If you’re visiting Portland I can highly recommend the famed food carts at the Mississippi Marketplace (on the corner of Mississippi Ave and Skidmore St), especially Native Bowl. The carts are a great place to go for lunch and are nestled next to a German pub which is very handy. There is a large sheltered seating area so you can enjoy your food whilst being protected from the sun, or more likely showers (this is Portland folks!!)
Native Bowl is a vegetarian/vegan cart that sources all it’s ingredients locally. They make everything from scratch and bowls are bowls are well priced at USD$6.50.
When it comes to choosing from a menu I’m as indecisive as you can get, so I wasn’t sure which of the 5 different bowls to order. I asked the proprietor which was their signature bowl and he said that probably the “Broadway” was, although they are all popular. So I opted for the Broadway and received a take-out carton containing what looked to be shredded carrot, red cabbage and scallions and cilantro. I was a little under-whelmed with this and he was obviously familiar with newbies like me and kindly explained that I needed to mix the contents of the bowl thoroughly before digging in and eating.
Native bowl pre mixing
Native bowl post mixing. Looks messy but it’s delicious
I’ve got to say it was an OMG moment as I took my first mouthful of the garlic tofu and Jasmine rice mixed with the fresh vegetables and toasted sesames. The house made peanut ginger sauce is Devine! DON’T be put off by the garlic and ginger if you’re not normally fans of these as they are so subtle that you can’t pick out their specific taste.
Two days later we returned to this “pod” of food carts again as we couldn’t keep away. I had a dilemma. Half of me wanted to have the Broadway again because I liked it so much but the other half wanted me to be adventurous and try a different bowl. I was going to the have the “Couch” (named after a street I think, and pronounced “cooch”) but they’d run out of some of the ingredients. The owner’s favourite was the “Alberta” so I went for that. It is described as having “fire-breathing dragon sauce” but I would disagree. The sauce is mildly spicy but I didn’t find it any spicier than the Broadway’s. It was yummy but I personally didn’t like it as much as the Broadway. I may be wrong but I felt it’s flavour was too dominated by sesame which made it too rich for me. The bowl contained bite-sized vegetarian patties (I think flavoured with Furikake but not sure) which were very tasty, as well as garlic tofu and shredded vegetables. I’m still game to try the “Couch”.
Check out the menu at Native Bowl.
Native Bowl is open between 11:30 am – 4pm in the Spring/Summer, Tuesdays to Sundays. In the Fall/Winter the hours are 11:30 – 3 to 4pm from Wednesday to Sunday.
Mississippi Marketplace is easy to get to by Portland’s excellent public transport system. For example you can take the No.4 bus directly there from the corner of SW Stark and 6th Streets in downtown.