Gallery: Staff Picks: What's the Best Sandwich You've Ever Eaten?

The Tipsy Texan from Franklin BBQ in Austin
The Tipsy Texan from Franklin BBQ in Austin
This has to take the best sandwich title for me, mostly because I managed to eat it while also eating 5 pounds of assorted barbecue. I mean everything Franklin makes is idiculously moist, tender, and flavorful, so when you put his brisket (it literally glistens) on top of a bed thinly sliced pickles and top it with a smoky, fat marbled sausage and some crunchy purple slaw, man, it's just sandwich heaven. Carrie Vasios

[Photograph: Carrie Vasios]

Milanesa Cemita from Cemitas Puebla in Chicago
Milanesa Cemita from Cemitas Puebla in Chicago
This pains me to make such a crucial decision, but after deliberating in my head for a few hours, I keep ending up at Cemitas Puebla in Chicago. Every element of the milanesa cemita ($6.50) here is exceptional. The sesame seed topped bread is crusty on the outside and soft within. The thin pork cutlet is piping hot and extra crunchy. And then those toppings: house-made chipotles en adobo and hunks of avocado are smeared on, while a generous pile of salty and tangy queso Oaxaca is added on top. Spicy, meaty, and cheesy, yet never completely out of control, it's one incredible sandwich. Nick Kindelsperger

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Pastrami Reuben at Katz's in NYC
Pastrami Reuben at Katz's in NYC
When I think of sandwiches that will forever and always be soul-churningly delicious, I can't help but think of the pastrami reuben at Katz's. My first bite of that smoky, meaty, cheesy, tangy pile of glory rewired my pleasure centers so that at any given point I'm usually craving one—it's just a matter of how much. I always wish the bread had a little more character to it, but that's never stopped me from loving the hell out of this gut bomb. Max Falkowitz

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Schnitzel Sandwich from Tabor in Portland, OR
Schnitzel Sandwich from Tabor in Portland, OR
Erin, Robyn, and I went to Portland to eat for the Serious Eats book, and now you can't say the word "Schnitzelwich" without causing us to sigh nostalgically. Despite having stuffed ourselves silly already, the perfect crisp coating and juicy interior on this pork schnitzel sandwich from the Tabor cart was impossible to resist. Ajvar (red pepper spread), sour creamy horseradish, and caramelized onions crown this sandwich with a wonderful blend of unexpected flavors—I have a feeling Erin and I will hit this cart again when we're back in Portland this September. Maggie Hoffman

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Barbecue Sandwich
Barbecue Sandwich
This is a really tough question. I've been spending days thinking about my answer. And I just cannot ignore the great barbecue sandwiches. Whole hog from Patrick Martin (Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint) in Nashville, or the one from Skylight Inn in Ayden, North Carolina. And we can't forget the championship shoulder sandwich from Big Bob Gibson's, or the chopped pork topped by a piece of crispy skin at Scott's Barbecue in South Carolina. Ed Levine

[Photograph: Nick Solares]

Sabich from Taim in NYC
Sabich from Taim in NYC
There have to be sandwiches I'm forgetting right now, so apologies to all of those guys. But here's a sandwich that does it for me every time: the Sabich from Taim. Though better known for their falafel, Taim's sabich is my nirvana in a pita. Warm and fluffy, the pita is stuffed overstuffed with thick rounds of fried egglant that melt like butter, along with a sliced hard boiled egg, creamy hummus, tahini, Israeli salad (diced tomatoes, cucumbers, and parsley in a lemon mint dressing), marinated cabbage, tahini, and amba (pickled mango sauce). Bites move from creamy to crunchy to saucy to eggy to eggplantty. Another sandwich that I can't stop thinking about lately: antipasto and fresh mozzarella on "lard bread." (Thank you, Max) Erin Zimmer

