The West End has another excellent choice for breakfast or lunch. The Otherside Delicatessen recently opened at 235 Vaughan St. in the space formerly occupied by Vaughan Street Variety. It’s the second deli by proprietor-chef Pete Sueltenfuss, who opened the original Otherside on Veranda Street in East Deering two years ago.
The West End location is across the street from Maine Medical Center and in the heart of a busy pedestrian area, because of the medical office buildings scattered throughout the neighborhood. I stopped in for lunch a few minutes after noon late last week and encountered a good-sized group of people ordering and waiting for sandwiches.
There is no seating. It’s strictly take-out. The menu of the West End deli lacks the depth and variety of the East Deering menu, but the common ground is the quality of the sandwiches. Sueltenfuss butchers animals at Otherside and stocks his cases with fresh local meats and dairy items. He also sells take-and-bake dinners and a decent selection of prepared foods and wines.
The sandwich menu is unique. Pork schnitzel and a pork belly bahn mi complement more common choices of hot pastrami or a double cheeseburger (with caramelized onions). There are shaved steak grinders, roast beef grinders and a daily chicken sandwich.
I opted for a lamb meatball gyro. I never realized I had a choice. All my life, I’ve accepted that lamb was the go-to meat for all gyros, but Otherside offers them with braised rabbit, smoked beef basturma and marinated eggplant. All are served with a mix of cucumber, tomato, onion, lettuce and yogurt, all wrapped in a thin, doughy flatbread pita.
The counterman wrapped it tightly in brown paper and secured it with masking tape. My gyro was delivered in less than 10 minutes from the time I ordered, and several people before me received their sandwiches while I waited and several others ordered.
I wasn’t prepared for take-out — I had planned to eat at the deli, not realizing there was no seating. That was my fault. The website is very clear that the deli is a market and not a sit-down restaurant. So my car became my lunch counter. To the credit of the deli staff, my gyro was not messy. It was not overloaded with drippy yogurt sauce, and the flatbread held together well. That efficient wrapping helped keep the sandwich intact.
That same attention to detail was evident in the gyro itself. The lamb was tender and slightly sweet. The cucumbers were prodigious and added heft and substance. The yogurt provided a nice cool complement.
The deli also has a great breakfast menu, with veggie and meat burritos and an assortment of bagels, bagel sandwiches (with cured salmon and smoked trout pate, among other choices) and burritos. As with many of the ingredients at Otherside, the bagels are locally sourced, from Southside Bakery in Portland.
With chips and a flavored water, my lunch cost $13.70. That’s not an inexpensive take-out lunch, but I got my money’s worth and will go back.
OTHERSIDE DELICATESSEN – WEST END
WHERE: 235 Vaughan St., Portland; 207-874-7414; www.othersidedeli.com
HOURS: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday
WAIT: 10 minutes
PARKING: On street
HANDICAPPED ACCESSIBLE: Yes