Vegan Grilled Cheese to Buttery Sausage Biscuits: Five Portland Sandwiches Built on Obsession

Passion unbound, no apologies: that’s the secret ingredient to sandwich happiness.

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

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Sausage biscuit at Lauretta Jean’s.

Sausage Biscuit

Lauretta Jean's

Biscuit zealot Kate McMillen calls herself a “butter prodigy.” She just feels it, the way sticks of chilled sunshine, flour, and buttermilk can fuse into golden orbs of flake and crumble. Her pie shop is Portland’s biscuit epicenter, as craggy beauties are baked to bless an impressive sandwich menu. In McMillen’s biscuit remodel of the slider, billowing halves clasp a hand-formed pork patty, blessedly hot cheddar, and nippy tomato jam, each bite a lingering comfort.

Monte Cristo

The Big Egg

Every breakfast joint has fried-egg sandwiches, but this exacting food cart puts them on a pedestal, each one artfully constructed. Over-easy egg? Textbook delivery. Bread? Slow-grilled to perfection, wait times be damned. Flavors? Consider the Monte Cristo, a gut-punch of pleasures. That means glistening smoked ham from Tails & Trotters, an impeccable egg, a throttle of funky gorgonzola, and pure maple intensity. All this on magnificent sheets of cardamom-singing French toast encrusted in crackling panko crumbs. It’s big enough for two—but who’s sharing?

Daily Panino


Every day, Cathy Whims pays homage to the grill-flattened, ultra-crispy wonder that is the panino. A fresh spin emerges daily on Nostrana’s lunch menu, each one a snapshot of the kitchen’s craving and house larder. Meat stars in most productions, from hot salami to fresh mortadella. Cheese runs pungent, perhaps spicy aged provolone, and house pickles, fiery peppers, and even fried onions make surprise appearances. Beautifully chewy house ciabatta rolls are the only constant. 

Grilled “Cheese”

Cheese Plate PDX (Now Closed)

At any given moment, this “cabin on wheels” juggles eight Oregon cheeses for six seasonal grilled sandwiches on three local breads. But the real surprise is the house creation, where the “cheese” is a nutty, lemony, wine-soaked, butter-channeling power shot of spreadable flavor that defies the law of nature. That, dear eater, is “cashew fromage fort,” crafted for vegans but capable of bringing cheese-avores to their knees.

Pâté Sandwiches


The muse of this micro-charcuterie counter is the meal of a fat French butcher, exuberantly grabbing the best of everything around. Indeed, duck, venison, apples, giant prunes, and brandy roam freely throughout Eric Finley and Paula Markus’s pâté collection. Choose any chunky slice to cheer up a crusty baguette, pistachio-pocked country pâté to luscious chicken-liver mousse.

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