Last year, the land under the Mississippi Marketplace food carts next to German beer bar Prost! was sold, but it was sold to Prost! itself. Dan Hart and partners bought the building and the lot surrounding it, sprucing everything up and laying the groundwork for what Prost! Marketplace has finally become: not just a neighborhood beer garden, but also a legitimate food and drink destination.
In large part, that’s due to white-bread-with-your-choice-of-meat behemoth Matt’s BBQ, whose arrival at the marketplace brought another heavy hitter to an already stacked lot, and yet another goddamn line to North Mississippi.
But Prost! is upping the game further, allowing alcohol in most of the food cart lot, and even introducing—finally—cocktails.
The new Bloodbuzz cart serves as a full outdoor bar, with an actual bartop and stools. There’s wine and even beer on draft, featuring—gasp!—local craft brews. Yes, you can drink American beer at Prost! now. (Please get your American beer here, and don’t go across the street to the gag-inducingly named beer cart. God knows I’ve given Prost! shit over the years for catering to a bro-centric crowd, but at least they aren’t called Tap That.)
The cocktails are unfussy and tasty, heavy on the hair-of-what-bit-you type coffee drinks: Coffee and Jameson gets its own menu item called Lonely Soul, which is probably what you’ll be if you’re drinking one at 8 am, outdoors, surrounded by closed food carts. The Entrance Song is coffee, iced or hot, with rum and orgeat, and the Shot in the Arm balances the soft nuttiness of iced coffee with bitter Amer and Campari.
The daytime cocktails are clearly designed to be perfect outdoor sippers: Dry the Rain, a grapefruity Aperol spritz; Country Leaver, a peachy bourbon and Benedictine iced tea; or even gin with crème de violet and Yerba Mate in the High Violet. (Yes, Bloodbuzz, High Violet, American Mary—it’s weirdly heavy on references to the band the National.)
What you’re going to see the most of in the coming weeks, however, is the Title and Registration: a boozy paloma slushy floating in a glass of Pacifico. Drink it down, pour some more Pacifico on top, and repeat like the chorus to the feel-good hit of the summer.
The kicker? None of these drinks costs more than $8.
There’s a full espresso bar, too, and the coffee comes from the folks behind Coffeehouse-Five, whose cart stood at the other end of the Prost! Marketplace until Bloodbuzz arrived.
And I guess if you’re already opening a coffee cart, you might as well offer a breakfast sandwich. And a breakfast burrito. And three more breakfast sandwiches and a bunch of lunch and dinner options, too. Stammtisch, Prost!’s sister spot and low-key one of the top restaurants in the city, spun the adjacent Breadbox cart off from the brain of chef Graham Chaney. The egg muffin ($6) comes with bacon, sausage, or ham and choice of cheese, but breakfast specials like a steak and egg sandwich ($10) or bagel with lox and salt cod cream cheese ($11) will have you skipping lunch. The breakfast burrito has tater tots in it, and is available fried-up as a chimichanga if you just want to go straight back to bed.
Later in the day, Breadbox offers plenty of messy sandwiches: a generous hero piled high with shredded lettuce and thinly sliced meats, a hummus and grilled veggie deal, and even a salt and pepper squid sandwich with sautéed bok choy and chili mayo. Don’t sleep on the burger, either, which is exactly like the burger you always wish would come off your own grill in your backyard: misshapen patty on the thin side but still perfectly medium-rare, choice of cheese, LTO, elevated (just enough to justify its $10-with-no-sides price) by a rich mushroom duxelle that also serves as the only thing keeping this from disintegrating into a horrifying anti-salad in your hands.
It’s that blend of backyard barbecue and outdoor German biergarten that makes Prost! Marketplace unique among food cart pods. And it’s not even done adding carts! According to the Oregonian, Nodoguro chef Mark Wooten plans to bring a cart version of his Vancouver taqueria Little Conejo to the lot soon. Maybe it’ll shorten the line at Matt’s BBQ; maybe it’ll just be another line to wait in. But are you really waiting in line if you’re sipping on a boozy slushy on a summer day?