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The Best Sandwiches in America
February 12, 2008 4:21 PM   Subscribe

The Best Sandwiches in America Esquire magazine lists the very best examples of many very delicious sandwiches nationwide.
posted by jonson (86 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Bomb
Sal, Kris, and Charlie Deli, Queens, New York

The Sandwich Kings of Astoria


Um, no these guys(check the 'special heroes' section) are the sandwich kings of Astoria. I order from them all the time.
posted by jonmc at 4:26 PM on February 12, 2008


You posted that link yesterday, Jon. Next time, I suggest you order the SOB but tell them to hold the grilled beef. Provolone and peppers, duhrool, duhrool.
posted by Dave Faris at 4:31 PM on February 12, 2008


You posted that link yesterday, Jon.


It deserves another mention, and it's on topic.
I've had the SOB before. It's damned tasty.
posted by jonmc at 4:33 PM on February 12, 2008


PBS aired a documentary on American sandwiches a few years back. It'd be a good companion piece to this article.
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 4:33 PM on February 12, 2008


I can hardly wait to try the Reggie Deluxe in Portland. No doubt it will take me a decade to digest the thing, but it will be well worth the roll of extra-strength antacids... bring it on.
posted by heatherbeth at 4:33 PM on February 12, 2008


The McRib is on here?

Oh, I see. It won in the "McRib" category. That makes sense.
posted by gurple at 4:34 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I dunno, a Google search for "Sandwich Kings of Astoria" seems to tell the tale. That said, I want one of those "Astoria" heroes in your link.

And what's with the brown gravy?

Fuck it, I gotta go down to the deli, like now.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 4:36 PM on February 12, 2008


The very first entry: A Reuben with latkes in place of rye bread? Whoa, road trip!
posted by pax digita at 4:36 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Fancier places around the Garden State call it Taylor ham, but to the hungry, hungover Jersey masses, the salamilike breakfast meat is pork roll.

I've had porkroll at this place in Jersey. It's good stuff.
posted by jonmc at 4:37 PM on February 12, 2008


I'll have to try Jimmy and Drew's in Boulder. I love a good Reuben sandwich.
posted by Eekacat at 4:40 PM on February 12, 2008


this place, dammit.
posted by jonmc at 4:40 PM on February 12, 2008


Right down the street from Saigon Sandwhich is Wrap Delight, which in my opinion wins the Banh Mi battle between the two.
posted by flaneuse at 4:45 PM on February 12, 2008


The very first entry: A Reuben with latkes in place of rye bread? Whoa, road trip!

Funny - that first entry made me suspect the entire list. Anyone who can say that the bread of a sandwich is just a "vehicle" for the insides doesn't understand the art of the sandwich. I take my sandwiches very, very seriously - and the bread is incredibly important. The quality of the rye bread is just as important as the juiciness and tenderness of the corned beef. And woe to any who try and serve me a Reuben with cole slaw. Cole slaw! ye gods!

I'm sorry, but putting a greasy ole latke on top of a sandwich and calling it an improvement over bread is just plain wrong.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 4:46 PM on February 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


It is good and proper that the Reuben was first on their list.
posted by boo_radley at 4:50 PM on February 12, 2008


Right down the street from Saigon Sandwhich is Wrap Delight, which in my opinion wins the Banh Mi battle between the two.

No question Wrap Delight is better than Saigon Sandwich.
posted by foodgeek at 4:53 PM on February 12, 2008


I don't think there are categories as much as selections, gurple.
posted by Max Power at 4:54 PM on February 12, 2008


The whole list IS bullshit. Those aren't sandwiches, they're sammidges. Really, really different.


Coming from England I fantasized about Reuben Sandwiches for years. Imagine my disappointment when I actually tasted one. For several more years, I tried a Reuben at every deli I passed, imagining that the first had been a fluke. Nope. The first one was as good as it got.


England, it turns out, does sandwiches best. Who knew?


