Whether you live in Portland or are just traveling there for a short stay, Portland Mercado is the reality of any foodie’s fantasies. Recently opened in the Foster neighborhood of Portland Oregon, Portland Mercado is a collection of over 15 outdoor Latin American food carts as well as a Latin inspired produce market inside the building.
After over 8 years in the making, Portland Mercado took over a previously run down old car lot and has brought brightness and much needed revenue to the area after many delays due to the economy. There is a small parking lot on site with free parking for patrons as well as plenty of street parking within a short walk away which is much needed due to the heavy traffic Portland Mercado has brought in.
Although inside the brick and mortar building there are several businesses as well as the fresh market place, the true stars of Portland Mercado are the food carts. They all feature authentic Latin American cuisine which are typically open 7 days per week. Just a warning though, they are all individually owned and operated and have their own hours so occasionally you will find a couple that will not be open while others are.
A couple of the highlights located in the food cart pod are Fernando’s Alegria Burritos, Mixtepa, Los Alambres Dos, a Colombian cart, and the Oaxacan. Due to the high number of visitors Portland Mercado receives on a daily basis, sometimes some of the more popular carts can experience a short wait time for food, as long as ten minutes on occasion, but it is well worth the wait. One of my personal favorite dishes to order when visiting Portland Mercado is from the Colombian cart which contains fried plantains, veggies, chicken and rice which is paired perfectly with a Colombian soda.
Depending on which food cart you choose to dine at, prices vary but overall they are acceptable for the large portions that are typically served by most carts. Even if you’re not typically a fan of Latin American food, there are a variety options to choose from between all the food carts including Argentinian, Cuban and Colombian which provides everyone with food they can enjoy. Some unique food options include mole, empanadas, tlayudas, and pupusas just to name a few. For those who aren’t too adventurous of eaters, traditional burritos and tacos are also available at most of the carts. If Latin food isn’t your specialty, most of the food cart workers are very friendly and more than happy to explain their menus and describe the food so you are able to understand what you’re ordering.
Once you’ve chosen what you’re going to eat, there is ample space to enjoy your food outside in the sunshine. Nearby the food carts, there are many picnic tables which are all covered as well as plenty of nearby trash cans and recycling bins. If you have the time to eat your meal on location, there is also oftentimes live entertainment to top it all off.
Once inside the actual establishment, some of the businesses that are based there include an ice cream shop, a party store, a coffee shop, a bar as well as a candy store which features a wide selection of Mexican candies, nuts and chicharones.
The real star inside though would be the meat and produce markets. Everything always appears to be very well organized and maintained. All the tables are well placed in the center of the building surrounded by the other businesses. All of the individually owned tables are well staffed by friendly people with phenomenal service as well as clearly labeled and priced merchandise and produce.
In the market, there are many options for a variety of fresh produce including local fruits and vegetables. There are also some specialty stands including homemade salsas as well as drinks and dried spices. At the meat stands you can find locally butchered fresh meat as well as many different types of fajita seasoned meat which is ready to be thrown right on the grill. Even if you’re not looking to cook a Latin inspired meal, Portland Mercado is still the perfect location to purchase all of your fresh produce and meat to enjoy on a daily basis.
Portland Mercado is located at 7238 SE Foster Road.