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 Spuckie — Cutty’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 Sandwich — Koja, 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 Sandwich — Baguette 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 Rib — Grilled 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 Torta — Xoco, 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)