Je’s Neighborhood Store, a new sandwich shop on Veranda Street, serves a variety of sandwiches, burgers and hot dogs. Photo by Meredith Goad

During these crazy times, when everything is changing so quickly, a reliable neighborhood spot to grab a quick sandwich is, perhaps, just what the doctor ordered. Nothing fancy, not too expensive. Just a place to go to when it’s too hot to cook, you’re hungry, and you want something fast that’s not fast food.

Cheeseburgers at Je’s cost just $4, or $6 with added fries. Photo by Meredith Goad

Je’s, a new neighborhood eatery on Veranda Street (just a block or so over from Beal’s) in Portland, is that kind of place. I tried a couple of its sandwiches – the menu is still evolving, and should include pizza soon – and there’s not much to say except that they were good and won’t break your bank. The cheeseburger was an absolute bargain at $4. Thick enough and juicy to boot, it was the old-fashioned kind of burger once found at the local drive-in. Add fries (which I did not) for $2 more. The menu taped to the counter – there appears to be no online menu yet, and no takeout menus either – noted that prices will be changing. By how much, it didn’t say.

A turkey or ham Italian costs $6 for a small, $8 for a large. Grilled or fried chicken sandwiches are $8 (small) and $10 (large). Hot dogs cost $3, or $5 with fries. Je’s also offers a selection of salads for $7-$10.

If you are verklempt at the loss of Maine’s agricultural fairs this summer, it’s Je’s to the rescue. They sell a couple of popular fair foods that could help satisfy your cravings. The fried dough – $5 for a giant piece – looked delicious, but I managed to resist, given the probable high caloric content of the burger and a desire to keep myself from packing on those pandemic pounds. I did try the much smaller fried Oreos, though, mostly out of curiosity. I was impressed with how hot they stayed in the to-go container. But don’t expect the middle of the cookie to be melted and creamy. It wasn’t. Still, they were a decadent treat.

If you prefer breakfast, the store also offers breakfast sandwiches, omelets and and bagels.

Missing fair food? Je’s Neighborhood Store sells fried dough and fried Oreos. Photo by Meredith Goad

Je’s calls itself a neighborhood store, but after seeing it in person, I would describe it as a sandwich shop. I was expecting this “market” to be, well, a market – a neighborhood store, as it says in the name, shelves stocked with a variety of essentials. But it’s really more of a take-out place. Walk in the door, and there’s a tiny space with a counter for ordering/pick-up and a cooler full of drinks off to the side. (Yes, it has a small candy section for kids, but there was no clear way to get to it.)

But it still seems popular with the neighborhood so far. A steady stream of folks walked in to order or pick up food. While the small space doesn’t allow for a lot of social distancing, the staff all wore masks and had lots hand sanitizer available. They even ask you to sign your credit card receipt with a sanitized pen.

Bottom line: If you live in this neighborhood, Je’s is a place you’ll want to check out.

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