621 SE Morrison St 503-477-9515 bunksandwiches.com
Walk down SE Morrison Street at midday and, at Sixth Avenue, you’ll find yourself amid a motley crew of tattooed hipsters, moms wearing fanny packs, burly and besuited office workers, and tiny creative sprites, each anxiously anticipating lunch—a Bunk sandwich. As the times continue to demand living well on less, Portland is experiencing a kind of sandwich renaissance (Kenny & Zuke’s, Meat Cheese Bread, and Addy’s Sandwich Bar). But with its casual, free-flowing virtuosity, Bunk is surely our Titian.
Close contenders: Eastmoreland Market, Meat Cheese Bread, Petisco
Co-owners Nick Wood and Tommy Habetz met while working the line at Meriwether’s, but Bunk reaches deep into both chefs’ pasts. The flavor profiles are drawn from those Habetz loved while working at Mario Batali’s Po in New York and those Wood embraced at Terrance Brennan’s eponymous New Orleans eatery, Brennan’s Restaurant. Wood calls their collaboration “a soulful, kind of rustic, flavorful thing.” Originally, the two wanted to open up a Roman-inspired trattoria, but an old habit of making sandwiches with whatever they’d found lying around Meriwether’s kitchen became their career. “Portland’s about small chef-owned and -operated places,” Wood says. “That’s what we are. But we don’t call ourselves chefs anymore.”
Staunchly locally sourced, the menu includes a meatball Parmigiano that could be airlifted from the East Coast (if it weren’t for the superior Carlton Farms pork) and tuna salad that’s made from Oregon albacore. The perfectly rendered roasted Draper chicken salad—made with chicken lovingly rubbed in bacon fat while it’s roasted, avocado, and Daily’s bacon imported from Montana—gets extra TLC from a tarragon mayonnaise. Almost everything except the bread (which comes from such different sources as Fleur de Lis in Northeast and the Vietnamese An Xuyen Bakery on SE Foster Road) is cooked, cured, and made at the store. That’s why, despite those long lines of hungry patrons, the proprietors will never extend their hours. And so we wait patiently, salivating over our chance to savor the culinary experiments this duo carries out between two slices of bread. —EH