Cold Roast Beef at Cochon Butcher in New Orleans, LA
This butcher and sandwich shop doesn't reinvent the wheel with their take on the roast beef sandwich. They pile thinly-sliced, ruby-rare beef on an onion roll, accompanied by crisp arugula and paper-thin raw red onion. Both sides of the roll get dressed with light spreads of mildly spicy horseradish aioli and house-made mustard, made with Abita beer. The soft and airy roll perfectly houses all of the ingredients, hugging everything in a firm but loving embrace.
Mr. Cays at Court Street Grocers Hero Shop in NYC
Why can't all roast beef sandwiches be as good as this one? Beautifully rare roast beef comes with mild arugula, a Worcestershire vinaigrette, sliced red onions, and a French onion jus for dipping on the side. Not that this beef needs anything, even the funky vinaigrette, to stand out—it has a mineral twang on its own. We've paid 50% more for roast beef with less meaty umph. Get on this.
Roast Beef at The Local Butcher Shop in Berkeley, CA
This particular sandwich complements the local grass-fed beef with blanched green beans, slices of provolone, and a hefty pinch of chopped parsley. Bits of red olive and minced shallot, along with a squeeze of lemon, gives the deep flavors of the meat just the right jolt of flavor.
Porchetta at Federal Pizza in Phoenix, AZ
The primarily pizza-centric restaurant does a bang-up job of the Italian sandwich. Pork belly is wrapped around pork loin (that's in turn wrapped with bacon) and baked in the oven. It's heavily marinated with herbs, plenty of salt, and lemon. After baking, the loin gets chopped up into thick, juicy cuts, and placed between a soft bun that's baked in-house, inside the pizza oven. On top, there's soft, caramelized onions and crunchy arugula.
Pesto Corned Beef Grilled Cheese at Burgundian in Seattle, WA
The sandwich is built on buttered and grilled sourdough bread. Multiple layers melted Gruyère and cheddar cheeses wind their way through the house-brined and beer-braised corned beef. Dotted about in this vegan's nightmare are spotlights of roasted red peppers, a bright pop in a rich sandwich. The savory icing on the meaty cake is a bold hazelnut pesto.
Banh Mí From Ba Le in Dorchester, MA
Banh Mí Ba Le's Vietnamese sandwiches are the best in town. Their pork roll is always fresh, their headcheese riddled with crunchy bits of pig's ears, their pâté bright pink, flavorful, and applied in a perfect thin layer. Their mayo is sweet and bright, adding richness but no grease.
The Italian Stallion from Uncle Henry's Deli in Downey, CA
From the name to the ingredients, the Italian Stallion doesn't mess around. All of the ingredients for a classic Italian sub are here: thin salami discs, a well-spiced mortadella and layers upon layers of salty ham.
Roast Pork Club at Dominique Ansel Bakery in NYC
The Roast Pork Club is a beast of a sandwich: three slabs of well toasted Pullman bread and a fistful of incredibly tender roast pork shoulder, left in large chunks with meaty edges that splay open and crisp. If that weren't rich enough, pickled egg and chili mayo add a luxurious creaminess to all the meat, along with a welcome heat that highlights the pork's natural sweetness. Both by quality and generous portioning, the pork here ranks among the best of New York's hunks-of-pork-on-bread sandwich set.
The Black Pastrami Reuben from Brent's Deli in Los Angeles, CA
Everyone orders the Black Pastrami Reuben, even when they want to try another sandwich, because there is no escaping the addictive qualities of pastrami, Russian dressing, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and grilled rye bread.
Chicken Satay Sandwich at Thai Fresh in Austin, TX
Bite-sized chunks of chicken are marinated heavily in turmeric and grilled until nicely charred with the crusty black spots that are proof of a good satay. The pillowy fresh ciabatta bread was coated with a spicy peanut sauce and layered with tangy shredded cabbage and the chicken. The only problem: the sandwich almost taller than it was wide, which made for a difficult eating experience.
Meatloaf Sandwich Dream at Glenn's Diner in Chicago
The meatloaf sandwich shows up looking like it's about to drive you to prom. Tidy, clean-cut, with nary a dribble of beefy, fatty goodness on its collar. It even wears a corsage of lettuce and tomatoes. This loaf is moist and tender, and gets nicely crusted up on both sides. It is hearty without being too heavy, with onions and peppers shining through.
Thanksgiving Sandwich Showdown at Jake's Sandwich Board in Philadelphia, PA
The Turbacon ($8.50) is a regular menu item at Jake's that lets you savor a little bit of Thanksgiving flavor year-round, all on a seeded roll from South Philadelphia's own Carangi Bakery. First up on the roll is cranberry-apple spread, followed by smoked bacon and, of course, a healthy serving of roast turkey. The whole sandwich is smothered in brown gravy and topped with three miniature potato pancakes. Excluding the rolls, everything at Jake's is made in-house.
Tuna Melt at Classic Coffee Shop in NYC
The menu at Classic Coffee shop hasn't changed much in 37 years of existence, and it's as barebones as it gets: ham and cheese sandwiches, bagels with butter, canned tuna and sardines. But owner Carmine Morales whips out the small burner for a great classic grilled cheese ($4) and an even better Tuna Melt ($5.50), which is appropriately generous with the mayo on thoroughly griddled rye. (You could get white or wheat bread as well, but why?) It's worth noting that the tuna melt is the priciest item on the menu.
