Cheap Lunch!

The Disappearing Food Cart

Cheap Lunches are a Portland Food Cart Staple, But Is Rampant Development Signaling the Death of the Pod?

Raising the Salad Bar

Searching for a Reasonably Priced Salad Should Not Be This Hard

The Simple Sandwich

In Search of a Proper British Cheese ’N’ Pickle

Who Makes Portland’s Best Pizza by the Slice?

The ultimate list meant to surely infuriate anyone who reads it.

Cheap Lunches!

Sixty Places to Get Inexpensive Noontime Eats

808 Grinds

SW 9th & Washington, 5226 SE 26th, 10100 SW Park
If you happen to live or work downtown, and can avoid alpha male drivers who don’t care about pedestrians, and work in a swank private office, or just give no fucks what anyone sees you shove in your face hole, I highly recommend this food cart and especially the Loco Moco (hamburger, fried egg, and brown gravy on white rice, $9.50), served with thick and creamy macaroni salad and the stickiest of sticky rice (to go with your rice dish). Note: There is no outdoor seating, so I ate mine in the car, like a savage. D MARTIN AUSTIN SW 9th & Washington: Mon-Fri 11 am-3 pm; 5226 SE 26th: Mon & Tues 11 am-8 pm, Wed-Sat 11 am-9 pm; 10100 SW Park: Daily 10:30 am-8:30 pm

Alberta Market

909 NE Alberta
This little market on the corner of Northeast Alberta and 9th is famous for two things: fried chicken wings and jojos. You’ll smell the chicken from a block away; and the wings, sizzling inside the luminescent case, will be the first thing you see when you walk in the door. For the money, nothing in town beats Alberta Market’s wings. You can order as few as three for $3.50, or you could feed your whole family for under 10 bucks (if you’re not particularly concerned about your family’s nutrition). Your best bet is four wings and jojos for $5, with a side of ranch. You’ll want to grab a pounder of Sprite ($1.49) to wash it all down with. Get there early in the day if you want fresh jojos, because if they haven’t already sold out by late afternoon, they’ll have lost their crispiness. Also keep in mind that there isn’t any seating, so prepare to eat in your car or sit out on the curb. Either way, don’t forget to take a lot of napkins. This stuff is greasy. SANTI ELIJAH HOLLEY Sun-Thurs 8 am-11 pm; Fri & Sat 8 am-midnight

An Xuyen Bakery

5345 SE Foster
I have been going to An Xuyen a couple of times a month for the better part of a decade and love it every time. I always get the veggie meat, which is a glutinous protein doused with a sweet-ish savory sauce, topped with the standard banh mi toppings of carrots, cilantro, jalapeños, and a healthy spread of mayo. Sometimes they run out of the veggie meat around lunchtime so I go early, which works great, because a spicy sando and an iced coffee for $5 at 10 am will guarantee an A+ Sunday. Also, the other morning I went there for breakfast treats and purchased FOUR GOURMET, HOMEMADE pastries for SEVEN DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS. TOTAL! There are some places in town where you’re lucky to get two hard vegan donuts for that price. So please, by all means go, but don’t start going before me and making them run out of the veggie meat even earlier. ELINOR JONES Tues-Sat 7 am-6 pm; Sun 7 am-3 pm

Babydoll Pizza

Baby Doll Pizza

2835 SE Stark
Tucked directly between Southeast 28th and 29th on Stark, Baby Doll Pizza stands and delivers what we’ve all come to love about Portland-style New York-style pizza—big, floppy, yet crispy slices on silver pans tended by hipsters with sleeve tattoos on the verge of heat stroke from running around making the city’s finest pizza. The menu includes gluten free and vegan options, but I order the meat slice ($3.75) topped with locally sourced pepperoni, perfectly seasoned sausage, basil, and the ooey-gooeyiest of mozzarella, because I know how to enjoy my life. Since I’m a pig, I also snag two garlic knots (75 cents each) and half a Greek salad ($5)—a meal easily shared by two, eaten by one for $10.25. DMA Mon-Thurs 11 am-2 am, Fri & Sat 11 am-3 am, Sun 11 am-midnight


820 NE 27th
There aren’t a ton of perfect things in this world, but the fried chicken sandwich ($9) at Basilisk is one of them. Nestled inside the Zipper food hall on Northeast Sandy, the space is casual and inviting, with plenty of room to sit—or take your plunder of poultry to the cafeteria room next door, or, better yet, sit outside. If you go later in the day, maybe grab a whiskey cocktail or a beer at the Zipper’s bar, Paydirt, which opens at 3 pm. But whatever you do, get that chicken. A thick wodge of unbelievably tender bird, coated in crispy-fried goodness, stuffed between two pillow-soft buns and accompanied by pickles, slaw, and a gently tangy sauce, Basilisk’s chicken sandwich is so precariously high that it arrives with a knife stabbed through the middle. There’s a spicy, Nashville-style option for daredevils ($8); get a side of their yummy mac salad ($3) and you’ll be able to skip dinner. NED LANNAMANN Daily 11 am-10 pm


4318 NE Cully
Beeswing’s menu willfully straddles breakfast and lunch, with buttermilk biscuits ($2.50) coexisting alongside breakfast enchiladas ($11) and meatloaf sandwiches ($11). But that’s what makes it great! My advice: Pick something sweet from the wide variety of baked goods and order the fresh farm salad, whose ingredients change with the seasons ($10). The salad’s summertime incarnation features soft-boiled egg, avocado, clementine, super thin banana chips, succulent pork belly, and parmesan tossed into arugula—it sounds like a weird medley of flavors, but it’s surprisingly delicious. Eat it outside on one of the city’s pleasantest patios to complete your adorably twee Beeswing experience. CIARA DOLAN Mon & Tues 8 am-3 pm, Wed-Sun 8 am-9 pm

Bing Mi!

