It has come to this. Students at the Oregon Culinary Institute, rather than choosing to either work at or to open a restaurant, are now seriously considering food carts as a viable alternative as their first step in their culinary career. The 503 Burger Company food cart is the result of two students of the OCI joining together in making their dream happen.

The 503 Burger Co. food cart

Johnny Phompadith and Owen Hart were attending a business management class at OCI and discovered that they were both former Air Force. Johnny in fire protection and Owen in security. After they had finished their courses at OCI they each took employment in restaurants. Not long after both Johnny and Owen were working together at the same restaurant where they met the third member of the 503 Burger Company, Peter Aduan.

Together these three chefs decided to open a food cart featuring that American staple, the hamburger. The simplicity of the basic sandwich was the reason that burgers were the choice for the 503 Burger Company’s menu. As the possibilities are nearly endless in how a basic burger can be dressed, the three chefs decided to specialize in delights of beef patties and buns.

One of the burgers from the 503 Burger Co. food cart

One thing becomes readily apparent when reading the menu at the 503 Burger company. The guys are fans of action movies from the eighties and early nineties. The one exception draws its moniker from Portland’s own Burnside Street. The Johnny Utah burger, represents the original version of the movie “Point Break.” This is a classic all-American burger with Tillamook cheddar, lettuce, tomato, ketchup, and dressed with a smoky chipotle aioli.

The Back to the Future burger is an homage to the Midwest burger joints of the fifties and the trilogy of films which gave us the hoverboard. A beef patty topped with ketchup, mustard, Tillamook cheddar, lettuce, pickles, tomato and a brioche bun. The Thunderdome burger is made with a mixed patty of both ground pork and beef, bacon, Gorgonzola cheese, arugula, and barbecue sauce.

One of the burgers from the 503 Burger Co. food cart

The Burnside Knife is a PDX-inspired burger with two beef patties, bacon, Pepperjack cheese, pickled jalapeños, and chipotle aioli. There is also a chef’s special burger which rotates each week. Check the menu to see which of the pun-ny burger creations is available. A fried egg, caramelized onions, and bacon can be added to any of the burgers. Sides are tater tots, fries and giant onion rings. Be sure to get the Pepperoncini cream cheese sauce for your tater tots and onion rings. Wash down your burger with a milkshake or root beer float.

Tater tots from the 503 Burger Co. food cart

The 503 Burger Company is located in the Mississippi Marketplace food cart pod at N Mississippi and Skidmore. Hours are: 11 AM – 3 PM Monday and Tuesday; Wednesday’s closed; Thursdays, 11AM – 5 PM; Fridays, 11AM – 8 PM, Saturdays 12 – 5 PM; Sundays, 12 – 5 PM.

Listen now as Steven Shomler and Ken Wilson talk with the trio of chefs from the 503 Burger Company about eighties movies and the classic, and very Portland, burgers they inspire.