PBJ’s Grilled

PBJ's Grilled Food Cart, Portland, Oregon

My father-in-law, Ernie, is a total sweetheart. When it comes to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, he’s also a total creature of habit. I’ve been a member of his family now for 6 years and I’ve been watching this man’s PB&J routine like a hawk. I appreciate the attention to detail and the ritual that goes along with it.

Here’s how it goes: First, the bread is usually Dave’s Killer Bread. I do wonder if this was an upgrade from some other kind of bread he used before that was widely available. Surely Ernie has been eating PB&Js for longer than Dave has been making bread.

PBJ's Grilled Food Cart, Portland, Oregon

The jelly needs to be Welch’s Concord Grape jelly. No exceptions — although I do spot some marionberry jam from time to time in the cupboard at my in-laws’, so I don’t know if that’s an occasional substitute in a pinch.

Now on to the peanut butter: Adams. I appreciate this choice because I grew up eating Adams peanut butter, direct from the monster bucket my mom bought at Costco. I think there’s a clause about some kind of shelf-stable peanut butter being used in some contexts, but I can’t speak to this specifically when it comes to Ernie’s PB&J routine.

To enjoy it, the best way is to sit at the table (in ideal circumstances, this would be the table inside Ernie’s fifth child, his awesome Airstream trailer) and enjoy it with a cold glass of milk. This is the time-tested PB&J routine, and it’s just the way he likes it.

PBJ's Grilled Food Cart, Portland, Oregon

The PB&J that I found at PBJ’s Grilled in NW Portland would have thrown Ernie for a serious loop. These concoctions are delicious, but some of them sound a little off the wall. Because I wanted a vegan option, it was recommended that I try the Thai PB&J. I was a little nervous — I can be adventurous, but peanut butter with sriracha? Basil? Orange marmalade? I took a risk and went for it.

Now I can’t even think about it without my mouth watering. It was spicy, sweet and totally unexpected. And it was on Dave’s Killer Bread — so maybe I can get Ernie to try it next time he comes to town. What do you say, E-man?

PBJ's Grilled Food Cart, Portland, Oregon

Get your own crazy PB&J routine on at this food cart at 919 NW 23rd. You will not regret it.

Smaaken

Smaaken, SW Portland, Oregon

Eric and I wandered the aisles in the Macy’s store at Washington Square with a large scanner device in one hand. We pointed to things we’d like for our wedding, and scanned them in. Food processor? Check. Hotel collection towels? Yes, please. We were going to be totally outfitted with all this registry swag.

Then we came to the waffle maker.

“Ooh, a waffle maker!” I said, approaching the shiny little workhorse with our scanner.

“Wait just a minute,” he said. “Do we really want a waffle maker?”

I’m sorry, what? Who doesn’t want a waffle maker?

“I just don’t really like waffles,” he said. My jaw dropped. I was about to agree to spend the rest of my life with someone who doesn’t really like waffles?

“I’ll eat enough for both of us,” I said. Must have been a really attractive sentence. So I registered for it. And someone bought it for me.

In six years of marriage, I’ve used it twice.

Smaaken, SW Portland, Oregon

I don’t usually need to make my own waffles since there are hot, delicious ones available at Smaaken, a food cart in SW Portland’s Hillsdale neighborhood. Topped with sweet or savory toppings (like veggie sausage — my favorite — or banana and nutella) and folded to go, they’re a favorite of lots of Wilson High School students, who congregate around these food carts.

Smaaken, SW Portland, Oregon

Smaaken is located in the Hillsdale Food Park, near Wilson High School at the intersection of SW Capitol Hwy. and SW Sunset Blvd. Stop in for a breakfast waffle with coffee or a lunch waffle piled high with savory fillings.

