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Friday, March 18, 2011

Bunk Sandwiches - Portland - Oregon

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Since Gourmet Pigs had never been to Oregon before, she had a list of three things she wanted to do. Eating at Bunk Sandwiches was one of them.

Why do they call themselves bunk? According to the Bunk Sandwiches website, with so many places proclaiming they're "the best," Bunk would rather you decide for yourself. That unpretentiousness was rather endearing in a very PDX kind of way that made me miss home. Then I clicked on the link to see their press. Getting written up by local press is a given, but once you hit the New York Times, or appear on "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives," or get proclaimed by Mario Batali to be one of the world's top 100 contemporary chefs (that would be Tommy Habetz, former sous chef at Batali's Lupa in New York City, who currently co-owns Bunk with Nick Woods), hype is unavoidable.

On this drizzly afternoon, the line wasn't too long.

I was amused though by the sign in front of the music shop next door. I guess the line gets much longer than that.

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The menu rotates and is written on a large chalkboard inside the entrance. Most sandwiches seem to be in the $8 range.

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Order at the counter and snag a seat if you can. Space is at a premium.

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Spotting a couple about to get up, I hovered beside their table while GP placed our order.

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Notice the bottle of Vietnamese fish sauce in the back? :) I wanted the bottle in the front though, the Secret Aardvark, a lovely blend of roasted tomatoes and habanero peppers.

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After a 15 minute wait, our sandwiches were ready. I had misread and thought a roasted chicken sandwich with bacon and avocado sounded lovely, but when GP pointed out it was a roasted chicken SALAD sandwich, I quickly asked her to change our order. We settled on the meatball Parmigiano hero, $8.

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The picture doesn't really show how gigantic these meatballs really were. And the softest meatballs I've ever had. Warm, toasty bread and deliciously flavorful meatballs.

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The sandwiches all come with a small pile of kettle chips, but that's almost incidental. People really just want the sandwiches.

We also split a pork belly Cubano with ham, Swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles, $8.

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The few times I've tried Cuban sandwiches, I've never liked them because they were always dry. The pork belly gave this an unctuousness that really made it better.

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We also ordered an iced tea with mint and lemon, $1.50, that sounded refreshing, but was rather ordinary. I wanted to order the Italian with all the spicy peppers, but GP can't eat spicy. The colors! The vivid green and red peppers on other diners' tables made me so envious.

The tables were so close together that we couldn't help but listen in on the couple next to us. He ordered a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup, and gave her a generous serving of his sandwich to try. She ordered something with meat and remarked that she wished she could share her sandwich with him. So the guy was a vegetarian. She could've ordered the roasted squash with caramelized onions, Gruyere, and arugula sandwich to share?

Yup, we were nosy. :P

And those sandwiches? Not completely bunk, but not to the expectation of one of the world's top 100 chefs either. That's the problem with hype. I would've been perfectly content with the sandwiches if I hadn't expected to be blown away.

Bellies satisfied, we were ready to visit Oregon's most visited tourist destination -- Multnomah Falls, of course!

All Oregon posts can be found with the tag Series: Oregon, but I suggest reading this particular trip in this order:
I'm Coming Home
Bunk Sandwiches - Portland - Oregon
Horsetail Falls (Winter) - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon
Multnomah Falls (Winter) - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon
Wahkeena Falls (Winter) - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon
Bridal Veil Falls (Winter) - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon
Shepperd's Dell Falls (Winter) - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon
Latourell Falls (Winter) - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon
Crown Point Vista House (Winter) - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon 
Nai Xao Xa Cuon Banh Trang (Vietnamese Sauteed Lemongrass Venison Rice Paper Rolls)

Bunk Sandwiches
621 SE Morrison St.
Portland, OR 97214
Monday to Saturday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

1 year ago today,
2 years ago today, grape hyacinths in a repurposed yogurt jar.
3 years ago today, In-N-Out Burger and the "hidden menu."
4 years ago today, still my very favorite dumpling house - Luscious Dumplings, Inc. in San Gabriel.


  1. Yep, they were really good sandwiches, but top 100 chefs in the country? Maybe the chef did really amazing work under Batali and that's why he said it? But hard to really showcase your skills using sandwiches ..

  2. GP,
    Not country, top 100 chefs in the world!

  3. I have never been to Bunk! Good to know you approve. I need to make my way over there. That meatball sammie looks ridiculously good and I don't even eat meatballs, really. Coming back up here any time soon? I'm still bummed I missed you and Fiona.

  4. YOu got what would've been my choice. When I go to Subway (I know! Blasphemy! Shame on me!), the only thing I always order is the meatball marinara. I'm not a huge veggie person and I love that sauce. That looks so good.

  5. Anna,
    Go early or during an off hour. I can imagine it gets pretty crowded during peak times.

    Haha. I like Subway so no complaints from me. That meatball sandwich was good though. Got me craving Vietnamese meatball sandwiches.


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