You know you’re in Portland when you find yourself eating a burger just feet away from a car detailing shop but it’s so good you almost don’t even notice.
I’m talking about PDX Sliders, Sellwood’s sandwich truck.
Have you been there yet?
Look beyond the car wash. The auto detailer. And the busy traffic at 17th and Tacoma in Sellwood.
See the red truck and the picnic tables right before the 7 Eleven sign?
It’s about as stripped down as you can get — but no matter.
It’s all about the sliders.
My Dad (visiting from California) and I went yesterday so let me show what I’m talking about.
Burgers and ‘wiches are divided by the protein of choice: beef, chicken, pork and veggie.
As you can see, there are ten different variations offered but four sliders seemed as much as we could handle — especially considering the fact that we threw an order of fries into the mix.
I quizzed the counter guy as to what he liked best, saying we wanted a good variety of meats.
Five minutes after ordering, here’s what came out.
We started with The Sellwood — the most classic, straight-up beef version.
It came out as a succulent, three bite wonder — a little larger than half the size of a regular burger.
The caramelized onions, crisp bacon, Beecher’s aged cheddar and aioli made it a crowd-pleaser.
More interesting (if a tad less gratifying) was The Hawthorne: this beef burger paired bacon, goat cheese, and strawberry preserves on a beguiling brioche roll.
It was yummy but the novelty wore off by the end of it – the goat cheese and preserves were competing too much with the beefiness; I couldn’t help but wonder if a more neutral turkey burger would have been a better fit.
The Tilikum was a skillful pairing of meat and slaw and the chicken was fried to succulent perfection.
My only quibble with this one was that I would’ve preferred that they’d skipped the heavy dousing of BBQ as it dampened the crispness of the delightful chicken and acted like a conversation hog.
Who could hear anything else when this tangy sauce was taking all the attention?
Time to get back on track, and the guy at the counter was right — The Broadway was the best one there.
See that tastiness on the right side of the plate?
Everything about this slider worked in tandem: crazy moist (and not too fatty) braised pork, Mama Lil’s Peppas, arugula, aioli and the most perfect little Ciabatta ever.
I LOVED this sandwich. With abandon. Without regrets.
Heaven only knows we were full by now but that didn’t stop us from grooving on the fries, too.
So here’s what I recommend for optimal dining pleasure.
Next time you want to hit Oaks Bottom, a Sellwood park or even Oaks Amusement Park, stop here first. Forget eating in these unremarkable settings, and just order your goodness to go.
Get a couple Broadways, Sellwoods and perhaps even vegetarians offerings like the black bean stuffed Ross Island or portabella-starring St. Johns.
A picnic blanket, a box of warm sliders and a sunny afternoon would be a thing of remarkable beauty (and bonus points for you if you remember a cute vintage cooler of chilled IPA’s).