SW 9th & Alder, NE 60th & Halsey
Hailing from the streets of Northern China, jian bing is Asia’s breakfasty answer to the Crunchwrap Supreme—a savory crepe stuffed with scrambled egg, crunchy wonton-style crackers, black bean paste, cilantro, chives, and pickled veggies. After experimenting, here’s my preferred customization of the $6 basic bing: choose the spiciest option—it’s a chili-laced kick that burns without demolishing—add the plum sauce, which brings an umami-sweet balance to the savory ingredients, and definitely invest in extra wonton crackers (50 cents), which kick up the texture at the bottom of the bing where things tend to get soggy. Sausage ($1) is pleasant, but only necessary if you’re super hungry. ANDREA DAMEWOOD SW 9th & Alder: Mon-Fri 7:30 am-3 pm, Sat 11 am-4 pm, NE 60th & Halsey: Tues-Sun noon-8 pm

Best Baguette

8308 SE Powell
Best Baguette is where I go if it’s the wrong time of day for An Xuyen or if I’m heading east on Powell. Their banh mi is just a little too big, which maybe is not a deterrent for most people. And there’s a drive-through, which more non-fast food places really should offer. My go-tos at Best Baguette are the sweet chili chicken banh mi that’s more sweet than chili, and from the European sandwich menu, the egg and cheese on a croissant that is a protein-packed gut bomb. All of the sandos at Best Baguette are less than $5. If you go on a weekend, it’s filled with families gossiping in Vietnamese and you can pretend they’re talking about you and feel popular. EJ Daily 7 am-9 pm

Bless Your Heart Burgers

126 SW 2nd (Inside Pine Street Market)
Inspired by the downhome goodness of the Carolinas, chefs Drew Sprouse and John Gorham’s burger joint magically transports the flavors of the South into a much more politically comfortable atmosphere. Perfectly seared and juicy beef from the Northwest is wedged between a soft Martin’s potato roll, and can be dressed with a regular array of condiments. OR! You can order in the appropriate manner and get it “Carolina-style” with chili, onions, cole slaw, yellow mustard, homemade pickles, and American cheese for the criminally low price of $6.95. Slip in some fries (small $2.50)—or perhaps the “Down n Dirty” version with griddled onions, peppers, mushrooms, beer cheese sauce, ranch, and barbecue spice ($5.50), though that’s between you and your god—and you’ve got an affordable meal that will remind you of back home, even if you’ve never been there. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Daily 11 am-9 pm

Boke Dokie

3646 SE Hawthorne
A little fried chicken (and tofu) sandwich shop from the minds behind Boke Bowl, Boke Dokie recently hopped from its downtown spot to a cute, red window inside Rachel’s Ginger Beer. Boke Dokie’s taste profile asks you to marry sweet and salty, at all times. Their Brussels Sprout Salad ($6) contains mango, which I disliked here (for the first time ever!). I was not a fan of the flavor mix, which was also a problem with their tiny Chicken Sandwich ($7). Somehow the fried chicken was bland while the Asian slaw topping was too sweet. I’m not opposed to salty and sweet, but this was a bad romance. SUZETTE SMITH Sun-Thurs 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-11 pm

Brunch Box

620 SW 9th 
It’s a little hole-in-the-wall with super limited seating and overly loud pop music, but Brunch Box is a great carry-out lunch if you’re obsessed with breakfast like I am. Their breakfast sandwiches range from $6 to $9.50 on whatever bread you like, but if you pick anything other than the magnificent biscuit, you’re making a mistake. It’s the perfect blend of buttery and crumbly, and pairs perfectly with the greasy breakfast sausage, fried egg, and cheese for a quintessential morning sandwich. Burgers are similarly inexpensive, and everything is easy to customize and comes out fast. To really indulge, throw in a milkshake for $3.75. KELLY KENOYER Daily 8 am-10 pm 

Bunk Downtown

211 SW 6th
Portland’s various Bunk Sandwiches spots have all kinds of fancy-pants sandwiches, and because not everything in this world has been irredeemably corrupted, most of ’em hover right around that sweet $10 price point. But EVEN CHEAPER is their simplest, most perfect offering: The Egg & Cheese on a Hard Roll is exactly what it sounds like—a fried egg, some melty cheese, a toasted poppy-seed roll—and it costs a mere $5. Sure, these things work great for breakfast (they’re best when the yolk is runny), but I grab them for lunch, squeezing into Bunk’s hole-in-the-wall location downtown. I also drop an extra buck to get some avocado on there, because fuckin’ obviously. ERIK HENRIKSEN Mon-Fri 8 am-3 pm, Sat & Sun 9 am-3 pm

Checkerboard Pizza

126 SW 2nd (inside Pine Street Market)
You’re in the heart of downtown and you’ve only got 15 spare minutes to gulp down a lunch. (In other words, just a typical workday at the Portland Mercury.) Checkerboard Pizza will fire up a substantial slice for you in a matter of minutes. Don’t turn your nose up at plain ol’ cheese ($3/slice), which is elegant in its simplicity, but if you must go to fancy-land, their specialty pies ($4/slice) won’t disappoint; a recent visit found a wonderfully spicy concoction with Alps soppresatta, salami, and mozzarella, and an intriguingly lemony slice with asparagus, ricotta, red onion, and mint. Checkerboard’s thin slices veer toward the crusty side, and can sometimes turn crackly after reheating, but if the stars align, one or two perfectly chewable slices is just what you need to get through the rest of the day. NL Sun-Thurs 11 am-9 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-10 pm

Chez Dodo

427 SW Stark
One comes to the Chez Dodo food cart for Shyamosas ($5-6). I’ve gobbled down a big mound of their spicy, oily Mine Frire yakisoba noodles ($7-12) many times too. Whatever you order from Chez Dodo is guaranteed to fill you up, but those Shyamosas—fried pastries the size of two fists, full of spiced potatoes, vegetables, and meat—are the best thing on the menu. I often eat vegan at this cart because, quite frankly, I think the vegan Shyamosas (filled with lentil fritters, eggplant, mushrooms, and tofu) have a better spice game. They never believe that I can handle the hotness. Respect me, Chez Dodo! One day, you will. SS Mon-Fri 11 am-8 pm


