A whole lot can go on between two pieces of bread, and everyday bigger and better sandwiches are popping up on a menus around the globe. Here, 10 longtime favorites and innovative newcomers we just can't get enough of.
Philippe the Original, Los Angeles, CA
Few places know how to craft a French Dip quite like LA’s Philippe the Original – a given, since they invented it. In 1918, Philippe Mathieu dropped the sandwich he was preparing into a fresh-out-of-the-oven roasting pan. The customer he was serving insisted on taking the 'jus' soaked sandwich anyways, and returned the next day with friends for round two. Today, the old-school establishment starts with the same crusty French roll. From there, they'll pile it high with your choice of beef, pork, ham, lamb, turkey or pastrami and soak it to your preferred level, be it "single-dip," "double-dip," or "wet." If you want to go for a flavor explosion, add on American, Swiss, Jack, Blue or Cheddar cheese.
The Hot Brown
The Brown Hotel, Louisville, KY
The Hot Brown is a bonafide Louisville legend. So what makes The Brown Hotel's signature dish (circa the '20s) such a culinary doozy? An open face turkey and bacon design (resting on a bed of four slices of Texas toast *with the crusts cut off*) slathered with Mornay sauce – a combo of heavy cream and Pecorino-Romano cheese – topped with Roma tomatoes, and pinches of nutmeg and paprika. If you can't make it Louisville for the real thing – try the next best by making it yourself, following their exact recipe, of course.
Five Islands Lobster Co., Georgetown, Maine
Lobster Rolls are a dime a dozen in New England, but Five Islands Lobster Co. sets themselves apart with the freshest seafood imaginable. The restaurant is located in Sheepscot Bay, on an active fishing wharf where lobsters are caught and prepared in such rapid rotation that they never even do time in a tank. The simple sandwich requires next to no extra ingredients – just lobster and a bit of mayo, dressed with some lettuce and served in a buttery grilled hot dog bun. If you manage to save room for more, try their onion rings – the crispy finger food is hand battered and best for sharing as the portion is more than generous (generous being a conservative term).
Turntable 5060, East Village, NYC
Turntable 5060 has made a name for itself by churning out some of the best Korean fried chicken in NYC (a city that's pretty infatuated with the stuff). In true Manhattan fashion, the Alphabet City spot rocks an idiosyncratic design where country-style wooden slab tables meet an extensive collection of vintage reel-to-reel tape decks and cassettes. Funky retro-rustic design aside, their Korean chicken burger – served grilled or fried – is a major hit. Savory meets sweet as it's topped with coleslaw, pickled mayo and your choice of homemade soy garlic or hot and spicy sauce.
Cuban Grilled Cheese
The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen, San Francisco, CA
American Grilled Cheese Kitchen owners Heidi and Nate took their time perfecting a homestyle comfort menu and cultivating a roster of local SF and West Coast vendors to do their creations justice. So much time, in fact, that Heidi was able to win seven national grilled cheese championships on the side. Our favorite creation is the Cubano with cocoa-rubbed pulled pork, cured ham, Monterey jack and Jarlsberg cheese, stone ground mustard, pickled red onions, bread n'butter pickles, and chipotle butter on levain bread. But no matter your pick, you'll probably be left inspired by just how innovative a grilled cheese can be.
Pulled Pork Sandwich
Freedmen’s, Austin, TX
BBQ is the law of the land in Texas and joints serve up every type of smoked meat you could fathom from roughly 11 am to close, so it’s near impossible to choose the absolute best. That said, we’re pretty confident putting our chips in Freedmen’s basket. The Austin eatery – housed in a historic Texas landmark that has functioned as a residence, church, publishing house and grocery store, among other things – serves up a mean pulled pork sandwich with your choice of horseradish potato salad, grilled cabbage slaw or baked beans and a chilly Lone Star Draft or PBR Tallboy. They also have a whiskey wall – yes, a full wall of local and international whiskeys – so I think our point is made, yes?
RELATED: The Best BBQ in the USA
Little Goat, Chicago, IL
Consult the ‘Sammiches’ portion of this Chi-Town spot’s menu and you’ll find a reuben with a serious gourmet twist. Smoked corn beef, kimchi, sauerkraut, havarti cheese and special sauce cavort on between slices of pretzel rye. If the reuben isn’t quite your style, don’t fret – Stephanie Izard’s Little Goat serves up all types of new takes on old classics that are well paired with cocktails like 'I'm a Little Bitter' (Jim Beam bonded, Gran Classico, house vermouth – blended) and 'Cinnamon Toast Punch' (honey-infused Porton Pisco, goat's milk and Benedictine).
HoneyHole Sandwiches, Seattle
A clever name to back an already tasty vegetarian number is just the cherry on top of HoneyHole’s contribution to our best sandwich list. But what exactly makes the sandwich worthy of a Brat Pack-er's moniker? We're talking Field Roast smoked tomato, homemade pesto, goat cheese, sautéed onions, lettuce, tomato, balsamic vinegar, mayo, and salt and pepper. We like to think the star would approve.
Gaucho Breakfast Sandwich
Eggslut, LA & Las Vegas
Yes, the name Eggslut is more than a little fun to toss around, but the brand's sandwiches really do live up to the hype. Foodies will find refuge in the b-fast sammies, but also sandwiches like the Gaucho, with seared wagyu tri-tip steak, cage-free over medium egg, chimichurri, red onion and arugula on a brioche bun. Bonus: Eggslut is transparent with their purveyors, so you can check out where your eggs and meat were raised.
Nhà Minh, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Smoked vietnamese ham, chicken liver pate, pickled carrots, daikon, herb spread and fancy mayo mingle on an herb focaccia sub at the restaurant/coffee shop/gallery space, Nhà Minh (Our House). Since 2014, the joint in East Williamsburg has hosted bi-monthly art shows featuring comic storyboards, colorful murals, photo series and collages from local artists, so you can always add a side of culture to your sandwich. We also hear they make a mean pho – so come hungry and go for both.