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Pastrami Zombie to Open Brick-and-Mortar on E Burnside

The purveyor of the city’s best pastrami—and one of Portland Monthly’s favorite food carts of 2017—puts down roots.

By Benjamin Tepler October 17, 2017

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It’s no secret that we are completely obsessed with Pastrami Zombie’s meat. Owner Melissa McMillan makes the best Montreal-style pastrami in town, hands-down: natural Angus brisket, brined for four days, smoked with black oak, and sliced thick. Now McMillan is opening a brick-and-mortar location for her meat-centric sandwich shop at 2137 E Burnside St, next door to Olé Olé and across the street from Luce. Projected opening? December 1.

McMillan’s flagship operation, Sammich, is a cult-worshipped sandwich destination in Ashland. She opened her roving Pastrami Zombie food cart in 2016 to test the waters for a second Sammich location in Portland. While previous reports announced a joint operation with Scout Brewing in its not-yet-opened SE Division location, McMillan says the timing just didn’t work out, although there are still tentative plans to team up when they do open.

Sammich Portland will feel a lot like the Ashland HQ, but with a few upgrades. Expect 28 seats inside, plus a few outside, and a smoker for pastrami, Texas brisket, pork, and various smoked birds. McMillan plans to bring back her crowd-favorite “Cali Girl” sandwich with house-brined and smoked turkey, bacon and avocado. Also on the docket: vegetarian options, including her market-fresh “Vegan Surprise” sandwich, and several salads with names like “Cubby” and “Wrigley” (McMillan is a raging Cubs fan). Beer, wine, and hard liquor are also in the works. 

Melissa will be joined by her brother, Timmy McMillan, who helped get the original location off the ground, and invented the “Timbo,” a Chicago-style cheese steak with slow-roasted beef, and the requisite American cheese and mayonnaise slick. To quote Melissa McMillian: “It’s freakin’ hot, it’s wet, and it’s naughty.”

When it opens in December, Sammich Portland will vend that unshakably good brisket for lunch and dinner, daily (delivery, too!). In the meantime, you can find the nomadic Pastrami Zombie at its temporary home at 4237 N Mississippi Ave.

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