Food Cart Review: Cartopia

Located only a 10 minute drive from the Lincoln campus are the Cartopia food carts on 1207 SE Hawthorne. Cartopia is home to many unique food options that have something for everyone. Arguably the best part, however, is the plentiful seating featuring an undercover area and tables with campfires in the middle of the carts.

As soon as you walk through the gate into the courtyard, the whole area feels secluded thanks to the many bushes and trees surrounding it. While being a small detail, it makes Cartopia feel more like a sit-down destination compared to a more traditional grab-and-go food cart. Of the eight carts there, we tried food and drink from three of them: Pyro Pizza, Bottle Rocket and El Brasero.

We rated the food carts on a scale of one to five and based our ratings on five different categories:

  1. Food Quality
  2. Menu Options
  3. Drinks
  4. Overall Vibe/Aesthetic
  5. Price

We have ranked our reviews from best to worst-ranked food carts.


Bottle Rocket: ★★★★★

Bottle Rocket, our favorite cart of the day, specializes in hamburgers and offers house-made lemonade. Unlike most burger places, their diverse menu of side dishes consists mainly of Asian-inspired dishes like dumplings and brussels sprouts that can be paired with a hamburger for a hearty meal. To make room for other carts, we only tasted the burger and the lemonade, both of which were excellent. We ordered the bacon cheeseburger, which featured lettuce, thousand island sauce, a generous serving of bacon and a smash patty. Put all of those together and you get a truly delicious burger. The cost was $12 for the burgers and $3 for the lemonade. While not a bargain, we felt the price was fair, given the excellent quality of the food. Finally, the overall vibe of the cart was equally impressive, with a big sign and a spacious, open-air kitchen.


Pyro Pizza: ★★★★☆

It’s not everyday you can get full wood-fired pizza from a food cart. The cart is simply designed and centered all around the pizza oven. The pizzas range from around $10-15 and are made right in front of you. They have all the simple pizza types like cheese, pepperoni and sausage, as well as some more unusual types like arugula mushroom. The service is speedy and the pizza itself delivers. It’s thin but provides a lot of flavor. Specifically, the pepperoni pizza was very high-quality and something we would eat on a daily basis. Pyro Pizza provides its own custom soda fountain drinks with various fruity and classic soda flavors. Overall, Pyro Pizza is a solid pizza place that will give you a very satisfying experience.


El Brasero: ★★★★☆

El Brasero was the smallest cart in Cartopia, but the food made up for it. Featuring the largest menu of the three we visited, it has been at Cartopia the longest of any of the carts. We each ordered one street taco as an appetizer to prepare our palates for the upcoming entrees at the other food carts. The $3 tacos were excellent, given the plentiful serving size. After finishing them, we agreed that we need to return in the future and try some of their entrees.