Sandwich of the Week: America’s Top 20 New Sandwiches

Brendan Spiegel of The Endless Simmer and his readers give their take on the best new sandwiches in the U.S.

Forget who piles pastrami highest or fits the most varieties of cold cuts on one hero roll. A great sandwich means more than just bigger, better, and meatier. Across the country, a new breed of sandwich artisans is taking lunchtime to a whole new level. From California to New England here are Endless Simmer’s top ten favorite new sandwiches followed by its top ten reader picks.

 

#10 The SpuckieCutty’s, Boston

Spuckie is a term used by old-school Bostonians to identify a sub sandwich, but it’s increasingly associated with this year-old Brookline shop. It’s also probably the sandwich here that most successfully merges the old-school method of overdoing it on Italian meats with the new world of artisan, veggie-centric goodness. Super-thin slices of fennel salami, hot capicola, and mortadella are layered on oversized ciabatta, then topped with gooey, hand-pulled mozzarella, and a fresh olive-carrot salad. For even less traditional sandwich-lovers there’s an eggplant spuckie. (Photo: Anthony Treuili)

 

#9 Bulgogi Steak SandwichKoja, Philadelphia

At the risk of outraging an entire city, we’re going to say it: the Philly cheesesteak is boring. No disrespect to the age-old art of slathering fake cheese on top of a mound of meat, that's just one classic sandwich ready for a creative update. Enter University City sandwich truck Koja, where chewy cheesesteak meat is replaced with bulgogi, Korea’s signature thinly-sliced, spicy BBQ beef. It’s served on a hoagie roll coated in sweet chili oil and accented by sautéed peppers and onions. Koja also offers bulgogi pork and bulgogi chicken, but the best part is the unbelievable price — $3. (Photo: My Inner Fatty)

 

#8 Crispy Drunken SandwichBaguette Box, Seattle

Have you ever dug into a steamy Styrofoam container of General Tso’s chicken and thought, “This is delicious, but it would be tastier on a bun?” Of course you haven’t, that’s insane. But crazy is sometimes genius as proven at this tiny Seattle sandwich shop, where hunks of tender chicken are deep-fried and glazed in a tangy brown sauce, then served on a crispy baguette with caramelized onions and cilantro. The result is a supremely sticky, but utterly satisfying sandwich. (Photo: Sevius)

 

#7 Cheesy Mac and RibGrilled Cheese Truck, L.A.

Another new West Coast outpost that achieves genius results by thinking outside the bun, L.A.’s great cheese-on-wheels purveyor offers several list-worthy grilled sandwiches. But none is more awe-inspiring than this one. Sharp Cheddar mac-and-cheese, strands of sweet BBQ pork, and caramelized onions are stuffed into two perfectly buttered-and-fried slices of white bread. Yes, it sounds like the horrifying 3 a.m. creation of a stoned college student. Yes, it actually works. (Photo: Grilled Cheese Truck)

 

#6 Pibil TortaXoco, Chicago

Upgrading Mexican street food has become a hot task of haute chefs around the nation. The results often have us pining for the real thing. Not so at Rick Bayless’ Chicago sandwich shop, where tortas baked in the wood-burning oven take Mexican to levels we didn’t know existed. In this sandwich, silky strands of roasted suckling pig are served on crusty bread spread with black beans and achiote paste, then finished with pickled onions and habanero salsa. The pibil may be one extra ingredient away from being a Top Chef disaster story, but as is, it’s perfection on bread. (Photo: Xoco)

 

#5  Fried Chicken SandwichBakesale Betty, Oakland

Perpetually purple-wigged owner Alison Barakat started as a pastry chef at the ultimate farm-to-table temple: Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse in neighboring Berkeley. Fooling around on lunch breaks, she whipped up these extra-crispy buttermilk fried chicken patties for co-workers, topping sandwiches with a savory slaw of sliced jalapeños, pickled red onions, and high-quality olive oil. There was so much demand for her upscale McChicken that she soon opened her own lunch counter spot, which runs through 1,000 chicken sandwiches daily. Arrive early — they sell out. (Photo: Endless Simmer)

 

#4 The Maple Meat Cheese Bread, Portland

Put down that Egg McGriddle and behold a breakfast sandwich that does right by the maple tree. Three-year-old Meat Cheese Bread may be simply named, but Portlanders known their creations are anything but. It’s breakfast time that draws the most loyal following for this outrageous creation — two hot-from-the-oven slices of maple-currant bread pudding loaded with savory sausage, chipotle Cheddar, and tangy shavings of fresh fennel. (Photo: Meat Cheese Bread)

 

#3 Lasagna BolognesePaesano’s, Philadelphia

If the thought of a Philly-style lasagna sandwich has you expecting an overstuffed, over-cheesed hot mess, think again. Chef Peter McAndrews’ Italian-inspired lasagna sandwich is surprisingly refined. Thin layers of pasta are delicately brushed with a bacony Bolognese, lightly breaded and fried, then slipped between a doughy roll, and joined by sweet peppers, smoked mozzarella, and sharp provolone. The optional runny fried egg is an obvious yes. (Photo: unbreaded)

 

#2 Brussels Sprouts SandwichNo. 7 Sub, New York

We know “vegetables so good, you don’t even need the meat” is a cliché, but it’s pretty notable when one of our very favorite new sandwiches has not a drop of flesh on it. At this midtown Manhattan shop, mad scientist chef Tyler Kord dreams up sandwiches with inventive ingredients like fried broccoli, pine nuts, pickled blueberries, and potato chips. His menu changes often, but this is the best thing we’ve tasted so far is. How he thought to bring together Brussels sprouts, granny smith apples, and crushed peanuts on a sandwich we’ll never know, but we’re sure glad he did. (Photo: No. 7 Sub/Katherine Pangaro)

 

#1 The New LutherChurchKey, Washington, D.C.

