Sandwiches have come a long way since the Earl of Sandwich allegedly asked his cook to make him a meal he could hold in one hand. These days, building a sandwich is more of an art form than a convenience—so don't miss these 15 masterpieces.
1. CHEESESTEAK // PAT’S KING OF STEAKS
No sandwich is as synonymous with a city as the cheesesteak is with Philadelphia. There’s certainly no shortage of cheesesteak joints in town, but the two main competitors, Pat’s and Geno’s, are located directly across from one another; people declare their loyalty as ardently as they back a baseball team. But Pat’s came first, the result of an experiment by hot dog vendor Pat Olivieri back in 1930, so it's worth your time. (Then go across the way and try Geno's, too.)
2. BEEF ON WECK // SCHWABL'S
West Seneca, New York
If you don’t frequent western New York much, you may be unfamiliar with beef on weck—roast beef on a kummelweck roll. The origins of the highly regional sandwich aren’t entirely clear, though one story claims that a local pub owner created it hoping the salty roll would inspire his patrons to order more drinks. Schwabl’s hand-carved roast beef is some of the best—just be sure to save room for an extra beer to wash it down.
3. HOT BROWN // BROWN HOTEL
During the 1920s, the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, held a nightly dinner dance. Rather than serve hungry guests the typical ham and eggs breakfast after they had jitterbugged well into the morning, Chef Fred Schmidt decided to concoct something new. His creation was an open-faced sandwich, topped with turkey, bacon, and Mornay sauce. The revelers devoured it, and the Hot Brown quickly became a regional specialty. Though there are plenty of places that make this messily delicious sandwich, especially in Kentucky, there’s nothing like the original.
4. BROCCOLI CLASSIC // NO. 7 SUB
New York, New York
Not a fan of broccoli, you say? You will be after you try the broccoli sub at No. 7, which is made with seasoned steamed broccoli, fried shallots, ricotta salata, and served on toasted bread with mayo and pickled lychees.
5. CLASSIC OLD TIMER // KREMA NUT COMPANY
You can get a classic peanut butter and jelly at Krema Nut Company, of course, and even a peanut butter and banana. But it’s the Classic Old Timer, a thick sandwich layered with housemade crunchy peanut butter, strawberry preserves, and slices of strawberries that will make your taste buds sing. Hurry though: they partially close down during the busy season between November 23 and December 28 each year, when they stop serving sandwiches and shakes (but nuts, chocolate, and gifts remain available).
6. LOBSTER ROLL // NEPTUNE OYSTER
The Lobster Roll at Neptune Oyster has Serious Eats rethinking ordering the New England staple sandwich from anywhere else. Their Maine Lobster Roll comes hot with butter, or cold with mayo; both come on a delectable brioche bun.
7. PORCHETTA // SALUMI ARTISAN CURED MEATS
Dining on the Porchetta sandwich at Salumi is, according to some who have tasted it, the closest you’ll get to having an out-of-body experience. Armandino and Marilyn Batali (yes, the parents to famous Chef Mario) opened the salumeria and restaurant in 1999, a retirement dream for the two that has been listed amongst other notable must-try restaurants for Seattle. "I’m never ordering a Porchetta sandwich elsewhere. One bite and I was in heaven," declared one Trip Advisor convert.
8. THE YARDBIRD // SLOWS BAR BQ
This chicken sandwich topped with mustard sauce, mushrooms, cheddar cheese, and crispy bacon has got a lot of people clucking—even Adam Richman, host of Best Sandwich in America, whose rave reviews landed the Slows sandwich a spot in the final round of the show.
9. MONTE CRISTO // BLUE BAYOU
You'll need Disneyland park admission to sample this French toast-inspired sandwich, but there are plenty of connoisseurs that will tell you it's a small price to pay for the tasty combination of ham, turkey, and Swiss on egg bread. After the sandwich is assembled, it's dunked in egg, fried until golden brown, dusted with powdered sugar, and served with blackberry or raspberry preserves. Disneyland gets the credit for popularizing this sweet-and-savory sandwich back in the 1960s—guests asked for the recipe so often that the restaurant printed cards to hand out to requesters.
10. CANTEEN // CANTEEN LUNCH IN THE ALLEY
Fans of Roseanne no doubt remember when the title character decided to open her own business, a lunch counter called "The Lanford Lunch Box." The hole-in-the-wall eatery was inspired by Canteen Lunch in the Alley, a Depression Era joint famous for its "loose meat" sandwiches, called "Canteens." There are only 16 stools available, so it’s often standing room only.
11. GRILLED CHEESE // BOUCHON BAKERY
New York, New York
This isn’t your mother’s grilled cheese-and-Campbell’s (though that’s a hard one to beat). The gooey combo of gruyere and fontina cheeses on crisp, buttery pain au lait bread (with tomato soup) at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery has enchanted many New Yorkers in need of comfort food.
12. BREADED PORK TENDERLOIN // NICK’S KITCHEN
If you love a good breaded pork tenderloin that’s comically larger than the tiny bun it’s wedged between, you have Nick’s Kitchen to thank. Though you can get a good tenderloin any number of places in the Midwest, Nick’s Kitchen still uses their original recipe, the same one founder Nick Freienstein used when he opened his restaurant in 1908.
13. ALMOST FAMOUS // PRIMANTI BROTHERS
This hearty sandwich—a stack of grilled meat (there’s a variety available) accompanied by coleslaw, French fries, ripe tomato, and a fried egg nestled in soft Italian bread—is a Pittsburgh classic. Primanti Brothers and their Almost Famous have been featured on a number of TV shows, including Best Sandwich in America, among others, so maybe it’s time to change the name. (For the record, a lot of people just call the sandwiches "Primantis.")
14. DEEP FRIED FLUFFERNUTTER // BLACK MARKET LIQUOR BAR
Studio City, California
This one is technically on the dessert menu at Black Market Liquor Bar, but hey, a sandwich is a sandwich. It takes your classic childhood fluffernutter—peanut butter and marshmallow creme—and dunks it in a deep fat fryer. For a grown-up twist, Black Market Liquor adds bananas to theirs and puts it on brioche rather than white bread.
15. THE PILGRIM // MIKE’S CITY DINER
The Pilgrim at Mike's City Diner is everything you love about Thanksgiving on a sandwich: roasted turkey, cranberries, and stuffing, on a sesame seed bun, served with or without gravy. All of the deliciousness; none of the family drama. What’s not to like?