Sandwiches are the perfect food, and when you’re perfect, people expect a lot out of you. Just ask Adam & Eve. I’m pretty finicky about my sandwiches–the bread must be exceptionally fresh, the strata thick and multi-layered, the sauces and seasonings and other fillings a real flavor asset, not just fodder. The hunt for the perfect sandwich is a lifetime pursuit, but since lifetime is a very long time, I’ve found a few places who put together an awfully good sandwich in the meantime.

Addy’s Sandwich Bar

addys Downtown Portland has its share of shady characters, so providentially, Addy’s robust Little T American Baker baguette-based sandwiches can double as both lunch and a billy club, should you get into a sticky situation walking from the sweet little subway tile-lined shop back to your office. Everything on the menu is outstanding, but the roast turkey with Brie, cucumber and creme fraiche is particularly fearsome, and nobody messes with the swarthy melted organic dark chocolate, olive oil and and fleur de sel.

Bowery Bagels

bowerybagelBeing a born and bred West Coaster, I’ve never known those simplest of East Coast joys, like lobster boils, living in a “walk-up”, spontaneous picnics in Central Park, cab drivers who actually know how to drive, and authentic New York City bagels. I can’t do much about the first few, but Bowery Bagels has the last one covered, serving authentic hand-rolled kosher-certified New York-style bagels from their trim, tile-lined little Old Town shop. Get your poppyseed, pumpernickel, or miso-soy-ginger bagel plain, with butter, with schmears both “classic and creative” (e.g., kimchi), or piled with housemade whitefish salad. Come lunch, opt for a hearty bagel sandwich like the Meatballialy, a collaboration with 24th & Meatballs, or the roast pork loin, gouda and apple celeriac slaw-stacked Francis Pettygrove. And if your bike or car’s in the shop, no need to risk a bumbling Portland cab ride–Bowery delivers via Portland Pedal Power.

Brass Tacks Sandwiches

brasstackssquareSandwich obsessive that I am, I’ve always wanted to be a card-carrying Sandwich Lover. And now, I am. Because this charming little North Portland sandwich shop gives its regulars an official Sandwich Lover Card, and when you’ve punched nine Captain Roast Beefs (layered with spiced tomato jam, mushrooms, pepperoncinis & pickles) or Salami To Introduce Myselfs (salami, Swiss, & black olives) or Velveeta Undergrounds (one of four vegan specialty sandwiches, made with agave-smoked faux ham, cashew “gouda” and caramelized onions), you get a free sandwich. Finally, an incentive program just for Sandwich Freaks like me. PS: Don’t pass on the crisp, crunchy, flavor-soaked-through-and-through housemade garlic dill pickles–they are something special.

Bunk Sandwiches

bunkbreakfastsandwichTommy Habetz and Nick Wood’s fun, scrappy little sandwich shops have moxie–and a persistent case of ‘line out the door’ syndrome. The sandwich-loving masses come for the tender, juicy roast beef with crispy onions and horseradish, the hot sausage po’ boys, the porchetta with fennel and onions, the Elvis (peanut butter, banana, and bacon), the Oregon albacore tuna melt, the simple grilled Tillamook cheddar, and the mighty Meatball Parmigiano Hero, the sandwich my friend Jeff dubbed “the heart attack boat.” They come for the big pickles, the red beans and green rice, and the Bunk Mimosa–a heady concoction of orange juice and Miller High Life. And when every last speck of pork shoulder and tripe and fried mortadella and oxtail confit is gone, they leave with a big sandwich eatin’ grin. Read full write-up>

Devil’s Dill

devilsdillsandwichIt’s 2am, the bar burger you had for dinner is a distant memory, there’s naught but a can of anchovies in the larder, your ex got Cartopia in the breakup, and you’re so ravenous you’d trade the rights to your future firstborn for the merest nibble of a meatloaf sub. Thanks to this new Hawthorne night owl nosh pit, opened by two composers who now make beautiful sandwich symphonies, you have until 3am to get a house-smoked five spice pulled pork with sesame slaw or meatloaf masterpiece in your belly–no firstborn required.

Double Dragon

doubledragonbanhmisquareNormally, I stand firmly in the camp of waste not, want not, but I cannot tell a lie—many, many napkins were harmed in the making of this posting. It’s inevitable, because when this hip little Division Street sandwich joint slings a pork belly, roast duck, or heaven help you, meatball banh mi monstrosity onto the pick-up counter, you best head straight for the napkin dispenser. Or, better yet, get your green papaya salad, Thai iced tea, coconut cookie and banh mi to go and eat everything at home in the shower. Read full write-up>

East Side Deli

eastsidedeliPortland is has its share of sandwich visionaries, people who adroitly dream up dishy sandwich creations and post them on walls and chalkboards and invite you to partake of their sandwich genius verbatim. Then there’s the art of the free-style deli sandwich, that deceptively plain-Jane maverick that’s created anew each time with the stroke of a dry erase pen on a laminated sandwich card. The choose-your-own-sandwich-adventure where you decide between dijon or yellow mustard, sundried pesto or just plain mayo, roll or Dave’s Killer Bread, the inclusion or exclusion of tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, black olives, pepperoncinis. You’re in control, you are mistress of your own sandwich strata, you’re nobody’s sandwich monkey. It’s something like that at SE Hawthorne’s punky little East Side Deli, where you can rock out to heavy metal while waiting for your custom made sub or sandwich, a heartily layered meal that will set you back a remarkable $5.50.

