744 Main St., South Portland
One of my favorite things to do in Portland during the height of summer is to get the hell out of Portland. Don’t get me wrong, dear Masshole*: I welcome you and your tourist dollars. But I don’t appreciate losing every on-street parking spot in the Old Port, dodging pedestrians unfamiliar with the concept of a crosswalk, or waiting an hour for a table at all the Washington Avenue hot spots.
Here’s the good news: there’s a new sandwich shop that’s only 10 minutes from downtown, yet worlds away from the tourist-season chaos. And their food is every bit as good as Portland’s best restaurants’.
Indy’s Sandwich opened this spring in the former home of Simple Simon’s Diner, on Route 1 in South Portland, just north of the Scarborough line. Between them, the four owners of Indy’s operate five other restaurants, including Portland’s Mi Sen and Boda.
My wife and I pre-ordered online and headed south. Less than 15 minutes later, our food was ready and waiting for us at the counter. My wife grabbed a picnic table outside (we’re still avoiding indoor dining) and we sat down to eat.
We both started with Nitro Cold Brew Thai Coffee ($4.75). The strong, sweet brew was amazingly smooth and creamy, despite having no added dairy. On a previous visit I’d tried the sweet Nitro Thai Tea, which was equally creamy and delicious.
The full menu is available all day, but I decided to stick with one of the five traditional breakfast sandwiches. I chose griddled Spam with two eggs and spicy mayo on a fluffy “deluxe bun” ($8), and was not disappointed by the savory, slightly messy treat.
Never one to turn down potatoes with any meal, I added a side order of crisp, perfectly seasoned French Fries with Truffle Salt ($5). Lily: gilded.
Feeling no compulsion to honor “arbitrary” meal categories, my wife selected a sandwich from the lunch menu. The description of The Ant and the Grasshopper ($9.95) sounded a little bizarre — bacon, lettuce, tomato, pesto, goat cheese, raisins, and balsamic glaze on multigrain bread. But as my wife put it, “I had to order it, because why the f*** would you put those things together if it didn’t work?”
As usual, she was 100 percent right. Salty and sweet, earthy and tangy, crunchy and chewy … all the flavors and textures balanced each other perfectly. She declared it the best sandwich she’s eaten since moving to Maine in 2002.
You might think the baked goods at Indy’s are an afterthought, based on their position near the bottom of the online menu. In reality, they are anything but. We devoured a Curry Puff ($3): rich, flaky pastry stuffed with a salty-sweet filling. The Pistachio Croissant ($3.19) was even better, from the shatteringly crisp, laminated pastry to the gooey, pecan pie–esque filling.
Our plan had been to order extra food and bring home the leftovers. Instead, we ate everything and left no crumbs behind. We drove home, took a nap, and skipped lunch.
I would recommend Indy’s in a heartbeat for takeout or indoor dining; the two outdoor tables are sandwiched (no pun intended) between a dumpster and an AC compressor — a less-than-ideal environment for dining al fresco. But I’d still take it over the teeming crowds on Wharf Street any summer day. See ya in the fall, Portland!
*I’m originally from Boston, so I can totally use the M-word.
Indy’s Sandwich is open Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Saturday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.