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Portland's Other Schnitz

Schnitzelwich.jpg

Mistakes were made. At least one big one was, so a correction’s in order. Turns out that my original suggestion in Neighborhood Notes that Karel and Monika Vitek's Schnitzelwich is surprisingly light was remarkably wrong.

I’ve come to learn that a Tábor Schnitzelwich is, in fact, a commitment—I'd originally typed that finishing off this burly sando in a single sitting would leave you feeling A-Okay, but that's because when I first ate one, I'd eaten just half, then, still hungry an hour later, finished the other half. I felt great. And delightfully surprised. But 60 minutes can make all the difference.

I've since come to learn on subsequent visits to wrap up and eat later what I can’t finish now rather than have at it in one go, which probably says a lot more about me than the sandwich, itself. Still, this sando's a keeper, and well worth the short wait it takes to have one prepared, even if it means standing in the rain.

Served on a ciabatta roll and topped with crisp Romain lettuce, a pleasantly pungent horseradish sour cream and an electric red ajvar (a Czech relish made with garlic, eggplant and roasted red peppers), the Vitek's breaded and panfried schnitzel sando (your choice of either pork or chicken—but c'mon: are you really going to ask for chicken?) long ago leapfrogged lotsa spots to become one of Portland's most iconic sandwiches—an honor it richly deserves.

Just remember: if you find yourself halfway through, take a breather and think, should I trust my belly or my own lyin' eyes? The answer is obvious: trust your belly. Finish what you can, wrap up what you can't, and give yourself a short rest before filling the rest of you up. Of course, you can always choose to bring along a friend to help you finish it.*

*And should you bring along that friend, consider going on a Wednesday. You can pair that split sandwich while splitting a bramborák (a bulging omelet-like 10-inch potato pancake that you can have stuffed with sauerkraut, ham, spinach and that same spicy sour cream), or pony up and share a bowl of Bohemian Gulash, availably daily, and prepared weekly with thematic twists—the Viteks make Guinness Gulash, Szekely Gulash, Pilsner Gulash and Gypsy Gulash just, as Karel says “to make the point that Gulash has many faces and endures infinite possibilities.”