customer at a food cart

What kind of cart should I get?

Knowing your budget and menu in advance will help you choose a food cart that's right for you. First, decide what you will serve. Your menu will determine which class your cart should be.

Classifications

Here’s a quick overview of what you can serve under each class. See the plan review packet for a complete list of requirements.

Class 1 - Pre-packaged sandwiches, non-perishable sealed beverages, no ice soda without ice, canned and bottled beverages. Example: pre-wrapped hot dogs or pre-wrapped sandwiches

Class 2 - Unpackaged food items, but cannot assemble, prepare, cook or warm any foods. Example: hot food items held in warmers that were prepared at an approved commissary.

Class 3 - Can prepare and serve a full menu with the exception of raw meat and eggs. Example: burritos or bento made with pre-cooked meat.

Class 4 - No menu restrictions.

You may also need . . .

In addition to your cart, there may be other services and specialized equipment you’ll need depending on its class. See the plan review packet for details. Here are the major ones:

A Commissary

Commissaries are commercial kitchens that you may need to have in addition to your cart. This is where you will cook and prepare food, and clean utensils and equipment. Unless your food cart has a 3-compartment sink or dishwasher, you will need a licensed commissary.

A Warehouse

You will need a warehouse if you don’t have enough room to store your equipment and food in the cart. You can’t store food in your house.

Wastewater Disposal

If your cart has a sink, the wastewater must be disposed of at an approved disposal site. Never drain your wastewater into the street or parking lot! It’s against the law and you’ll get a big fine.

A Restroom

Where will you go? Your cart must have access to a nearby restroom with a proper handwashing sink. You can ask a nearby business to sign an agreement letting you use theirs. You can’t use a portable toilet.

Thinking of buying a used cart?

Call or email us first. We can save you money by telling you whether or not it meets code. Not all carts do, and if you buy one that isn’t you could be stuck paying a lot of money to modify it.

Get a license

Got it all figured out? When you're ready to apply for your license, you'll start by going through the plan review process»

More Information

Mobile Unit Playbook (5.7 MB)
Mobile Unit Playbook - Spanish (9.66 MB)
Mobile Unit Playbook - Arabic (14.05 MB)
Mobile Unit Playbook - Chinese (8.25 MB)
Mobile Unit Playbook - Korean (10.81 MB)
Mobile Unit Playbook - Russian (7.63 MB)
Mobile Unit Playbook - Vietnamese (13.96 MB)
Mobile Unit Playbook - Thai (14.6 MB)


Contact Us

Multnomah County Environmental Health
847 NE 19th Ave, Ste 350
Portland, Oregon (Map)
503.988.3400

Fax: 503.988.5844
foodsafety@multco.us

Business hours: Monday-Friday, 8am - 4:30pm