2707 NE Sandy
When ChickPeaDX—the popular and awkwardly named food cart—evolved three years ago into a brick-and-mortar micro-restaurant in the Zipper building, owner Yair Maidan expanded his menu just enough to justify the move, while staying true to what won the restaurant all of its well-deserved accolades. While the falafel, made fresh from Washington chickpeas, remains as mouth-wateringly crisp as ever, they’ve recently switched to a different supplier for their pita bread, and this is where they’ve made the first misstep. The falafel pita wrap ($9.50)—packed with cabbage slaw, carrot ribbons, fried eggplant, tomato-cucumber salad, and generous amounts of falafel—came apart upon my very first bite, and only got worse from there. The pita, which I was informed is now vegan, was dry and flavorless, and couldn’t hold its own against the abundant fillings. Go with the salad bowl or rice bowl (both $10.50), which have all the same ingredients as the wrap, but won’t leave you with falafel all over your shirt. SEH Tues-Sun 11 am-9 pm

Du’s Grill

5365 NE Sandy
Take notice: this little Rose City Park hole-in-the-wall has the good shit. The plates ($9-$11.50) are huge, fast, and fucking delicious. Primary offerings are teriyaki plate lunch—choose chicken, pork, beef, or some combo of the three—and you get a pile of protein, a steamy football-sized quenelle of rice, and a refreshing iceberg salad with creamy poppy-seed dressing. The chicken ($9.75) is my favorite; you get about two or three juicy thighs’ worth, with smoky-charred edges and sauced in sweet-sticky-garlicky teriyaki. There’s a tofu bowl or yakisoba noodles for the vegetarians in your party, and a side of tangy, probiotic kimchi ($3.50) is big enough to take home for later. HEATHER ARNDT ANDERSON Mon-Fri 11 am-8:45 pm

East Glisan Pizza Lounge

8001 NE Glisan
This lounge is a little dark, a little grungy, and very tasty. It feels way more like a bar than a pizzeria, but the ’za is to die for. I grabbed a 12-inch margherita pizza for $11, and it was plenty to feed me and a ravenous teenager. The key to a good margherita is high quality, fresh ingredients, and East Glisan has it down. Beautiful, chewy mozzarella with slightly tangy, freshly made tomato sauce, and whole fresh basil leaves to top it off. I’d eat that any day of the week. A solid tap list of local brews is the perfect touch, because what goes together better than beer and pizza? KK Daily 4 pm-midnight

Edelweiss Sausage & Delicatessen

3119 SE 12th
Condor Airlines offers direct flights from PDX to Frankfurt during the summer, but for a much more affordable dose of Deutschland, go to Edelweiss, the deli and specialty foods store that’s been an enclave of all things German and edible for nearly 40 years. The place is a wünder-land of weird and delicious-looking things, from candies with unpronounceable names to mayonnaise that comes out of a toothpaste tube, and there’s a wraparound deli with all kinds of meats stacked high (take a number!). There’s also counter in the corner offering simple sandwiches, sausages, and schnitzel, with three fantastic German biers on tap. Get a juicy, pale weisswurst made with pork and lemon ($5.25), or a kickass ham and Swiss on dark rye bread ($7) with a side of their haus potato salad ($3.50), served hot and mushy like mashed potatoes. Grab a seat in the tiny luncheonette and feel like you’re half a world away. NL Mon-Sat 9 am-6 pm

Enat Kitchen

300 N Killingsworth
While perhaps not as cheap as many of the cheap eats on this list, Enat Kitchen likely offers one of the most rewarding and satisfying meals for the money. Though they’ve discontinued their lunch buffet, Enat offers reasonably priced lunch or dinner entrees, from $9.99 to $14.99, with choices of chicken, beef, lamb, fish, or veggies. My date and I ordered the beef key wot—small chunks of tender beef, marinated in spicy berbere sauce—and the veggie combo, which comes with five veggie sides, all of which tasted fresh and uniquely spiced. A frequent complaint of some Ethiopian restaurants is when I need to request (and pay for) additional injera; not so with Enat, who offered so much that neither of us could finish what we started. Enat has a cozy vibe inside, which is a good thing, because service, though friendly, was a little on the cozy side of prompt. SEH Mon-Sat 11:30 am-9 pm

Frank’s Noodle House

822 NE Broadway
Located in an old Craftsman right next to the Crown Memorial Cremation and Burial Center, Frank’s Noodle House is endorsed by celebrity chef Guy Fieri (who once stopped there with his show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and even signed the wall), which should be enough reason to visit. If it’s not—shame on you—go because the restaurant’s lunch special is “lights-out delicious,” as modern cuisine’s frosted-tipped hero would say. After enjoying complimentary hot and sour or egg flower soup, along with kimchi and pickled daikon (for dine-in customers only), order Frank’s signature stir-fried, hand-pulled noodles (or else just GTFO)—the dish can be made vegetarian with thin-sliced bell peppers, onions, and cabbage, or elevated with a variety of meat options (my favorite is pork belly, $7.95). With its lovely porch, customizable spiciness levels, dynamite prices, and super-fast service, Frank’s Noodle House is the closest thing Portland’s got to Flavortown. CD Mon-Sat 11 am-3 pm & 5 pm-9 pm

Gastro Mania Deli

1986 NW Pettygrove 
Gastro Mania packs a lot into a small space under a brick building in Slabtown: namely a lot of octopi. The eight-legged sea critter is the mascot and logo of this little restaurant and it’s a great spot for Mediterranean seafood at a low price—you can get a massive plate with pita, salad, and meat or fish on rice for just $10. And they don’t skimp on the fish—you get several big, lightly fried fillets when you order the salmon. Ample outdoor seating makes it a great spot for summer. KK Mon-Tues 7:30 am-4 pm, Wed-Fri 7:30 am-8 pm, Sat 11 am-4 pm

Grant’s Philly Cheesesteaks

1203 NW 23rd, 15350 NE Sandy
Philly cheesesteaks are something I am morally opposed to. But, since I was assigned to eat one for this blurb, I wound up ordering one at Grant’s and was... not disappointed. I recommend “the Portland” half sandwich ($7.75), which switches the classic Philly provolone with Tillamook cheddar. I added mushrooms ($1.50) and chose sweet (over spicy) peppers. It was juicy and filling—I’d stay away from ordering a whole sandwich unless you’re able to immediately take a nap. If you’re feeling weird, get “the Whiz,” a normal cheesesteak doused in Cheez Whiz. I don’t recommend watching someone eat the Whiz. Especially if it’s the kid sitting next to me who licked his sandwich before eating it. Licked. ALEX ZIELINSKI 1203 NW 23rd: Sun-Fri 11 am-7 pm, 15350 NE Sandy: Mon-Fri 10 am-7 pm


