Food Cart Database

Portland has a strong food cart ecosystem. The highlights of which are the bigger food cart pods, @dieselboi's Food Carts Portland blog, and @spinnerin's Food Carts Map.

The diversity of the carts is amazing, and that includes the hours they are open. I, along with others in portland, have spent time figuring out how to crowdsource the open/closed status of each food cart. Note their sometimes-posted hours bear little resemblance to actual operating hours especially close to opening or closing time. One of my favorite carts, Yarp?!, which has since closed, had some of the least predictable hours of any cart. That inspired a system to track hours which has yet to be built. An SMS from the cart employees is one idea. Search twitter was another idea - it got partially implemented too. A physical box with an open/closed switch inside each cart is another one I'd like to try.

A mobile app that shows the nearest (and hopefully nearest *open*) food carts has been talked about and a web site concept has been implemented. There are opportunities for client software of all shapes and sizes to make use of a common database of food carts.

Coincidentally, the idea of open city datasets and was well underway. This inspired @maxogden to setup and I talked to him about the awesomeness of couchdb. Now there is an exposed couchdb server at with a database for food carts ( The flexibility and web-friendlyness of couchdb makes it easy for anyone to get started right away creating a new client to display, and hopefully update, data in the database.

The data has been pre-populated with the Food Cart Map. The fields that describe a food cart on the map are simple: a name, a longer description, and a latitude/longitude. There is room to store a lot more interesting data, too.

  • Photo(s)
  • Hours of operation
  • kind of food (mexican, thai, italian)
  • twitter account
  • start date of operation
  • final date of operation
  • entire menu with prices

The client I am currently interested in is an all-client-side javascript/html application that speaks to couchdb directly. I believe a generic 'couchapp' has enough bits to do this so it mostly needs a design and some coding.