Cheesesteak Nirvana

Cheesesteak Nirvana

Cheesesteak Nirvana

Location: Cartlandia @ 8145 SE 82nd Ave
Hours: Daily and weekends, 11am-8pm

The Story:

Everyone loves a good sandwich and many cities have defined their culinary tradition with a sandwich. Philadelphia is one of those cities with their signature cheesesteak. Here in Portland, many do a good job replicating it, but few perfect it. Cheesesteak Nirvana may surprise even the purists.

Ben and Marshall make up the team that put Cheesesteak Nirvana together and perfected the menu with taste tests along the way. Marshall, a soon to be retired dentist, is Ben’s father and will support him in the cart this summer so he doesn’t need to work seven 18hr days in a row. What a great dad! Ben knew that if he wanted to make cheesesteaks, he needed to do it right and as I have always heard, it comes down to the bread. There is something about the bread out of Philly that makes the cheesesteak unique. Ben gets his traditional Amoroso buns directly from Philly, the first step to authenticity. Further, this is one of the few carts in town that sport Cheese Wiz, a must for the cheesesteak stalwart.

The Fundamentalist Cheesesteak

The Fundamentalist Cheesesteak

Cheesesteak Nirvana has fun with the sandwich names, making a play both on the cheeseteak side and the Nirvana side. The names include The Puritan for veggie lovers, The Unitarian for those who want to build their own, The Friar with chicken and The Vatican with an Italian bent. I wanted to go old school, so settled on The Fundamentalist which is a simple cheesesteak with thinly sliced grilled sirloin, caramelized onions and cheese. “With Wiz” was my answer when asked about cheese. How often do you get the option of melted Wiz on your beef. The sandwich was wonderfully messy and tasty and satisfying. The bun was what I remember – a bit fluffy and moist enough to soak in the juices from the meat and onions. A sandwich that you don’t want to put down because if you do, you may have to grab a fork. I will definitely return.

Ben and Marshall have figured out the secret to a good cheesesteak – the bun. With all the other ingredients being top notch and well prepared, you end up with a great sandwich and great cart. Head on down to Cartopia and check out Cheesesteak Nirvana to “Find your Bliss.” Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • The Fundamentalist: thin sliced grilled sirloin with caramelized onions and your choice of cheese on a traditional Amaroso bun – regular, $5.50; ultimate $8.50
  • The Vatican: above with added fresh tomatoes, grilled bell peppers, pepperoncini and a splash of Italian dressing – regular, $6.50; ultimate, $9.50
  • The Puritan: Portabello mushrooms, caramelized onions, bell peppers and tomatoes – regular, $5.50; ultimate, $8.50
  • The Unitarian: build your own – regular, $5.50; ultimate, $8.50
  • The Friar: lean chicken breast, caramelized onions, cheese on an Amaroso bun – regular, $5.50; ultimate, $8.50

sides, extras and drinks available upon request

Hours: Weekdays and weekend for lunch and into the afternoon
Website: Cheesesteak Nirvana



  1. Cheese Steak Nirvana is right on SE 82nd on the Cartlandia lot – 8145 SE 82nd, right at the intersection of Springwater Corridor Bike Trail and SE 82nd and about 1/2 mile north of Johnson Creek. Their very cute cart is open 11:30 am until 10 pm. Ben and Marshall bring in the Traditional Amoroso rolls from Philly for all of their sandwiches and they also make fantastic homemade lemonade and ice cream – peach or strawberry.

  2. Sounds good and I’ll try to make it. In Carol’s comment the hours she states conflict with the write-up.

  3. Looks good, sounds good, but is it good? This will have to be a must-try for me.

  4. This is the place to go for a cheesesteak. Just went here today and loved it. The Amoroso bun and the wiz really made me a happy camper. I’m gonna eventually write a short review of this place on my blog. Telling all my friends about this place for sure!

  5. Never open. Don’t bother driving out there unreliable hours. Tues oct 25th 12:06 pm

  6. Fundamentalist with wiz, probably the best cheesesteak I’ve ever had.

  7. Ann Valvona says:

    Love Love Love the Cheesesteak it is the best!!!!!

  8. Oh Yea been waiting for months to try this joint saw Aaron W’s review after Bud F. sharred his reviews with me in another thread, so off we go and sure enough Marshall was there to greet us he is a retired or soon to be Dentist his son and him run the cart, I meet them through work when they were first building the cart and when i asked “what do you serve?” and he told be a huge bell went off I fricking love cheese steak and with only a few good spots throughout portland that truly know how to make this.Bread called Amoroso is one key the others are good sirloin and if you want grilled onions you gotta have it with cheese wiz thats the bomb, My daughter and friend enjoyed this love filled bread thing called the Fundamentalist. It is or should be the first thing to try when you visit Marshall and Ben then try the rest of the menu i know i am, just tell them Rick sent Ya & enjoy
    Keep Portland weird and eat at the carts

  9. Tony Romanio says:

    Cheesesteak Nirvana? YES! The Fundimentalist is UNBELIEVABLE! Perfectly seasoned, grilled to perfection! Ask about the “Side of the Day” Todays was Bow tie pasta salad w/ peppers & calamata olives in an italian herb vinigrette dressing. Perfectly complemented the sandwich. I’m going back! Cheez Whizz next time….I may have to keep this a secret?

  10. Tracey Christle says:

    This is one of my faces at Cartlandia. The guys are really nice too.

  11. this place is the only cart ive been to at this location…for a reason. it’s absolutely A M A Z I N G. you are missing if you haven’t been, this guy is the best!! if you haven’t stopped by there and had a vatican or w/e. you have no clue what you’re missing. yum!!

  12. Food? Mediocre.

    Service? Horrible.

    We just visited three days ago. The guy in the cart seemed irritated by taking our order and annoyed that he had to cook it for us. I highly recommend visiting one of the OTHER carts at Cartlandia, where there are multiple other hard-workiing, friendly, appreciative and pleasant people, who are happy to take your order, happy to serve you delicious food and happy to have your business. Too many carts in Portland to deal with this kind of snotty attitude. Sorry, Nirvana…you blew it with our family.

  13. I will never in my life go back to cheesesteak nirvana. Have been many times I’m glad to support the local food carts. I was met by being ignored for 10 minutes. Then ask and the rudest manner possible if I was just browsing or I was going to actually buy something. Then I asked for a sandwich with cheese whiz and provolone and was told no. Obviously didn’t want my business

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