Food Cart Culture in Portland Oregon
As Sunset Magazine recently pointed out, Portland is becoming known for its fabulous food carts. I personally love the whole food cart experience. It’s the closest you can get to buying a cooked treat on a beach in Bali without leaving the state. It makes a person feel international or maybe a little lawless. I also think that at best a food cart has a certain sincerity that is missing at a restaurant. As far as that goes, I’m not really sure what can be more sincere than a bowl of rice and beans done up with a sauce and some trimmings. This is a great description of the Whole Bowl.
The Whole Bowl is something of a one trick pony. They offer two sizes of bowl with brown rice, red and black beans, fresh avocado, salsa, black olives, sour cream, cheddar cheese, cilantro, and their secret Tali Sauce. When ordering, you tell the server what you don’t want. If you skip the cheese and sour cream, you’ve got a vegan dish. Except for the cookies, everything they serve is gluten free (yay!) There was some confusion about the cheese there, but the owner contacted us to verify that their cheese is gluten-free (hooray!) They also serve chips, water, and a couple of beverages.
There are four locations. One is downtown, one on SE Hawthorne, one in the Pearl, and one is the Mo-Bowl, which I guess travels around.
How is the food? It’s great. I personally have a weakness for rice and beans, because they go so great together. The Tali sauce is really wonderful, and the ingredients always seem to be fresh and tasty. I’ve noticed especially that they have a better line on getting good avocados than we seem to have. The Whole Bowl is also amazingly consistent for a restaurant in Portland. There’s something strange about Portland Oregon that makes excellent restaurants have bad nights and makes horrible restaurants have good nights. (What is that? Does anybody have a theory?)
And here it is. This is the big bowl with the whole shebang. It ends up being very satisfying. The sauce is very tasty, and like I said before, it’s hard to lose with rice and beans. Did I mention that the big bowl is $5.50? This makes the Whole Bowl a good destination when you want to get something quick and cheap on a busy afternoon or dinner.
We want to know: Have you been to the Whole Bowl downtown? Do you have a favorite food cart in Portland Oregon? I keep trying to figure out something else that would go great with one of these bowls. Any ideas? Let us know in the comments!
Times we have visited: a lot (So we feel very good about our rating.)
Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same