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Coming to Portland, Ore.: a food cart convention

June 14, 2013|By Christopher Reynolds
  • The corner of SW 9th Avenue and SW Alder Street is known as a food cart mecca. Its vendors have included Spella Caffe.
The corner of SW 9th Avenue and SW Alder Street is known as a food cart mecca.… (Kathy Kuo / Los Angeles Times )

Portland is taking its street-foodiness to another level: It’s hosting a convention for “mobile vending professionals,” said to be a U.S. first of its kind.

The Roam Mobile Food Conference is scheduled for Sept. 13-15. Sadly, the organizers won’t be settling regional divides over when to say “food cart” and when to say “food truck,” nor will thousands of bagel Bentleys, burger buses, croissant coupes, sherbet Chevelles and haggis wagons be converging from all over the planet. But maybe a few will.

Along with a conventional slate of conference speakers, exhibitors and seminars, there will be a boot camp for aspiring mobile food folk. The conference headquarters is the Doubletree by Hilton in Portland’s downtown Lloyd District.

It’s a good bet that all the usual Portland food cart gathering places -- pods, the locals say -- will be hopping. The city is said to have more than 500 food carts and trucks, clustered in more than two dozen pods. Just within a block of Southwest 9th Avenue and Southwest Alder Street, local authorities say, about 60 carts are typically found.

In fact, for an overview of Portland’s food pods and related pleasures, check with our local authority, a.k.a. Food Carts Portland.

Oh, and if you're holding out for a street-food convention with a more global flavor -- apparently we just missed one in Singapore. Maybe next year.

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