Beaverton Sub Station
Best for: Cheap, fast and delicious sub sandwiches in the 'burbs amid booth-warming regulars.
Walking into Beaverton Sub Station is like entering an episode of Cheers. During lunch hours, the small railroad-themed restaurant is packed with regulars, who chat casually on a first-name basis with workers and the shop's owner as they devour massive sandwiches. It's not hard to understand why the place is so popular. The classic subs are made fast and piled high. Diners have the option to build their own, but you're better off letting the experts do the stacking. Beaverton Sub Station excels because it knows not to mess with a good thing. Take, for instance, the Reuben ($5.75)—a devour-worthy combination of warm, peppery and thinly sliced corned beef with salty kraut and Thousand Island dressing that will leave you in a summer picnic-nostalgic stupor. ELISE HERRON.
Best for: Massive East Coast-style Italian subs—or whatever you want to call 'em—both hot and cold.
4606 SE Division St., 503-573-7876. 11 am-7 pm Wednesday-Sunday. $.
Kim Jong Grillin fans now have another option for fast cart food from owner Han Ly Hwang, though the menu will look very different. Hwang and cook Reuben DeMarco have teamed up for this ode to…hoagies? Heroes? Subs? Grinders? DeMarco is from Boston, so perhaps the latter. Whatever its taxonomy, the gooey chicken Parm ($12) is a worthy addition to Portland's sandwich canon (eggplant and meatball are also available), and the Italian's even better: ham, salami, copa, provolone and pepperoni overstuffed into a not-too-crispy, not-too-soft roll, with lettuce, tomato, "hots" (i.e., peppers), slightly sweet giardiniera and lemony dressing ($12). There's also a vegan grinder (a-ha!) with cucumbers and cannellini beans ($10), plus a soup of the day, which was, on my visit, a creamy chanterelle ($4 for a cup, $2 with sub). And, for gluttons and 'Grammers, the Death Sandwich will certainly become your go-to. The oven-baked Italian with hots and warm giardineria is topped with four meatballs and more cheese. ($18). JASON COHEN.
Grand Army Tavern
Best for: A humble BLT elevated to perfection, with light and crispy housemade chips.
The flock of flamingos wading across Grand Army Tavern's back wall, along with pops of emerald from the abundance of leafy vines creeping along bar shelves and fruit-heavy flavors in the cocktails, is more likely to transport you to a tropical haven than the Brooklyn subway station that inspired the business's name. Though most weary straphangers won't find much romance at the stop along the Metropolitan Transit Authority's beleaguered line, it's a place that holds significance for the owners, a husband-and-wife duo who met there for their first date. Rest assured, the kitchen here runs much more reliably than a New York City train, cranking out a small but lovely selection of sandwiches in an airy space. While the build-your-own pork sliders ($5 apiece, $15 for all three), which come in the form of cutlet, bologna or belly, are perhaps the most lauded item on the menu, don't overlook the B.L.T. ($12). Grand Army elevates the simple ingredients it takes to create the voluminous, fresh stack of crisp butter lettuce, meaty tomato and gnarled bacon slathered in an aioli that's oozing through the porous whole-grain toast. That heap of salt, acid and crunch is served with housemade chips. Do not substitute. The fried potatoes arrive like crumpled leaves raked into a tidy pile, and they're just as light and brittle with a touch of vinegar. ANDI PREWITT.
Grant’s Philly Cheesesteaks
Best for: An amalgam of cheese, meat and grilled onions on an authentic Philadelphia bun.
This is the best sandwich in Portland. Other contenders abound: Taste Tickler has its partisans, and Bunk's Cubano is in the running. But the champion, the Rocky Balboa of hoagies, the oozing, melty well of dinnertime bliss that can turn a bad day into a great night? That's Grant's. So many small touches make these cheesesteaks sing: the soft but sturdy Amoroso's rolls shipped in from Pennsylvania, the sweet and cherry peppers, the housemade potato chips. (For maximum decadence, get a side of dipping whiz for what amounts to Philadelphia nachos—it's how I stress-eat during important Blazer games.) The only real debate is which cheese variation is best. Dark horses include the Philly Philly, whose cream cheese pairs unexpectedly well with beef, and the American Buffalo: a concoction of Frank's Red Hot, blue cheese dressing and chopped chicken that results in a wing feast without the work. But I swear by the Portland ($8.35, $14.95), because the Tillamook cheddar so deftly melds with the grilled onions. I can rarely eat one without cussing from joy. Damn it, I want one now. AARON MESH.
