Five Phenomenally Meaty Portland Sandwiches

Portland meats are serious business: smoked, brined, and charcuterized. (They don’t call us Porkland for nothing.)

By Karen Brooks March 3, 2014 Published in the March 2014 issue of Portland Monthly

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BBQ brisket with cilantro slaw at P’s & Q’s Market

Rare Roast Beef

Laurelhurst Market

At Portland’s indie steak house, the butcher counter doubles as a modern caveman’s cupboard and sandwich headquarters. Look no further than the daunting house top round—bigger than a wrestler’s thigh, massaged with herbs, cooked to the millisecond of scarlet perfection, then thinly carved to order. A herd of slices roam on rotating breads with changing companions, like horseradish cream and beet pickle relish.

Pork Meatball Banh Mi


Adventure for the Everyman. That, in a Sriracha-mayo schmear, is the brilliance of Lardo’s growing sandwich clout. The secret to the house banh mi, now verging on cult status, may be simply that the meatballs are, in truth, really good Asian meatloaf whacked into thick wedges and buried beneath pickled vegetables, cilantro galore, and polite heat. It’s Portland writ large—big bites and big fun (and a big eureka for the gluten-adverse: there’s an option for a “salad version”).

Pork Belly Cubano

Bunk Sandwiches

New York’s premier meat fiend, writer Josh Ozersky, said it best: “Way, way better than anything in Miami.” At first glance, it could be mistaken for a straight-up reprisal of the Cuban workingman’s ham-and-cheese number. But Bunk detours into the record books by ditching the usual pork roast for a garlicky, molasses-punched, slow-cooked pork belly with deep caramel tones. The belly’s luscious fat bastes the meat, transforming the sandwich into a whole new animal. A final ride in the panini press seals the deal, as ham, pickle crunch, swiss cheese, and mustard bite join the pork within a full crispy jacket.

Grilled Chorizo

Olympia Provisions NW

Let’s be perfectly frank: only crazy Spaniards take fresh chorizo this seriously. Pure pork shoulder and fatback. No scraps. Real garlic and Spanish paprika. Fresh-ground spices, toasted to boot. Mild and pure, the links require little more than grill blister, a sliver of nutty manchego, a few bitter greens, and oily red piquillo peppers to shine inside a fluffy, flour-dusted roll. Each bite snaps like the Rat Pack.

BBQ Brisket with Cilantro Slaw

P’s & Q’s Market

Texans, avert your ears. As Neil Young wails poetic in the background, Paul Davis—self-styled barbecue man and co-owner of Woodlawn’s utopian food market/café—cites the weirdest influences to ever grace a brisket. Factoring into his formula: Kansas City style (“sweet and thick”), Spanish avant-gardist Ferran Adrià (“he puts lemongrass and ginger in his barbecue sauce!”), Kenny & Zuke’s pastrami (“mind-boggling amounts of coriander”), and, not least, a shrimp taco (“loved the cilantro”). To say it all works in Davis’s BBQ sandwich is an understatement—it is one messy, smoky wonder balancing bright zing, blackened edges, and a punchy slaw inside a fine potato bun. 

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