Pie Spot © 2011 Natasha. All rights reserved.

Cartopia in Portlandia Part the Deuce: The D Street Noshery

Last year I visited the food carts in Portland on Hawthorne and 12th with the specific intent of trying poutine and found an amazing fried pie (yay!).  I said it before in that post and at the risk of becoming a fuzzed cd, I have no idea why there aren’t more food carts in Seattle.  What in the world is going on that we don’t have places like the D Street Noshery?  I’m hoping that somebody will correct me and say, “Are you blind?  There’s that place in ___ on ___ street and it’s awesome!”  Because I don’t know of a single spot in Seattle where I can see not one, but two signs on the sidewalk that point me to a pod like this.

The bonus about this pod o’carts?  They not only have a covered area with picnic tables, but there are heaters for cold days.  Seriously.

There’s also a beer truck, Captured by Porches Brewing Company, for those who like a beer with their cart food.  It’s the first time I’ve ever seen one of these, and I’m guessing it has everything to do with the tent holding those picnic tables.

Herb’s Mac & Cheese
I’m just assuming that the guy who owns this cart is named Herb–I know, prejudiced and assumptive, but it’s a flaw I need to work on.  Herb’s retro cart is just about the cutest cart ever.  It’d be even cuter if those glass blocks at the top were real, but still.

Herb was dishing out free samples of his mac & cheese, but his pasta was so good, by the time we got there the parrot sidekick told us to come back later, Herb was busy cooking up another batch.

This is a regular order ($4.5) and was awesome.  Just the right amount of rich, creamy goodness to go with not-too-mushy noodles.  I think there was cheddar cheese in there, but it was blended with garlic and probably parmesean?  The woman in front of us ordered her mac with chicken and tomatoes, and maybe even peppers.  The sauces change regularly, but hopefully he keeps this one on regular rotation.  I’d eat there again and again if that diner on wheels was located anywhere near my house.    Brilliant, Herb!

Herb's Mac & Cheese (Food Cart) on Urbanspoon

Oregon Ice/Soup Works
Kevin Bell is about the friendliest cart owner we’ve ever met.  He turns his Oregon Ice Works into a soup joint in the wintertime.  Who eats soup without a grilled cheese on purpose?  Not me.  From looking at his Facebook page, it seems like he serves up about three different sandwiches a day.

We tried the grilled cheese with tomato soup.  Actually, we just ordered the grilled cheese but the soup came with it.  The soup was just on the sweet side of good, and it was dense and delicious.  The thick, gooey grilled cheese was the perfect sopping vessel.  I always say I like a traditional American cheese on my grilled cheese, but this creamy concoction was a hot mess of goodness.

Isn’t that an obscene amount of cheese?  And garnishing the soup?  Funyons!  I know!  It’s an awesome cart, and Kevin is incredibly nice, so if you’re looking for a good soup and sand, this is a great spot.

Oregon Ice Works (Food Cart) on Urbanspoon

Slice Brick Oven Pizza
There’s no way I’m missing a chance at a slice of pizza from a souped-up UPS truck with flames blazing all over it.

The best pepperoni slice ($3) I’ve had in a long time.  The super thin crust was blistered perfectly, not too much char to overwhelm, but just enough to prove it was cooked at those blazing temperatures needed for the perfect crust.  The pepperoni was spicy, the sauce was slightly sweet, and the cheese awesome gooey.  Really really good pizza.  Really.

For those who like to pretend and cover their pizza with salad (ok, this is the PNW), Slice has something for them, too.  That’s a ten inch arugula on top of prosciuto ($8). I didn’t taste it, but the guy about to bite into it wasn’t sharing none, neither, so I’m guessing it was fine.

If I could’ve gotten only one thing at D Street, it would’ve been that slice of pepperoni.  Spectacular, man.

Slice Brick Oven Pizza on Urbanspoon

Awesome Cone
The reason we found ourselves at the D Street Nosher is Awesome Cone.  It’s been on the Talk of the Town list on Urbanspoon for weeks.  When we tried to find it, we found ourselves in front of  TarBoush Lebanese Bistro & Bar and there was no cart in sight.  I asked a guy walking down the sidewalk if he knew what had happened and he directed us to Division Street and 35th’ish.  Apparently Gus the Cone Guy had decided a pod was a more convenient place, and I’m glad he did because the Noshery is a really, really good find.

I don’t know why somebody would want to get freaky with putting something other than ice cream in a cone, but ok.  This is Portland and Gus is just doing his part in keeping it weird.  This guy is amazingly nice and chatted with me while preparing my cone.  It seems a like a lot of work to give people a freshly cooked handful of food, but I hope he doesn’t lose patience with it anytime soon.  This is a great concept, even though it’s a little wild.  Come on, chicken and dumplings in a cone is weird, I don’t care who you are.