Bread & Broth

Bread & Broth, Portland, Oregon

We were just on the tails of a trip to Scandinavia to see our friends get married and we were short on money. Plus, I was sure we’d be exhausted after our wedding and that we’d just want to relax. So that’s why I suggested that we go to Arizona on our honeymoon. It was a short flight, it would be warm in October and we could just lay by the pool for a week. Foolproof plan. Right?

I was right in the beginning — for at least 36 hours, we were exhausted. But then, after we slept, we came out into the hot desert sun looking for something to do. And we weren’t coming up with much. We don’t golf, we didn’t have any money, we got bored after an hour of laying by the pool. We thought about going to the Grand Canyon, but I wasn’t old enough to drive the rental car and people drove so fast that making the drive freaked us out. We walked through antique shop after antique shop — we don’t like antiques. We bought visors and aviators as a joke. We drank margaritas. We kicked around the idea of driving our rental car over state lines and heading for Vegas. Then we decided it wasn’t a good idea.

After a week, we saw maybe three interesting things and we’ve never been so glad to be home. Sorry Arizona, but you’re not my jam.

Bread & Broth, Portland, Oregon

Even though the food is better, I always imagine that vacationing in Portland might be a little on the boring side. We don’t have huge tourist infrastructure (although, admittedly, it’s growing a lot now). I love living here, but would I vacation here?

If you’ve been downtown this summer, you know that people are legitimately on vacation in Portland. I usually spot them unsurely pedaling their way through our downtown bike lanes, not sure which direction they’re heading, or standing in front of the food carts at 9th & Washington.

The cart Bread & Broth makes a killer tofu sandwich: Tofu steaks with vegenaise, avocado and red onion on a perfectly soft baguette. This place is highly recommended — if you can fight your way through the tangles of tourists crowding the sidewalks.

Bread & Broth, Portland, Oregon

Bread & Broth is a food cart in the immensely popular pod at 9th & Washington, downtown. Find these sandwich-making dudes on Twitter and Facebook.

Have you eaten at Bread & Broth? Which sandwich/soup combo is your favorite?

Sip Juice Cart

Sip Juice Cart, Portland, Oregon

We set up shop with a card table, a piece of recycled cardboard and some Country Time lemonade. There were at least four of us, between my sister Emily and the neighbor girls. We went three blocks away to the nearest intersection in our Beaverton suburb, to maximize traffic and therefore, profits. Then we used our impressive marketing acumen and I crossed the street from our awesome lemonade stand to lure in customers.

A big moving truck pulled up to the stop sign, and the man in the passenger seat rolled down his window and asked how much lemonade cost.

“25 cents!” I said, in my most salesmanlike tone. He seemed impressed with the value, and asked me to come closer to the truck so he could hand me his quarter.

Freshly primed on stranger danger videos, I panicked. Absolutely convinced that he was about to abduct me and out of sight from my friends and sister across the street from the massive truck, I froze for a second and then I went into fight-or-flight mode. I dropped my sign and I ran as fast as I could toward home. I turned the corner just as the truck moved, and my friends and sister saw, where I had been standing, just my sign on the ground. No sign of me.

So much for summer fun.

Sip Juice Cart, Portland, Oregon

It’s tough work selling juice from a stand, but that’s what they do at Sip Juice Cart.

On a very friendly personalized recommendation, I ordered the Sweet Greens juice, which has four kinds of greens plus apple juice for sweetness and ginger for a nice kick. It was delicately flavored and the satisfying color of the flesh of a perfectly ripe avocado. They also offer smoothies and vegan milkshakes, which looked pretty decadent. I think my favorite part about grabbing a quick afternoon juice here is the design of the place — in the back window of the trailer, you can see piles of fresh oranges, pineapples and other fruit just waiting to be juiced. You can sit on the picnic table and enjoy a moment of zen and it’s lovely.

Sip Juice Cart, Portland, Oregon

Sip, located at 2210 NE Alberta St. in NE Portland’s Alberta Arts District, is actually the second location of this fine cart. You can find the first one at 3029 SE 21st Ave. Follow them on Twitter, too!