Grand Central Bakery

grandcentralbakerysandwichAsk any Portlander what their favorite Grand Central Bakery treat is, and they won’t have to think long to answer. After all, with seven locations scattered about the city, most residents live within a five minute walk of one, and once you’ve entered their warm, fragrant baking lair, you’re pretty much hooked. Maybe your weakness is the monkey muffin, a gnarled pecan-studded marvel made up of croissant shreds and caramelized sugar. Maybe you’re a chocolate croissant, Irish soda bread, cinnamon roll, breakfast biscuit or Oregon bay shrimp roll wrangler. Me, I love the simit, an unusual swirled Turkish snack bread made of Peasant Levain dough dipped in raisin juice, then coated in sesame seeds and baked. They can be eaten a myriad ways both savory and sweet; my preferred method is to cut it in half, toast it, and spread with liberal amounts of mustard and an inch or so of Olympic Provisions’ Sweetheart ham. Like I said, hooked.

Ken’s Artisan Bakery

kensfruittartsquareI spend a lot of time fantasizing about living in Paris, but when my Stumptown café au lait, the Sunday NYT and I claim a seat at this airy Alphabet District bakery’s big wood communal table and I tear a smoldering pain du chocolat from limb to limb, watching the warm chocolate ooze out from between the buttery fluttery layers of pastry, I’m thinking there’s no place like Portland. I savor my jambon and asiago baguette sandwich and lemon meringue tartlet, then before reluctantly heading home, order a half dozen dusty pink rosewater macaroons, piece of opera cake, slice of pear frangipane tart, and loaf of fresh walnut bread to go. Come Mondays, it’s tempting to spend the entire day here–the bakery stays open for pizza night, baking the exceptional thin crust pies that fuel nightly lines over at Ken’s Artisan Pizza in Southeast Portland. Even if I had the chance to move to Paris, how could I ever leave Ken’s?! Read full write-up>>

Lardo Eastside

lardoeastintsquareIf you’re going to stray from the caloric straight and narrow, you might as well do it right—and there are few more enjoyable failings than this super popular Ladd’s Addition hotspot’s pork belly sandwich—glistening, hot fat-streaked slabs of this most hallowed Portland mainstay laid to rest on a pillow-soft, golden-crusted Fleur de Lis Bakery brioche bun, or the bacon-topped cold fried chicken sandwich slathered in buttermilk blue cheese dressing, or the epic Double Burger, or the pork scrap and marinated peppers-littered “dirty fries,” or the three microbrews/ grapefruit margaritas you wash it all down with. No need to steer clear if you’re an herbivore either, the meat-free offerings and salads are some of the best around. Get your meal to go, or settle into a picnic table on the vast Hawthorne-fronting patio.

Lardo Westside

lardoburgerFollowing on the meaty heels of its perma-line-out-the-door-endowed sister spot’s SE Hawthorne successes, this West End sandwich shop is luring downtown worker bees from their hives with hulking porchetta, mortadella, and “porkstrami” stuffed marvels, plus the whopper of a Double Burger, slathered with Lardo sauce and best accompanied by the pork and pepper-studded Dirty Fries (because why not go all the way?). Though the sammies should probably come with vascular disclaimers, you’ll still find a way to justify an item from the short list of delicious sides (see aforementioned Dirty Fries). Wash it down with a drink from Lardo’s full bar, slinging everything from Heater Allen Pils to the signature Lardo Sour. Daintier eaters and herbivores, fear not, the eggplant parmesan-wich and escarole Caesar hold their own.

