July 22, 2024


Built General Tough

Albany’s food cart hub offers everything from lobster boils to smoky barbecue: Gerry Frank’s picks

Food cart hubs have been popping up all over Oregon, and rightly so – they make for a fun way to dine al fresco while also experiencing variety.

If you, too, enjoy a lively outdoor setting, consider a visit to The Barn at Hickory Station (640 Hickory Street N.W., Albany, 541-666-2974). This gastro-pub and food-truck collective includes 13 food trucks to choose from, as well as a taproom with more than 42 taps of beer, wine and cider; plus, non-alcoholic beverages.

My favorite food cart of the bunch is Kracked Crab (krackedcrab.com), with a second location at the Happy Valley Station (13551 S.E. 145th Avenue, Happy Valley). They serve up crab, shrimp and lobster boils packaged up with a side of potatoes, corn on the cob, a sausage and an egg.

Other carts include High on the Hog (Memphis BBQ), Dreaming of Sushi (sushi and chicken teriyaki), Los Vecinos (Venezuelan), Kento Hibachi (Japanese), The Local Bite (salads, sandwiches and wraps), Peterson’s Pretzels, Big Sisters Thai, Curbside Bacon (steaks and seafood), Family Pho (Vietnamese), Majahua Mexican, Ohana Kitchen (Hawaiian) and On Any Sundae (giant ice cream sandwiches, cones and floats). Rain or shine, there’s plenty of seating indoors and outdoors. Hours vary; it’s best to call or visit their social media for a list of hours, openings/closures and live events.

For a fabulous breakfast or brunch in Albany’s historic downtown area, head to Brick & Mortar Cafe (222 1st Avenue W., Suite 4, Albany; 541-791-7845; brickandmortarcafe.com). Expect both sweet and savory dishes ranging from hearty omelets and benedicts to pancakes, waffles and crepes. Little ones especially enjoy the Mickey Mouse pancakes.

Specialty dishes include the very popular chicken and waffles, biscuits and gravy, chicken fried steak, a power bowl and more. Although I prefer to pair my breakfast with fresh orange juice or grapefruit juice (both on the menu), there’s a plethora of beverages to choose from. Kick start your day with locally-sourced espresso from the espresso bar or indulge in an all-natural fruit smoothie. For those who prefer something a little stronger, there’s quite a cocktail list that is filling all on its own with offerings like the signature Bloody Mary with all of the fixings, mimosa flights and their own spin on a breakfast-style margarita.

Can’t make it in for breakfast? This little cafe also serves up a variety of fresh sandwiches, burgers and wraps as well as soup, salad and fish and chips. Regardless of your choice, you won’t be disappointed with Brick and Mortar’s topnotch service, generous portions or the creative-flare that they put into each fresh and quality dish. Visit the cafe from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, extended to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. They fill up fast, especially now that there’s limited seating, but they are worth the wait.

The all-new fourth edition of “Gerry Frank’s Oregon” guidebook is available through oregonguidebook.com; 503-585-8411; [email protected]; amazon.com; Macy’s; and P.O. Box 2225, Salem, OR 97308.