Meals on wheels
Cool! A cart crawl! My friend, Mike, said words to that effect when I asked him to visit all the food carts and trucks in the Yamhill Valley for a feature in this magazine. A dedicated fan of mobile kitchens and somewhat an authority on the local food scene, Mike was the perfect choice to accompany me. (To learn more about Mike, see Cellar Dweller.) With more than two dozen carts scattered around the county, we already knew the local food cart niche was thriving. Sadly, there are simply too many to fit in one edition of this magazine, so we reluctantly focused on the McMinnville area. Newberg, we’ll visit your vibrant food carts in an upcoming edition — I promise. As someone who’s preached the benefits of dining locally, I view food carts and trucks as a more personal way to eat. Unlike many brick-and-mortar restaurants, when you order a meal from a cart, you’re interacting with people actually preparing your food. Even better, every owner we visited puts considerable effort into sourcing local ingredients, as much as possible. These chefs have vested interests in ensuring you enjoy your meal — you can be sure they’re watching you to see how you react to their efforts. But best of all, with a dozen options, there’s a cart in McMinnville for every taste. Most even offer catering, in case you prefer a favorite taste to an event you’re hosting.
No. 55 Eatery When I asked Seth Bunn how to describe his menu, he had a ready response: “It’s pub grub,” said the former U.S. Marine. Seth used his own recipes to build the menu at the No. 55 Eatery, including burgers, wings, fries and even Korean tacos. The truck’s burgers could absolutely compete for best burger in the county, but they’re not the only thing Seth and his crew do well. The No. 55 Eatery has plenty of outdoor seating along with board games on the tables. Beer and wine service is in the works plus live music and movie nights. This isn’t a food truck; it’s an outdoor pub. 2019 N.E. Hwy. 99W 503-277-0575 facebook.com: No-55-Eatery Hours: Daily, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; 4 to 7 p.m.
La Cubanita At McMinnville’s other breakfast option, Mike discovered he liked my al pastor breakfast burrito even more than his usual carne asada choice. The mother-and-son team at La Cubanita — Daniela Cisneros and son Luis Espinoza — serve popular items like tacos, burritos, tostadas and an expansive selection of tortas, the traditional Mexican sandwich. If you’ve never tasted a torta, consider the generous Torta Cubanita; you won’t be disappointed. “These are my mama’s recipes,” said Luis. “She always uses fresh ingredients to make her homemade food — that’s why it’s so good!” 1500 S.W. Baker St. 971-241-6104 facebook.com/Lacubanitamexican Hours: Mon.–Sat., 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Taqueria Tulancingo When you’re in the mood for traditional Mexican delicacies like tripa (tripe) or lengua (tongue), Taqueria Tulancingo is the truck to hit. But don’t worry, if your palate prefers more traditional fare, such as al pastor (marinated pork) or a simple burrito, owner Blanca Ortiz-Gonzalez and her cheerful staff can satisfy you. “Tulancingo shines because their meats are very tender and flavorful,” Mike noted. Blanca pointed out how she insists on superior quality meats for that very reason. The truck’s specialty sauces — homemade mango and peanut salsas — make delightful alternatives to the traditional red and green. 903 N.E. Third St. (outside Mini Super Hidalgo) 503-883-1674 facebook.com/taqueriatulancingo Hours: Daily, 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Kate’s Thai Cuisine I love superlatives. Well-versed in Asian cuisine, Mike sampled the Pork Waterfall from Kate’s Thai Cuisine, afterward declaring: “It’s one of the best Thai dishes I’ve had anywhere.” And Mike doesn’t make idle claims. This authentic fare features sirloin pork marinated overnight with herbs and spices, grilled on low heat, then sliced and garnished with homemade lemon sauce, mint, cilantro and red onion, all served with sticky rice. But if more routine Thai offerings are your style, chef Kate Miller will delight you with Pad Thai or Tamarind Chicken, all spiced to order. “I like it spicy!” said seven-year-old Jonathan Rodriguez, a regular customer. 1215 N.W. Adams St. 619-508-0094 facebook.com/Kates-Thai-Cuisine-Food-Truck Hours: Mon.–Fri., 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Farmer’s Lunchbox Opening The Farmer’s Lunchbox was the realization of a dream for Isaac and Kelley Mabbitt, an engaging young couple who focus on simple quality in their menu. “We like to do everything from scratch, keeping it fresh and sourced as locally as we can,” said Kelley. “We even make our own pickles!” After sampling the Portobello sandwich, the brisket sandwich, the pulled pork sandwich with mango salsa and the kimchi dog, Mike and I agreed: When people enjoy their work as much as the Mabbitts, it shows in the quality of their fare. Greg O’Keefe, on his way home to Lincoln City, stopped by for a favorite. “She should get her veggie sandwich copyrighted, it’s so good,” declared Greg. Farmers Market (Thursdays through October); other days check Facebook 503-560-8345 facebook.com/thefarmerslunchbox Hours: variable
Omar’s Mediterranean Grill You can always find good souvlaki in most urban centers, but out here in wine country? Not so much. Now, thanks to Omar’s Mediterranean Grill, you can enjoy great souvlaki along with a host of other dishes from places bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Tender lamb, chicken or beef options are offered along with saffron mujadara rice with grilled onions and favorites like falafel, tabbouleh and an outstanding cucumber salad. Owner Omar Ogsaen serves an expansive menu and even includes a little Chilean influence. 1150 N.E. Hwy. 99W (outside Staples) 971-312-1345 facebook.com/omarsmediterraneangrill Hours: Mon.–Wed., 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Fri. noon to 5 p.m. Farmers’ Market: Thur., noon to 6 p.m.