200 NE 28th
Sometimes I dream about Güero. It’s Portland’s ultimate torta hub—they offer seven different sandwich options, but my favorite is the vegetarian Refrito ($11), which smooshes refried beans, pickled onions, avocado, roasted serrano peppers, poblano crema, and chile-lime mayo between a fluffy toasted telera roll. I can’t visit without also getting a side of the Esquites ($3), corn sautéed with chile garlic and served with aioli, cotija cheese, lime, and ground ancho chile. It’s hot, spicy, creamy, and citrusy—basically all of the holiest flavors contained in one paper cup. Smother everything with Güero’s impossibly perfect homemade carrot-habanero hot sauce and you’ll be crying salty little tears of joy. (Bonus: They sell jars of the sauce to-go, so you can also smother everything in your fridge with it.) CD Daily 11 am-10 pm

Hat Yai

1605 NE Killingsworth
I think the argument can be made that fried chicken, in all its forms (nugget, strip, on-the-bone, etc.) is the best food in the world. Every country has a version, and each one is finger-lickin’ good. And Earl Ninsom’s perfect bird at Hat Yai could put anything the Colonel ever made to shame. This fast-casual concept from the owner of Langbaan and co-owner Alan Akwai serves Southern Thai style fried chicken, delectable curries, chewy fried roti breads, and some seriously spicy salads. At lunch, $9 will get you a fried thigh and drumstick with a mound of sticky rice, or a curry of braised chicken thigh with roti to sop it all up. You’ll secretly want to order both, but remember you can go back the next day. AD Sun-Thurs 11:30 am-9 pm, Fri & Sat 11:30 am-10 pm


2738 SE 82nd, Suite 102
Ha VL is a small shop located in a teensy tiny strip mall off Southeast 82nd that you’ll miss at least once while looking for it. That said, this place is hardly an unknown hole-in-the-wall—lots has been written about its ridiculously delicious Vietnamese noodle soups—and has gotten national attention from far fancier food writers than me. But here I am as well to tell you: YUM. Ha VL offers two soups daily, and while it still has sandwiches on their menu, they also have many signs up telling you that sandwiches are no longer available. But who cares? Soup is the name of the game. I like chicken curry Wednesdays but really want to get there sometime for snail Thursdays. (SNAIL!) Lunch costs $10, but an extra 50 cents to-go, so I’d recommend picking up your favorite free weekly newspaper and tucking in there among foodie tourists and Southeast Asian immigrants. EJ Wed-Mon, 8 am-4 pm

Huong’s Vietnamese Food

546 SW 10th
Huong’s tofu banh mi sandwich ($5) is hands down the best lunchtime deal in town. As someone who usually opts for a traditional grilled pork banh mi, Huong’s vegetarian take on the sandwich hit me like foot-long freight train the first time I ventured outside my comfort zone. The lemongrass tofu is pulled, tossed in a spicy sriracha sauce, and generously distributed along the base of the baguette, with a sprinkling of diced peanuts mixed in to provide additional flavor and texture in every bite. The crackling and crisp baguette is topped off with shredded pickled carrot, and thick slabs of tomato, cucumber, and jalapeño, leaving you with a fresh and filling lunchtime meal that’s easy to devour while on the go. CHIPP TERWILLIGER Mon-Sat 11 am-6 pm

Jamaican Homestyle Cuisine

441 N Killingsworth
Immediately recognizable for the pungent clouds of smoke wafting from the barrel smoker outside, Jamaican Homestyle Cuisine has carved a respectable niche for itself on North Killingsworth, near PCC’s Cascade campus. The décor, with Jamaican flags and portraits of Bob Marley on the walls, falls somewhere between authentic Jamaican decoration and a college student’s impression of authentic Jamaican decoration, but Homestyle’s jerk sauce—smoky, spicy, and a touch sweet—leaves no room for doubt. Menu options include pricier dishes like oxtail and curry goat, but if you’re a broke-ass college student, try the jerk meal ($10/small): chicken leg quarter, sides of rice and beans, and steamed cabbage. The rice and beans and cabbage are nothing spectacular, but you’ll want something to relieve some of the heat from the chicken, especially if you add Grace Hot Pepper sauce (which you absolutely should). SEH Tues-Thurs 11 am-7 pm, Fri 11 am-8 pm, Sat 11 am-9 pm, Sun 1 pm-6 pm

Kenny's Noodle House D Martin Austen

Kenny’s Noodle House

8305 SE Powell
Kenny’s Noodle House is a legit choice for Cantonese cuisine with no MSG. When I arrive, most tables are populated by Chinese people speaking their native tongue, which is always a good sign. Service is polite and friendly, and the prices are downright cheap—especially relative to the quality of the food, which is mostly meat dumplings, noodles, and soup. Maybe not the most exciting, but it keeps things simple. I order fish ball and fish fillet with lai fun noodles ($7.15), the second most expensive dish on the menu. Hot tea is complimentary and served in plastic water cups. So, you can either pay $1.80 for ice tea, or pour a little of your water into the free tea you already have. DMA Mon-Sat 9:30am-9 pm, Sun 9:30 am-8:30 pm

Kim Jong Smokehouse

413 NW 21st, 126 SW 2nd
Picture Southern-style barbecue merged with Korean street food, and you’ve got the odd, but delicious verve of Kim Jong Smokehouse, which produces one of my fave go-to inexpensive lunches in town. Check out these ingredients: scorched rice, sweet potato noodles, and season vegetables topped with a runny egg ($9), and topped again, if you like, with smoked salmon, mushroom, pulled pork, chicken (an extra $4), or short rib ($5) if you’ve got a little extra change in your pocket. Personally I forgo the toppings, because when mixed together and devoured with chopsticks, this is a bowl of heaven that can easily last for two meals. That is, if one possesses an ounce of self-control (which I do not). WSH Sun-Thurs 11 am-9 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-10 pm

