Gallery: 25 Great Sandwiches We Ate in 2012

Italian hero sandwich with soda in the background.

At Serious Eats, we fancy ourselves sandwich experts, thanks in large part to the thousands of sandwiches we eat every year. (Yes, thousands.) Looking back on twelve months of sandwiches, there are plenty we barely remember—but some that stick in our memories for a long, long time. Here are 25 sandwiches we loved this year, from Miami to Chicago; Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine.

  • Lobster Rolls at Eventide Oyster Co.

    A sandwich where you can order two, partly because they're small and tasty, and partly because Eventide's lobster roll comes in three iterations: dressed with house mayo, Hollandaise, or brown butter vinaigrette.

    Sheep's Head Sandwich in Istanbul

    The Lomo at Marcona in Los Angeles

    First, there are the obvious, large pieces of fatty pulled pork jammed between slices of crusty, toasted ciabatta. You could eat bite after bite of meat and bread alone. But then comes a tangy date mustard which is so apt a complement to the pork that you wonder whether you've ever really tasted mustard before today.

    The Chopped Coffee Cured Beef Brisket at Smoke in Dallas

    The brisket sandwich comes chopped and piled onto a house-made soft roll with thick slabs of lightly pickled cucumber. It's a totally different experience than biting into the magical barbecue at, say, Franklin or any of the other Austin-based brisket joints, but it's a delicious experience nonetheless. A little drier, perhaps, but with a good amount of chopped bark thrown into the mix, an intense beefiness, and mild smoke, along with some great flavor from the coffee-spiked rub.

    The Roast Pork And Triple Cheese Panino from Craigie On Main, Cambridge

    Pan con Lechon at El Palacio de los Jugos, Miami

    The menu says it comes with "pierna desmenuzada, mojo y cebolla"—what you're getting is roast pork (shredded leg meat, specifically), mojo sauce, and diced onions on Cuban sandwich bread. The bread is cut lengthwise, and the assembled sandwich is cooked in a press, yielding crispy top and bottom crusts.

    The Lamb Dip with Blue Cheese at Philippe the Original in Los Angeles

    What you get may not look remarkable at first glance, but the first bite will clue you in. Several thick slices of tender lamb pair well with a generous heap of tangy blue cheese. The French roll is simple but baked fresh in house. The entire sandwich is dipped in a rich meat just before it reaches your plate. Upon first bite, the bread melts away, giving in to the soft cheese and juicy meat.

    4 Meat Grinder from Stachowski Market & Deli in Georgetown

    The 4 MEAT Grinder is gigantic (the word meat is capitalized, after all). Filled with locally sourced salami, coppa, mortadella, and sopressata, it's an imposing sandwich. Topped off with peppers, jalapeños, extremely thinly sliced onions, tomatoes and lettuce, all on a light, toasted Italian roll, the Grinder is a great mixture of flavor and heat.

    Fried Chicken at Sunshine Tavern in Portland, OR

    Made with crispy, tender chicken breast and topped with blue cheese coleslaw and chili mayo. The freshly made fries it comes with are great as well.

    Trout Salad at The Sentinel, San Francisco

    Tender, flaky pieces of smokey trout are combined with diced up apple, snappy fennel, and mayonnaise. The flavor combinations here are unreal—the trout plus the sweet apple, plus the fennel's depth, makes for a layered, complex sandwich. And it's huge!

    The Roma at The Italian Store in Arlington, VA

    Served on a hard or soft Italian roll with prosciutto, smoked mortadella, genoa salami, and provolone, The Roma will make you groan with longing the next time you're forced to resort to Subway. The excellent cold cuts are tender and rich; the smokiness and spices are a compelling reminder that you're eating at a quality deli. Topped off by sweet and hot peppers, lettuce, tomato, onions, oregano, and olive oil, the added sweetness and crunch lend The Roma extra complexity to the flavors and texture.

    Spam Sliders from Marination Mobile in Seattle, WA

    Canned lunchmeat seems an unlikely ingredient for a signature sandwich, but the spam sliders at Marination Mobile make tracking down the truck worth every second of your time. Add a little teriyaki glaze, some special "nunya" sauce (What's in it? That's nunya business!), and a bun that brings it all together and suddenly scary meat product becomes savory small sandwich.

    Open Face Beef Cheek Sandwich at Perla in NYC

    "Go big or go home," says this meat and egg monster posing as a sandwich, which you can find on Perla's Friday and weekend lunch menu. By big we mean two fistfulls of fall-apart how are you so tender braised beef cheek, with a brown sauce packed to bursting with meaty brawn and caramelized flavor. On an inch-thick slab of crusty bread that soaks up every stray dribble of the beef's braising liquid, and two fried eggs with golden, runny yolks and creamy whites.