Laurelhurst Market

laurelhurstmarketsquareRaw meat and sandwiches? You must be at the Laurelhurst Market butcher shop. Step up to the meat counter and remember that you are here for a sandwich, and try your best not to get distracted by the sanguine display of gorgeous glistening raw meats and decide to go home and barbecue instead. You can build you own sandwich from a long list of house meats, cheeses and condiments, or put your fate in the Laurelhurst boys’ hands, and try one of the house specials listed on the chalkboard, like porchetta on ciabatta with shredded iceberg and red onions, the smoked Wagyu brisket on a kaiser roll with Piccalilli relish, ham ‘n spicy sopressata with pepperoncinis and aged provolone, or perhaps the spicy tuna confit with capers and Calabrian chiles. Read full write-up>>

Little T American Baker

littletsandwichsquareFlanking every great sandwich there is a great bread, which helps explain why the sandwiches at Little T American Baker are so outstanding. The meaty Italian grinder on a Little T baguette and and turkey & cream cheese with cilantro pesto on a 7-grain carrot ciabatta roll are a couple of my all-time sandwich favorites, and now that summer tomatoes have arrived, Little T’s BLT sandwich is available–two thick slabs of buttery soft Sally Lunn bread (the same bread used in the cowgirl toast bacon + fried egg breakfast sandwich) cradling thick slabs of bacon and lettuce and tomatoes from Gathering Together Farm. It’s summer in a sandwich. Read full write-up>>

Lovejoy Bakers

lovejoybakerssquaresammiePearl District residents, office workers and bread aficionados alike flock through the doors of this light and airy, thoughtfully-designed, delicious-smelling bakery for the delicious breads and lengthy lineup of sandwiches, salads, soups, and just-baked triple chocolate cookies, chewy chocolate brownies, flaky croissants, walnut-studded cinnamon gooey buns, pecan strudel coffee cake, and hazelnut orange danishes. Bring your New York Times/Utne/Marie Claire and linger over a Stumptown latte and ham and egg breakfast sandwich at an outdoor sidewalk table, or eat cerebrum-to-cerebrum with the brilliant creative minds of nearby Ziba Design and Keen Footwear at the T-shaped table across from the kitchen, or head outside to lounge in one of the comfy Adirondack chairs lining NW 10th Avenue.

Meat Cheese Bread

meatcheesebreadgreenbeansquareIt’s the simple things in life that matter, and that’s why I like Meat Cheese Bread’s name so much–because this quirky little sandwich shop on SE Stark has pinpointed the fundamental ingredients in sandwiches…and life. The sandwich menu swings both ways–hot and cold–with standout sandwiches including the Park Kitchen (warm flank steak, pickled onions, blue cheese mayo, lettuce and vinaigrette, named after my favorite salad in the world) and the delightfully different Green Bean, with sliced boiled egg and bacon relish. A cup of homemade soup and a bittersweet chocolate Scharffen Berger brownie on the side, and you’ve pretty much secured your everlasting bliss. But, just when you thought you had it all, MCB owner John Stewart has one more surprise for you–neighboring Beer, a beautiful beer bar that technically makes your life complete. Read full write-up>>

Olympia Provisions NW

opmeatboardPortland is full of interesting secrets—secret catacombs, secret kebabs, secret gardens, secret creperie-speakeasies, and Secret Society, to name a few. Then there’s Olympic Provisions Northwest, which isn’t technically a secret, but unless you’re a particularly thorough wanderer, prone to getting lost, or have business in the industrial wilds of Northwest Portland, you’d be hard-pressed to stumble upon it. Walking through the deli’s front doors, you’re immediately confronted by one of the finest meat counters around—brimming with fresh sausages, frankfurters, patés, rillettes, Sweetheart hams, bacon, and a full range of Olympic Provisions’ acclaimed salami–all housemade on site. Orbiting the deli case is an intimate kitchen-facing marble bar, a few tables for two, and two boisterous communal tables—so you’re covered, whether you’re having salami sandwiches and cold microbrews for lunch with friends, or sharing one of the peerless rotisserie chickens with Schmaltz potatoes and a bottle of rosé with a hot date. Read full write-up>>

P’s & Q’s Market

psandqsmarketIt’s no secret that I like a good picnic, that’s why I founded the Portland Picnic Society, after all. Nothing’s more convivial than gathering a group of friends, picking a park, spreading a blanket, and commencing a fuss-free deviled egg and baguette sandwich-fueled al fresco fiesta. And speaking of fuss-free, this darling Woodlawn community cafe and market makes the picnic process as streamlined as possible–just borrow one of their beautiful wood and wicker picnic baskets, fill it with market goodies like housemade roast beef, BLT, and ham and gouda sandwiches, Castelvetrano olives, fresh stone fruit, just-baked fleur de sel-sprinkled chocolate chip cookies, and a chilled bottle of something sparkly from the cooler, head a half block down the street to lovely Woodlawn park, picnic your afternoon away, then return the basket and go home…no mess, just memories. Genius!

