Food Fight! Who Will Win the Sandwich Smackdowns?

The Portland Monthly staff (and a few guests) entered the ring to fight in favor of the city's beloved bread-cradled creations. Now it's your turn to choose the winners.

Illustrations by Nick Stokes February 14, 2014 Published in the March 2014 issue of Portland Monthly

Share your sandwich snark, and you could see your answer in an upcoming issue of Portland Monthly. Simply choose a side on one of these food fights, and let us know why you crave it in the comments!

PDX Sandwich Smackdown: Ballad of the Baguettes

Ken’s Artisan Bakery

Like gold torpedoes, these loaves emerge
Crinkling, crackling, ridged with the lightest char
Interiors pillowy and honeycombed, without the slightest mar
Enough to drive a gluten lover to insanity’s verge.

I used to hope that whole wheat could bring me ease,
Could sate my deeply gnawing Frenchy leanings
I was a fool: this perfect baguette has many meanings.—Zach Dundas (apologies to Baudelaire)

Little T American Baker

The needle hits the record
When the butter hits the bread.
Short skinny or double long,
No French needed.
No vacuum needed, either,
To collect the crumbs.
Tear off a hunk and you have a hunk,
Not a cloud of dandruff.—Margaret Seiler (apologies to Ashbery)

PDX Sandwich Smackdown: Size Matters

The Gutbomb, Big-Ass Sandwiches

You will demolish every inch of Big Ass’s intensely salty, tender roast beef and french fry mush pile. Drenched in tongue-tingling Secret Aardvark sauce and béchamel sludge, tightly packed in ciabatta, it’s so sloppy-awesome that I donned an apron to eat it. This specimen is a 1.7-pound challenge to decency and restraint; an atomic beef blast that reduces all comers to grease stains.—Kelly Clarke

Broad St Bomber, Shut Up and Eat

Weighing just under two pounds and measuring a foot long, Shut Up and Eat’s ode to the classic Philly cheesesteak champions a decidedly muscular, sculpted physique (unlike other “plus-sized” hoagies in town). Thin shavings of juicy, fat-laden angus top round are loaded into a hefty custom bun from Pearl Bakery, topped with sweet fried onions and tangy house peppers, and melted through with a cheddar-provolone mix that percolates deep into its darkest bovine fissures.—Benjamin Tepler

PDX Sandwich Smackdown: Which Shop Rules Them All?

Bunk Sandwiches

Two bites into my meatball parm—plump, oozy with rich garlicky red sauce, and draped in molten cheese—and I know. Tommy Habetz, Nick Wood, and Matt Brown, collectively the boys of Bunk, remain Portland’s sandwich kings. They were first, the rest mere pretenders to the throne. And that’s no bunk.—Michael Zusman

Meat Cheese Bread

Compared to most of its contemporaries, Meat Cheese Bread is a paragon of moderation: Owner John Stewart offers awesome, balanced sandwiches—often with lettuce!—in reasonable portions. But I rarely order them, because he also serves the best goddamn green chile–and–hashbrowns breakfast burrito in town. So, yeah—#MCBTID.—Ben Waterhouse


Once, I saw someone at Lardo cram an entire pork belly–and–egg sandwich into his mouth—he had a very wide mouth, sort of Steven Tyler–esque)—on a dare (I think). It wasn’t pretty, but I was a changed person after that, because I realized it’s true—anything is possible. How can you beat a sandwich shrine where you get a side of epiphany?—Jen Stevenson

PDX Sandwich Smackdown: Best-Dressed Reuben

Pastrami Reuben, Kenny & Zuke’s 

All bow down to the holy meat trinity—salt, fat, and smoke—in every thick-cut bite of K&Z’s lovingly brined, spiced, oak-smoked, and steamed pastrami. Bask in its wonder, layered with swiss cheese, mellow Russian dressing, and briny shreds of kraut, all caught between buttery-griddled slabs of house rye popping with caraway seeds. This saintly sandwich doesn’t smack down other Reubens—it forgives them. —Kelly Clarke

Reuben, Goose Hollow Inn 

This is the Kim Kardashian of Reubens—deliciously slutty, proudly void of erudition, wanton in its sloppy simplicity. Dark-mahogany rye, cushiony and crispy, sops up flavor with admirable structural integrity. Inside, sumptuous slices of tender, salty corned beef frolic with griddle-seared swiss, sauerkraut, and sunset-colored “Reuben sauce,” delivering an incomparably naughty mouthful. —Rachel Ritchie

PDX Sandwich Smackdown: The (Soy) Curl Clash

Buffalo Sub, Sweet Hereafter

Forget flesh. From Portland, soy-curl capital of the world, comes a taste I didn’t know one could possibly experience without slaughtering a mammal. The flaky-yet-firm garlic baguette still haunts days later. One bite, and you find yourself transfixed by the complementary textures, from meaty soy curls to crisp vegetable accoutrements, down to the final spicy morsel.—Molly Woodstock

SloSmoMoFo, Homegrown Smoker Vegan Barbecue

Behold: a sultry, sloppy sandwich in which maple bourbon barbecue–doused smoked soy curls pull off an uncanny impression of saucy pulled pork. Add a heap of creamy, crunchy chipotle slaw, and you’ve got an unforgettable, meat-mocking meal. This is why soy curls were invented: to make vegans’ dreams come true.—Allison Jones

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