There’s very little scientific evidence that the coronavirus spreads outdoors when you stay socially distanced, and there’s plenty of tasty science to say that a meal enjoyed on a picnic blanket at one of Portland’s iconic parks is a solid move. Here are a few menu items to grab and enjoy al fresco.
The #1 sandwich from Laurelhurst Market ☛ Laurelhurst Park
3155 E Burnside St., 503-206-3097, laurelhurstmarket.com. Lunch 11 am-3 pm daily.
One of the city’s finest steakhouses also makes amazing sandwiches daily at its deli counter. Grabbing the #1—a roast beef on levain with horseradish cream, spicy pickle relish, arugula, cheddar and Dijon—is the best way to eat that red meat on the go. Walk over to Laurelhurst Park and watch the ducks get jealous at your lunch choice.
Ham and cheese croissant from Ken’s Artisan Bakery ☛ Couch Park
338 NW 21st Ave., 503-248-2202, kensartisan.com/bakery. 8 am-3 pm daily.
Any glutton for gluten knows that Ken Forkish’s seminal bakery is the place to get your morning nosh. The ham and cheese croissant is tops, with its flaky layers wrapped around salty ham and melty cheese. Add a coffee and a seasonal rhubarb galette and wander over to Couch Park for prime people watching, and swipe the crumbs from your shirt worry-free onto the grass. Bliss.
Miso pork katsu sando from Tokyo Sando ☛ Tom McCall Waterfront Park
321 SW 2nd Ave., tokyosando.com. 11:30 am-3 p, Wednesday-Monday.
Portland is in a love affair with Japanese-style sandwiches, served on signature soft white milk bread and packed with delicious ingredients like egg salad or fried shrimp. Tokyo native Taiki Nakajima is perhaps the city’s best purveyor, and his take on a Nagoya-style pork cutlet— breaded in housemade panko and topped with a dollop of miso sauce, black garlic furikake seasoning, mayo and cabbage—is the definition of umami. The cherry blossoms might be done at the waterfront, but it’s still a great place to inhale every perfect bite.
Whatever is on special from Lovely’s Fifty Fifty ☛ Overlook Park
4029 N Mississippi Ave., text orders to 971-300-7215, lovelysfiftyfifty.wordpress.com. 4-7:30 pm Thursday-Sunday.
Chef Sara Minnick’s hole-in-the-wall pizza place is a low-key favorite for other professional cooks and those who love to eat. She’s famous for her hyper-seasonal toppings, which recently included morels, nettles and fava greens. Log on to the site to see what’s good for the week, text ahead to reserve a pie, and pay via Venmo, cash or gift card, then scurry over to Overlook Park for a sunset made all the sweeter with a slice.
Pollo à la Brasa Sandwich from Tita’s Kitchen at Portland Mercado ☛ Lents Park
7238 SE Foster Rd., 971-267-4952, titaskitchenpdx.com. 11 am-7 pm Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday, 11 am-7 pm, 11 am-8 pm Friday-Saturday.
Mt. Scott Park is closer, but if you’ve got kids, the playground at Lents Park, with its cool climbing rock at the center, is the place to be. Grab the littles and stop at the Portland Mercado for sustenance, then head over to the park for one heck of an A+ outing. There isn’t a bad choice in the Mercado’s lineup, but I’m all for the Peruvian pollo à la brasa sandwich at Tita’s Kitchen: juicy, lightly fried chicken marinated in beer, topped with lettuce, tomatoes, a salty and tangy criolla sauce, and hot sauce, all on a soft bread that still manages to hold all that goodness without giving up.