I visited Cartlandia in Portland, Oregon – the country’s street food capital – to chat with Roger Goldingay, a former pro soccer player and the owner of the food pod. Goldingay’s concept is unique – perhaps one of a kind – and he aims to restore and breathe life into otherwise broken communities through his food experience.

After establishing his first food pod, the Mississippi Marketplace with 13 carts and a brick and mortar pub, Goldingay set his sights higher, and converted an abandoned used car lot into a spectacular street food market along side one of the most popular bicycle pathways and SW 82nd Street – a notoriously seedy part of town. What makes this story even more incredible is that Goldingay’s Cartlandia became the first food pod in Oregon, licensed to serve beer and wine.

In the final part of my experience visiting Portland’s Cartlandia food pod, owner / developer Roger Goldingay and I set off on a mission to find a New York Steak and a beer, while he told me about how he and his wife, Carol Otis, MD, a practicing sports medicine physician built Cartlandia.

It made sense that our next stop would be the Rock House Grill, famous for its incredibly large burgers and sausage sandwiches made with high quality meats. Last week, I reported on Food Network’s Eat St that having started with a savory and sweet crepe, I was definitely in the mood for something a little more hearty and robust.

With names like “Godzilla the Monster Sandwich,” “The Terminator,” “The Goliath,” and “The Belly Buster” to name a few, I knew this would be a place I’d need to loosen my belt for.

Before long, Roger and I were splitting a massive New York Steak sandwich and sliced, fried potatoes paired with a Black Butte Porter, an exceptional malt beer with all the roasted dark flavors of an award-winning craft Porter from the Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon – a perfect pairing for a hearty, tender steak cooked medium rare.

“Even though I knew this area was dicy, I knew how to deal with those issues,” Goldengay said. “This is the perfect location, ten miles from downtown, less than half a mile from the freeway, adjacent to a bus line, and most importantly we’re on the Springwater Corridor Bike Trail, which makes Cartlandia a bike-centric food cart super pod.”

Cartlandia even features an on-premise bike repair shop, The Bike Rack located just off the famous bike trail. “Cartlandia is destination for cyclists riding along the Springwater Corridor, but it’s more than that,” Goldingay said, “We encourage responsible drinking with a meal, and provide a safe environment for a dining experience. It’s really gratifying to see the variety of people who come here; mothers and kids, grandparents, bike riders, and everyone in between.”

Prior to developing the property, the area along the Springwater Corridor Bike Trail was heavily populated by unscrupulous characters and was overrun with weeds and trash. Goldingay hired a crew to transform the entire stretch along Cartlandia, and continues to maintain the grounds.

We finished off our New York Steaks while talking about a law suit between the city of Portland and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC). The Oregon Department of Justice advised the OLCC that food carts cannot be treated differently than brick and mortar establishments, so the Commission granted the liquor license to Cartlandia.

Portland’s Mayor, Sam Adams (apparently no relation to Samuel Adams beer, though quite an irony) feels specific laws should be written to regulate food carts that serve alcohol, so he has filed a law suit against OLCC. Goldingay’s future indoor pub at Cartlandia will alleviate any concern, because it will replace the beer garden. It was high time to lighten the mood, and nothing does that better than something sweet from a creative baker.

Located just next door to Rock House Grill is a treasure trove of desserts, Cake on a Hot Tin Roof. And, with a name like that, in addition to a very creative converted RV design, I couldn’t resist something sweet to end a very pleasant afternoon.

The Creme Brulee was just freshly made and literally bursting with rich, sweet vanilla custard under beautifully caramelized sugar, burned with a blow torch before my eyes.

Curiosity got the better of me, so I couldn’t leave without ordering a Bienenstich, or Bee Sting Cake. Apparently, this German treat found its name when the baker was stung by a bee while baking it.

The cake is a layered puff pastry, filled with a luscious Bavarian cream, and topped with caramelized almonds.

Unfortunately, it was impossible to try every cart and every beer – after all, I did only have a couple of hours to spare. I’ve definitely got my eye on the other carts, and of course the craft beers at Cartlandia, including London Pasty Company, Thai Mango, Cheesesteak Nirvana, Ramy’s Lamb Shack, La Tinga Tango, Deb’s Blazin’ Grill, Kusina Sa Gulong (Tagolag for “Kitchen on Wheels” serving Philipino cuisine), Krust Pizza, J Mo’s Sandwich Shack, Local Girls, Anything Else? (Thai food), Relish (Gourmet Hot Dogs), Brotherhood Express (Mexican food), Pupuseria La Migulena, Ali’s Lebanese Food, Woohoo Waffles, and Eclectic Eatery & BBQ.

Roger Goldingay was right – Cartlandia is a destination, and with so many selections available, the beer garden, and all the amenities it’s sure to be a regular stop for me on my frequent visits to this street food capital.

