Best Food Cart City: Portland or New York?
I wanted to play down the Portland carts vs. New York City carts part of this morning’s post about Mayor Bloomberg, but in typical underdog fashion dieselboi from Food Carts Portland is looking to turn it into a
fight “discussion”. The truth is, some arguments aren’t even worth having- and I think this might be one of them, right? Don’t get me wrong… Portland is an amazing food city, which has experienced a cart explosion over the past few years. And in that time PFC, which is one of my all time favorite blogs, has been there to cover the action. The city boasts some pretty spectacular looking street carts, with pretty much every kind of food you could possibly imagine being offered (we would kill for some Thai food from a cart in Midtown!)
But in the end it’s not really a fair fight…
You just can’t beat the rich history of New York City’s street vendor scene. Take Midtown (where the chicken and lamb over rice with white sauce and hot sauce from a cart was pretty much invented), add Chinatown, the Red Hook Ballfields, and our own little crop of hipster vendors, and you’ve got yourself a pretty good dogfight. Of course once you throw Jackson Heights and Astoria in there, it’s no longer really a competition.
And that doesn’t even take into account the question of what exactly qualifies as a street cart. Most of the “street vendors” in Portland pay rent to the lots they are parked in, and leave their “carts” or “trucks” or “shacks” parked in those spots permanently. So really, they’re almost like restaurants. Can you imagine how many more sweet ass carts we’d have in NYC if they were allowed to pay rent and just leave the carts in their spots permanently? (We’d have a David Chang pork bun cart by now, that’s for sure!)
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that one is better than the other. I’ve been wanting to visit Portland for a few years now just to check out their amazing food scene… and if I was going to move to a smaller city than NYC or LA, Portland would be #1 on my list. I’m just saying it’s not really fair to compare Portland to New York City, although I can certainly understand why dieselboi and the Mayor of Portland want to! After all, calling out the best is usually the quickest way to get attention…
Interested in reading more about the Portland food cart scene? Be sure to check out Food Carts Portland… although beware: pangs of jealousy may occur. (They have like 7 Vietnamese carts in a city of 575,000 people! Our city has 8 million people, and just one ok banh mi cart.)