String Beans, Coffee Mayo, and Chocolate: Five Portland Sandwiches That Break All the Rules

The coup de grace on a true, Stumptown-style sandwich? A renegade cry of “Anything goes!”

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

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The Green Bean at Meat Cheese Bread.

The Green Bean

Meat Cheese Bread

It takes a certain diabolical mind to change the profile of string beans from antioxidant champ to badass game-changer. Few cooks think outside the wok, much less transform an icon of chlorophyll into a dangerously good sandwich. Chef John Stewart’s ride begins with a bushel of beans, butter-singed and crunchy, their lanky spears shooting from a toasted swatch of ciabatta hoagie. Hiding inside: onion-sweet bacon relish, interlaced boiled-egg slices, parmesan shavings, the whip and glisten of fresh aioli. It’s everything you love in a salad, but cooler.

Chocolate, Sea Salt, & Olive Oil

Addy's Sandwich Bar

There’s nothing like bittersweet dark chocolate chunks, half-melted into peaks and valleys across a baguette plain, to save a sandwich from the clutches of boredom. Tapping Spain’s crush on bread and chocolate, Addy Bittner goes all in with the good stuff: 74 percent Felchlin chocolate; Little T American Baker’s splendid “short skinny,” a crusty baton with a yeasty smack; and a final oomph of olive oil and fleur de sel.

The Chefwich


Guts and glory spill out of Portland’s ultimate sandwich series. Every month, Lardo invites a guest chef to create a singular vision on bread and name a charity to glean a percentage of the proceeds. The collaboration has already unleashed Aaron Barnett’s (St. Jack) snappy fried calamari and red onion po’boy; Greg Denton’s (Ox) outlandish turkey, poutine, and foie gras gravy; and Jenn Louis’s (Lincoln) posh grilled cheese with plum conserva. In March, barbecue man BJ Smith (Smokehouse 21) steps into the ring.


Portland Penny Diner

Griddle-fried duck bologna, coffee mayo, sauerkraut—sauerkraut? Reading these incomprehensible ingredients, I thought PDXWT stood for Portland What The !*%. As it turns out, it’s an acronym for Portland White Trash, with a serious surprise of egg folds, hot American cheese, elegantly ugly meat, and sour shreds parked in an irresistible oven-fresh Parker House roll. On the side are two barrel-aged hot sauces holding floral bouquets and complexity. The only sign of the trailer is the price: $4.50.

James Beard’s Onion & Butter Sandwich


In Beard on Food, Oregon’s native son called sandwiches “one of the great American arts,” made by all but mastered by few. No doubt, the dean of American cuisine would join us in a jolly laugh to find his famed 1960s canapé—and a prime example of “everything counts” philosophy—alive and well in a hip house of drinkology and spicy Asian snacks in Northeast Portland. Can a sandwich touting nothing but onion’s raw bite, a cry of sweet butter, stout parsley, and a final sting of salt on crustless, cushiony white bread be this good? Yes. 

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