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Fabulous Food Carts

on March 23, 2012

I’ve always been kinda freaked out by the idea of street food (and the street food itself). But this article makes me think that street food could actually be really good. Done right, it could be a viable source of sustainability for a city. The article claims that having street vendors “improves neighborhood walkability, provides affordable dining options, and opens doors for diverse entrepreneurs (many of whom also see sustainably produced ingredients as key).”

The article highlights 3 cities on the west coast, with Portland being the most progressive. It currently has about 700 cart vendors! All of the cities mentioned in the article (Portland, Vancouver, and Seattle) have had varying degrees of success proportional to the restriction placed on the vendors. What is particularly interesting is the fact that the more laissez-faire a city’s laws are regarding street vending, the greater success the vendors will have. The food carts are positioned on private property,  so as not to interfere with the city’s policies. But other than that, Portland doesn’t place any strong restrictions on the vendors or patrons (which I think is pretty generous…and I don’t think that would happen on the east coast.)

I’ve never heard of this extent of street vending before, so I did some digging. It turns out that there is a whole industry surrounding cart food. Its more than just a hot dog on a stick! (Which might not be news to you, but it is to me.) Street food comes from mobile units with kitchens inside. I suppose that’s just assumed. But what I didn’t realize was how gourmet and diverse this food can be. U.S. News named Portland the #1 city for street food in the world!

It makes me really want to jump on a plane and taste some west coast cart creations. These are some particularly delicious looking vendors:

1. Potato Champion!

2. Perierra Crêperie

3. Bloop

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