When I think of the must eat foods in Portland, Oregon, the last thing that comes to mind is Texas-style BBQ. While Portland is a foodie paradise, the city isn’t known for its smoked meats and BBQ scene. Portland is known for seafood, doughnuts, Asian food, and craft beer to name a few. But, if you are looking for Texas BBQ, you might need to visit another city. Or so I thought.
Everything changed in 2015 when a small food cart known as Matt’s BBQ open in Portland’s historic Mississippi neighborhood. Matt Vicedomini, a Long Island native, opened his cart behind a German pub in the Prost! Marketplace. His goal was to serve quality smoked meats including brisket and pork shoulder. As an amateur pit master myself, I know the time, love, and dedication it takes to smoke meats. And, it’s no easy task to cook juicy and tender meat day in and day out like Matt does.
Matt’s BBQ goes through over 800 pounds of brisket and almost 1,500 pounds of meat in a single week. Even with all the meat they cook, they often sell out of certain items. So, plan on going early on your visit or you might have to order something else. But, with all the food being delicious, this might not always be such a bad problem to have.
On my recent visit to Portland, I made it a priority to visit Matt’s BBQ. But would the food cart live up to the hype? Was Matt’s BBQ the best BBQ restaurant in Portland? And, was it one of the best Texas-style BBQ restaurants outside of Austin? I went to try it out for myself. Just a note: In February 2022, Matt opened a second Matt’s BBQ location in Beaverton, not far from downtown Portland. This post will focus on the original location in Portland.
As mentioned before, Matt’s BBQ is a small food cart located in a food cart pod next to Prost!, a German restaurant and neighborhood pub. The food cart pod, known as Prost! Marketplace, is one of many pods found in neighborhoods all over Portland. These pods of food trucks, carts, and trailers, serve all types of local and international food. If you come to Portland, you can’t leave without trying food from one of the food cart pods. Visiting one is a must for foodies.
Matt’s BBQ Menu
The menu at Matt’s BBQ was simple and straightforward. You had meats, sandwiches, sides, and drinks. But, for a food cart, I couldn’t believe all the options. There was something for everyone. And, I wanted to order everything.
For meats, you had everything you would want. This included sausages, brisket, pulled pork, burnt ends, ribs, and turkey. One of the more unique items was the Armadillo egg made with a jalapeno wrapped in sausage and then smoked. The only thing missing was chicken which isn’t common at Texas BBQ restaurants.
There were three sandwich options served with pickles and slaw. Options included Chopped Brisket, NC Style Pulled Pork, and Sausage Sandwich.
As for sides, you had a good selection of options served in 1/2 pint containers. This included potato salad, coleslaw, pinto beans, and mac & cheese.
Finally, for drinks, you had a selection of Mexi Coke (Coca-Cola produced in and imported from Mexico) or Diet Coke. While you won’t find craft beer, wine, or cocktails on the menu, you can order one from the nearby bar in the marketplace.
Ordering at Matt’s BBQ
At Matt’s BBQ, there were a few ways to place an order. The most common way, which I did, was to order through the tablet at the kiosk. If you are paying by credit card, you will want to use the kiosk. If you are paying with cash, you will want to order at the window. You can also place an order online by visiting https://www.mattsbbqpdx.com/order-now/. Through this link, you can place a same day order, pre-order (more than 48 hours in advance), or start a catering order. If you order online, be sure to check in at the window on your arrival. Just remember, with meats sliced fresh for each order, be patient no matter how you order. Trust me, the wait is worth it.
Across from the window was a self service counter. This is where you will find utensils, napkins, and most importantly, all the BBQ sauces. On my visit, there was Cherry Chipotle BBQ, N.C. Hog Vinegar, Spicy Mustard BBQ, and Peach Mustard.
Ask any BBQ lover and odds are they will tell you that you can’t have Texas BBQ without brisket. While there were a few brisket choices on the menu, including chopped brisket and burnt ends, I went for the classic Sliced Brisket ($13.50 per 1/2 lb).
With brisket, presentation is just as important as how it tastes. You want the bark to be dark and crunchy but soft enough where it melts in your mouth from all the rendered fat. There should also be a pink smoke ring on the edges of the meat, a tell-tale sign that the brisket took in hours and hours of smoke. And, you want the right amount of fatty goodness mixed with tender, moist meat. The brisket at Matt’s BBQ was all this and more. I was hoping it tasted as great as it looked.
Each slice was tender but didn’t fall apart on its own. The slices only broke apart when I pulled on them. This was exactly what I wanted to see. When I took my first bite, I couldn’t believe how moist the meat was. I could cut through the meat with my plastic fork. Its flavor was salty, smoky, and rich. But, neither component overpowered the beefy flavors of the meat. Other than at Terry Black’s Barbecue in Austin, this was one of the best briskets I have ever had. I couldn’t believe this brisket came from a food cart.
Pulled Pork ($9.50 per 1/2 lb) is another classic you will find on the menu at any BBQ restaurant. As with the brisket, the pork had a beautiful pink smoke ring. The combination of tender, juicy meat and crunchy bark was perfect. While smoky, I could taste all the flavors of the rich, salty pork in each bite. I have had some great pulled pork in my days, but I can’t remember one cooked so well. I know I am repeating myself, but this pulled pork was one of the best I have ever had.
The final meat component in this plate was the Original Sausage ($4.75). While simple, this sausage packed a lot of flavor. Its smoky, salty, spicy flavor and snappy casing reminded me of chorizo. I enjoyed its meaty flavor which complemented the brisket and pork shoulder.
On the side were pickles and red onions which complemented the smoky, rich meats. I found the pickles to be salty and sweet with a crunchy yet fresh texture. The pickled red onions were also crunchy and salty with a tangy, sweet bite.
Queso Mac & Cheese
If you are eating BBQ, you can’t forget to order a side dish. For me, I kept it simple and went for the Queso Mac & Cheese ($4.00 for 1/2 pint). Matt’s version of mac & cheese was different than most. This version looked and tasted more refined. Instead of a thick, rich, salty, cheese sauce, the sauce here was light and creamy. And, the sauce covered each tender noodle. Adding to the flavor and texture were small diced peppers mixed in with the noodles and sauce. I also enjoyed the flavors of the crushed black pepper sprinkled over the top. You can never go wrong with mac & cheese, especially at Matt’s BBQ.
Being a food cart, I ordered and paid through a tablet out front. After a few minutes, I heard my name and returned to the window to pick up my food. That was the only interaction I had with the staff at Matt’s BBQ. With that said, food arrived fast and fresh, so I had no complaints.
Without a doubt, Matt’s BBQ is the best Texas-style BBQ restaurant in Portland. And with meats smoked daily, it might also be the best food cart in Portland. Nowhere else can you get brisket, pork shoulder, and ribs cooked to smoky perfection. It takes years of knowledge and love to consistently cook meats until they are smoky, juicy, and delicious. And, Matt has figured out how to do it better than anyone in Portland and from a food cart. While Portland might not be a BBQ town, if you visit, be sure to stop by Matt’s BBQ on Mississippi Ave.
- Sliced brisket was perfect
- And, so was the pulled pork
- Flavorful, tender, juicy, moist meats
- Colorful presentation
- Food prepared quickly
- Popular meats can sell out
4233 N Mississippi Ave,
Portland, OR 97217
GPS Coordinates: 45.55437,-122.67571
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