(The best I've ever had were stilton and walnut baps at the Oxford covered market two decades ago).
posted by unSane at 4:54 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can hardly wait to try the Reggie Deluxe in Portland.

You'll have to. The farmers' market is shut until spring, and Pine State Biscuits' new restaurant hasn't opened yet.
posted by dersins at 4:54 PM on February 12, 2008


Not enough pictures!
posted by lyam at 4:59 PM on February 12, 2008


The Monte Christo.
DAMN.
When I was twelve years old this was the ACME of sophistication.
Orange Nesbitt's with a paper straw, 18 holes before noon, my Dad tan and smiling.
I can't wait to make one for my son in the years to come!
Excellent post, jonson!
posted by Dizzy at 5:01 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


These guys have never been to Harold's. Where else could you get a pastrami and reuben like these?

Though, truthfully, I've never eaten the large pastrami. It's terrifying.
posted by MPnonot3 at 5:03 PM on February 12, 2008


They need to trade out the Ferdi Special with a muffuletta from the Napoleon House.
posted by suckerpunch at 5:04 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am going to NYC next weekend pretty much for the sole purpose of getting a pastrami on rye and an egg cream from Katz.
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:07 PM on February 12, 2008


What, no Fat Cat?
posted by exit at 5:08 PM on February 12, 2008


I miss the tomato basil sandwich from the late, lamented Daily Caffé in New Haven, CT. Half a baguette split open, covered in fresh basil, tomato slices, gobs of fresh mozzarella, a bit of olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Pure perfection.
posted by jtron at 5:09 PM on February 12, 2008


The greater Baltimore region is home to a couple of Italian delis owned and operated by the venerable Di Pasquale clan. Mastellone's, on Harford Road in Parkville, is more convenient to me, so that's where I go, but the exact location doesn't matter. What matters are the sandwiches.

You may like the classic Italian cold cut assortment, with salami, prosciuttini, mortadella, capicola and provolone. If you're feeling a little adventuresome, maybe you'd like to try the Old World Italian, with sopressata, cured capicola, prosciutto and fontinella. If you're trying to watch the old waistline, give the veggie sub a try-- the artichoke hearts make all the difference, and you won't even miss the meat. Me, I take things simple: prosciutto and homemade mozarella, perked up with some red vinegar and black olives.

Damn, those are good sandwiches.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:10 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


McRib? Chick-fil-et? WTF?

They have a bbq sandwich from Vermont and a Cuban from Seattle.

Fuck this list.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:25 PM on February 12, 2008 [4 favorites]


Hm. The BBQ sandwich at Allen and Son outside of Chapel Hill makes yet another list of bests. Problem is, I kind of think Allen and Son's BBQ sucks. My experience with it has always been of the meat tasting old, off, and without a hint of smokiness. Why oh WHY do I not have the nirvana-like experience there that everyone else seems to have? Sniff.
posted by Stewriffic at 5:29 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is total bullshit. Nothing from Peanut Butter & Company is anywhere on this list, but the McRib is? Fucking BULLSHIT.
posted by schroedinger at 5:31 PM on February 12, 2008


They have a weakness for the biggest sandwiches, not necessarily the best. As much as I love pastrami sandwiches, I find it unappetizing to look at a half-pound of pastrami on a plate.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:37 PM on February 12, 2008


Look, do you know how delicious Peanut Butter & Company sandwiches are? I had one, during a spring break sandwich road trip I took with a couple of friends up and down the East Coast, eating the best sandwiches. To be fair, I was a vegetarian at the time and couldn't partake in the meat sandwiches, but still. After eating that sandwich in March 2004, I dreamt about it for the next three years. I literally had dreams about their Cinnamon Raisin Swirl sandwich. Until finally, this past year, a few friends and I make the three-and-a-half hour drive to New York City expressly to eat sandwiches and Peanut Butter & Company, and then drive back the same day. That's how good their sandwiches are.
posted by schroedinger at 5:42 PM on February 12, 2008


Nah. Now these guys, they have a weakness for the big sammiches.
posted by jtron at 5:56 PM on February 12, 2008


Well, Primanti's made the list, so all's well in my world.

