They say all men are created equal.
But when it comes to the world of sandwiches, that notion is flat-out ridiculous.
There is no way you’re going to convince me that those pre-packaged abominations you might get in a supermarket or corner market is on the same level with something from say, New Seasons, where you can customize your made-to-order ‘wich with a variety of incredible breads, meats and interesting additions (like tapenade or basil aioli, to name just a few).
And then when you try to use that same word to describe the perfection of a sandwich that is coming out of Bunk, MeatCheeseBread or some select food carts around this town, you should have a whole different word in your vocab arsenal to describe it.
Sometimes, the moniker “sandwich” just doesn’t cut the mustard, so to speak.
I was thinking about this enormous chasm of sandwich excellence when I finally got myself here this week.
I went with my friend Sasha, a professional caterer and eater of the first order, and we ordered just a couple things — The Diego Bowl, the Carnitas Torta sandwich and from the Snacks-y-Sides section of the menu, the Esquites (warm sauteed corn kernels with garlic,aoli, cotija and lime).
We sat outside in the sunshine (although they have a fairly spacious covered area for gloomier days) and waited just a few minutes for our name to be called.
Waiting for our food might have been the longest seven minutes of my week.
Let’s start with our side dish of Esquites . Unfortunately we wolfed down the generous cup so fast I didn’t get a pic, but the corn seen here is the base of this dish — just imagine it topped with aioli and more cotija cheese.
We loved that side, and I’d def do again.
Let’s move on to the bowl offerings.
There’s a choice of three: all have lettuces, rice, beans, that marvelous esquites (corn), poblano crema, guac sacue, cotija cheese, fire-roasted chile, lime, cilantro and pickled onions.
The Frida is the starter one (exactly as described for $8), The Diego allows you to add either carnitas or chicken for a dollar more and the El Panzon is all of the above plus an organic boiled egg for $11.
We opted for The Diego with pollo (cooked in achiote with citrus and banana leaf) — and it was scrumptious.
If you do get a bowl, be sure to mix all the ingredients together so you can experience many of those complementary flavors and textures all at once (and the greens are nice and dressed).
But let’s be real here — the best thing about Guero are those torta sandwiches.
C’mon– there is a commonality of the ingredients in both bowls and tortas but it’s hard to argue for the former when the latter allows you swap out the greens for that lovely fluffy roll.
It’s funny — when I first saw the roll I was worried because it looked like one of those rolls you see at the supermarket that you know is going to suck. You know the kind — pallid, flavorless, pointless.
I shouldn’t have worried; these are the perfect vessel for this sandwich — light and airy yet strong enough to hold all these moist and crunchy ingredients close together.
Miraculously I was unable to finish this huge sandwich in one sitting (me, glutton extraordinaire?) but I was delighted to learn that this roll held up perfectly even hours later.
Forcing all these wonderful ingredients into a tight little embrace allows all the moving parts of this concoction to mix and mingle and even flirt a little– only to explode in your mouth in an orgiastic glory.
Let’s break it down.
There’s the Carlton Farms pork marinated in citrus and spices and cooked until tender and crazy flavorful. Also included is a lively slaw cabbage slaw and both fresh and pickled onions. I opted for the 50 cent upgrade of cotija cheese, but for the life of me I can’t imagine why I did opt for the avocado.
You know those Viagra commercials in which the voice-over cautions “make sure with your doctor that your heart is healthy enough to use Viagra?”
Maybe this is the same thing with my avocado omission– that much more succulence would have been imprudent on that first go-around.
Next time I’m going all in.
All I can say is just wow.
Guero, you’re one clever food cart.
On the basis of just one visit, your Carnitas Torta catapaulted into my Portland Top Ten Sandwich List (a notoriously hard-to-crack-into category).
Well played, Guero.