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Lamb sandwich from Pane Bianco in Phoenix
Lamb sandwich from Pane Bianco in Phoenix
I can't pick the ABSOLUTE best sandwich I've ever eaten. So here's...one of the best. I first (and last) ate Pane Bianco's roasted lamb sandwich when I visited Phoenix in 2007, and I remember it fondly as "THAT SANDWICH I LOVED A TON WHEN I VISITED PHOENIX FIVE YEARS AGO." I don't remember much about what it actually tasted like, but here are some not-so-helpful words from my blog: "The lamb tasted as though it were injected with juices blessed by newborn angels. Or squeezed from them. I know that tells you nothing about the flavor, but man...it was good. It was amazing." Robyn Lee

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Deli-Sliced Bologna and Mayo on White Bread
Deli-Sliced Bologna and Mayo on White Bread
Tough call. I'd like to indulge my food-centric world-traveler side and say it was the crispy roast pork belly bánh mì I had from a street vendor in Ho Chi Minh City—the belly was chopped fine so you got crispy bits with every cucumber, pepper, and pickle-packed bite—but in reality, when I think of favorite sandwiches, only one comes to mind: the bologna sandwiches my kid sister and I bought from a Cumberland Farms gas station convenience store in the Catskills before a family hiking trip. To a 12-year-old kid, a two-inch thick stack of fresh-sliced ultra-thin deli bologna, a swipe of mayonnaise, and soft white sandwich bread was about the best lunch I could think of. I still love deli-sliced bologna (though I'll pretend to prefer mortadella when I'm trying to impress someone). J.Kenji Lopez-Alt

[Photograph: Shutterstock]

'The Arista' from Paesano's in Philly and the Cuban Roast Pork at Paseo in Seattle
'The Arista' from Paesano's in Philly and the Cuban Roast Pork at Paseo in Seattle
There are two sandwiches I've never been able to get out of my head—two pork sandwiches on different coasts from unrelated sandwich shops with almost identical names. There's 'The Arista' at Paesano's in Philadelphia, a re-thinking of the classic Philly roast pork sandwich. It's suckling pig they use, not dry roast pork, and it falls apart into a soft puddle of meatiness that's like the essence of baby pig, cut by the bitterness of broccoli rabe and sharp provolone. And then the Cuban Roast Pork at Paseo in Seattle—marinated slow-roasted pork, a little sloppy, a little sweet, joining thick rings of caramelized onions on a chewy Macrina Bakery roll, slathered in a punchy garlicky spread. Carey Jones

'The Arista' at Paesano's. [Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Turkey Sandwich from Parm in NYC or Muffuletta from Central Grocery in NOLA
Turkey Sandwich from Parm in NYC or Muffuletta from Central Grocery in NOLA
This is tough. Torn between the turkey sandwich at Parm and the muffuletta at Central Grocery. Jen Weinberg

Parm's turkey sandwich. [Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Italian Sub
Italian Sub
Best sando ever? That's a really tough question. But as an Italian Long Islander, my stereotypical favorite sandwich is an italian combo/hero type situation, and my current favorite is Best Pizza's Italian Sub in Williamsburg. It's everything that the genre should be. Leandra Palermo

[Photograph: Debbie Carlos]

#3 at Villa Italian Specialties in East Hampton
#3 at Villa Italian Specialties in East Hampton
Best sandwich ever? Sheesh...there must be sixth senses involved in these answers, such as nostalgia and ambiance. Perhaps there's a sandwich cognition theory: the sandwich a child eats on the beach every summer, only a handful of times per summer, becomes, for her, the best sandwich ever...? Meet: the #3 at Villa Italian Specialties, my family's favorite sandwich shop in East Hampton. It's just mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, and pesto, all on a huge Italian hero. Sometimes we've purchased the ingredients to go and assembled it over a hundred miles away from the beach, but it never tastes the same as when eaten straight from the beach chair, taunting the seagulls with every drippy bite. Jessica Leibowitz

[Photograph: Jessica Leibowitz]