Pickle and onion are the standard bbq sandwich toppings here in Austin. Then again, the sandwich here is brisket and not pork, so that still doesn't really explain what they're doing on the McRib.

What the McRib is doing on this list is another mystery altogether. I'm not even gonna attempt that one.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:01 PM on February 12, 2008


Okay, the fact that they listed two sandwiches in LA and neither of them is the Godmother from Bay Cities Deli means that it is full of wrong.

And Canter's? Really? The only good thing about Canter's is that it's open all night.
posted by flaterik at 6:04 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yet another article to remind me living in this town sucks...
posted by Samizdata at 6:06 PM on February 12, 2008


Yeah, really, Canters, FFS.
posted by unSane at 6:11 PM on February 12, 2008


And Canter's? Really? The only good thing about Canter's is that it's open all night.

Exactly. Canter's doesn't have the best of anything.

But I love Mother's in New Orleans (though I go for the Shrimp po'boy). And I also love the Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwiches. If we could get one of those in L.A.
posted by cjets at 6:14 PM on February 12, 2008


Who goes to down to Fairfax for the food?
Yikes.
Cantor's + urban ennui = eternal rite of passage.
Plus, I shared a bowl of kreplach at 3 am with Roseanne Barr once, and she was delightful.
No lie.
posted by Dizzy at 6:15 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Chick-fil-et?

Chik-Fil-A is awesome. I know where the secret one is in Manhattan, and it makes me happy. Goddamn, they are crispy little sandwiches of joy.

The Momofuku sandwich sounds good, but I wonder if they could be as good as their l'il pork buns, which are pretty much sandwiches, and are made out of mouth-gold. (they charge for 'em like they're made out of real gold)
posted by Bookhouse at 6:44 PM on February 12, 2008


meh - no Philly = lame.
posted by HyperBlue at 7:15 PM on February 12, 2008


I did not know that a such thing as Banh Mi existed.

Now I want to move to a big city just so I can eat some. *tiny violins of woe*
posted by bettafish at 7:18 PM on February 12, 2008


The Uni Panini,
sandwich of the the year?
posted by liam at 7:19 PM on February 12, 2008


I can't believe the Central Grocery muffaletta is not on this list. Also, the bahn mi at Saigon Sandwich, though good, is not even the best bahn mi in San Francisco, ergo not the best in America.
posted by trip and a half at 7:29 PM on February 12, 2008


I strongly disagree with the makers of this list on virtually everything sandwich-related. Despicable, revisionist, and smug. Everything on the list that I know about is wrong.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:37 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


No Schlotzsky's? I don't like this list.
posted by item at 7:45 PM on February 12, 2008


*snif*

Look at them. Banh Mi and Gyros and Tuna Nicoise. Cubanos and Jibaritos and Polish Boys. Sweet Capps and Brisket and P-to-the-r-to-the-motherfuckin'-imanti's. 250 years of tasty, delicious immigrant experience mingling with homegrown goodness between two slices of bread.

Yea verily, this land is our land.
posted by xthlc at 7:51 PM on February 12, 2008 [5 favorites]


It's a pretty good list, I like that they included fast food choices - if you're stuck having to have it, better to go for the Esquire-recommended option. And they got my fave, banh mi. But overall a bit light on the vegetarian options.
posted by DenOfSizer at 8:20 PM on February 12, 2008


This is silly- how do they possibly choose among the thousands of places serving banh mi, gyros or whatever?

xthic, I'll preside over a Canada vs USA immigrant-influenced sandwich smackdown. Donairs in Canada are better; Shawarma is everywhere in Canada; you can't even get smoked meat in the US, and Toronto has the two most delectable sandwiches in North America in ridiculous abundance: Veal cutlet (with fried eggplant, please), and the world's most delicious modified starch plain: Trini DOUBLES from dozens of stores in the West Indian capital of North America.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 8:23 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can't believe the Central Grocery muffaletta is not on this list.