Catfish Sandwich at Hillbilly Tea in Louisville, KT
Thin filets are smoked, then grilled, layered on grilled bread and piled with thinly sliced pickled peppers. Don't ignore the lemon tartar sauce on the side, which brightens things up even further.
Avocado Tartine at La Mie in Des Moines, IA
A toasted slice of house-made country Italian bread is spread with cream cheese, pillowed with sprouts and scattered with red onions that add crunch and bite. And then comes the avocado: a whole half and perfectly ripe. The over-easy eggs are next to the toast, but what you want to do is move them on top of the avocado and give everything a good smash. Eating it may not be a glamorous affair, but it's certainly a tasty one.
The ProZack at Shopsins in NYC
When you're eating at Shopsins, money isn't too much of a concern. The food's expensive, more than you'd think for tricked out diner fare, but when it's so gutbusting filling and so damned good it feels hard to mind. Case in point: the ProZack ($17), a sandwich of gravy-soaked brisket, Hatch chilies, and jack cheese on a loaf of garlic bread. It's all about meat, fat, and spice, an easy recipe for success, but the fun's all in the details: brisket so tender you could cut it with a spoon, a gravy that tastes of little more than stock reduced until it's a meaty syrup, chilies that actually burn, and the crunchy-tender bliss of well-toasted garlic bread. The sandwich is crazy filling of course, and excessive, but in a balanced sort of way that keeps you coming back for more.
Southwestern Crepe at It's Just Crepes in Cincinnati, OH
Every crepe is made-to-order and then stuffed with sandwich filling. They don't skimp on the fillings, so come hungry. One of their most popular offerings: the Southwestern, is made with pepper jack cheese, diced chicken, chipotle mayo, sautéed onions, and red peppers. The peppers add a nice crunch, the chicken is tender, and the chipotle mayo adds just a teeny bit of spice.
Meatball Sub from Poma's Italian Delicatessen in San Diego, CA
Meatballs (80 percent beef and 20 percent pork) are slow-cooked in housemade marinara—which keeps them moist and saturated with sauce—then stuffed into a lightly flaky roll, topped with more sauce and heaps of provolone, and finished in a pizza oven to melt the cheese.
The Bluefish L.T. at Home Port's Back Door in Menemsha, MA
The thick, skin-on fillet, cut from fish that are pulled from Vineyard waters, is quickly seared and packed into a soft burger bun with creamy tartar sauce, shredded iceberg, and a slice of tomato. Nothing unusual, except that bluefish this fresh is hard to come by, and serves as a reminder of what it's supposed to taste like: rich and savory, like dark meat, but subtly sweet and clean-tasting, with nary a drop of its usual "fishy" flavor.
Pulled Pork at Maysville in NYC
The pork is smoked and pulled into fine, delicate shreds with crispy edges. Raw kale shredded fine is all the better to drink up a coating of fresh buttermilk dressing. The tang cuts the richness of the pork with ease, but if you need extra help in that department, a handful of sharp vinegary whiskey pickles served on the side will do the trick. The sandwich is all held together on a potato roll from Balthazar, which has a slight crust but an exceedingly tender crumb. Oh, and those house-fried thick-cut potato chips? We're still talking about them days later.
Salmon Pastrami at Tanglewood Supreme in Seattle, WA
Cold-smoked (in house) salmon pastrami comes on a rye pretzel roll, its caramelized top sprinkled with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and some salt. The salmon is like lox but with texture you can really sink your teeth into, the salmon is savory and yet slightly sweet, with a bit of brininess spreading in the mouth and smokiness hitting the nose.
Crispy Braised Beef at Green Door Tavern in Chicago
A 40-pound cut of beef belly is braised eight hours, until its size reduces to 9 pounds. The meat is juicy, especially when folded in with smashed caraway seeds and havarti cheese on the flat-top grill. The meat mixture is served on a buttered pretzel bun with horseradish sauce and a little mustard. What results is a mass of juicy, fatty, cheesy, meaty deliciousness with crispy bits along the edges.
Deep Fried Duck Leg at Serpico in Philadelphia, PA
There's more than meets the eye in this playful riff on the classic Chinese dish's familiar flavors. The juicy and flavorful deboned duck flesh comes seamlessly bound together inside its own skin, which is browned and crisped to order in a deep fryer.
Fried Green Tomato Sandwich at Serious Biscuit in Seattle, WA
Everything about this sandwich is perfectly in sync. The fried egg has a lacy crisp edge, the remoulade adds a mellowing effect, and the buttery biscuit proves to an ideal vessel for such powerful flavors.
Wild Boar Sloppy Joe at Longman & Eagle in Chicago
The Wild Boar Sloppy Joe at Longman & Eagle is the most popular and well known offering. It is an intricately flavored sandwich, one where the spices really pop. The meat is finely ground meaty and not too greasy. The flavor is enhanced by charred jalapeño and crispy sage. It's not the prettiest sandwich around, sure, but what else could you expect from a sloppy joe?