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Ray Routhier

Portland Press Herald staff writer Ray Routhier will try anything. Once. During 20 years at the Press Herald he’s been equally attracted to stories that are unusually quirky and seemingly mundane. He’s taken rides on garbage trucks, sought out the mother of two rock stars, dug clams, raked blueberries, and spent time with the family of bedridden man who finds strength in music. Nothing too dangerous mind you, just adventurous enough to find the stories of real Mainers doing real cool things.

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Posted: December 28, 2015

Pat’s Meat Market & Groceria Cafe in Portland offers well-made food in a nostalgic setting

Written by: Ray Routhier
A bowl of chicken, sausage and vegetable soup accompanies a Turkey Club on focaccia bread. Photo by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

A bowl of chicken, sausage and vegetable soup accompanies a Turkey Club on focaccia bread. Photo by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

Sometimes you want to slow down, mentally, but don’t really have time, physically.

If that’s your dilemma, you might want to try Pat’s Meat Market & Groceria Cafe in the Deering Center neighborhood of Portland.

Pat’s Meat Market is a local institution, a throwback to the days when every neighborhood had a corner grocer. Its quaint storefront on Stevens Avenue, with its striped awning, is both nostalgic and calming. When I had lunch there the other day, I sat at a counter that faced the window so I could watch people going in and out of the nearby shops and schools. I also browsed a book about hamburger places around the country, one of a stack of books on the counter.

I had time to sit and people-watch because it only took about a minute for me to place my order and get my food, at 12:15 p.m. on a Wednesday. The speed was thanks to Pat’s making some of its sandwiches ahead of time each day. I had the turkey club on focaccia bread (from Standard Baking) for $6.99. It shattered my ideas of pre-wrapped sandwiches. It tasted as fresh as if I had watched it being made.

The exterior of Pat’s Meat Market and Groceria Cafe on Stevens Ave in Portland. Photo by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

The exterior of Pat’s Meat Market and Groceria Cafe on Stevens Ave in Portland. Photo by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

The herb-crusted focaccia was chewy enough, but tender inside. The bacon was crisp and the turkey was piled about five or six slices high. There was also mayonnaise and cheese.

I also tried the chicken vegetable soup ($4.95), with shredded chunks of chicken and a rich, bright yellow stock that I found later was made at the market. It had mushrooms, carrots and pieces of turnip. It was very hot, making it a good traveling soup. So next time I want a soup to go, I’ll get some at Pat’s and I’ll be confident it will stay warm. Some of the other soups on the rotating list include beef and bean chili, cream of asparagus, curry chicken and rice, and clam and haddock chowder.

Besides soups, there’s a house-made macaroni and cheese on Mondays. Other daily specials include: A pastrami and Swiss sandwich on marble rye on Tuesday; a crispy chicken salad sandwich or wrap on Wednesday; a shaved steak sandwich with peppers and onions on Thursday; and fried haddock sandwich with house-made tartar sauce on Friday.

Dining area at Pat's Meat Market and Groceria Cafe. Photo by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

Dining area at Pat’s Meat Market and Groceria Cafe. Photo by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

On any given day the pre-made sandwiches may include a chicken Caesar wrap, a roast beef and Swiss or the turkey club. But customers can order their own creation, using the meats at Pat’s (it is a meat market after all) on various kinds of breads with assorted condiments. Most are $6.99, while roast beef or tuna is $7.99.

Pat’s is a great place for lunch, or to get food to go. Being in a market means you can get lunch and some ingredients for supper later at home.

And home is the place to slow down, after a day spent hurrying around.

Except for when you stop for lunch at Pat’s.

PAT’S MEAT MARKET AND GROCERIA CAFE

WHERE: 484 Stevens Ave., Portland | 207-772-3961 | patsmeatmart.com | Twitter: @Lunchatpats
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday; Lunch service ends a little earlier on Saturday depending on the crowd
WAIT: A minute or two
PARKING: On street
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: No

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