The People's Pig Wild Boar Sandwich

Cliff Allen's tiny, streetside meat cave fires up the art of eating between slices of homemade bread.

By Karen Brooks May 1, 2013

EVEN in a city stacked with artful sandwich shops, one food cart rules them all. Little about the scruffy appearance of this metal box suggests what waits inside: a collective intelligence of flavors calculated to make taste buds reel with happiness. The experience is layered in smoke, the drip of decadent juices, and the tricky art of extreme simplicity. The tools are two cast-iron skillets and a mountain of wood. The mode is five components max, and one man’s determination to make every bite count. In the corner, an ancient cash register sounds an exuberant ping. It says everything about the People’s Pig. 

This sandwich-focused magic is performed daily on a tawdry patch of asphalt in Portland’s food cart nerve center, at SW 10th Avenue and Washington Street. Owner Cliff Allen and his sidekick Ray Ballentine operate quietly and off the radar, serving cult followers and a steady flow of visiting cart hoppers ready to eat up whatever ideas they post. In a windowsill that doubles as kitchen counter, an arsenal of fresh lemons, finishing salts, and fennel pollen—fennel pollen!—stands ready to serve whatever meats Allen is obsessing over, mesquite-grilled steps away over an open fire and sliced to order. Each sandwich holds messy, mouth-challenging generosity, accessorized with vinegar-splashed greens and handmade condiments, and tucked neatly between Allen’s homemade sourdough buns—yours for $6–10.   

The People’s Pig
SW 10th Ave &
Washington St
Open daily, 11 am to 3 pm

Among the new scores is the city’s best fried-egg sandwich, holding farm-fresh beauties brought to life over hot coals to pair with smoky bacon and a wealth of sharp cheese. If you’re lucky, the pork burger is in the house—supremely moist and delicate, with a deep flavor surge. Allen goes the distance, grinding pork shoulder and belly into a mixture poached like fine sausage, then boosting them with sweet-hot mustard, a carnival of pickled red onions, and just-grated cheese that melts slowly on impact. 

But Allen’s succulent, fire-edged slabs of wild boar, bound in the chunky, bittersweet sap of citrus marmalade, may be the find of the year. We went inside to decode the juicy secrets of the People’s Pig’s euphoric wild boar sandwich. 


Anatomy of a Sandwich

Wild boar tastes familiar yet different—think steak with a feral essence. Cliff Allen hunted down a Texas-born breed from Nicky USA, Portland’s go-to game supplier. He’d never cooked boar; he just knew he loved it. “It doesn’t need much,” he says. “It’s all about the smoke and fire. They do their thing.”  

When Allen couldn’t find the proper rolls for his juicy constructions, he did what any obsessive would do: he made them himself. These sourdough delights deliver. Crusty intensity. Personality. A punch of tang. Wood-fired crunch. And just enough soak and sturdiness to rein in dripping juices. That’s sandwich bread. 

You won’t find ketchup here. Instead, each sandwich gets its own rocket boost of flavor. With the wild boar sandwich, that means blood oranges—rinds, pulp, and all—slow-cooked into honey-thick swirls of citrus, sweet, and bitter oozing from a pile of earthy meat. 

Even a meaty sandwich like this yells, “Eat your vegetables!” Allen makes it easy, piling a bright bushel of long-stemmed, peppery watercress right on top of the boar.    

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