I, too, am flabbergasted at its absence from this list.

The muffaletta made the PBS special Sandwiches That You Will Like (referenced above) and "The Today Show's" five best sandwiches program.
posted by ericb at 8:30 PM on February 12, 2008


I like reubens. I'll get them at most places that offer them.

Except Shapiro's deli, in Indianapolis. Not because the reubens there are bad, but because the corned beef is just so good, that sauerkraut, swiss cheese, or Russian dressing would only distract from the gustatory delight that is Shapiro's corned beef. Just give me that three inches of corned beef between two inch-thick slices of their rye bread, with just the slightest bit of dark mustard.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:37 PM on February 12, 2008


The Monte Cristo at Canter's, like everything at Canter's, is overpriced and overrated. It's certainly better than what you get at the Blue Bayou in Disneyland or Jerry's Famous Deli, but that's pretty much the textbook definition of the phrase "damned with faint praise".

If you're willing to drive a little ways out of Los Angeles, Pea Soup Andersen's used to have the best Monte Cristo sold in any diner on the menu, and they'll still make it for weary travelers who ask nicely. Plus, you can get an awesome side of pea soup with it. I enjoy making my own, but if I'm making that drive between SoCal and the Bay Area, you'd better believe that I'm stopping at Andersen's.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 9:04 PM on February 12, 2008


Hm. The BBQ sandwich at Allen and Son outside of Chapel Hill makes yet another list of bests. Problem is, I kind of think Allen and Son's BBQ sucks.

what restaurant pr people can do.

allen and sons is hit and miss. more miss than hit. most often dried out. kind of like bbq jerky some days.

mother's in new orleans is the bomb, though.
posted by 3.2.3 at 9:10 PM on February 12, 2008


How Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage in Cambridge, MA missed out is beyond me, but maybe a hamburger isn't a sandwich?

And: the last Central Grocery muffaletta I had was not as life-changing as the first one.

And: they deserve some credit for covering the Philly roast pork instead of the obvious Philly cheesesteak.
posted by escabeche at 9:18 PM on February 12, 2008


Pastrami on Rye
Katz’s, New York City


Hollah!
posted by Afroblanco at 9:19 PM on February 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Let me confirm that East Side Pockets in Providence is the delishizzle (don't mind me, I just came out of Juno). There's actually another really great Lebanese place within a 100 feet called Byblos that has an amazing shrimp wrap.

Also, I thought: "Scott Dickensheets?! That can't be a real name." But it turns out, it's a real guy.
posted by Kattullus at 10:01 PM on February 12, 2008


Has anyone else from Phoenix ever heard of Cheese 'N Stuff? I thought I was up on the (supposedly good) food scene here.
posted by lizjohn at 10:12 PM on February 12, 2008


No question Wrap Delight is better than Saigon Sandwich.

I'm having trouble digesting this assertion so tomorrow morning, I'm waking up early to get a banh mi from Wrap Delight before heading to work. Actually I'll pick up sandwiches from both places and do a taste test with my colleagues in the office.
posted by junesix at 10:48 PM on February 12, 2008


When in Philly, why stop at just one roast pork sandwich from John's? Go try one at Tony Luke's too.
posted by medeine at 11:43 PM on February 12, 2008


junesix, can you pick one up for me too? Still, all the vietnamese food in San Francisco does not make up for the lack of decent tortas ahogadas. The closest acceptable ones are in Redwood City, the closest GOOD ones are in Santa Ana.

I have to agree with unSane, I am still trying to find a Reuben that I like. Could someone explain what is so great about them, and how to recognize a good one?

