Whatever the country's culinary variety of multilayered causa or thick-brothed cazuela, in Peru sandwiches rule the city streets. At night, lines form around the block at sangucherias that are sometimes lit up like Thai discos. 

The La Sangucheria food cart takes the kitchen-sink sanguche straight to Portland's downtown streets, in contrast to the more manicured, casual Peruvian fare offered by North Portland restaurant Las Primas. 

La Sangucheria's massive pachamama sandwich ($8) is protein-loaded to absurdity with bacon, breaded chicken breast, sweet-smoked ham, egg and cheddar, then smothered in a mayo tartar of onion, egg and parsley. Pencil-thin fries form a starchy slaw atop the pagoda-stacked meat. 

Each sandwich, it seems, has fries slipped inside—the Peruvian fetish for potatoes knows no bounds. However, on our visit the fries were a bit unevenly cooked. The pachamama is at heart an unseemly burlesque of food impossible to keep in its sopping bun, but it is also a thing of beauty. Like, say, a Dario Argento horror-porn sequence, the whole unmanageable dripping mess adds up to well-balanced craft. Each texture and layer can be appreciated, and yet they manage to work together rather than clash into cacophony. 

The generously appointed saltado sandwich ($8)—beef tenderloin marinated with onions in soy, vinegar and spice—is an equally impossible meal for those cursed with only two hands, but it is also one of the best street-level steak sandwiches in town, shaming even a good Philly sub with its juicy intensity.

High art it is not. But I can think of little better to eat while high. Take heart, then, that the cart is open late on Fridays and Saturdays.

  • Order this: Saltado sandwich ($8).
  • I’ll pass: The hot dog-and-fries salchipapas ($5) had fries either half-soggy or half-done. 

EAT: La Sangucheria, 108 SW 3rd Ave., 957-2410. 11 am-3 pm Tuesday-Thursday, 8 pm-3 am Friday-Saturday. $.