121 NW 5th
First, let me say thanks to the proactive reader who phoned in to tell me about the fantastic steak sandwich he had for lunch at Ford's (I am, after all, a beef-loving heathen). Second, I'd like to thank Ford's for choosing to stay open until 3 am on Fridays and Saturdays. A protein rich steak sandwich before bed is a great way to ward off a bothersome weekend hangover. Open for about six weeks, Ford's, a dinery little sandwich shop, is one of the latest unique additions to Old Town.
With a menu made up of steak sandwiches, heroes, hoagies, hot dogs, and salads, Ford's is primarily a place for ravenous carnivores. The highlight of their menu is a list of steak sandwiches made from choice Angus, sliced daily. While the menu suggests these sandwiches are something like the ones you'd receive in Philadelphia, that's not the case. Philly cheese steaks have razor thin slices of beef while Ford's slices are much thicker, heftier, and chewier. Likewise, what they call a hoagie isn't anything like the deliciously oily mess I get from the sandwich shop down the street from my Dad's house in Norristown, PA.
This inconsistency aside, Ford's makes a good sandwich stuffed with beef on a chewy roll with a thick spread of roasted garlic mayo. Featured varieties are the basic steak sandwich, the cheese steak, the Americana with lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, and cheese, the mushroom, the classic Philly made with peppers and cheese, and the Italian steak--basically the Philly topped with marinara. I'd recommend the Americana or classic Philly, and avoid the mushroom unless you really enjoy the pungent taste of fungi.
The cold hoagies are also served on a soft French-style roll piled with meats, cheeses, fresh green leaf lettuce, and tomato. The Italian is a good choice, combining Capacolla ham, prosciutto, salami, and provolone. As a tempting vegetarian selection they offer a Roma hoagie made with lettuce, tomato, olives, provolone, and basil pesto.
Each sandwich comes with spicy coleslaw, homemade potato salad, or kettle chips, and is big enough that you'll probably end up taking half home. Even if you end up with leftovers, though, don't miss out on Ford's crisp house salad made with all the vegetables, hard-boiled egg, and their signature creamy celery seed dressing. A large is huge and only $5.50.
While Ford's did disappoint me a bit by dangling the prospect of an authentic Philly cheese steak in my face and not delivering, they still serve to fill a valuable cheap, hearty food niche. Everything's good, the staff is so nice that you'll want them to adopt you, and they serve root beers and lemonades in old-timey Coca-cola glasses. Those features, plus the late-night weekend hours, make Ford's a seminal addition to the Portland canon. Ha. Did I say that? I meant it's good--go there.