Meat Cheese Bread PHOTOS: Matt D'Annunzio

Twelve months ago, the idea of a chef dropping out of the fine-dining world to open a sandwich joint seemed fairly preposterous. But then, one after another, a half-dozen "fancy" sandwich bars and carts popped up all over town. They vary in style and price, but they're all pushing top-notch meats, veggies and pickles, on bread. Here are four of our favorites.

Bunk Sandwiches

Bunk has a sign, but it needn't—the line of bankers outside the door at lunchtime is a dead giveaway. Tommy Habetz and Nick Wood make the richest sandwiches in town: Their take on the Reuben, a non-kosher pairing of kraut, Gruyère and Russian dressing with pork belly, is bested only by the cult-favorite bacon, egg and cheese on a poppyseed kaiser roll.

621 SE Morrison St., 477-9515, Breakfast and lunch Monday-Saturday.

Kenny & Zuke’s SandwichWorks

This Northwest offshoot of the favorite restaurant of large Jews (if you are a small Jew, a few pastrami burgers will make you large right quick) branches out from smoked beef into jumbo Cuban, Mexican and Chicago Italian sandwiches on hoagies specially developed for the deli by Grand Central Baking. My favorite, though, is actually meatless: The ratatouille and aioli is delicious, and won't make you a zombie all afternoon.

2376 NW Thurman St., 954-1737, Lunch and dinner daily, brunch Saturday-Sunday.

Laurelhurst Market

Sublime deli meats, from roast beef and pepperoni to porchetta and country pâté, are the focus at the meat counter side of this minimart-turned-steakhouse, but the sandwich maestros behind the counter are wise enough to use the protein in moderation, balancing flesh with bread and pickles and lots and lots of butter. The lineup changes constantly; it's all good.

3155 E Burnside St., 206-3099, Lunch daily.

Meat Cheese Bread

This commendably self-descriptive little joint in the heart of Buckman bucks the hot-'n'-heavy styling of Bunk and Kenny & Zuke's with a few sandwiches that are almost light­—almost. Everything's good, but the best are, in order: the smoked ham with Gruyère, America's best BLT, and the vegetarian-friendly roasted mushroom with goat cheese.

1406 SE Stark St., 234-1700, Breakfast, lunch and early dinner Monday-Saturday.