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About the Author

Chris Ford is the founder of Stitches 'n Dishes and editor in chief with a passion for food, photography and travel. Chris is a Media Correspondent for the Food Network TV show, Eat St, a syndicated blogger, seasoned event organizer and promoter, a food critic, a marketing consultant and Social Media Marketing expert. Chris is also a fashion and entertainment photographer. When he's not dining on the sidewalk, he's snapping photos on the catwalk.

  • Jim Douglass

    Nice article, enjoyed your style.  Thank you.

    • StitchesnDishes

      Thanks Jim!

  • Charles Slang

    I wish we had a Cartlandia near NYC, we have a lot of carts, but mostly hotdogs, knishes and cold sodas. At times you run into something more interesting, like Crepes, shishkabob, falafel or other grilled meats, but they are spread all over the city. We do have the yearly “Vendy Cup” Awards, given to the vendors with the best food. You can see some of 2012′s finalists in this website:

    • StitchesnDishes

      Love the Vendy’s! The food pod concept is such a great model. I’m seeing it creeping into areas around the country. I love it. NYC is so large, the street food vendors seem to get lost there, don’t they…

  • Wyn N. Davies BA MBA

    Great idea and great food!  Been living in the UK for a while and miss this kind of tasty comfort food!

    • StitchesnDishes

      I love the pod concept, Wyn. It’s a perfect formula. And, this with a beer garden really stands out in Portland. I hear the street food scene in the UK has really picked up. Have you tried any there?

  • Milieunet

    I would say: try some healthy food too

    • StitchesnDishes

      Yes… I hear you… Now I’ll need to go back to explore Cartlandia’s healthier options!

      • Ramy Armans

        Try the gyros, they are made from local organic lamb and all fresh veggies.

        • StitchesnDishes

          Mmmmm I love gyros… and we’re going back next week!

  • Mithu Hassan

    Thanks to share a nice article !!

    • StitchesnDishes

      Thanks Mithu!

  • Tammi Kibler

    Ack! How does one decide what to eat with so many tasty choices? 

    • StitchesnDishes

      LOL Answer: Pace yourself and limit to 2 bites per cart! ;-)

  • Einstein Energy

    I want your job….  You can have mine!

    • StitchesnDishes

      HAHAHA! I’ll never give it up Einstein!

  • StitchesnDishes

    I definitely have to agree with you on that, Nick. It is frustrating to watch as cities across the country clamp down on a specific industry like this.

  • Jntribolo

    How about legal stuff? Is there any control on this food? Thankd

    • StitchesnDishes

      Definitely. I haven’t seen a city anywhere that doesn’t inspect these facilities the same way they inspect restaurants. The statistics show that there is actually a higher percentage of restaurant violations in most cities, as a matter of fact. Not all food carts serve gourmet foods, but you’ll find the same variety in restaurants.

  • bonusmum

    I read these blogs and it puts a proper dent into my diet.  The pictures alone make me gain 2 pounds!  Keep it up…as long as you don’t mind taking the blame for my food addictions, lol.  Excellent post :)

    • StitchesnDishes

      HAHA! Thank you… imagine what it’s like doing this for a living… LOL there’s no such thing as a diet!

  • Maureen Cowan

    Can’t wait, I’m taking my cousin there tomorrow. Will def. get the bee sting cake, but for dinner, we are going to J Mo’s sandwich shack for the Dirty Mo! Spaghetti and meatballs with provolone cheese in between 2 slices of garlic cheese bread. It is to die for! I could eat it all the time!! But may need to do as what Cake on a Hot Tin Roof says, eat dessert first!!!

    • StitchesnDishes

      Ha! I love it. I keep hearing about J Mo’s and the Dirty Mo! That’s funny. It is officially at the top of my list for my next visit in a few weeks!

      • Maureen Cowan

        I dream of the Dirty Mo! And since my nickname is Mo…I can not wait to get down there today for it! And my cousin can’t wait to try it, since I rave to everyone I know of it! It is sooooooo good! It is just so fresh, and incredible….I was groaning with love at every bite of it, the first time I tried it! You NEED TO GET ONE!!!!!

        • StitchesnDishes

          Take some pics out there and post them on our Facebook page!

          • J Mo

            The Dirty Mo- Stop by and enjoy one soon.

          • Guest

            The Dirty Mo- Enjoy one-!

          • StitchesnDishes

            WOW! Nice!

        • J Mo

          Thanks for comin’ by today, Maureen. I hope your cousin liked the Dirty Mo, too. See ya soon-!

  • StitchesnDishes

    If you can’t reach him by email – spam filters may have gotten the better of you – post to the Cartlandia Facebook page.

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