Also, the Biritsh, they know how to fix a sandwich.
posted by Dr. Curare at 11:51 PM on February 12, 2008


Has anyone else from Phoenix ever heard of Cheese 'N Stuff? I thought I was up on the (supposedly good) food scene here.

It's located right by my old high school, and my friends and I would occasionally stop by there after visiting the comic shop next door. They make a sandwich called the Doughboy that I have fond memories of, and frankly I'm not surprised to see them end up on this list.
posted by jimmy at 1:12 AM on February 13, 2008


Also, the Biritsh, they know how to fix a sandwich.

Thanks to many years of broken ones.
posted by vbfg at 3:13 AM on February 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dr. Curaure: I think a Reuben sandwich is a clever way to use less than prime pastrami. Classic pastrami - at places like Katz's in NYC - is juicy and steamed in vats to keep it warm. A lot of run of the mill delis just slice some salty commercial pastrami or corned beef and fry or microwave it, so if I am at some New Jersey diner and have a hankering for the pastrami, I feel a lot safer going for the Reuban sandwich. Pastrami and Corned Beef come from the Jewish deli tradition, and adding cheese or russian dressing makes it a very non-kosher sandwich, so you would never find one ffor sale at a Jewish deli.

Katz's pastrami sandwiches are now selling at about fifteen dollars a shot, but I still love them enough to set a quota of one a month when I am in the City.
posted by zaelic at 3:31 AM on February 13, 2008


I've always loved Reubens made with a good mustard instead of Russian Dressing. I never understood why putting mayonnaise (Russian Dressing) on was not considered sacrilege.
Help me out here. Am I the only one who orders it this way? I don't care how the original Reuben made it (if there was one and I've seen all the articles),
posted by notmtwain at 4:14 AM on February 13, 2008


Thanks Zaelic, now I am intrigued.

No trip to the East Coast anytime soon, but before discounting the reuben for good, I will give San Francisco New York Deli (NY style) and Moishe's Pippic (Chicago style) a try.

If I still think it sucks, a taste for reubens will be a new personal shibboleth.
posted by Dr. Curare at 4:21 AM on February 13, 2008


Para-U;
I thought Pea Soup Anderson's went out of business years ago?
I haven't been in that part of the world for years--were they bought out and re-opened, or am I just dizzy?
posted by Dizzy at 4:25 AM on February 13, 2008


No Arthur Bryant's No cred at all.
posted by scruss at 4:51 AM on February 13, 2008


No grinders?

Poseurs.
posted by Kinbote at 5:03 AM on February 13, 2008


Oh, this list is just totally bogus ... McRibs and Chic-Filet ... COME ON! A chain making the "Best"? Puleeeeeeze!

On the other hand, delighted and amused to see Zingermans on there ...
posted by aldus_manutius at 7:50 AM on February 13, 2008


The real outrage is two locations in LA that aren't Phillipe's and Cole's, who continue to fight the French Dip Origin War.
posted by generalist at 8:02 AM on February 13, 2008


McRib and Chik-Fil-A are on there, but no POTBELLY??????

Wrong.
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:40 AM on February 13, 2008


There is just no excuse for including a McRib and a Chick-Fil-A. They did that just to appear democratic and non-food-snobbish. You might be able to argue for them on a list called "20 best chain restaurant sandwiches," but NO WAY on a list of best sandwiches.

I've actually had two of these and watched in stunned revulsion while people ate a third (pork roll and egg at Brennan's in Rumson). That is disgusting.

This was a cool idea, though, and they found some wonderful sounding things that have now made me very, very hungry.
posted by Miko at 8:43 AM on February 13, 2008


I'm not even sure a McRib is actual food.

If you're in the DC area, be sure to hit the Italian Market in Lyons Park in Arlington. Great, great italian subs.
posted by Dave Faris at 9:02 AM on February 13, 2008


At least they got the Salumi offering correct.
posted by bz at 9:44 AM on February 13, 2008


That Salumi sandwich is unbelievable... fantastic stuff.

