( 5th and Oak St., downtown Portland, OR)
I’ve been blessed to have lived in some of the great food cities of the world; and there’s always at least one local favorite I miss when I have moved away from those burgs – Italian beef from Chicago, po-boys from New Orleans to mention two.
Heating roast beef correctly in au jus is an art form, if the temp is just a 1/10th of a degree too hot (it seems to me) it’s easy for your beef to end up curled and chewy. Many in Portland have tried to master the art of the basic dip sandwich, purportedly invented in Los Angeles at either Cole’s or Philippes, both of whom claim bragging rights.
In both Chicago and New Orleans, who has the best beef dip (respectively, “Italian Beef” or “Roast Beef Po-Boy”) can lead to heated arguments, if not downright brawls.
In Portland, there can seem to be no question, the title goes to “Wagsy’s Hot Beef Sandwiches”, a cart at SW Fifth and Oak. I’ve tried the rest, and now I’ve found the best.
These guys have created a menu based around different variations of beef dip, and after the first bite of the “Chi-Town”, I was hooked. An ample quantity of quality, thin-sliced roast beef, on very fresh bread, served “wet”, and in beef dip terms, that means the loaf is dipped in the au jus slightly for a taste and texture sensation.
The home town version in Chicago is highly flavored with garlic and herbs, but Wagsy’s have toned this down, I suspect, for a wider audience, and for my palate, it’s just perfect.
For five bucks, it’s a very filling sandwich, and it comes with a small ramekin of a vegetable medley (giardiniera) which you may dress the sandwich with if that’s your preference.
A nice finishing touch is provided with a wet nap and toothpick taped to the sandwich box.
Wagsy’s offers some other interpretations of the dip, a Philly style, and a BBQ one, as well as a veggie choice.
Good job guys. You’ve a winning combination. I can easily see a leap to multiple city brick and mortars in your future. Find Wagsy’s on Facebook, too.
Wagsys Hot Beef