Michael’s Italian Beef & Sausage Co

1111 SE Sandy Blvd,
Mon-Fri 10:30AM-9PM, Sat noon-9PM

It should be noted that this is not the ideal place to go on a first date—and for that, we blame the roast beef sandwich. Stuffed into fresh Italian bread from Portland French Bakery, the thin, succulent, juicy slices of meat drip constantly. All over your fingers. Onto your face. And onto your new white shirt—which can be a beautiful sight, actually, so long as you’re not worrying whether your date thinks you’re a slob. Deciding between the roast beef sandwich ($7.45) and the superb sausage sandwich ($7.10) can be vexing, but solutions abound. Order one of each and split them, or pounce on a Chicago-Style Combo ($8.70), which offers mounds of sopping-wet beef and hearty chunks of fennel-spiked house-made sausage. Be sure to opt for the topping of marinated hot peppers: The jovial kitchen crew will laugh at you if you don’t. —JC


Otto’s Sausage Kitchen

4138 SE Woodstock Blvd,
Mon-Sat 9:30AM-6PM, Sun 11AM-5PM

With 24 varieties of handmade sausages filling its refrigerated shelves, this 80-year-old, family-run Woodstock institution is a candy store for carnivores—not that meat lovers need to actually set foot inside to enjoy the bounty. Every day at 11 a.m., the Otto’s crew fires up their outdoor smoker and piles on goodies like chicken sausages ($2.75), smoked pork links ($2.75), and old-fashioned wieners ($1.75). You can, of course, just as easily satisfy a hearty appetite inside, with hot sandwiches like the Kitchen Sink ($5.75). Chock-full of pastrami, salami, summer sausage, Swiss cheese, and smoked Munster, it’s a true belt-buster. For tossing into a picnic basket, consider the Orchard Sandwich ($4.95), stuffed with layers of cold-cut hunter sausage, havarti cheese, and sliced green apples. Don’t want to walk all the way to the Reed campus and set up your spread on the lawn? Simply claim one of the wooden tables lining the sidewalk, among the best picnic spots in town. —B. Barker


¿Por Qué No?

3524 N Mississippi Ave,
Mon-Sun 11AM-10PM

“Why not?” poses this tiny North Portland taqueria’s name. Why not put boutique browsing on pause and weave your way through the cluster of outdoor tables to the inevitable line at the counter? Why not bite into a warm, thin homemade corn tortilla that envelops succulent braised local meats and roasted seasonal vegetables? Because you can’t go wrong with any of the nine tacos on the menu at this cheery and bright taqueria. That said, you should never forgo the carnitas taco, made with tender Carlton Farms pork, drizzled with tomatillo sauce, and topped with Willamette Valley queso fresco, chopped onions, and cilantro. Nor the smoky Porque Tinga, a perfect combination of shredded Cascade Valley beef smothered in smoky pasilla chile sauce, salsa roja, and cilantro. Sure, you might find yourself sipping that margarita standing up as you wait for one of the seven indoor tables to clear, but at only $2.50 to $4 per delicious taco, who cares about a little inconvenience? —KC


Foster & Dobbs

Pair your lunch or early supper with a Belgian beer at Foster & Dobbs, and you may never return to the city again.

2518 NE 15th Ave,
Mon-Sat 11AM-8PM, Sun noon-6PM

Nestled in the lush environs of the Irvington neighborhood, it’s easy to imagine Foster & Dobbs as an old European country store, a relic of the past when “artisanal” was not a buzzword, but a way of life. Exceptional olive oils, chocolates, wines, and dried pastas line the store’s shelves, but it’s what’s inside the meat and cheese case that customers pay most attention to. You can get hunks of aged gouda and salami to go, but the four tables inside and four outside may entice you to sit and savor meals like the Ploughman’s Lunch ($5 plus the cost of the cheese), which lets you combine salad greens, a pickle, and bread with any cheese from the vast glass case. The sandwiches are similarly inventive. Our favorite? The Mole Salami ($7.50), with sharp cheddar, tomato-chile jam, and greens (though we’re also partial to the outstanding creation in which Beecher’s Flagship cheddar is melted on a baguette and smothered with piquant mango chutney and sweet hot mustard). Pair your lunch or early supper with a Belgian beer, and you may never return to the city again. —MC

Food Styling by Carolyn Schirmacher