Eating My Way Through the New East Side Food Cart Lot | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Eating My Way Through the New East Side Food Cart Lot

Four carts are now open at the new veterinary hospital off Brinson Boulevard

Say "food carts within walking distance" once in front of me and you don't have to convince me a second time to go check them out, right away. That's exactly what happened the weekend of St. Patrick's Day, when the new food cart lot, Ponch's Place, opened on NE Oxford Court, near Brinson Boulevard and 18th Avenue in northeast Bend. Opened as part of the Veterinary Referral Center of Central Oregon hospital grounds, Ponch's Place is named in honor of one of the hospital's best pals. The hospital itself opened in February.

While Midtown Yacht Club has brought a lively scene to inner northeast Bend, food cart lot options farther north and east of there have been relatively sparse, given that there are literally hundreds of carts in Bend nowadays. River's Place and On Tap serve parts of east Bend, and do it well, but in my opinion, having one you can easily walk or bike to is extra handy. From my home in the Orchard District, Ponch's Place is an ideal jaunt away from the house. So, on its opening weekend, I visited the place – two dogs in tow – to check it out. With a beer from the lot's beer garden in hand, I explored three of the four carts.

click to enlarge Eating My Way Through the New East Side Food Cart Lot
Nicole Vulcan
Chicken and veggie dumplings at Sweet Herb, which offers several dim sum items.

Sweet Herb

Those who long for more Chinese food in Bend can rejoice that this place has some dim sum on its menu, including bao buns, dumplings and shrimp tempura. There's also a hefty drink menu that includes Hong Kong-style milk tea, matcha lattes, Korean sparkling teas and lemonades. I went for the chicken and vegetable dumplings, served with your choice of three sauces. I got the sweet chili, dipping them in delightful bites of dumpling. I'll come back to try the egg custard buns, the tempura and BBQ pork buns.

click to enlarge Eating My Way Through the New East Side Food Cart Lot
Nicole Vulcan
Carne asada taco from Carmelita’s.


Named after owner Victor Florian's late mother, Carmen, Carmelita's offers fresh, delicious Mexican food in the Michoacan style. I opted for a carne asada taco — always a good way to sample one location's tacos against others'. (OK, that and carnitas.) The street taco came with a doubled-up tortilla—also a great way to gauge what you're about to get, which in this case signaled good things to come. The asada was neatly bite-sized, offering up juicy bits of goodness with plenty of "sides," including a grilled hunk of pineapple and grilled onion. The menu includes tacos, burritos, burrito bowls, taquitos and quesadillas, all served with your choice of carne asada, carnitas, al pastor, pollo adobado and veggie. Carmelita's is doing it up right. I'll be back to sample the veggie burrito and the taquitos.

click to enlarge Eating My Way Through the New East Side Food Cart Lot
Nicole Vulcan
The smash burger at Alley Dogz is worth a try.

Alley Dogz

With "dogz" in the title, it's easy to scan over this cart if you're not thinking dogs. But don't sleep on Alley Dogz, which has been set up at Midtown Yacht Club for several years (and still is), and makes appearances at many local events. Not only are the dogs — hot dogs, bratwursts and even veggie brats — really tasty, but its smash burger is crave-worthy. It's got the usual complement of smashed, oniony, umami burger, but it's something about the American cheese on this version that makes me want to run back for another one; just the right amount of gooiness to marry bun and bread and a pile of grilled onions — not overly done, and I like it that way—into some kind of perfection. With Ponch's Place to my left and Midtown Yacht Club on my right as I type this, I'm henceforth doomed to regularly capitulate to my smash burger daydreams.

God of Pizza

God of Pizza, the relatively new cart formerly located at Powder House on the west side, was sadly not open for opening weekend at Ponch's Place. Probably a good thing for this human who doesn't eat much meat during the week, as I'd already downed three hefty servings. But with this new food cart lot opened so close to home, and God of Pizza planning to open this weekend, it's only a matter of time.

With the veterinary hospital next door, the place also has provisions for pups. There's a small artificial grass area for dogs (and kids) to do their thing, water bowls and a large, covered area with sturdy picnic tables.

Ponch's Place – at the Veterinary Referral Center of Central Oregon, Emergency & Specialty Care
62889 NE Oxford Ct., Bend
Open Sun-Thu 11am-7pm, Fri-Sat 11am-8pm

Nicole Vulcan

Nicole Vulcan has been editor of the Source since 2016. You can mostly find her raising chickens, walking dogs, riding all the bikes and attempting to turn a high desert scrap of land into a permaculture oasis.
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