The cuban from Paseo in Fremont is also amazing. Just because it's in Seattle doesn't mean it shouldn't be on the list. Yum...
posted by Pantengliopoli at 9:56 AM on February 13, 2008


The corpse in the library: "They have a weakness for the biggest sandwiches, not necessarily the best. As much as I love pastrami sandwiches, I find it unappetizing to look at a half-pound of pastrami on a plate."

A valid point ... but Katz's does have the best pastrami in the world, period. That they also serve you a lot of it (I can't remember whether they have both a regular-size sandwich and a larger-portioned 'fresser') doesn't diminish the inherent quality.

Since delis have started jumbo-sizing their pastrami sandwiches, I know people who get two extra slices of bread and split it into two sandwiches, because they like a higher bread-to-meat ratio. (Or take the extra one for later.)

There are some questionable selections on that list, but it's pretty hard to think of any place that's as synonymous with 'pastrami sandwich,' in the true Jewish-deli tradition, as Katz's.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:12 AM on February 13, 2008


Yeah, True Love is the greatest thing in the world,
except for a nice MLT---mutton, lettuce and tomato
sandwich, when the mutton is nice and lean, and the
tomato is ripe. <> They're so
perky. I love that.

Where can I get one?

Did ewe know about the Mutton Renaissance? Prince Charles is out to make the table unsafe for sheep.
posted by notmtwain at 12:08 PM on February 13, 2008


Intermission Deli, Saginaw, MI. On Bay between State and Davenport. [picture]

best fucking sammiches EVER.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 12:10 PM on February 13, 2008


Regarding the McRib -- I'm not sure you people understand how freakishly passionate some people are about that abomination.

Seriously. They're insane. When I was a youthful moron I worked at a McD -- and I kid you not, 3-4 people per day would try to order the McRib (whether or not it was available). At least once a week someone would go ballistic, start screaming & demand the manager if it wasn't available.

Whenever the filthy thing was available, it would dominate sales. As in, it would by itself constitute perhaps 3/5ths of all income for the day. People would buy four at once, up to three times in a single day. Why some of them didn't just fall over dead is beyond me.

Working the drive-through utterly sucked whenever the McRib promo ended, because you could be guaranteed you'd spend all day listening to people freak out about it.
posted by aramaic at 12:31 PM on February 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised that there's three entries from Cleveland. I agree about Slyman's corned beef being awesome, but I didn't know the Beachland Ballroom served anything other than beer.

And I have to try a Reggie Deluxe when the Portland Farmer's Market returns this spring.
posted by Artnchicken at 12:38 PM on February 13, 2008


Schmitter, McNally's pub, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia
Lobster Roll, Waldo Pepper's, Laconia, New Hampshire
Cheese Steak, Geno's, Philadelphia

Nuff 'sed
posted by VicNebulous at 12:54 PM on February 13, 2008


Dip a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich in pancake batter, dunk it in a deep fryer, and dust it with powdered sugar
Well, I know what I'm doing this weekend.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:49 PM on February 13, 2008


There is this place between Demopolis and Eutaw, Alabama, where a guy has staked out a sign on the side of the road near his mailbox. The sign reads, and I quote, "Cat Fish Sammiches."

I do not see those on this list.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:51 PM on February 13, 2008


"Gyro, East Side Pocket, Providence"

Mmmhmmm.
posted by lunit at 3:59 PM on February 13, 2008


I think the next Providence meetup should be at, or at least include, East Side Pockets.
posted by Kattullus at 9:24 PM on February 13, 2008


Katz's better serve a lot of pastrami: their sandwiches are like $20.

Good, good meat though.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:43 AM on February 14, 2008


No Red Bamboo sandwiches?
posted by Ash3000 at 10:35 AM on February 14, 2008


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