Pearl Bakery

pearlbakerysandwichsquareShould you need a sandwich fix come lunch time, pop into this pretty European-style Pearl District bakery for a housemade sandwich on the freshest of bread–the case is filled with hearty options like the Black Forest ham and fontina with roasted red pepper aioli, roasted eggplant with sun-dried tomato pesto and fresh basil, and green apple and white cheddar with homemade walnut spread. If you’re in a hurry, slip in pre-lunch rush to grab and go, or if you get stuck in line, use your time wisely by scoping out the pastry case and deciding what dessert is going to be–a dark chocolate and raspberry brownie, a pistachio apricot macaron, or perhaps a few of Pearl’s divine new line of chocolate bon bons. Read full write-up>>

Savor Soup House

savorsoupsandwichsquarePerched at the corner of SW 10th & Alder, this darling little pink-shingled downtown food cart turns out delicious sandwiches, soups and salads. Try The Taproot–turkey and provolone with pesto, lettuce and tomato on Grand Central Bakery’s Como bread, The Caprese–sliced tomato, buffalo mozzarella and basil with balsamic drizzle on a ciabatta roll, or pair  a cup of hot tomato soup with fennel and orange with one of one of Savor’s dreamy build-your-own grilled cheese sandwiches–you start with Tillamook cheddar or gruyere and add ingredients as you like from a list that includes homemade pesto, apple butter, caramelized onion, hickory smoked bacon, sliced apples, and truffle oil. And when the rain’s pelting your office windows and you don’t feel like standing outside a food cart, even a pink-shingled one, you can call for delivery–Savor delivers via Portland Pedal Power to as far away as Lloyd Center.

Shut Up and Eat

shutupandeatrapiniFor a good time, call (or you know, just walk into) this boisterous Gladstone sandwich shop, which fills to the gills with famished regulars expecting not just a sandwich, but a SANDWICH—foot-long feasts so formidable you may as well preemptively concede defeat and bring your own doggy bag. Case in point, the Broad St. Bomber, a heap of Painted Hills top round tossed with fried onions and peppers and thick with tendrils of cheddar and provolone, a belly buster rivaled only by the magnificent Meatball Sub.


sweedeedeetroutAs fun to say as it is cute, funky, and downright delicious, this petite light-filled space sits quietly in a previously breakfast-barren stretch of North Albina Street, and from the moment they open the doors at 8am, the staff is cutting slices of ethereal homemade honey pie, doling out gooey sticky buns and blueberry cornmeal muffins, pouring hot cups of Extracto coffee into mismatched crockery, and dishing up hearty breakfast and lunch plates as fast as they can, to overjoyed neighborhood residents and gastro-tourists alike, all whom pack themselves into the handful of tables and window bar like happy hash-devouring sardines. Try the baked egg-topped corncakes, smoked trout plate with pickled seasonal vegetables, cream cheese and thick slices of rye bread, and any of the fantastically fresh salads and sandwiches.

Tabor Bread

taborbreadsalmontoastThose seeking a front-row view of an artisan loaf’s journey from yeast to feast need only perch at the wide stone bar facing this cozy Mt. Tabor bakery’s giant bread oven. (Mind the peel if you’re fond of your nose as is.) Since man and woman cannot allegedly live on bread alone (even house-milled, wood-fired whole grain bread), the pastry case is stacked with baked treats ranging from dark, dense little gingerbread cakes to streusel-topped cranberry oat muffins, and the sandwich menu is a thing of beauty; try the herbed egg salad with pickled celery, kale with Kalamata olives, fresh basil and goat fromage blanc, and on weekends, take advantage of the salmon toast special–lox, dill cream cheese, red onion and pickled vegetables on seeded dark rye toast.

Tails & Trotters

tailsandtrottershamsandwichIf, having watched Delicatessen one too many times, you now have a debilitating butcher shop phobia–prepare to be healed by this light, airy meat market in NE Glisan’s The Ocean. Its gleaming glass case is a pristinely-arranged standoff between fresh cuts like rib roasts and chops, and cured cuts–try the housemade porkstrami and pancetta. Order a paté sandwich and dine at the four-stool window bar, pluck a tub of pulled pork from the to-go case for later, and leave with renewed affections for la boucherie.

Taste Tickler

tasteticklersquareWhen I eat at this immaculate little basement sub shop, I’m transported back in time. Back to college, when I could party all night and sleep until 4pm, my carefree lifestyle interrupted only by a)the occasional call from my dad threatening to cut off my funding unless I added another two whole points to my GPA and fast, b)the occasional mandatory class attendance policy, and b)relentless sandwich cravings. In college, unless you’re highly evolved, you aren’t necessarily interested in house-cured meats and artisan cheeses and organic tomatoes and free range pepperoncinis, you’re much more concerned with volume, economy and flair, which is exactly what you’ll get here. Sandwiches come on a stretch of soft chewy white baguette, and can be adorned with pretty much any trimming or condiment you want, which is why mine always end up resembling a Christmas tree decorated by a kid who got into the mulled wine. They are big, they are cheap, they are fresh, and they are satisfying, even to a mature, adult, free-range pepperoncini snob like me.