Hawaii Five-0-Three They own a gym and compete in Crossfit events, so you might guess the menu at Hawaii Five-0-Three is mostly guilt-free. “We serve traditional Hawaiian comfort food,” said Hilo native J.P. Kloninger, who runs the cart, along with his wife, Cyra. “And we do have healthy options, including gluten-free” he added. I tried Shoyu chicken, fried rice and macaroni salad, while Mike enjoyed a mixed plate of teriyaki steak, Kãlua pulled pork and fried rice. Possibly the Yamhill Valley’s best fried rice, Hawaii Five-0-Three’s version is packed with generous chunks of bacon, pork and sausage — it’s fantastic. Portions are generous, too. No one leaves hungry. Usually at Baker St. and Baker Creek Rd. (behind First Federal) 503-435-9143 hawaiifive0three.com Hours: Days variable, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Mom’s Mobile Kitchen If you’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for any length of time, you’ve undoubtedly sampled Native American fry bread. Once only available at special events, now you can find this tasty treat every day at Mom’s Mobile Kitchen! Owner Martha Wood puts her 40 years of culinary experience to work serving hearty fare with a Northwest tribal twist. Selections like authentic Native American tacos and smoked salmon Caesar salad remain popular choices, along with her legendary fry bread. For those with a sweet tooth, order the Red, White and Blue: fry bread smothered in strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream. Sometimes, Martha even offers huevos rancheros on fry bread as a special menu item. 1305 N.E. Lafayette Ave. (outside OnlineNW; check Facebook for schedule) 971-237-0515 facebook.com/Moms.Mobile Hours: Mon.–Thur., 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Fridays in Grand Ronde
Franklin’s Tex Mex BBQ There’s something magic about great barbecue served with dill pickles and onions — I’ve loved the combination since I was a kid. “That’s how we do it in Texas,” said Dawnna Franklin, who, along with husband John, owns Franklin’s Tex Mex BBQ. Mike and I sampled the Rustler and Gunslinger sandwiches accompanied by mashed potatoes, beans, rice and — yes, I’ll say it — the finest cole slaw I’ve ever tasted. “Dawnna’s spicy scratch-made barbecue sauce has a lingering, smoky heat that accents the meat’s flavor rather than covering it up,” stated Mike. One of the Franklins’ regular customers went even further. “This is the best dang Tex-Mex around,” exclaimed Warren Smith of Sheridan. 2741 N.E. Hwy. 99W (outside Wilco) 971-706-0925 facebook.com/JohnAndDawnnaBBQ Hours: Thur.–Sat., 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
El Mata Dietas They don’t call their food “antojitos mejores” for nothing. Loosely, the “best street food,” El Mata Dietas (“The Diet Killer”) absolutely lives up to its name. Cart chefs Zayra Lozada-Martinez and her partner, Angel Perez, aimed to build a menu everyone would enjoy, even finicky children. While the youngsters munch chicken strips, you can try the Homemade Quesadilla — ask for it by name; it’s not your typical quesadilla — the Taco de Tinga (chicken in a spicy red sauce) or the Quesocarne Taco — think Mexican Philly cheesesteak. Everything we sampled exhibited unique, distinctive flavors, setting this menu apart from standard taco truck fare. 2077 N.E. Hwy. 99W 503-437-0739 facebook.com/El-mata-dietas-1849562011755831 Hours: Mon.–Wed., 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Thur.–Sat., 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Souper Sandwich Hut If you’ve got a hankering for breakfast, only two carts in town offer morning fare. With classic biscuits and gravy, along with an elevated take on the morning sandwich and one of the best omelets in town — yes, owner Patrick Park knows how to properly make an omelet — the Souper Sandwich Hut can start your day off right. But the Hut shines in later hours, too. Offering a contender for best burger in the Valley, Patrick also serves his West Coast version of the classic Philly cheesesteak sandwich: all the cheesy goodness with just a little heat for a kick. Call it a cuisine cart. 1250 S.W. Booth Bend Rd. (outside Lowe’s) 971-312-3908 facebook.com/soupersandwichhut Hours: Mon.–Fri., 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Botanas El Paraíso Solid Mexican food populates the menu at Botanas El Paraíso, but the Paradise Snacks, served in containers like a hollowed-out pineapple or watermelon halves, are showstoppers. Popular in many Mexican vacation areas, these edible works of art are filled with fruits, vegetables and spices, filled equal parts fruit salad and fruit beverage. Deici Toledo and her partner, Jorge Martinez, know how to craft and serve these deliciously healthy Sandias Locas and Piñas Locas. First-time customers Sam and Nadine Sampson of Dayton were enjoying a meal when Mike and I stopped by. “We’ll definitely be back,” declared Sam. 99 W. 13th St. 541-279-0362 facebook.com/Botanaselparaiso Hours: Tue.–Thur., 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Fri.–Sun., 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.