No Walls? No Tables? No Problem

In Portland, Oregon, some of the most exciting food comes not from traditional restaurants, but from the thriving street carts that have taken this pacific northwestern city by storm. From the gourmet peanut butter sandwich carts to those selling umpteen kinds of grilled cheese , the carts provide fun, unique food for very little dough.

From an entrepreneur’s standpoint, the appeal of owning a cart over a restaurant is relatively straightforward. Rent is reasonable, décor nonexistent, and staffing needs are bare bones, to say the least. Of course, baking cakes or cooking biryani in a thumbtack sized cart is no picnic, and if it rains, your customers (especially those with curly hair) will likely go elsewhere. But the advantages for the diner are obvious.  With so many young cooks able to start their own businesses, food-lovers enjoy an enormous diversity of offerings and can get a fresh-cooked, quality meal for just a few bucks. Yes, you have to use plastic forks, there’s no restroom, and you’ll have to balance a curry in one hand and soda in the other, but with a spirit of adventure, the juggling is worth it. Just grab some napkins.

Other cities should look to Portland for inspiration. There’s nothing like a beautiful day, the open sky, and a young chef fulfilling a dream.  



Cheryl Sternman Rule is a widely-published food writer and the voice behind the blog 5 Second Rule.





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