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Vietnams far, but tasty lunches are nearby

by: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT, Fresh fillings play off the crunchy-soft texture of a minibaguette in Binh Minh’s signature snack.

It's summer vacation: swimming, berry picking, barbecuing, biking, rafting, hiking, Super Soaking, bee-stinging, picnicking season. Portlanders are on the go in the summer, unwilling to waste any moment of rain-free weather. Outdoor excursions usually mean packing lunches, and I've got a tip to make that easier: forget making sandwiches.

Instead, before you head to the river, head to Binh Minh Bakery and Deli (6812 N.E. Broadway, 503-3868). Binh Minh is a dumpy little spot next door to a laundromat and just down the street from Pacific Market, an Asian grocery store.

Don't let Binh Minh's humble appearance fool you - its Vietnamese sandwiches are fantastic. The soft and crunchy baguettes used for the sandwiches are baked daily right there, giving Binh Minh a freshness advantage over many other Vietnamese sandwich shops in town. Also, the sandwiches are made to order, but you won't have to wait around long. Choose from eight varieties (mostly pork) and, quicker than you can say cilantro, voilà!

The sandwiches are ridiculously cheap, $2 to $2.50 each, but they aren't huge so plan on two per person.

Owner Van Le comes from the family that used to own Lanvin French Bakery on Southeast 82nd Avenue. Lucky for us, after finishing school he decided to go back to the family business of baking. His parents and other family members help out regularly at the bakery and deli.

Binh Minh is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

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I've also got dessert lined up for you, at least for Wednesday, July 12.

That day is Mio Gelato's third anniversary, and to celebrate the occasion, single scoops are $1 all day at all three Mio locations (25 N.W. 11th Ave., 226-8002; 1517 N.E. Brazee St., 503-288-4800; 838 N.W. 23rd Ave., 503-241-9300). I tried the blueberry-strawberry-blackberry sorbetto last week at the Northeast location, and the sweet fresh flavor is wonderfully intense. Check it out.

Call individual locations for store hours.

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Pascal Sauton, chef and owner of Carafe (200 S.W. Market St., 503-248-0004), will represent Oregon at the National Seafood Competition in New Orleans next month.

Before he goes he's holding a benefit dinner for the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund in New Orleans. Sauton has invited chefs Josh Blythe of Roux, Adam Higgs of Acadia and Madison Ragland of Lagniappe for 'An Evening in New Orleans' from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, July 11, at Carafe.

The cost of the dinner is $40 per person, not including drinks or gratuity. The New Orleans party will feature live music and specialty cocktails, and 100 percent of the dinner's proceeds go to the relief fund.

For reservations, call 503-248-0004. Visit www.carafebistro.com for information.

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Fans of Corbett Fish House (5901 S.W. Corbett Ave., 503-246-4434) who live on the east side are in luck.

They no longer have to travel across the river for their fish and chips. Corbett Fish House owners Greg and Dana Boyce opened Hawthorne Fish House (4343 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd., 503-548-4434) on June 6 in the old Casa de Rios location.

The Boyces were looking for a spot to open a second location on the east side and on a busy street when, Greg says, they 'lucked out' and the Hawthorne spot became available. And, he adds, it was a smart choice: 'Hawthorne is already outdoing Corbett.' The menu at Hawthorne Fish House is the same as at the original restaurant.

The new restaurant's hours are still not settled; currently they are 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and noon to 8:30 p.m. Sunday.

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