Have you ever taken a road trip and stopped at one of those highway-side diners that you spot periodically on the way? The ones where the waitress has been there for 30 years, the cook looks like he might be on his second trip through the parole system and the sandwiches are greasy piles of meat and cheese that stick to your ribs and make you love, and loath, the fact that you didn’t hold out for a healthier alternative. Think of Bunk Sandwiches as that diet destroying diner done by the hipster elite of the liberal arts college crowd; a greasy lunch counter packed with people and the smell of fried onions and toasted bread, replete with the mandatory Portland hipster staff and Northwest cuisine infused menu.
Tucked along SE Morrison in a neighborhood that looks like it has seen better days, Bunk can be spotted by the line out the door, a result of both the quality of food they serve and the limited seating space. Inside, the long room is divided between seating and the open kitchen, allowing you to watch and smell everything that goes into one of Bunk’s sandwiches. The chalkboard menu, to the right of the door once you walk in, changes daily, but is anchored by some Bunk staples such as the Meatball Hero and the Italian Cured Meats sandwich. From there, the menu ventures into items like Bone Marrow and Snails on Toast and Tongue on Rye with onions and spicy mustard. Our favorite so far? The Elvis: peanut butter, banana and bacon done pannini style. Greasy spoon appearance aside, the sandwich chefs at Bunk create food that is wondrously flavorful, and surprisingly light on the stomach.
If the sandwiches alone aren’t enough to fill you up, the sides provide another avenue of food exploration. Items like Potato Salad with Bacon and Eggs and Roasted Butternut Squash Agro Dolce are mild enough to compliment the sandwiches, but flavorful enough to enjoy on their own. And no diner experience would be complete without cake and cupcakes, especially ones that are made locally by friends of Bunk’s proprietors. Bunk also does a very basic breakfast, with two basic sandwiches that are both amazing, and greats starts to a cold and dreary Portland day.
The staff at Bunk is knowledgeable, quick and generally friendly in that “I’m way too cool to talk to you right now but I’ll try and be overly nice” kind of way. On a recent visit the cashier was quick to provide recommendations and steer me towards some of the menu boards better items, entertaining my questions even though the place was packed (I was totally that douchebag asking questions while people where impatiently waiting).
For us, Bunk has become one of our go to food spots in Portland, a place we somehow talk about every time someone mentions the great food in the city. Don’t let the neighborhood or the greasy diner appearance scare you; the line out the door is testament to the quality of this place. Recently, a friend summed up her first experience at Bunk by looking at me with a mixed look of satisfaction, desperation and loathing: “I can’t believe that place is so close to my house. This is going to be dangerous. I’m not sure if a ‘thanks’ is appropriate. Good find, douchebag.”
Location: 621 SE Morrison, Portland, OR
Hours: Open Monday through Saturday, 8 to 3pm
Price Point: Most sandwiches fall in the $8 range, with sides between $2.50 and $5. Breakfast sandwiches are $5.