PDX Food Cart Font-Off
If you are from Portland or have ever visited the Rose City, chances are you’ve strolled through a pod of food carts. These tiny shacks serve up some of our city’s most mouthwatering, handheld meals. But what’s also lovable about this culinary phenomenon is the personality that goes into each one. The best food carts in Portland not only have amazing menus, they also have charming signage and presentational aesthetics that draw patrons in. One sunny afternoon, a group of hungry typography enthusiasts at Extensis set out to survey cart pods across P-town. Traveling from east to west, we evaluated the look, feel, and food of more than 130 carts.
The Portland cuisine scene is known for combining an emphasis on fresh, organic and local cuisine with a plethora of ethnic influence. So how does this reflect in their signage and typography? Read on to see the top type and graphics in the PDX Food Cart Font-Off.
Top Portland Food Cart Fonts
Drum roll please…check out our top five favorite food carts for type.
1. The Native Bowl
Located in the Mississippi Marketplace, the Native Bowl’s type is fresh and clean, just like their vegan menu offering. Designed by Portland-based brand identity shop, Parliament, the cart’s logo and menu was featured on Art of the Menu. Nice on the eyes and in the belly. Love the color palette!
The Big Egg‘s cart art takes inspiration from the Art Nouveau style of Aubrey Beardsley. This Mississippi Marketplace cart cooks ’til sellout every day, so get there early! The type is gorgeous and we love how the egg icon stands alone as a brand mark. Great use of color here too! Props to Portland’s Factory North, who created the new branding in 2013.
3. Brunch Box
Prefer a grilled cheese sandwich as your burger bun? Head to the Brunch Box cart at SW 5th and Stark. (They also have a brick and mortar restaurant at 620 SW 9th). Portland creative studio, Jolby & Friends, took a classic diner and vintage fast food chain feel and mixed it with Brunch Box’s fun and humor. The scalloped logo type is tops. Go get some burger juice in your mustache.
4. The Grilled Cheese Grill
With three P-town locations (we visited the Downtown spot), the Grilled Cheese Grill makes sandwiches that range from Saturday morning cartoon-worthy, all the way up to Jeopardy-level sophistication. The e’s in this logo look hungry for bread with melted cheese. And so are we.
5. Wolf & Bear’s
Featured on Chef Andy Bates‘ cooking show for Food Network UK, Wolf & Bear’s lovingly creates Middle Eastern-inspired vegetarian fare from scratch. The type on this sign caught our eye immediately, and we learned that all their logos are hand-drawn by Tanna (Wolf), with a style that just comes naturally to her. We think it looks Arabic-inspired—less decorative and curvy, but bold and tapered at the letter ends. Go get some in North, SE and Downtown Portland.
Noteworthy Portland Food Cart Graphics
Sometimes a big, bright flying pie just catches your eye. Here’s a shout to our top three favorite food cart graphics.
Whiffies Fried Pies
Ready for a delicious indulgence? Head over to Cartopia at 12th & Hawthorne (hurry—they’re closing at end of summer) for Whiffies savory and sweet friend pies. Some call it “the pie of the gods”. The flying fried pie graphic seen here was designed and painted by a friend of the cart’s owner. Get pie, fly high!
What does this brightly-colored graphic made of triangles have to do with crêpes? Crêpes are cooked in a circular grill or pan and folded to form a triangle. This Perierra Creperie graphic was created by Portland-based painter and installation artist, Marty Schnapf. Go get some sweet and savory crêpes at Cartopia.
Seeing this graphic (created by @killorn) on the side of the Big-Ass Sandwiches cart at Mississippi Marketplace brought one thought immediately to mind—”that’s so Portland”. Their “Richwich” was voted best sandwich in the northwest by the Travel Channel. Go get one and #putitinyourmouth.
Got Another Favorite Food Cart Font or Graphic in Portland or your Home City?
Stay tuned for our Food Cart Font Off contest later this month! In the meantime, talk to us in the comments below, or hit us up on Twitter.