La Piñata Takos

432 SW 3rd
For years, I’ve studiously endeavored to discover what makes the veggie burrito from La Piñata Takos INCREDIBLY, VASTLY SUPERIOR TO ALL OTHER BURRITOS. Thus far, my thorough experiments have led to this hypothesis: Uh, it’s the cheese, maybe, I think? Unlike other places that just cram some shredded cheese in the mix and call it good, the friendly heroes at Piñata melt theirs between the layers of the tortilla—where it complements perfect proportions of beans, tomatoes, guac, sour cream, and lettuce. (Basic ingredients, yes, but there’s some straight-up alchemy going on here.) It’s hefty and filling—a fantastic deal for $6.50—and, if you load it up with their green sauce, has just the right amount of kick. But more research is needed, so goodbye, I’m going to go get another one. EH Mon-Thurs 11 am-4 pm, Fri-Sat 11 am-3 am

Laurelhurst Market

3155 E Burnside
Portland has some good sandwiches, sure, but let’s be real: In this city, a deli is where you go to play lottery, not get a good meal. Which is why the gourmet sandwiches that steakhouse Laurelhurst Market whips up during the daylight hours are so dang special—these are carefully crafted vessels of meat and gluten, made with top-notch ingredients and flavors all working in concert. At $10.95 a pop, these ain’t Subway six-inches—and thank god. You can’t go wrong with the corned beef or pastrami options, the ever-changing daily special, or my standby, ham and salami with pepperoncini, oil, and vinegar. If the sumptuous slabs of meat in the deli case aren’t your thing, they always have a vegetarian option, too. Get it to go, or chow it down in Laurelhurst’s airy restaurant space, with the bustle of the kitchen in the background. NL Lunch hours daily 11 am-5 pm

Lauretta Jean’s

3402 SE Division, SW 6th & Pine
Pies: They’re not just for dessert! At least not at Lauretta Jean’s. The cozy, colorful pie shop offers both savory and sweet slices for your lunchtime pie fix. I liked the fluffy and crisp Ham, Gruyere, and Leek Quiche ($5.75) paired with a tart slice of Strawberry Rhubarb Pie ($5). But I wouldn’t be mad if you went for a slice of Key Lime Pie ($5). Or just had two slices of sweet pie for lunch because you are a damn adult and are living your most authentic life. Not into triangle-shaped food? Try the Baker’s Salad ($9)—it’s both delicious and astoundingly large. AZ Sun-Thurs 8 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 8 am-11pm

Los Gorditos

1212 SE Division, 3420 SE 50th, 11155 NE Halsey, 922 NW Davis, 902 N Killingsworth, 4937 SE Division
I never thought I would be advocating for trash lunch, but in the case of Los Gorditos, the garbage burrito is the way to go. The legs of the burrito are the taqueria’s traditional chicken, beef, and pork, and it’s filled out with beans, rice, cheese, sour cream, two kinds of salsa, onion, and cilantro. The Garbage Burrito is like a half-dozen street tacos stuffed into one extra large flour tortilla and at $9.50, it’s a steal. Not into carnivorous feasts? Fear not! Gorditos is well respected for their vegetarian and vegan menus—yes, that’s a full menu for each, not just one or two dishes without meat. The majority of menu items is less than $10, and the lower Division location adjoins Apex, a beer bar that’s home to one of Portland’s many epic patios. Gorditos will even deliver your burrito next door so you can make it a three-IPA lunch—just be sure to let them know where you’re sitting! BRI BREY Daily 9 am-9 pm

Lúc Lác

835 SW 2nd
Popular Vietnamese spot Lúc Lác always has a line these days. Once you’re in that line, though, it moves along pretty swiftly—providing there aren’t tourists (there always are) acclimating to Lúc Lác’s clever counter service flow of ordering, and having your meal served after you sit. Respect the flow! Know what you want! Lúc Lác’s Vermicelli Rice Noodles ($8-12) are perfect for avoiding that post-lunch heaviness. Choose a grilled item of your choice (it’s weirdly satisfying to have just crispy rolls) to sit atop a bed of rice noodles, spicy vinaigrette dressed slaw of cabbage, peanuts, pickled carrots, and other crunchy delights. For colder, rainy days, Lúc Lác serves an excellent pho ($9-11). Their vegetarian pho contains an especially resplendent amount of veggies. SS Daily 11 am-2:30 pm, Sun-Thurs 4 pm-midnight, Fri & Sat 4 pm-4 am

Matt’s BBQ

4233 N Mississippi
Matt’s BBQ runs the gamut of prices. An ambitious carnivore could spend more than 20 bucks on a single meal, but you don’t need a Scrooge McDuck-sized budget to enjoy this food cart. The pulled pork sandwich ($8) is a solid cheap lunch option nestled within a menu of smoky decadence. Matt’s nails the pulled pork. It’s juicy but not sodden or souplike, yet it still has that fall-apart-in-your-mouth quality that pulled pork needs. It’s topped with pickled veggies to give the meat some contrast, and served on a bun that withstands the moisture while still being the kind of thing you can indecorously stuff into your face like a meat-craving barbarian on a budget. JOE STRECKERT Daily 11 am-7 pm

Mekong Bistro

8200 NE Siskyou
Mekong Bistro bills itself as the first (only?) Cambodian restaurant in Portland, located next to a beauty school in a strip mall on a particularly unattractive part of Northeast 82nd. You’re here for their soups, broadly influenced by the convergence of Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia along the banks of the Mekong River. The Kao-Pune soup is a shockingly low $8.75, a price increase of just 75 cents from when it was featured in the New York Times in 2014. It’s a hulking bowl of red curry with vermicelli noodles, topped with ground pork and vegetables. There’s a pork blood cake and kefir leaves, and a hearty helping of chilis. If you are a fan of Asian soups, or good deals, you can’t miss this one. AD Sun-Thurs 11 am-midnight, Fri & Sat 11 am-2 am

Nong’s Khao Man Gai

SW 10th & Alder, 609 SE Ankeny Suite C, 417 SW 13th
With Nong Poonsukwattana’s trademark sauce now readily available in bottled form, I can’t be the only one who’s attempted to replicate her deceptively simple take on chicken and rice in the confines of my own kitchen. While my meal prep session wasn’t a complete disaster, the experiment left me with even more respect for the empire Nong has created serving up her signature Khao Man Gai ($11) to hungry locals and tourists alike. The strips of poached free-range chicken are always tender and moist, layered atop a hearty scoop of jasmine rice that’s been simmering in the flavorful stock, all packaged up neatly with a side of the one-of-a-kind dipping sauce, as well as a light chicken soup that’s perfect for warming your belly on a rainy day. CT SW 10th & Alder: Mon-Fri 10 am-4 pm; 417 SW 13th & 609 SE Ankeny: Daily 11 am-9 pm

