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