With a total of thirty two different food carts, Cartlandia has something to fit everyone’s tastes. While I was there, I noticed that they offer everything from Thai, Indian, and Mexican dishes to burgers, gyros, and Portland’s infamous Voodoo Doughnuts. I found that the website, Carlandia.com, is really helpful in that it shows the menus to every cart as well as pictures of what they look like. Many of the food carts are run by local family businesses along with a few larger company chains. The large food plaza is located in the outer suburbs of Portland (8145 SE 82nd Ave, Portland, OR).
From the minute I walked in, I was greeted with a carefree atmosphere with an array of casually dressed people strolling around. Cartlandia seems like a very family friendly though also “cool” enough for young adults to hang out and grab a bite. It is just one of those laid-back places where someone could walk in from doing almost anything beforehand and fit right in. Some food booths had faint radio music just loud enough to hear from a few feet away, but there were no main speakers spilling out music for the premises. I thought this part was nice just because without general music playing in the background, it lets the carts have their own small pockets of individuality.
With Carlandia’s mix of vendors, there wasn’t much of a decorative theme throughout the food plaza. Their seating is scattered around, mostly small picnic benches placed by clusters of food vendors. Right in its heart were a mix of metal and wooden tables covered by a large white tent where customers could enjoy their meals away from Portland’s all too familiar rain. If you prefer indoor seating, there is a small bar near the main entrance called Blue Room Bar, which happily offers an all ages section to food cart customers. The only bummer about the inside seating is that they generally won’t allow “outside” drinks (meaning anything from outside the pub building) in. As far as cleanliness goes, not everyone followed through with the unspoken rule of cleaning up after themselves and so there were maybe one or two tables with abandoned garbage. Although, as long as you can do your part and walk over to the nearby trash can, there’s not much to worry about with that.
Considering it was a Sunday afternoon, Cartlandia wasn’t as busy as I expected it to be. Finding parking was a breeze; the parking lot had plenty of open spaces as well as the nearby streets. Ordering food was super quick, due to there being hardly any lines in front of more than one or two carts. The longest it took to receive my food was approximately ten minutes, which I was more than glad to wait because I had time to go grab some other delicious treats.
I have to admit, it was very difficult to decide on a cart to order food from just because I am a naturally indecisive person and there were so many options! Although, I eventually set my sights on one vendor called Teppanyaki Hut. I was lured in with one of their teriyaki chicken samples, but it was just too good to pass by. From there I ordered their teriyaki chicken plate, which came with white rice and cooked vegetables. Overall, I thought it was delicious. The sauce was thick and flavorful and went well with the chicken, although the cooked veggies were only somewhat okay compared to the rest of the dish. As a lover of bubble tea, I had to stop by the Boba Blastic cart where they offered a wide assortment of fruity flavors. I chose to order a watermelon bubble tea with pomegranate popping bobas and besides it’s slightly soapy/fragrance taste, it was pretty tasty. I couldn’t think of leaving without grabbing some dessert from the Voodoo’s doughnuts cart, and so I bought a small sprinkled doughnut, which sadly I forget what they call it. Not only was it fresh tasting, but it was so much fun just to look at! After two bites in, I realized the sprinkles on top had some sort of glitter coating. Overall, I would recommend trying out the food at both Voodoo’s Doughnuts and the Teppanyaki Hut, and if you’re into bubble tea, I’d suggest not choosing the flavors I picked. Pricing was usually cheap for the food that was available, although it did vary between vendors. It only cost me approximately $12 to purchase a main dish, a drink, and some dessert, which to me is a sweet deal for a lunch outing.