Subin Yang

Olympia Provisions Public House

3384 SE Division
With the recent redesign of hot dog joint OP Wurst into Olympia Provisions Public House, the crowded restaurant row of Southeast Division now has a wonderfully German-feeling (and kid-friendy) biergarten. For a quick and satisfying lunch, get a pale-colored bratwurst ($9), cooked so it snaps when you bite into it, and served with sauerkraut and the right kind of mustard. The cheeseburger ($9), served on a sesame-seed bun and nearly liquefied American cheese, is also a solid choice. Wash them down a half-liter of delicious, locally made beer from Rosenstadt ($5-7), who are making damned authentic German style brews—their Kölsch is crisp and refreshing, their dunkel is roasty and full of flavor, and their radler combines their thirst-slaking weissbier with tart lemon soda. NL Mon-Thurs 11 am-10 pm, Fri 11 am-11 pm, Sat 10 am-11 pm, Sun 10 am-10 pm

Otto’s Sausage Kitchen

4138 SE Woodstock
The Woodstock neighborhood, if you didn’t know, is cute as hell. And it also has the pleasure of being home to one of the best, classic German-style delis in all of Portland, Otto’s Sausage Kitchen. Slip inside to drool over the cases of fresh meats to take home for dinner, or for a quick, inexpensive bite, step outside where employees are grilling up savory old-fashioned wieners, chicken or beer sausages, and my favorite, the pork link ($5) on a soft, flavorful bun. Dress it appropriately (with Coney Island-style mustard, diced onions, and relish), take a bite, and feel the satisfying snap of the casing breaking between your teeth, and the smokiness of the mouth-watering pork rising up into your grateful nostrils. I’m sharing too much information, I know. But it’s that good. WSH Mon-Sat 9:30 am-6 pm, Sun 11 am-5 pm

Pho Oregon

2518 NE 82nd
As far as I’m concerned, this is the best pho in town. The huge banquet hall can fill up during weekend hours, but if you go for an early lunch on a weekday, it’s likely to be you and a few older Vietnamese guys, slurping up vermicelli noodles and rare steak slices that cook in the rich five-spice and anise-tinged broth. My order is a small No. 2, with noodles, round steak, flank, fatty brisket, tendon, and tripe for $9.95. If that’s too much adventure meat, there’s all manner of combo options. A small is still huge, both in size and flavor, but the gargantuan large bowls top out at no more than $10.95. If you haven’t had Pho Oregon, you haven’t had Portland pho. AD Daily 9 am-8:30 pm

Pine State Biscuits

2204 NE Alberta, 1100 SE Division Suite 100, 125 NE Schuyler
In a city that’s overflowing with restaurants, waiting longer than 10 minutes for a table in Portland has always felt unnecessary—unless that line’s for Pine State Biscuits. Pine State has delivered consistently delectable biscuit sandwiches since a trio of North Carolinians opened the shop in 2006. If it’s your first time at Pine State, I’d suggest going with their classic: The Reggie ($9). Imagine a pile of fried chicken, bacon, cheese, and gravy lovingly stacked between two flaky biscuits. And then imagine that all mushed up in your mouth. Want that in real life? Get your butt to Pine State Biscuits and stand in line (hint: bring a crossword to do instead of staring at the wait staff and sighing dramatically). It’s worth the wait. AZ Daily 7 am-3 pm

Pizza Jerk Natalie Behring

Pizza Jerk

5028 NE 42nd, 621 SE Morrison
Pizza Jerk is a traditional family pizza parlor that serves Connecticut-style pies and slices. The original location on Northeast 42nd looks like it got sucked up out of the East Coast in a Wizard of Oz tornado and flung to the opposite side of the country—it’s got an old-school vibe you don’t often find in these parts, with red-and-white checkered tablecloths, booths, and stained-glass light fixtures. For lunch, Pizza Jerk offers $10 sandwich specials for meatball, chicken, or eggplant parmesans, along with a few slice specials: either two slices and a soda for $7, two slices of Lydia (their veggie option with spinach, mushrooms, and onion) and a PBR for $10, or one slice, a salad, and a soda for $9. CD Daily 11:30 am-9 pm

Pollo Norte

2935 NE Glisan
Pollo Norte’s succulent rotisserie chicken is outstanding on its own ($9/quarter chicken), but for a buck more you can have it in a bowl ($10) with rice, black or pinto beans, and other flavorful stuff depending on your mood (vegetarians even have their own option). For another buck you can add tortillas, avocado, extra chicken, or those dank potatoes that have been soaking up schmaltz as they roast, getting all sticky and moreish. If you’re really watching your budget, you can always opt for a bowl of beans ($5) and tortillas (three for $1). HAA Daily noon-9 pm

Potato Champion

1207 SE Hawthorne
What’s better than the Canadian classic of cheese curds, gravy, and fries when you’re stumbling around drunk at 1 am? Literally nothing: It’s the best drunk food imaginable. And Potato Champion has it DOWN. A medium sized portion runs for $8.25 and it’s plenty for a ravenous drunk, and the large portion for $11 is great for sharing. I suggest the satay poutine—it comes with a house-made Thai peanut sauce drizzled over your french fries. And if your friends are picky, they have many other great food carts to choose from. Everyone can come back together in the spacious seating area to enjoy their various crepes, noodles, pizza, and poutine. KK Sun-Thurs 11 am-1 am, Fri-Sat 11 am-3 am

Que Bolá?

