I figure if I’m going to be writing about food that I like in the Portland area, then I should probably give all of our readers an idea of what my tastes are. I think the best way to demonstrate that is by talking about my favorite place to eat in town.
Lardo, whose motto is “Pig Out,” is a sandwich shop with two locations in the Portland metro, one right downtown within walking distance of Powell’s and one in SE off of Hawthorne. It’s a rather typical Portland place with first come first serve bar style seating and order at the counter type service. They have a rotating menu of beers mostly local and some imported. Their specialty is sandwiches and they have a few mainstays on the menu, but besides those the sandwiches will also rotate as ingredients become available and with the chef’s whims.
The two most popular sandwiches are always on the menu and always great. The Korean Pork Shoulder and Pork Meatball Banh Mi are fantastic fusions of great Asian food and just the right amount of Portland irreverence. My personal favorite, the Nashville Hot Fried Chicken seems to have found a permanent home on the menu too. It’s a great burger style fried chicken sandwich with pickles, bacon and honey butter.
Two of my best friends recently had a big scare with their wonderful doggy Freya that required a trip to the vet, don’t worry everyone, the doggy is fine now. But The owners didn’t bounce back so easily so I treated them to a sandwich knowing only Lardo could cheer them up.
We got a sandwich each and selected beers from their menu. We also got a big plate of Dirty fries where they cover the fries in Mama Lil’s peppers, cheese and scraps of pork from the sandwich making. They’re delicious and the best thing you could ask for when you need a mid-week pick me up.
Diana decided to branch out a bit from her standard of the Korean Pork and instead got the Pho’rech Dip. A Vietnamese inspired version of a french dip where you dunk a beef, hoisin, sambal and basil sandwich into a rich pho broth. I’ve had that one before and it’s always both hearty and refreshing.
I almost always try the special, called the Chef’wich since it’s always a sandwich designed by a visiting chef. This month it was the Pig Slayer, a breaded pork cutlet with onion marmalade, radicchio, arugula and tarragon mayo. The sweetness of the onions balanced wonderfully off of the bitter veggies and set of the pork cutlets great. I’d love to see that one on the regular menu.
Adam went for the old standby of the Pork Meatball Banh Mi. The fact that I didn’t get a picture of it before it disappeared says a lot about how good that one is.
Overall what I love about Lardo is it’s the right balance of sticking to the rules and breaking the rules. They’ll take Vietnamese soup and turn it into a sandwich. But they’ll never lose sight of what made the soup good in the first place. They’ll slap Korean BBQ on a sandwich. But they’ll make sure that that’s the best place for it to be. They’re irreverent, they like to play metal and classic rock on the PA. But they respect you and your dining experience, the music is never so loud that you can’t hear yourself think.
SO there you have it, my favorite spot in Portland. If you’re in the area, it’s by far the most “Portland” eating experience I’ve had.