Portlanders really love to eat. And they really love to make their food stand out in the crowd. And while most are familiar with some of Portland's signature eats (Voodoo Donuts, Pine Street Biscuit, Screen Door), you may be surprised to learn that sandwiches are having a bit of a moment in the City of Roses right now. In fact, some would say sandwich making has become something of an art form.
Next time you stay in a Portland vacation rental, make sure you stop by one of these amazing Portland sandwich shops for a bite (in no particular order).
Sammich PDX—2137 E. Burnside
Sandwich extraordinaire Melissa McMillan serves up big sammies and a big Chicago attitude to go with it. Her food truck, Pastrami Zombie, was such a smash that she went in for seconds—a cozy little corner shop dubbed Sammich on bustling Burnside. She smokes her own meat (major bonus) and isn't shy about piling on the toppings.
Order: The OG Pastrami Zombie (they'll ask if you want mustard or Russian sauce and the answer is. Always. Russian). Add a basket of Zombie Fries if you're feeling extra snacky.
Basilisk—820 NE 27th Ave. in the Zipper
Named after "the legendary chicken monster", Basilisk makes a sandwich that is just as dangerous and similarly magnificent. The thing is so tall that it must be held together, expertly, with a steak knife. The quick pickles and slaw add a bit of sweet and tangy to a fried chicken slab that would make Colonel Sanders weep.
Order: The fried chicken sandwich (obviously). If you're feeling frisky, grab a Kool-Aid flavored soft serve to wash it down.
Lardo—1212 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
A restaurant named after a specialty salume is not one to skimp out. In fact, Lardo loves excess. And grease. Lots of it. Chef Rick Gencarelli himself says the restaurant "worships at the altar of bovine & swine," and dresses it up nice with some truly bangin' sauces. And, in case you weren't convinced, they also do a charity sandwich once a month made by a guest chef—all proceeds go to a local non-profit. So you can get grease all over your hands and be an awesome human at the same time. You're welcome.
Order: Whatever the charity sandwich is, obviously, but also the Korean Pork Shoulder made with house kimchi.
Cuôn—600 SW 4th Ave.
This unassuming Vietnamese street food shop may go unnoticed by many vacationers. It's tucked underneath a parking garage. It's only a block from Pioneer Place—you can see it just down the road. And it's on a may thruway in and out of Downtown, so it can be a little loud. But seriously, put all of that aside, because this sweet little eatery is serving up some fresh, light fare that's incredibly satisfying. You'll find that its usual crowd is workers from the blocks surrounding it, with tucked in shirts and fancy shoes grabbing a few spring rolls to go. But the traditional Banh Mi sandwich at Cuôn is not to be missed. Come hungry—this is not a small sandwich. But the crusty French bread (a must in a good Banh Mi) is worth every bite.
Order: If you're into it, get the pork belly with avocado. Always say yes to avocado.
Bushel & Peck—3907 NE MLK Jr. Blvd.
Another unassuming bakeshop on another major thruway, Bushel & Peck will blow you away with its quaint, pastoral feel and darling baked goods. It's a farmers market in a coffee shop (which makes sense, given that they started as a farmers market stand). The shining stars are their breakfast sandwiches on fluffy biscuits, which are also great for lunch. Just saying.
Order: Any sandwich on a biscuit.
Fried Egg I'm in Love—3549 SE Hawthorne Blvd
This breakfast sandwich shop is all about the puns and rock music, with sammies named things like, "Smells Like Protein Spirit" and "Yolko Ono." Their eggs and bread are locally sourced. And if you happen to be vegan or gluten-free, FEIIL's got you covered with a soy-free vegan sausage patty and, in their words, "the best gluten-free breakfast sandwiches in Portland." They also have a cart in downtown Portland if your Portland vacation rental happens to be over in that direction. Even if it's pouring rain, this sandwich will bring an ooey-gooey smile to your face.
Order: The Egg Zeppelin.
If you've been meh on sandwiches, Portland's going to show you how it’s done. You'll never look at two slices of bread the same way again.