Albany Cart Center offers everything from lobster boils to smoky barbecue: Gerry Frank’s Picks

Food cart centers have sprung up all over Oregon, and rightfully so – they are a fun way to dine al fresco while experiencing the variety.

If you too enjoy a lively outdoor setting, consider visiting The barn at Hickory station (640 Hickory Street NW, Albany, 541-666-2974). This gastro-pub and food-truck collective includes 13 food trucks to choose from, as well as a taproom with over 42 taps of beer, wine and cider; plus, non-alcoholic drinks.

My favorite food basket of the group is Kracked crab (, with a second location at Happy Valley Station (13551 SE 145th Avenue, Happy Valley). They serve crab, shrimp, and lobster boils wrapped with a side of potatoes, corn on the cob, sausage, and an egg.

Other carts include High on the pork (Memphis BBQ), Dreaming about sushi (sushi and teriyaki chicken), Los Vecinos (Venezuelan), Kento Hibachi (Japanese), The local bite (salads, sandwiches and wraps), Peterson’s pretzels, Thai big sisters, Bacon at the curb (steaks and seafood), Pho family (Vietnamese), Mexican majahua, Ohana kitchen (Hawaiian) and On any Sundae (giant ice cream sandwiches, cones and floats). Rain or shine, there are plenty of seats inside and out. Hours vary; it’s best to call or visit their social media for a list of times, openings / closings, and live events.

For a fabulous breakfast or brunch in historic downtown Albany, head to Brick & Mortar Cafe (222 1st Avenue W., Suite 4, Albany; 541-791-7845; Expect sweet and savory dishes ranging from hearty omelets and Benedictine to pancakes, waffles, and crepes. The little ones particularly appreciate the Mickey Mouse pancakes.

Specialty dishes include the ever popular Chicken and Waffles, Biscuits and Gravy, Fried Chicken Steak, a Power Bowl and more. While I prefer to pair my breakfast with fresh orange juice or grapefruit juice (both on the menu), there is a plethora of drinks to choose from. Start your day with a local espresso from the espresso bar or treat yourself to an all-natural fruit smoothie. For those who prefer something a little stronger, there’s a whole cocktail list that fills itself up with offerings like the signature Bloody Mary with all the fixings, flights of mimosa, and their own version of a breakfast-style margarita.

Can’t come for breakfast? This small cafe also serves a variety of fresh sandwiches, burgers and wraps as well as soup, salad and fish and chips. Whichever you choose, you won’t be disappointed with Brick and Mortar’s top-notch service, generous portions, or the creative touch they put into every fresh, quality dish. Visit the café from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday, extended to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. They fill up quickly, especially now that there is little seating, but it’s worth the wait.

The brand new fourth edition of the “Gerry Frank’s Oregon” guidebook is available at; 503-585-8411; [email protected];; Macy’s; and PO Box 2225, Salem, OR 97308.

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