Best for: Stuffing your belly with pork belly—and other pig parts.
Lardo is one of Portland's most beloved pig-pushers. That's its identity—the sleek bar-style restaurant, with deep red walls adorned with a giant chalk menu, boasts a painting of a labeled pig, designating what you'll probably be chowing down on while you're there. The sandwiches aren't as straightforward American as you might think: There's a pork meatball banh mi ($11) and a You Don't Know Jack ($10), made with jackfruit, but the standout is the Korean pork shoulder ($11), which is perfectly tender and doesn't hammer you over the head with seasoning. The kimchi and cilantro are like a breath of fresh air. No sandwich here would be complete without a side of dirty fries ($10), which come loaded with melt-in-your-mouth pork scraps. Once I dig into those, I don't even care what part of the pig it is. Just give me more. JORDAN MONTERO.
Best for: Indecisive diners who can just try it all: chicken, beef and pork in little sandwiches.
PDX Sliders represents one of those rare moments when Yelp actually gets it right. Users voted it "4th Best Burger in America" in 2016, and although this claim will remain the subject of fierce debate, the pair of unsexy brick-and-mortar operations spawned by this beloved food cart are certainly busy enough there may be a kernel of truth there. The competitive advantage at play is the modest price and size of each sandwich, most of which run around $5 for a 3-ounce slider and yield an unheard-of amount of flavor for such a small package. If your heart's set on a burger, try the Sellwood ($4.75), which combines caramelized onions, bacon, Beecher's cheddar and aioli, making it a zesty, smoky classic. The pecan-smoked pulled pork on the Burlington ($5.50) is a crowd pleaser, as is the pesto-, arugula- and herb-marinated chicken on the Morrison ($5.25). It's easy to get hung up on the breadth of the menu, but an average customer can easily put down two or three of these along with some crispy truffle salt-dusted fries ($3.25), so check your FOMO at the door by ordering more. PETE COTTELL.
Best for: Chicago-style sandwiches in a Cubbies' crib.
Two things tell you all you need to know about this Kerns neighborhood gem—a sign on the counter says, "All meat brined, smoked and roasted in house," and a banner on the wall promotes the Chicago Cubs. You'll never want to eat another sandwich made from packaged meat after you've sunk your teeth into the flagship Italian beef ($12), which comes sliced thin and topped with an addictive, chopped vegetable and hot pepper sauce called giardiniera and sweet peppers brined in beef juice and roasted. Ice the cake by pouring the small pitcher of beef juice that accompanies the sandwich over the crispy baguette. The owners also run Pastrami Zombie, one of the city's top carts, and their genius with that meat shows up on the titular sandwich ($14), a sublime treat with just a touch of sweetness, delicately balanced by the sourness of rye bread and crunchy slaw. For sandwich lovers, this is Mecca, Chicago style. Now if only the Cubs can regain their World Series form. NIGEL JAQUISS.
Stacked Sandwich Shop
Best for: Elevated lunchtime sandwiches inspired by the chef's childhood memories.
Southeast Portland's Stacked is still a growing toddler of a sandwich house—having opened in 2017—but, boy, it's growing up fast. The wide-open floor plan creates a communal environment, with sandwich artists adding toppings behind a short counter rather than working in anonymity behind a huge wall. You can hear them cracking jokes and admiring their creations, making it feel like you're at a friend's place, not a restaurant. Chef-owner Gabriel Pascuzzi has, from the get-go, served adventurous piles of ingredients on a variety of breads, many inspired by his childhood and family dishes. The Polpetta ($12.50) stuffs a hoagie bun with pork and veal meatballs, spicy tomato, truffle pecorino and a few cuts of provolone. He also makes a terrific smoked turkey Reuben ($12) with Granny Smith apples, and a banh mi ($12) adorned in marinated portobellos. But even a standard like the B.L.T.A. ($12) is a delight. The house-smoked bacon is deliciously crispy, the heirloom tomatoes and butter lettuce garden fresh, and creamy avocados come in abundance. JORDAN MONTERO.