7238 SE Foster
Que Bolá? (Cuban for “what’s up?”) is one of the crown jewels of the Portland Mercado food cart pod, and it’s true, there are many dishes to enjoy: Picadillo Cubano (Cuban beef hash simmered in tomato sauce, $9), Papas Bravas (spiced Yukon Gold potatoes with chorizo, $9), and Pan con Bistec (grilled steak sandwich, $8). But then there’s God’s favorite sandwich, the Cubano ($8), which features island-style roasted pork, ham, pickles, mustard, and Swiss cheese on a grilled hoagie roll—and time comes to a stop when you’re eating it. The pork is tender and flavorful, the pickles and mustard are its best friends, and ohhhh that melted Swiss. If there is a better sandwich in the world, I’ll be happy to give it a try—but I won’t hold my breath. WSH Daily 11 am-8 pm

Reel M’Inn

2430 SE Division
One of the last remnants of Old Portland along the shiny new stretch of Southeast Division, Reel M’Inn is the neighborhood dive bar that your favorite dive bar is probably based on. Along with healthy pours, the bar’s known for perfecting one classic pairing: fried chicken and jojos. I suggest the Two Piece Meal ($9), which comes with one chicken breast and a choice of a leg or wings, and four jojos. The chicken hits a magical balance of tender and crispy, and comes with tasty sauces to dip into (hello, honey mustard). And the jojos? Perfection. These delicacies are made to order behind the bar, which can take around 30 minutes—so grab a drink while you wait. Patience is part of the journey. AZ Mon-Sat 10 am-2:30 am, Sun 10 am-1 am

Richi’s Modern Japanese Cuisine

432 SW 3rd
Richi’s Modern Japanese Cuisine, situated in the Southwest 3rd food cart pod, boasts “a new approach to healthy Japanese comfort food.” Among their many vegan options and alongside some “meat-friendly” versions, Mayumi and Ichiro Sato’s slurp-worthy vegan ramen ($8) is made with a curry-style spice blend, seaweed broth, pickled daikon radish, mixed greens and cilantro—it’s more affordable than the $12 bowls at Marukin and Afuri just a few blocks down. Plus they’re open late. Also try the cart’s really tasty salad bowls like the Hearty Veggie East ($5.50 small/$7 regular), which is made with kale that’s thoroughly massaged in their zesty signature sauce, brown rice, and quinoa, avocado, edamame beans, tomatoes, and sesame seeds. Oishii! JENNI MOORE Daily 11 am-11 pm

Rose VL Deli

6424 SE Powell
This newish location is the younger cousin of the world famous Ha VL. It follows their model of offering two soups daily in the $10-11 range. “That seems like a lot for soup, Elinor,” you say. “Soup is mostly water,” you say. No, it’s not!! It’s some intricately flavored combinations of stuff that you and I probably wouldn’t recognize at Fubonn and it’s served in a gigantic bowl that you will loudly slurp while closing your eyes and going “MMMMMMM” and making other diners uncomfortable. And you won’t care. Because that’s some good-ass water. I’ve only ever had the chicken curry because I don’t eat pork or beef, but I don’t know why anyone would eat anything else. EJ Mon- Sat, 10 am-5 pm


2137 E Burnside
The newly minted brick-and-mortar home of Sammich sits in the cozy corner of the former Knuckle Sandwich, slinging Chicago-style Italian sandwiches, plus a few sides, adult beverages, and Tab cola. The Tre ($11; add zippy/crunchy giardiniera for another buck) is everything you want in a classic cold cuts sandwich: high-quality meats—salami, Mortadella, and prosciutto—cured in-house, sliced onions, and delicately shredded iceberg to provide crispness without getting in the way, and most importantly, soft baguette that will not shred your palate while simultaneously ejecting the sandwich’s fillings. Mayo and mustard provide appropriate lubrication, and plates come buried in generous handfuls of kettle-style potato chips. HAA Daily 11 am-8 pm

Scottie’s Pizza Parlor

2128 SE Division
A pair of schoolkids swung at a ninja turtle piñata filled with gummy pizzas on my first visit to Scottie’s Pizza Parlor. While it was the shop’s first anniversary, every day at Scottie’s is worth celebrating. They make the best pizza in Portland, offer employees fair wages, and run a pay-it-forward system for patrons to redeem free slices. Try the deservedly raved-about DeFino, a square “grandma style” slice with a limited daily run, smothered in a chunky tomato sauce and topped with juicy mozzarella, fresh basil, and more ($3.75). Even better—you’re almost always guaranteed an edge of crunchy, melted cheese. The white-sauce Bianca ($3.50) is also delicious. Check the chalkboard for cheesy, pun-laced specials like the mushroom-laden ALL CAPS ($4). EMILLY PRADO Daily 11:30 am-9 pm

Spice Kitchen

8245 SE Division
This place is in one of those low-profile buildings around 82nd and Division that you’ll drive by a million times and foolishly not notice. But you should! Because it. Is. Incredible. The cuisine is Halaal Indian-by-way-of-Fiji, and run by an extremely nice immigrant couple. There’s a sign outside that says “lunch 5.99” and that’s what drew me in, but once I saw the buffet, I opted to pay $11.99 instead because I couldn’t just not eat everything I saw. As I write this I am literally licking a to-go container of the coconut spinach soup that smells sweet but has a sneakily spicy kick. The chicken tikka masala, egg curry, and veggie samosas are also on point. Spice Kitchen just opened a couple of months ago so now’s your chance to get in on the ground floor and tell everyone you used to go before it got super crowded. Which I hope it does. Because it’s great. EJ Mon-Thurs 11 am-8 pm, Fri 11 am-9 pm, Sat 4 pm-9 pm

So Good Taste Noodle House Emilly Prado

So Good Taste Noodle House

8220 SE Harrison, Suite 215
Hanging plants and roasted ducks line the entrance of no-frills Chinese eatery, So Good Taste Noodle House. Located in the heart of a strip mall with other tasty gems, patrons come here for the meat and enjoy an almost identical sprawling menu like that of Chen’s Good Taste in Chinatown. Dive into a heaping bowl of wonton soup with crisp roasted pork for $8.95. If they’ve run out for the day, consider a swap with barbecue pork. Each bowl boasts plentiful servings of bok choy and succulent wontons simmered in a subtle, savory broth. Stir in copious spoonfuls of chili oil for good measure. Other standouts include the lightly fried pepper and salted squids ($11.95) and roasted duck over egg noodles ($8.95). EP Mon-Sat, 9 am-9 pm; Sun 9 am-8:30 pm

