Portland, OR – PBJs Food Cart, 23rd NW & Kearney

PBJs, Portland

PBJs, Portland

Rarely do I get verklempt at a food cart (yes, I know there are other ways to spell that word), but I did today at PBJs.    My mother showed her love for me and my siblings with food;  when we were  in elementary school, we were all able to walk home for lunch, and neither rain nor sleet nor snow nor….. my mom had it ready for us, whether it was Campbell’s tomato soup, a PB&J on white bread with chips, and a more diverse selection as our palates grew more sophisticated.

After elementary school, brown-bagging became de riguerur, and my mom broadened her expressions of love, never forgetting the PB&J we all loved (Skippy was the norm at our house), but from time to time, branching out to bologna, other lunch meat, the exotic tuna salad, and even for a time, a daily yogurt.

So what, you say?   Listen, I’m a little sloppy today, because at noon, famous Portland Attorney, and occasional co-cart prowler, William Duval and I were served love for lunch, at PBJs.

What on earth is PBJs?   Glad you asked.   Two wonderfully engaging entrepreneurs serving up variations of peanut and other nut butters…..and I’m not going to use a trite food blog word like mash-up, or noveau, here, but rather, a creative take on old standards, jazzed up with the highest quality locally sourced ingredients.

Duval and I were of the same mind after perusing the menu, we both went for “Cream of the Crop”, PBJs own peanut butter, strawberry jam, bananas, cream cheese, mooshed between two slices of heavenly challah bread, and lightly grilled on the flat-top. Our partner in crime today, Portland auto mogul Rod Jones, went for the the Oregonian, marion berry jam (no relation to the former DC mayor I am sure), hazelnut butter, Rogue Creamery Blue Cheese (wouldn’t you like to roll around in a barrel of this stuff? I would). (But then I went to high school on a cliff perched above blue cheese curing caves!)

At about $5, these massive sandwiches pack not only good taste, but good value twixt their delicious golden toasted bread slices. My own choice – the PBJ with the cream cheese and bananas….well, I can’t say enough good things about. And if “grilled” peanut butter strikes you as odd, you are definitely not an Elvis fan.

As usual, my pictures never do justice to the actual product. But one of the really great things about Portland, and how I determine how great a meal was (and this sandwich is a meal), is by how much I take away on my hands and/or clothes. Because Portland isn’t about three forks to the left of your china plate on top of a linen tablecloth, and there are certainly days that I miss that (as well as a great corned beef on rye and a shoeshine), but no, Portland is about wearing your plaid flannel and jeans out to eat some really great food with your fingers. And tho it is five hours after my lunch, I’m enjoying a little nook of jam I just found between my fingers.

The airlines are lately fond of making some variation of the statement “we know you have a choice of what airline you choose, and….). I’m sure the good folks at PBJs would say something similar.

As for me? I say there are more than a couple places in town to get a grilled sandwich, but you haven’t lived til you take a bite of a sammie from PBJs, close your eyes, and remember the love of your mother.

Tissue please!

The Lunch Line begins at PBJs

The Lunch Line begins at PBJs

Perfectly Grilled "Cream of the Crop" at PBJs

Perfectly Grilled "Cream of the Crop" at PBJs