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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Eat Frugally at Food Carts 9.26.12

Dining out while traveling can get pretty expensive. Since you can’t always get a vacation rental or a hotel with a kitchen(ette), then you gotta find other ways to cut costs. If you get  tired of sharing entrees or ordering some of the cheapest things on the menu or going to budget restaurants, then consider trying a variety of local cuisines at food carts and food carts. Let me tell you why:

Food carts are the new gourmet dining. Food trucks are all the rage. They are booming the world over. Lucky for me, I live in the number one food cart destination on the globe (as named by Travel + Leisure) and can eat cuisine from all over the world everywhere I go within Portland. From ice cream to Lebanese to Cuban, there is something for everyone, including this delicious waffle cart that makes a dough for their waffles and then tops them with all kinds of yummy combinations. Within the same block, we can have hot dogs, Hawaiian, Thai, Mexican, dumplings and Mediterranean. That’s not even all the choices! Each truck specializes in their few menu items, so you know it’s the best it can be.

More choices. How can this be when food carts are so small? Where there’s one food cart/truck, there are usually others. It’s unlikely for several of the same cuisine carts to gather in the same place, which means you have a choice of different kinds of food. This is great for those traveling with kids who are picky and never seem to want the same thing you are eating. Don’t like the dessert one cart is serving? Go check out what the others have to offer!

Mobile dining. Not only is your restaurant mobile, but you can also take your food with you. Either eat nearby or enjoy your meal on your way through the city. It’s a great way to burn calories and save time when you want to get more sightseeing done.

Cheaper meals. The truth is that even some of the spendiest items on a food cart menu are still less than plates at a traditional restaurant. There’s no dining room to fill with customers and staff, so overhead is much lower, allowing them to charge you much less for similar food. You also save gratuity, because instead of an expected 15-20% tip, you can leave a few dollars or none at all (if there’s no tip jar) and not feel like you’re committing some heinous faux pas.

Eat on-the-go for less and try many different dishes all in one places. I love food carts. They are some of the best ways to try local foods when you’re traveling and a fun way to interact with the residents of your destination. Here are some photos of food cart food and my enjoyment of them.

Where are some of your favorite food cart travel destinations?

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