Sushi Ichiban

24 NW Broadway
Sushi Ichiban is the best damn sushi restaurant in Portland, and I will hear nothing else. It’s not the kind of place where you’ll find a whole fish spiraled into some kind of sculptural centerpiece or giant slices of rolls slathered in sauce. This is focused, brass-tacks sushi done with precision. Sushi rolls around on a model train, you grab it, and there’s plenty of good stuff for less than three bucks a plate. Inari ($1.50) and salmon nigiri ($2) are nearly always available and delicious. The best deal in the whole place is the tuna roll ($2.50), a satisfying portion of rice and fish that costs less than most tall boys. JS Tues-Fri 11:30 am-2:30 pm & 5-9 pm, Sat noon-3 pm & 5-9 pm, Sun 5-9 pm

Tambayan Restaurant

6014 SE Foster
You may not be as familiar with Filipino cuisine as you’d like, but if you’re ready to give it a go, Tambayan Restaurant is the local place to start. Regulars swear by the tapsilog (sweetened beef, $9.99) and the fried chicken ($9.99), but if you’re looking for the most delicious bang for your buck, go for the adobo ($9.49). This deceptively simple dish of tender pork chunks perfectly marinated in garlic, vinegar, peppers, and soy create a magic elixir that soaks the accompanying rice, and delivers a hearty meal that can easily be stretched into two lunches. On weekdays it opens at noon, but it’s not rude to be waiting at the door. WSH Wed-Thurs noon-6 pm, Fri noon-8 pm, Sat 11 am-8 pm, Sun 11 am-7 pm

Teppenyaki Hut Emilly Prado

Teppanyaki Hut

8145 SE 82nd, 4233 N Mississippi
Fusion foods often get a bad rap, but the nori-wrapped sushi monstrosities at Teppanyaki Hut have justly earned an exception to the rule. Fusion mostly in name, the food cart offers a handful of colossal sushi burrito options, each essentially giant rolls, stuffed to the gills with fresh fish or veggies and decorated with unique additions like crispy onion, masago, and/or tobiko. Mt. Fuji—a great go-to—is an Instagram-worthy technicolor tube filled with a trifecta of seafood (tuna, salmon, crab salad), lettuce, cucumber, avocado, red cabbage, and crispy onions ($9). While the NoPo location has udon, vegan and meat ramen, nigiri, and regular ol’ sushi rolls on the menu, the Southeast location serves up bento boxes and udon for less than $10. EP Mon-Thurs 11:30 am-7:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11:30 am-8 pm, Sun noon-6 pm

Tierra del Sol

7238 SE Foster
Maize is sacred in Mexico and the crop has been an indigenous culinary and cultural staple for thousands of years. Amalia Vázquez, a Native Oaxaqueña, honors the traditions of her region’s cuisine with an emphasis on organic blue corn products at food cart Tierra del Sol in the colorful Portland Mercado pod. Snag hard-to-find dishes like tetelas (thick masa pockets filled with black beans and topped with crema and queso fresco, $4-6) and mole enchiladas ($9.50), or opt for classics like tacos ($3) and quesadillas ($7-8.50). Expect incredibly flavorful meats, lots of queso Oaxaca (the queen of stretchy quesadilla cheeses), and full bellies. EP Sun-Thurs 10 am-8 pm, Fri & Sat 10 am-9 pm

Tortilleria y Tienda de Leon

16223 NE Glisan
Conveniently located right next door to a Gresham plasma center, the hot deli inside this tienda is well worth the drive. Choose from a wide range of combo plates ($9.99-11.99) or go à la carte with gorditas, burritos, chile relleno, and tons more for just a couple bucks each. I opted for a guisado of cochinita pibil ($9.99): a plate groaning with shredded hunks of red pork; my choice of rice (red) and beans (refried, and appropriately creamy with lard); and house-made tortillas. Vegans and vegetarians aren’t forgotten here, either—there’s a solid menu just for the herbivores, including a succulent nopal salad (pun intended). Folks avoiding carbs can just buy meat by the pound ($9.99-10.99). HAA Mon-Sat 9 am-7 pm, Sun 9 am-6 pm

Whole Bowl

701 SW 6th, 827 SW 2nd, 2590 NE Sandy, 3540 N Vancouver, 4411 SE Hawthorne, SW 9th & Alder, 1100 NW Glisan, 4615 NE Sandy
Like tech bros and shitty life decisions, Whole Bowl locations are EVERYWHERE in Portland, and for good reason: Whole Bowls are fantastic! It’s simple stuff: rice, beans, olives, avocado, cheddar, sour cream, salsa, and curry-esque Tali Sauce. A 12-ounce bowl is $6 and a 16-ounce bowl is $6.50, making them equal parts affordable, delicious, and portable. Please note: The otherwise amazing and wondrous Whole Bowl, by default, comes with cilantro, which I did not mention above, as it is Satan’s cursed weed. Get it without cilantro but with extra Tali Sauce, and soon you, like me, will realize that Whole Bowls have become 75 percent of your diet. EH Hours vary by location; see for details, and charitably overlook the unfortunate fact Whole Bowl employees are called “bowlistas”

Wolf & Bear’s Downtown

522 SW 10th
There is no shortage of excellent Middle Eastern food cart options open for lunch in the Southwest Portland block that’s been dubbed “Shawarma Square,” but Wolf & Bear’s unique approach to the popular street food staple manages to satisfy an entirely different craving than a traditional gyro or shawarma sandwich. While the cart’s falafel holds its own in relation to its neighbors, I prefer to order the vegetable-loaded Olea Wrap ($9), which leaves more room for hearty slabs of grilled eggplant, roasted red peppers, grilled red onion, and crisp mixed greens. The warm and fresh pita is coated with thick and creamy labneh and a mouthwatering kalamata tapenade, with gorgonzola crumbles and caramelized walnuts distributed throughout the wrap to ensure an unrivaled explosion of flavor in every bite. CT Daily 11 am-4 pm


4090 N Williams
XLB easily works if you want to do a feastlike lunch with a large party. But unlike a lot of other restaurants oriented around family-style dining, it scales down. The cold sesame noodles ($11) make for a satisfying single-plate lunch on their own. The thin, flat rice noodles swim in a sesame and mustard sauce, and cucumbers and scallions give the dish the feel of a salad that’s filling without weighing you down. The price tag includes either chicken or tofu, and if you’re attacking it on your own, you’ll likely need a box to go. Also of note are the baozi ($10), steamed buns filled with either mushrooms or pork if you’re looking for something more carb-centric. JS Daily 11 am-3 pm & 5-10 pm