Every single cone is made to order.  It’s just hypnotic watching the man squeeze out swirls of dough onto the cone iron.  For every cone!  That’s a pig cone on the right, which is barbecue stuffed into the cone with a scoop of slaw on top.  While the cone is ironing, Gus works on the eyes with his little pans creating the stuffing for the cones.  People were lined up at this truck more than any other truck, and while part of that is that it takes a little longer to get your fresh cone, it’s also that people were willing to wait.

James was crazy for the coned up chicken and dumplings.  I never saw him eat a bite of the cone, but he loved the goo.  I couldn’t get behind it enough to order the same one, but James thought this was the best thing he had at the Noshery.  I’m going for the pig cone next time we’re there.

Awesome Cone on Urbanspoon

Fuego de Lotus
While the menu included an item called “arepas” and was something I’d never tried, I didn’t get an opportunity to sample any.   They are corn cakes that stand in for bread and are filled sandwich-style with a variety of toppings.  But because I couldn’t leave without trying at least a little sample of something, James went over to figure out something light from their menu and came back with some fried plantains topped with sauce and cheese ($4).

I have to be honest and say that it wasn’t my favorite.  Every single time I bite into a plantain, I expect the sweetness I get from bananas that’s simply not going to be there.  A plantain is just a potato disguising itself in a banana peel.  I think I expected this to taste sweeter altogether, but it’s most definitely a savory dish.

Fuego de Lotus (Food Cart) on Urbanspoon

The Pie Spot
I read one of those “Pie is the new Black” type of articles a few weeks ago because a couple of new pie shops were opening up in Seattle.  It described how pies were going to replace cupcakes this wedding season, the cupcake trend was on the way out, and pie would rule supreme.  As much as this is attempted trend setter hype at its best, I have seen more and more pie joints popping up (by more and more, I mean I’ve noticed three new pie places in the last year) around Seattle and Portland.  I don’t know if this necessarily makes a “trend,” but I’m happy about it.  Pie seems a hella lot easier to mess up than cake.  It’s really very, very hard to find a good piece of cake–dry and tasteless seems to win more than moist and delicious.  However, with pie?   Most people can throw together a good crust, and if I’m lucky, most of them usually  have pecan on the menu.

At the D Street Nosher, I found the only cart whose food I had already tasted.  I first tried Pie Spot’s pie holes at Pine State Biscuits.

The PSB boys were serving up pie holes and we tried the strawberry rhubarb.  I fell in love with ‘em that day and it was great to see they had their own cart to sell their goods.

Isn’t that the cutest?

Here’s where I admit that I, very unfortunately, did not even so much as taste this chicken pot pie ($6).  It belonged to the very nice lady sitting down the table from me.  It looks delicious and is definitely on my list of things to try next time.

The lemon vanilla bean (all sweet pies are $3.5) is tangy and tart and sweet and gooey. Very good.

My favorite pie in the world is pecan pie.  The pie bakers at Pie Spot definitely know the beauty of baking a pecan pie.  See that filling?  Not too brown, not too light.  Not too syrupy, not too stiff.  The pecan pie is amazing at Pie Spot and if you like pecan pie, do not miss out on this stuff.  It is bona fide.

The marionberry was definitely the prettiest, and it’s what I resort to when they don’t have cherry.  Why oh why is cherry so elusive?  Pie Spot doesn’t even list it as a seasonal item, although admittedly their list is just a sampling (the strawberry-rhubarb isn’t listed there and you’ve seen photographic proof of its existence), but I’m not crazy about crumble topping (James loves the crumble, while I’d just prefer another layer of crust).  I guess all those pits makes it hard to convert to pie filling.  While the marionberry was nice, it was no cherry.  Get the pecan!

The Pie Spot (Food Cart) on Urbanspoon

While we were tasting all the treats, one friendly guy kept introducing himself over and over.

Who could resist that pitiful face?

He liked the pepperoni, but who wouldn’t?

There was only one real disappointment for me at the D Street Nosh, and that was fact that the fish truck hadn’t set up a barbecue pit beside his freezer truck full of fish, shrimp, crab, and other seafood extravaganzas.

The idea that you could go in and buy some fish and take it out and toss it on the grill?  Hello, fish monger, what are you waiting for?  It’d be awesome.

The best thing that anybody can tell me about a restaurant is that they can’t wait to go back.  I can see myself visiting the D Street Nosh whenever I get a chance when I’m in Portland.  Beyond a shadow of a doubt, it is a way better pod than the one on 12th and Hawthorne because I would easily recommend every cart we visited and would order food from them again.   Great food experience for anybody passing through and wanting to get a little taste of a lot of stuff by a damn friendly group of people.

One Trackback

  1. By Cart Food @ D-Street « eat.drink.portland 14 Nov ’11 at 3:41 pm

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