It takes chutzpa to reinvent what Endless Simmer has already called the best drunk food in America, but Chef Kyle Bailey is not afraid. Named for its alleged creator, Luther Vandross, the original Luther sandwich consists of a bacon cheeseburger wedged between two halves of Krispy Kreme donut. But that now seems simple in comparison. At ChurchKey, a housemade brioche donut is glazed in savory maple-chicken jus and topped with warm pieces of oven-baked pecans. While that sounds like a meal already, the brioche is cut in half and stuffed with a hunk of buttermilk fried chicken, and wedges of applewood smoked bacon. Perhaps realizing that serving these daily would be a public health hazard, ChurchKey’s Luther is somewhat of a speakeasy sandwich. Unlisted, it’s available only by request on Sundays, from noon to 8 p.m. (Photo: ChurchKey)

 

But wait, there's more! Endless Simmer's readers had their own picks for America's best new sandwiches. Following are their ten tastiest suggestions.

 

#10 Steak Poutine PitaU Needa Pita, St. Catharine’s, Ontario

What could be better than poutine, Montreal’s signature street food? How about throwing that poutine — cheese curds, fries and gravy included — on pita, so you can eat it while walking down the street? Add steak and you’ve got yourself one helluva sandwich. Yes, for the sake of U Needa Pita, we’re extending the U.S. to North America — one time only. (Photo: U Needa Pita)

 

 

#9 Westside Monte CristoMelt Bar & Grilled, Cleveland

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: there’s no food so good that it can’t be made better by a trip to the deep-fryer. Kudos to Melt for being brave enough to test this theory out on the Monte Cristo breakfast sandwich — honey ham, smoked turkey, Swiss and American cheese — all battered in beer and deep-fried. (Photo: Melt)

 

#8 ChacareroLa Sombra, Austin

We’re officially placing money on Chile’s signature sandwich — the chacarero — to become the next bahn mi, and La Sombra‘s version is the most sumptuous we’ve seen yet. Shiner Bock marinated sliced hangar steak topped with green beans, avocado, tomatoes, pickled cucumbers, and spicy mayo, all on a thin, toasty bolillo. (Photo: La Sombra)

 

 #7 KoagieSammy Chon’s, Cherry Hill

We thought the bulgogi steak sandwich was one-of-a-kind, but apparently the greater Philly area is awash with Korea/Pennsylvania mash-ups. Sammy Chon's (formerly, Myung Ga) Koagie is a fresh hoagie roll filled with bulgogi steak, pork, or chicken and topped with kimchi, Korean sesame coleslaw, and spicy Kirby cucumbers. (Photo: Sammy Chon's)

 

#6 Artisan Foie Gras Torchon & Duck Prosciutto SandwichNaked Lunch, San Francisco

Tomato, butter lettuce, black truffle salt, and, um, what it says above. With this alongside other seasonal sandwich options like “pig and peach” and fried soft shell crabs with avocado and daikon, Naked Lunch could fill a top ten list of great new sandwiches all by itself. (Photo: Cinnachick)

 

#5 The StingerJim’s Steakout, Buffalo

Call this the anti-foie gras and duck prosciutto. Jim’s Stinger is just a basic steak sandwich with cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion… oh, yeah, and some chicken fingers on top for good measure. (Photo:Jim's)

 

 

#4 Big-Ass Roast Beef SandwichBig-Ass Sandwiches, Portland

A ciabatta roll is stuffed with slow-cooked roast beef (or turkey or ham, if you’re not Big-Ass enough), plus hand-cut French fries, covered in gooey béchamel. We can hear the detractors screaming “heart attack” already. For the record, we recommend every person find time in their lives to eat one and only one of these. (Photo: Big-Ass Sandwiches)

 

#3 Mama Ling Ling’s Thanksgiving  — Pom Pom’s, Orlando

All of Thanksgiving (and then some) between two slices of bread. Pom Pom's ultimate sandwich contains turkey, stuffing, cranberry-ginger chutney, mashed potatoes, Gouda, and the kicker: a slather of cream cheese. Plus, there’s a side of gravy for dipping au jus style. (Photo: Chris Regan)

 

#2 The Paul Reubens Ike’s Place, San Francisco

Something about this sandwich makes you as happy as Pee Wee’s Playhouse and as dirty as Paul Reuben’s playhouse at the same time. Ike’s sandwich has sliced corned beef, homemade poppy seed coleslaw, French dressing, and Swiss piled on crispy Dutch crunch bread. (Photo: Kanuck)

 

#1 The Reggie Pine State Biscuits, Portland

Almost like a version of the New Luther for breakfast, Pine State‘s fluffy biscuit is stuffed with buttermilk fried chicken, bacon, Cheddar, and (if you order a deluxe, which you obviously will) a runny egg — the whole thing slathered in hearty gravy. (Photo: Pine State Biscuits)

 

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