Dishcrawl's Sandwich Showdown
A Stroll Through Sandwiches In Nob Hill
Last night my fellow bePortlander Rob Nathan and I headed out to Dishcrawl's Sandwich Showdown in Nob Hill. It was a delightful jaunt through many sandwich spots in the neighborhood. As I'm writing this, I still feel a bit full from the amazing grub we sampled.
Dishcrawl came to Portland only a few short months ago, and its monthly culinary adventures have made eating your way through a neighborhood sort of a pastime. Originating in the Bay Area, this brand has become popular in a short amount of time because Portland is more than passionate about its food.
Last night was all about the sandwich, a dish that's near and dear to my New Yorker heart. We sampled some of each establishment's popular items and then moved on to the next fairly quickly, still leaving enough time to get a great welcome from each of our hosts.
We started the evening at Kenny & Zuke's Sandwichworks, the newer Nob Hill counterpart to the original location downtown. The sandwich we tried was, of course, the pastrami and it didn't disappoint. It was succulent and the sauerkraut, which I usually despise, wasn't overwhelming.
One of the managers came out to tell us a bit about the pastrami, including the fact that the restaurant goes through about 2000 pounds a week (I'd assume that's both locations). Also that it's smoked for eight hours. Not bad at all, though admittedly it's not my favorite pastrami in town... but I thoroughly enjoyed it, and the sour pickle that came with it.
The next stop was a bit of a walk up NW 23rd, but the rain seemed to hold off a bit for us. We headed over to PBJ's food cart, which was nestled between Kearney and Lovejoy. The super enthusiastic crew, Keena and Shane, greeted us with smiles and savory grilled PBJ-based creations. The first sandwich we tried was a Smokin Goat, which included calamata olive bread, almond butter, applewood smoked bacon, goat cheese, and a fig jam. It was fantastic, one of my favorites of the night.
But the next sandwich had my partner in crime Rob completely smitten, a real feat considering he's a man that knows food in and out. The Spicy Thai sandwich was sort of a Pad Thai PBJ. It included Challah bread, orange marmalade, sriracha, fresh basil, curry, and PBJ's own peanut butter. It was quite the party in your mouth, with even a bit of a kick to it. Rob couldn't get over how amazing it was, you could tell this duo put a lot into developing its flavor profile for each sandwich. Your mother never imagined that PBJ's could be so good!
The best news is that the PBJ proprietors are planning to open a cafe in the next six months, so you can eat your PBJs any time you like. Stay tuned for more info from this clever pair.
Next we strolled a bit to Lela's Bistro, a spot that bePortland had a chance to interview right after it opened a few months back. Since I had sent a writer out to conduct this interview, I was quite excited to finally have a chance to taste the food myself. I said hello to co-owners Laura Le and Min Matsumoto and headed over to a table for a taste.
A Beef Bulgogi with Kim Chi was brought out, and it was luscious. The meat was smokey and juicy, and the kim chi was a nice change from the usual sandwich filler. The bread was as good as I'd heard it was, fresh from Le's parent's bakery, Binh Minh Bakery & Deli. Then Matsumoto brought out a round of traditional soju for the group, which was the smoothest vodka-like shot I've ever had.
Lastly, the owner of What's the Scoop ice cream, Jodie Ostrovksy, who had been along with us for the crawl, had a special treat for us. Her husband and business partner Brian showed up with a tray full of special ice cream sandwiches that they'd made for us as dessert. The Bourbon Toffee sandwich was a delight, very rich and satisfying, with a crunchy exterior. The flavors all mingled quite well with the crowd, and people were throwing questions at the couple with enthusiasm.
The plan for this young company, which is currently stationed in the basement of the Deluxe Hotel, is to open its shop in the coming summer. It already has picked a place out on North Williams, and the construction will begin soon. In the meantime you can stop by a few spots to try out some of its flavors, like at North Portland's Cha Cha Cha's. We're looking forward to trying much more from this fantastic duo as the new year hits.
Overall, we had a fantastic time on the Dishcrawl, thanks to Katie Mitchell and everyone involved. If you love food, which you must if you live in Portland, than you need to do a Dishcrawl every month. Keep informed on upcoming crawls here and at bePortland.