Clockwise from top left: yellow radish, hamachi, mackerel, salmon, and Golden Plager Roll
Clockwise from top left: yellow radish, hamachi, mackerel, salmon, and Golden Plager Roll Suzette Smith

It's the night of the first presidential debate and you know what that means—we're eating in! Put the popcorn on—this is going to depress me. But before you get too anxious for the future of the nation, you get to think about dinner! You can even hit your vape on the walk to pick it up. Here are some takeout secrets and recommendations for local sandwich lovers and sushi fans.

Sushi Ichiban

Beloved little downtown sushi parlor Sushi Ichiban is best known for its conveyor belt alternative: A toy train on a circular track, laden with plates of salmon nigiri, California rolls, and creative favorites—like The Plager: fried tempura asparagus and cream cheese, surrounded by white rice and topped with spicy mayo. The list of eccentric goodies changed often, and the place buzzed with easy-going energy.

Getting takeout from a spot where the sit-down experience was formerly part of the meal is a little strange, but Sushi Ichiban still applies that quick, unpretentious vibe to their takeout. A mere $15 gets you more rolls than you'd expect, and those rolls are prepared with care by a staff that has that elusive X-factor of seeming to like and take pride in where they work.

Sushi Ichiban recently started offering delivery through Postmates, but you can also wander in and fill out a paper slip for old time's sake. I took a walk around the block and my order was gorgeous and ready to go in fifteen minutes. No need to break out your child's train set—unless you want to!

Break Bread

For being one of the whitest cities in the US, it's surprisingly hard to find a good sandwich in Portland. So when Break Bread opened a year ago, I rejoiced at its steady application of the sandwich points I hold dear: sauce, greenery, crunch, pickled items, doesn't make your hands smell like sandwich, and overall stability.

Though you can "Build Your Own" at Break Bread, why would you? They've got the recipes figured out. For the vegetarians I recommend the Credible Hunk which puts roasted bell pepper, tomato, pickled shallots, avocado, and vegan sriracha mayo together and stabilizes it all with copious mixed greens. If meat is your thing, I'm a big fan of the CAR (chicken, avocado, ranch dressing, and delightful crispy onions). Pro tip: If crunchy baguette-style bread makes your life complete, dish out the fifty cents for the Dutch Crunch.

Break Bread's delivery/takeout interface deserves praise for never glitching out on me once and for sending me an email when my sandwich is ready—it's just nice to know. You pick up at a small table blocking their front door. In-person ordering is also possible, and there's always one or two people, hovering at a distance—awaiting their perfect sandwich reward.

The Turkey Bacon at Chunky Subs.
The Turkey Bacon at Chunky Subs. Suzette Smith

Chunky Subs

Should I tell you about the $5 sandwich spot I discovered during my long social distance walks of the early coronavirus shutdown? If you think downtown is bad now, it was utterly desolate in the months directly following the state's orders to close indoor gatherings. Even Subways were closed! Chunky Subs was like a lighthouse on the Portland State University hill, nestled in the food cart pod on SW 4th. And their sandwiches were in the ballpark of $4-6? Are kidding me? It's basically impossible to get a non-fast food sandwich under $10 anymore.

Chunky Subs and Pasta feels like one of those versatile little delis you sometimes find in the corner grocers of large cities. Do you want a Turkey Bacon (my favorite) or just a Ham and Cheese? Do you want tacos? They have tacos. Maybe you're more about pasta. Could I interest you in some $6 Chicken Broccoli Alfredo? It's delicious, filling, and oh-so-cheap. What you'll find at Chunky Subs is just perfect for what it is: A cheap little meal that fills you up while you're on your way to your next thing, or a tasty little treat at the end of the day.