    The Fried Chicken Luther at ChurchKey in Washington, D.C.

    Shrimp Po' Boy at Domilise's in New Orleans

    Meals in New Orleans are rarely a one-napkin affair, and the Shrimp Po' Boy at Domilise's is no exception. When they serve up your order, the guys at the counter hand over a small stack of paper towelettes, and with a sandwich this chock-full of juicy fried shrimp, fully dressed, you'll need 'em.

    Pimento Cheese from Hominy Grill in Charleston, SC

    The combination of sharp cheddar, sliced pimentos, full-fat mayonnaise, and a touch of bourbon was creamy, fatty, and rich in flavor, with a zesty chile powder kick. The whole-grain nuttiness of the sandwich bread and the sharp arugula flavor really complement each other. Don't let the small-ish size fool you—this is one rich sandwich.

    Giardina at Paesano's in Philadelphia, PA

    The Giardina—one of two vegetarian options on the menu—matches hearty, tender slices of roasted eggplant with equal parts fresh mozzarella. Both are dressed in a bold basil pesto, layered with roasted peppers, garnished with fennel and caramelized onions, and served on Paesano's brilliantly crusty Italian bread.

    Meatloaf Sandwich at Fatted Calf in San Francisco

    To be clear, this isn't a deconstructed meatloaf-like patty between two slices of bread. It's an actual slice of meatloaf. The meatloaf is delicious, as one taste of any other meat product at Fatted Calf could have supported. Made from a combination of ground beef, pork, and bacon that's been cured in-house, the loaf is well seasoned with herbs, onions, and carrots.

    Smoked Meat from Schwartz's in Montreal

    At Schwartz's Deli in Montréal, there is an established protocol for ordering. You can get your smoked meat sandwich—piles of spice-rubbed brisket on rye with a swatch of mustard—one of three ways: lean, medium, or fatty.

    Spicy Blue at Shelsky's in Brooklyn

    The rich, savory bluefish salad is nicely balanced by the addition of orange and fennel, while coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts add crunch. The cucumber salad listed on the menu appears in the form of paper-thin, lightly pickled slices and toasted seeded rye from Orwasher's holds it all together.

    Grilled Fish at Bear Flag Fish in Newport Beach, CA

    Bear Flag Fish will likely be packed when you walk in. It feels like the majority of the room just went surfing or is about to. With the California flag as its logo, BFF is part fish market, part chill fast-casual with communal tables. Slabs of fish are lined up on the smoking grills inside: wild salmon next to basa (a Southeast Asian breed of catfish), halibut, opah, and the just-barely seared albacore. You can get any of them in a tortilla or a crusty, toasted baguette. Either way you'll be happy because the fish couldn't be fresher and it's beautifully charred, not a bit greasy.

    Sabih Croissant at Zizi Limona in Brooklyn

    Eggplant and egg on a croissant? With potato salad and harissa? How could this possibly be any good? But we heard some very nice things about Zizi Limona in Williamsburg, enough to give this Sabih Croissant a try. And it's the best croissant sandwich we've ever tasted.

    Corned Beef at City Provisions, Chicago

    Discard any notions of what you think a corned beef sandwich should look or taste like. Unlike most versions around town, the thinly slices feature visible marks of fat, so much so that each each bite almost tastes like fine Prosciutto. This is a good thing, especially since it never tastes greasy, just flavorful. The sandwich is also built on a firm foundation of rye bread, and comes topped with a salty swiss cheese and a creamy house-made CP sauce.

    Reuben at Paramount Room, Chicago

    Most Reubens are little more than excuses to cover up mediocre corned beef with a blanket of Swiss cheese and creamy dressing (usually Thousand Island or Russian). But what if a place constructed a Reuben with a fine base of freshly sliced corned beef—the kind that you wouldn't mind eating solo with a knife and fork or (if needed) greedily with your fingers? Well, then you have the Reuben at Paramount Room.

    The Sandwiches at Publican Quality Meats, Chicago

    PQM has top quality meats and freshly made bread. It didn't take long for us to realize that if you combine the two you have the potential for some truly stunning sandwiches. While the menu changes often, we loved the braised pork belly "Better than a Gyro" and the tuna muffaletta.

    The Roma at The Italian Store

    The Roma at The Italian Store

    The Roma is served on a hard or soft Italian roll with prosciutto, smoked mortadella, genoa salami, and provolone. The excellent cold cuts are tender and rich; the smokiness and spices are a compelling reminder that you're eating at a quality deli. Topped off with sweet and hot peppers, lettuce, tomato, onions, oregano, and olive oil, for added sweetness and crunch.

    The Italian Store: 3123 Lee Highway Arlington, VA 22201; 703-528-6266