When the process for making a pie takes an entire day to complete, you gotta know that something special will be the end result. At the Gulf Bites food cart you can find and consume just such a pie.

And not just any pie. This is a Key Lime pie made from a traditional recipe acquired from a chef in Key West, Florida. Did I mention that these pies are made from scratch at the Gulf Bites cart? Starting with Graham crackers, sugar and melted butter for the crust and finishing after three cooling cycles, one of which is eight hours in length, you have a delectable Key Lime pie that can be purchased by the slice or in its entirety.

Gulf Bites food cart service window

In fact the menu for the Gulf Bites food cart is drawn from the street foods found in metropolitan centers of south Florida and the Florida Keys. Stan Johnson, creator and proprietor of Gulf Bites, spent a lot of time in and around Miami while visiting family and working as a long-haul truck driver whose route frequently took him to southern Florida from his home base.

Stan gained his culinary experience starting as a teenager working in fast food, a stint in the military as a cook, then as a line cook and finally as a restaurant manager for one of the best-known eateries in PDX (and found in there time to drive trucks). But it was his experiences in Florida that instilled the inspiration for the cuisine of Gulf Bites. And its a cuisine that is quite rare in The Great Northwest.

Gulf Bites food cart key lime pie

While ‘street tacos’ are not unknown to the food cart culture in Portland, you won’t find the style of salsa and crema that are added to the tacos anywhere else but at Gulf Bites. That’s because these toppings are Stan’s own creation based on the personal recipes of Florida residents. The Double Decker taco has both flour and corn tortillas, mango guacamole, and your choice of coconut shrimp, blackened shrimp, or glazed salmon.

The tacos are then topped with the tropical salsa which is made from pineapple, mango, red onion, Serrano pepper, coconut, and key lime juice. Then the pineapple crema is added. It is made with secret blending of pineapple pepper jam and sour cream the recipe for which is a closely guarded secret in Stan’s family.

Gulf Bites food cart beach life sign

As Gulf Bites themselves say, their menu is a “Northwest take on Gulf Coast cuisine.” To that end the menu has a Salmon BLT wrap. A flour tortilla filled with marinated and glazed salmon, thick-cut pepper bacon, lettuce, diced tomatoes, mango guacamole and of course the tropical salsa and the pineapple crema.

You can also order gulf-coast classics such as fish tacos, shrimp tacos, sticky chicken, cod fillets, hush puppies, macaroni salad and coleslaw. And of course the Key Lime pie. Gulf Bites operates at the Happy Valley Station food cart pod which is located at SE 145th and Sunnyside Road. The cart is open Monday through Saturday from 10 AM till 8 PM, and 12 PM till 5 PM on Sundays.

Gulf Bites food cart seagull statue

Listen now as Steven Shomler and Ken Wilson talk with Stan Johnson about the inspiration for Gulf Bites and that delectable key lime pie.