When it comes to outrageously meaty meals, it’s hard to beat a full Irish breakfast, which always must include thick slabs of salty bacon, savory Irish sausages, and circular slices of black (blood) pudding and white (oatmeal-pork fat) pudding. But what if you put all of those ingredients on a sandwich? Clearly, it would be unbeatable. Beachside's sandwich has all of those porky products, plus a fried egg and slice of grilled tomato, only slightly fancied up with a thin layer of garlic aioli spread on the crispy bread, and a house-made, tamarind-spiked "brown sauce" on the side for dipping.
No. 7 Sub chef Tyler Kord can do amazing things with meat, but we’ve been most impressed with his uncanny ability to turn regular old vegetables into exciting sandwich creations (his Brussels sprouts sub made our original best new sandwiches list). When No. 7 expanded to Brooklyn this year, he added this cauliflower creation that yes, sounds like something a stoned 9-year-old might have created, but is most definitely adult-approved. Sautéed cauliflower florets are topped with golden raisins, scallions, potato chips, and smoked French dressing, for one seriously fulfilling veggie meal.
This may not be the only banh mi on the list, but this one at new East Village sandwich spotXe Maytakes the cake by going half Vietnamese, half Italian, for perhaps the craziest meatball sub ever created. Grilled meatballs are covered in house-made tomato sauce and provolone, but finished with the full banh mi treatment: fresh cilantro, pickled carrots, daikon, cucumbers, and chile mayo, all served on a crispy baguette.
There have been lots of crazy grilled cheeses popping up across America this year, but none gets our saliva flowing quite like the simple-but-genius version at Cincinnati’s Tom + Chee. Can you really argue that a grilled cheese wouldn’t be better if put between two slices of grilled doughnut instead of bread? No, you can’t.
Clearly, Philadelphia is not letting Virginia lay claim to the cheesesteak crown just yet, and Jake’s Sandwich Board has stepped up to the table with perhaps the ultimate garlic-lovers’ creation. A crusty roll is covered in homemade garlic spread, and then topped with rib-eye steak and melted provolone, plus more sautéed garlic on top, and the garlicky pièce de résistance: deep-fried, crunchy, battered whole garlic cloves.
Another classic that is hard to mess with, there are plenty of modern Cubans out there that don’t live up to the real deal. Not so with the version hawked by roving Bay Area food truck Ebbett’s Good to Go. Slow-roasted Niman Ranch pulled pork and artisan ham make the perfect pig-on-pig combination, while Gruyére brings the goo, a crusty Acme roll provides the crunch, and the whole thing is finished off with jalapeño relish and chipotle mayo.
There appears to be a cheesesteaks gone wild trend sweeping the nation, and while traditional Philadelphians probably won’t approve of this version, Endless Simmer is all on board. D.C.-area shop La Fromagerie replaces the typical beefsteak with slices of Parisian braised rabbit; subs smoked mozzarella for the whiz; and tops the whole ciabatta off with carrot purée and caramelized onion.
There are a million banh mis in America nowadays, but this particular version from Top Chef champ Michael Voltaggio is outstanding. At his new Ink.Sack sandwich shop, tender slices of pork belly and pork butt are topped with pickled vegetables, plus the kicker — crispy chicharrónes (fried pork rinds), creating one incredible multicultural pork bomb.
Chickpeas may get typecast as functioning only in falafel form, but it turns out balls aren’t all they can do. Panelle is actually an old Sicilian street food snack — chickpeas and flour formed into light, airy strips and fried in olive oil. Stuzzichini‘s sandwich revives that classic and perfects it, layering crispy strips of panelle on a sesame-studded bun, in between levels of soft ricotta and caciocavallo cheeses. The result is a light-but-addictive sandwich that will make you curse every overly dense falafel wrap that has crossed your lips.
Texas may be best known for its beef, but perhaps not for long, if chefs John Bates and Brandon Martinez have anything to say about it. Their year-and-a-half-old Noble Pig serves up a namesake sandwich that somehow combines everything that is beautiful about pork products in one truly outstanding sandwich. Tender pulled pork, spicy slivers of ham, and crispy bits of bacon are all mixed together, topped with provolone cheese, and served on toasted, house-baked bread, for a porky trifecta that hits all of the spots.