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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: June 3, 2019

Quality Shop in Portland offers old-fashioned value and variety

Written by: Ray Routhier

Quality Shop is on Stevens Avenue in Portland, near Deering High. Photos by Ray Routhier

I was hungry when I decided to get lunch from Quality Shop the other day, but I didn’t know what I wanted.

I didn’t want to know what I wanted. I’m sort of decision-averse, and I get easily overwhelmed with all the little decisions I have to make all day. I was hoping something on the menu would just reach into my subconscious and I’d instantly know what to have.

Two cheeseburgers and fries are $7.99 at The Quality Shop in Portland.

Then I looked at the menu. Two cheeseburgers with fries for $7.99. Done. The menu item hit me hard on several levels, including nostalgia (I’ve always loved cheeseburgers), value and the comfort-food factor.

Quality Shop has been a fixture on Stevens Avenue in the Deering Center neighborhood for some 80 years. It’s the kind of place that serves no-frills food, and lots of it, in a cozy market atmosphere. There’s no bistro seating and you can’t order a small plate. It’s the kind of take-out that has powered Americans on the go for generations.

And it’s fast. I called ahead on a weekday at lunch, and the woman who took my order apologized that because they were crowded, it would take awhile – about 10 minutes. I had to drive from South Portland, so 10 minutes seemed perfect.

When I got there my order was ready. The two burgers were very warm, wrapped in foil. They were much bigger than I expected for a two-fer deal. Both were thick, with white American cheese, on buns that had been buttered and grilled. They came with a white-and-red box of crinkle-cut fries, also hot.

A large regular Italian, with ham, is $4.79 at Quality Shop in Portland

It was too much food for me, but that didn’t stop me from eating it. Because it was just $7.99, I thought that at a place with such low prices, I should buy my next day’s lunch, too. So I ordered large regular Italian – a Maine Italian, that is – for $4.79. It was on a very soft roll, as a Maine Italian should be, with ham, cheese and all the veggies. The ham was a little thicker than I usually find in an Italian, but tasty.

Besides burgers, the grill selection includes hot dogs ($1.79), as well as gyros and a chicken souvlaki. There are fried foods like chicken tenders, clam cakes and fried mushrooms. Then there are cold sandwiches, hot sandwiches, salads, pizza and a couple pasta meals, including spaghetti and meatballs for $4.29.

Deering Center is a pretty neighborhood with many picturesque places nearby to stroll through, including Evergreen Cemetery and Baxter Woods. So if you’re looking for a pre- or post-stroll lunch, or just some fast and satisfying take-out, Quality Shop lives up to its name.

QUALITY SHOP

WHERE: 473 Stevens Ave., Portland
INFO: (207) 774-6434, On Facebook
HOURS: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
WAIT: About 10 to 15 minutes for lunch phone order
PARKING: On street
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: No

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