Cold Fried Chicken from Ink.Sack (Los Angeles)
It was kind of a stroke of genius to bring cold fried chicken into the sandwich form. The chicken is cooked sous-vide then fried and it turns out remarkably tender. The ample toppings of creamy housemade Ranch dressing is made with a touch of buttermilk tang and a drizzle of Gindo's Spice of Life hot sauce. If we had to pick, it'd probably be our favorite at Michael Voltaggio's newish Los Angeles sandwich shop ink sack.
Cheesesteak from John's Roast Pork (Philadelphia, PA)
Known for their roast pork, John's is also the James Beard Award-winning gold standard for the non-tourist cheesesteak, made with a giant pile of sliced and semi-chopped ribeye on half-loaves of crusty Italian Carangi Bakery bread. No Whiz here; your choices are American or provolone. Most places this busy pre-cook piles of meat but John's steaks are all cooked to order. We tried the "Milano," which adds grilled tomato slices and mild provolone. Delicious. Get there before 2 p.m., weekdays only, and make sure you bone up on the ordering practices—cheesesteaks are ordered from the grill while roast pork and beef come from the station closer to the register. One of the best sandwich places in Philly hands down.
Pork Fat Biscuit with Egg, Ham, Cheese, Pickles, and Red-Eye Mayo from Cutty's (Brookline, MA)
Tipsy Texan at Franklin BBQ (Austin, TX)
Yes, Franklin BBQ is worth a ninety-minute wait—though we suggest you get there early enough to snag a place in the shade. And yes, the Tipsy Texan sandwich ($6.50) is worth ordering, even though it's difficult to save room for anything other than Franklin's ribs and brisket. Owner Aaron Franklin himself slices a huge piece off a hunk of glorious brisket, then chops the beef into glistening, bite-sized chunks. This pile of moist brisket goes onto a large white bun that already contained a base of purple coleslaw and thinly sliced pickles. Slices of sausage get laid atop the brisket (meat on meat!), and finally the top bun secures it all in place. This sandwich tastes like everything that is good.
Chorizo Torta at Xoco (Chicago)
There are breakfast sandwiches born of convenience, and then there are breakfast sandwiches that are worth getting up early for. It shouldn't surprise anyone who's eaten at Rick Bayless's Xoco that the Chorizo-Egg Torta ($7.50) is one of the latter. Soft scrambled eggs, ripe, buttery avocado, and two kinds of cheese (totally melted jack and salty, crumbly queso fresco) form the sandwich's creamy core. But they're all just there to highlight the mind-blowing chorizo, commingling with roasted poblanos, falling apart into a soft stew of cinnamon and vinegar-laced meat. Read More Here.
Any of the Daily Specials from Pal's Takeaway (San Francisco, CA)
Pal's Takeaway is a simple, nondescript deli counter in the back of Tony's Market on the east side of San Francisco's Mission District. With barely any signage to indicate its presence, no seating to speak of save for two fold out tables and four chairs, and windows that until very recently had prison-like steal-my-liquor-if-you-can bars on the windows, it's the last place you'd expect to find a great lunch, but there's some serious deliciousness being created behind those $10 jugs of wine. Pal's owner Jeff Mason works the counter every day, making an ever-changing selection of three daily sandwiches like this one with thick, tender slices of crazy juicy fennel-scented porchetta from nearby Flour + Water on Acme bakery bread with chile-spiked mayo, caramelized onions, and arugula.
Roast Beef Sandwich at Clyde Common (Portland, OR)
The chuck for this sandwich comes from Painted Hills Farm and is brined for two days before being roasted in the Clyde Commons kitchen. It's tender and supple, crowned with a fresh slaw of cabbage, herbs, and pickled celery. A shower of pecorino may scatter as you attempt to get everything in one bite, but it's worth the effort.
1014 Southwest Stark Street, Portland OR 97205 (map); 503-228-3333
Old School Bologna Sandwich at B Spot (Cleveland, OH)
The Old School stars a thick (three-quarters of an inch-thick) slab of bologna topped with yellow mustard, pickles, and white American cheese, all served on a toasted potato bun. The sandwich was great on its own but even better with some Stadium Mustard and pickled green tomatoes from the B Spot's magnificent pickle bar added.
Grilled Cheese Donut and Others from Tom & Chee's (Cincinnati, OH)
This one always gives people a double take. The grilled cheese is made with a split glazed donut ($3) that's split in half and toasted cut-side down in butter with a couple slices of American cheese. It's a sticky, sweet, buttery, gooey concoction that is actually way better tasting than it sounds once you can get your head wrapped around the fact that you're eating a glazed donut grilled cheese.
Koagie at Myung Ga (Cherry Hill, NJ)
Starting with a long, seeded roll (a Philadelphia-area sandwich staple), this Korean hybrid is stuffed with a sweet cabbage slaw, grilled scallions and onions, your choice of meat (bulgogi, chicken, or spicy pork), kimchi, and spicy cucumbers on the side. We went with the bulgogi. The thinly sliced marinated beef gives the sandwich a cheesesteak-like feel—all those beefy, sweet, and spicy flavors. For now Myung Ga has the market corned on these fantastic koagies, but we could see this trend spreading, Korean taco style.