Above: The #1 House Special from Binh Minh Sandwiches. Photograph: Mike Novak

Say goodbye to sleepy sandwiches like plain PB&J or slimy turkey and mayo. Whether served hot, cold, vegetarian, or vegan, Portland nails the lunchtime classic with Italian subs, duck confit on baguette, house-special banh mi, carnitas tortas, eggplant muffulettas, and more.

Hot Sandwiches 

Addy’s Sandwich Bar: Duck Confit Baguette 

Served on a compact baguette, this little number covers a lot of tasty ground despite its modest size. Salty-rich duck bumps against tangy cranberry relish, and crunch comes courtesy of crisp cabbage and crusty bread. Tiny pickles served on the side make excellent DIY sandwich additions, and the no-nonsense presentation at Addy’s hole-in-the-wall downtown digs (with a light dusting of outdoor tables) is deeply charming. 911 SW 10th Ave —Conner Reed

Güero: Carnitas Torta 

The carnitas torta from Güero

Image: Michael Novak

We love Güero’s whole menu, but we’re convinced the sandwich shop would be a hit even if the only item it sold were its stellar carnitas torta. It’s hard to make a stack of rich ingredients including succulent Carlton Farms pork, a smear of chile mayo, and slices of creamy avocado feel balanced, yet Güero accomplishes that with plenty of shredded cabbage, onions, lime, and cilantro, all atop a crisp, fluffy telera roll. Don’t forget to dab a bit of the house-made orange hot sauce onto each bite. guerotortas.com, 200 NE 28th Ave Katherine Chew Hamilton 

Sammich/Pastrami Zombie: Pastrami Zombie

The pastrami sandwich from Pastrami Zombie

Owner and proud Chicagoan Melissa McMillan expanded from an Ashland sandwich shop to a Portland cart and finally a Burnside sandwich shop, propelled by her famous brined, smoked, and steamed pastrami. Get there at the right time and you can see (and smell) the smoker full of peppercorn-encrusted briskets, each one lovingly checked for optimal doneness. The resulting sliced pastrami falls apart delicately, with morsels of deeply flavorful fat clinging to the lean meat. It’s paired with tangy slaw, creamy Russian dressing, and sharp mustard on slices of airy rye—satisfying without requiring a post-pastrami nap. 2137 E Burnside St and 4400 NE Glisan St KCH

Cold Sandwiches

Binh Minh Sandwiches: #1 House Special

House-baked baguette, cured meats, pickled daikon and carrot, mayo, and jalapeños all harmonize to perfection at this sandwich shop—especially if you double the meat and mayo, which ups the flavor to previously unimaginable heights. The barbecue pork is tender and umami-filled, while the silky ham melts in your mouth. The baguette crumbles into tiny flakes rather than shards, meaning you won’t scrape the delicate roof of your mouth and your banh mi crumbs will be (a little) less obvious post-lunch. 503-777-2245, 7821 SE Powell Blvd —KCH 

Break Bread: Chubby Puggy on Dutch Crunch

The first sign that this deli is a winner? Bread choices include Dutch Crunch, beloved in the Bay Area for a crackly top that lends extra dimension to a sandwich. And Break Bread’s version, made especially for the restaurant by Dos Hermanos Bakery, is exceptional, with audible crunch and an airy interior. Ingredients are carefully layered onto the sandwich: thin-sliced house roast turkey, shredded lettuce, tomato, and a sweet-cool-creamy “Puggy sauce” reminiscent of Cool Ranch Doritos. 1106 NW Hoyt St & 101 SW Main St #125 KCH 

Meat Cheese Bread: Park Kitchen

MCB's Park Kitchen

Image: Michael Novak

The steak sandwich occupies a weird lunchtime high/low purgatory—too tricky to make at home, yet oft-conflated with a greasy cheesesteak. The Park Kitchen at Meat Cheese Bread manages to sidestep that noise by adding its creative edge to a classic. The first thing you taste is a hit of pickled red onion and sherry vinaigrette, followed up by a creamy blue cheese funk with Cobb salad vibes. And all of that goodness surrounds a sandwich overflowing with beautifully seasoned, tender flank steak, not a tough bite to be found, served on house-baked chewy ciabatta with greens for your health. 1406 SE Stark St —Michael Novak 

Taste Tickler: The Famous Tickler

Those looking for an old-school sandwich with all of the flavor and none of the fuss need, look no further than Taste Tickler, a Broadway institution since 1971 where generations of customers’ photos line the walls. Its namesake sandwich layers ham, salami, and pepperoni on a chewy Italian loaf, plus standard fixins’ including tomato, shredded iceberg, Provolone, pepperoncini, and a sprinkling of Parmesan. “It’s the closest to a New York bodega sandwich I’ve found in this city,” a former East Coaster friend and trusted food lover claimed. High praise, indeed. 503-282-3681, 1704 NE 14th AveKCH

Snappy’s: The 4 Pointer

The nostalgia-filled interior at Snappy's

Despite all its pleasingly curated retro vibes (peep the VHS player), Snappy’s is a relative newbie, opening in January 2020 on SE Ankeny sandwiched between Nong’s and Kinboshi Ramen. A milk-crate ceiling and green Snappy’s caps for sale on the wall serve as the backdrop to some well-executed sandwiches in classic deli mode.

The 4 Pointer

You may be tempted by the fried chicken, but to really kick it old school, the 4 Pointer offers a tangy, briny mouthful of flavor, where cold cuts—mortadella, salami, capicola, and soppressata—come together in a color wheel with hoagie spread and pepperoncini for kick and crunch, accompanied by a bright pop from lettuce, onion, and tomato. 609 SE Ankeny St Ste B —Fiona McCann

Vegan & Vegetarian Sandwiches

Sorbu Paninoteca: 5 e 5 

Get a taste of the Tuscan coast with this Italian regional street food sandwich (say “chin-kway eh chin-kway”), named because it traditionally consisted of 5 lire worth of bread and 5 lire worth of chickpea flatbread. This food cart comes on a roll with slices of crisp-chewy chickpea pancake, al dente roasted eggplant, and spicy pickled veggies on the side. Add mozzarella if you’d like, but it’s not a requirement—this panino is full of earthy, bright flavor and a fun contrast of textures on its own. 5011 NE 42nd Ave —KCH

Sebastiano’s: Eggplant Muffuletta

Avert your eyes, New Orleanians: this Montavilla deli makes both meat and vegetarian versions of the muffuletta, and we’d venture to say that the vegetarian version stacked with roasted eggplant and hand-pulled mozzarella is just as good as the meaty one. The house-baked fennel seed loaf is chewy and tangy, the mozzarella creamy, and the Calabrian chile aioli offering a whisper of spice—with a smack of fresh greens to brighten everything up. Don’t forget the cannoli. 411 SE 81st Ave —KCH 

Devil’s Dill Sandwich Shop: #9

It’s grilled, it’s juicy, it’s cooked medium-rare. This isn’t a steak sandwich—it’s an asparagus sandwich! Devil’s Dill nails asparagus by choosing thicker spears that can hold up to some char while remaining succulent and vibrant green. Paired with sharp blue cheese, creamy-salty cheddar, and tangy tomato jam on airy ciabatta, it’s especially perfect for an early spring picnic. 1711 SE Hawthorne Blvd KCH

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