It took a little convincing to get the family to come with me on my long-awaited trip to PDX Sliders.
I’ve been hearing about this cart since it opened, mostly by meat-eating friends, but the praise was so loud and so loyal (OMG I LOVE THAT PLACE, etc.), that I figured its vegetarian offerings must be pretty good, too. And there are two veggie choices on the short menu: The St. John’s with marinated portabella, roasted roma tomatoes, herbed goat cheese, and baby arugula on ciabatta, and the Ross Island, with h
That’s some serious stuff right there.
But my husband was tired after a late night, and we couldn’t quite figure out how to structure our evening. I knew I was going to go roller skating at Oaks Park, but would I take the kid? If so, I probably wouldn’t be able to actually skate. Would the husband come with? Would both of them stay at home? I bribed my husband a bit, maybe, with the prospect of a stop for a cup of coffee, and the promise of buying him dinner. The whole family ended up coming along (yay!), watched me roller skate for a while, and soon it was time for dinner. (Now the toddler thinks “roller derby” is when mom skates in a circle and waves to you when she passes by. Close, buddy, but there’s usually less waving and more contact.)
A friendly gentleman greeted us, “Welcome back!” as we walked up for our first-ever visit to the Sellwood cart. Not sure how big the “sliders” are, I asked how many we should order. “Depends how hungry you are,” we were told, but one or two should do it. We ordered two of each of the veggie burgers, plus a side of fries, for a total of almost $18 before tip. This ended up being a good amount of food for us; almost two sliders for each adult plus a a “healthy” helping of fries was enough to be satisfied, but not over-full.
The Ross Island’s black bean patty was soft and spicy, and stayed together well, especially with a little help from the pepper jack cheese melted over the top. It was a little too spicy for the toddler, or maybe he didn’t like the visible corn (who knows with toddlers, amirite), so I ate his patty portion. This black bean burger is a solid representative of a ubiquitous veggie menu item, and I’d eat it again.
We both preferred the St. John’s, with marinated mushrooms on ciabatta. Mushroom burgers are also on menus everywhere you look, and they’re often pretty poorly executed: underdone, soggy and dripping, or flavorless. Here, the portabella mushrooms are wisely cut into smaller pieces, cooked to a toothsome and savory doneness, and given a slight vinegar bite from the marinade. You might need to guard your lap against juicy mushroom drips, but only a few. Our tomatoes weren’t roasted per the menu, but this is the time of year to eat them fresh. No complaints there.
You’ll find two picnic tables alongside SE 17th, just north of Tacoma, if you choose to “eat in” at this shiny red cart. Most of the families we saw while we ate were getting their orders to go, as I imagine many more will as the weather turns and the lack of covered and heated seating is more of an issue.
BTW, there’s a kid’s meal, too, which they can do with the house veggie burger. You get the burger, fries, juice, and a treat (!) (I want a treat!) for $5.
Vegans can try out the mushroom burger without the goat cheese, and gluten-free eaters can swap out a bun for butter lettuce.
You might not find vegetarian meals that’ll blow you out of the water with their creativity at PDX Sliders, but you will get the basics done well.
8064 SE 17th St.