Portland lost one of its rare late-night eateries with the closing of Papaya King on Dana Street in the Old Port.

If you’re prone to late-night munchies, no worries. Opening in Papaya King’s old space is Simple Sandwich, a casual sandwich shop that also sells cigarettes, sodas, candy bars and other sundries, including (according to a sign posted on one of several coolers) beer sometime in the near future.

The new shop’s motto is “Simply done right.” Its menu consists of simple salads as well as both hot and cold sandwiches. Virtually everything is under $8, with many sandwiches that cost less than $7.

The seating is also simple. For folks who want to eat in, there’s a counter with stools where you place your order, and another row of stools by the window overlooking the cobblestones of Dana Street.

I tried the Rachel Panini, which was roast turkey, Swiss cheese, coleslaw and Thousand Island dressing served on a multi-grain ciabatta for $6.59. It’s easy, with this type of sandwich, for one ingredient — a pile of turkey, a huge helping of coleslaw — to overwhelm the others.

But this sandwich was layered fairly evenly, providing a bit of each ingredient with every bite so that the flavors were well balanced. The roast turkey tasted homemade.

The other hot sandwiches include everything from an Angus burger ($7.49) to a meatball Italian ($6.59 or $7.59) filled with house-made meatballs. There’s several cold sandwiches available, including the classic Old Port Italian ($7.59 and $8.59), which is made with sweet capicola, aged provolone, tomato, pickle, bell pepper, red onion and kalamata olives on an Italian roll.

On my next visit, I’d like to try the Ham ‘n Cheese ($7.59), which is made with sweet capicola, tomato and fresh mozzarella, served with pesto on multi-grain bread.

For vegetarians, there’s an Athens Veggie Wrap ($6.49) that includes baby spinach, tomato, carrots, bell peppers, cucumber, marinated mushrooms and feta cheese on a spinach wrap.

You can add french fries and a soda to any sandwich for just $1.79. Onion rings and mozarella sticks are also available ($4.49), as well as sweet potato waffle fries ($3.49).

Chili and seafood chowder were on the menu the day I visited. I decided to try a cup of the seafood chowder and was pleasantly surprised by the amount of seafood in it. My spoon brought up tiny shrimp, bay scallops, clams, pieces of haddock and, of course, potatoes.

The broth, however, was extraordinarily bland. I ended up dumping my whole to-go salt packet into my cup of soup — the first time, I think, that I’ve ever actually used one of those things. Improve the seasoning, and I think this place will have quite a good little cup of chowder.

There are three salads to choose from at Simple Sandwich, including a traditional Caesar ($5.99) and a chicken and tuna salad served over a bed of vegetables ($7.59).

Overall, Simple Sandwich is a nice addition to the Old Port lunch scene. And here’s hoping that, unlike other late-night eateries in Portland, it will last long enough to satisfy plenty of nighttime cravings for good eats.


The Features staff of The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram anonymously samples meals for about $7.


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