plaza every day .
Other food companies in the room include Taste of Casablanca Moroccan Food and Momma G’s Soup shop, with other vendors soon to join Kuya’s Islander Cuisine, Alleamin African Kitchen and DB Dessert Company.
New East Multnomah County Cart Pods and Food Hall
Fairview Food Plaza
Address: 22320 NE Halsey St.
Food companies: To be determined
Rockwood Market Hall
Address: 18535 SE Stark St.
Food companies: Cox Hanal, Hank’s Place Southern Cuisine, Flavors of India, Momma G’s Soup, Taste of Casablanca and, soon, Alleamin African Cuisine, DB Dessert Company, Kuya’s Islander Cuisine and La Michoacana Dulce.
Troutdale Railway Station
Address: 151 SW 257th Drive
Food companies: Bobablast, Esan Thai, The Good Burger Shack, Hyderabad Hub, Kickin Chicken Wings, Le Petit Café, Soul Korean Fusion, Wasabi Sushi PDX and a full bar inside.
—Michael Russell, [email protected] @tdmrussell