Did you know August is the month of the mighty sandwich? No better place to celebrate than this fine city, which is filled with sandwich superfans far and wide. Producing them, eating them, coming up with new ways of making them, sandwiches just get us going. From the classic deli to the artisanal sandwich, Portland’s got it covered, and we’ve come up with a list that highlights some of our greatest hits. There’s a little classic Portland in there, a few non-traditional varieties, and one of our newest: a roving lamb kebab option. This isn’t your mama’s deli turkey on white (but hey, that sounds good, too). Share your favorites below, and party on, sandwich town!
Otto's Sausage Kitchen & Deli
Before the artisanally-made bespoke salami scene, there was Otto’s. Otto’s was and is a place where you can bring your freshly hunted game, and it will be dressed and butchered for you while you wait. But for those of us who are more immediately hungry, there are Otto’s glorious sandwiches on a menu that hasn’t changed in years. The Californian is a mess of bacon and turkey meat with thick avocado and Swiss cheese. Get all the condiments offered to you on this one and opt for the classic sourdough. For those with a sweeter tooth, the Thanksgiving is the best version of exactly what it sounds like, so get ready for crispy stuffing, roasted turkey bits, and globs of cranberry sauce all over your shirt when you’re done.
Otto's Sausage Kitchen & Deli, 4138 SE Woodstock Boulevard, 503.771.6714
Meat Cheese Bread
Ever thought of eating golden beets with your bacon sandwich? Meat Cheese Bread is three steps ahead of you with their B.L.B., effectively voting the tomato off that classic sandwich island. This SE joint might have a straightforward name, but they’ve added some unexpectedly creative sandwich flair to their local and fresh-ingredient focus. So it’s okay to name something as simple as the turkey sando your favorite; its sweet onion and havarti will make you seriously reconsider that half you promised to your friend.
Meat Cheese Bread, 1406 SE Stark St, 503.234.1700
Secret Kebab is one of the most delightfully weird sandwich experiences you will have in Portland. All we know of the elusive Balkan gentleman behind this company is that he is very excited about his product, based on the exclamation points and emphatic “BOOM BOOM” that follows most of his Twitter posts. Probably because that product is one of the best street-food items in town, a hunk of lamb wrapped with beets, carrots, lettuce, and a yogurt garlic mint sauce. The newest iteration of this food cart is a dinnertime delivery service in NW, so hang around Couch Park if you don’t live here and order some. You’ll know it’s your guy when he greets you with “Secret Kebab!”, hands you a bag, takes your money, and disappears into the night.
Secret Kebab, Delivery only
You know that meat-loving, sandwich-enthusiast friend of yours who scoffs at anything without animal byproducts? Bring them here, because this meat-loving, sandwich-enthusiast scoffer shut up pretty quickly after diving into one of Brass Tacks’ white bean meatball subs. And we do mean dive—the three ladies who run this new sandwich shop are not messing around when it comes to portion size. Or quality. Their menu is brimming with house-made everything, including condiments and pickles, and isn’t afraid to list “vegan smoked oat cashew” as a cheese. Die-hard meat eaters, Brass Tacks has plenty for you too. Know that the sandwich featuring their own roast beef will not disappoint.
Brass Tacks, 3535 N Vancouver Avenue, 503.309.4412
Kenny and Zuke's
We know you all know this one, but Kenny and Zuke’s has a permanent placeholder on any Portland sandwich list. Maybe it’s been awhile since you’ve had the pleasure of ordering one of their Italian grinders to go and consuming it in a nearby park, or reminded yourself of the reason Portland fell in love with this place to begin with. We’re talking about the SW location and their house-made pastrami on rye, the star of any Jewish deli. Bring your friend from New York City who keeps yammering on about Katz’s, and enjoy the satisfaction of their blissfully silent food coma. Artisanal delis, the bar is still high.
Kenny & Zuke's, 1038 SW Stark Street, 503.222.3354
Foti’s Greek Deli
Look no further for a gyro with feta. Really. Foti’s is a no-nonsense deli owned by an offbeat couple, who will endear themselves to you even more once you start eating that globby mess of a gyro, the lady’s solid recommendation. Throw one of their baklavas in with your lunch, and you have a veritable Greek feast. You might want to invest in one of their strong Greek coffees, too, if you’re heading back to work—it’s the one thing that might curb your desire for a shot of ouzo and a nap after you finish eating.
Foti's Greek Deli, 1740 E Burnside Street, 503.232.0274
Grant's Philly Cheesesteak
Ah, the Philly cheesesteak: attempted by many, nailed by few. Know that Grant’s belongs squarely in the latter category. It’s small enough that you might miss it on the industrial stretch of NE Sandy, but once you pull a U-turn and find a place in its lunchtime-crowd parking lot, you’re almost there. And then, ten minutes later, it’s just you and this medley of tender beef and melted cheese with a crunchy pepper element that’s both sweet and hot—just say yes to any questions you’re asked about toppings—and you’ll regret ordering just a half. This would be the original with provolone, but asking for Portland-style gets Tillamook. And if you want to get really down-home with it, you have the option of Cheez-Wiz, which is next to try on our list!
Grant's Philly Cheesesteak, 15350 NE Sandy Blvd, 503.252.8012
Martinotti’s Cafe & Deli
The gentleman behind the counter, a son of the original owner, will tell you this deli has the same charming feel as when it opened 33 years ago. You’ll be inclined to believe him. Rustic Italian food lovers, this one goes out to you: the hot Italian sandwich is their simple, delicious specialty (salami, ham, peppers, and cheese), and its proportion is as much of a classic. You won’t be leaving any on the plate, nor will you feel particularly gluttonous afterward unless you indulge in some of their marzipans, which we challenge anyone to resist. Spend some time perusing their wine selection, an homage to Martinotti’s wine collecting. And don’t forget to smell the flowers on the way out—the gentleman’s sister will tell you she just brought them from the countryside that morning.
Martinotti's Cafe & Deli, 404 SW 10th Ave, 503.224.9028
Did we miss your fave(s)? Think you make the best sandwich(es) in town? Dish the delicious details in the comment section!