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The Sandwich Bucket List: 25 Sandwiches You Need to Try at Least Once

The Sandwich Bucket List: 25 Sandwiches You Need to Try at Least Once

What is a “sandwich”? Seems like a stupid question, but think about it. Is a burger a sandwich? It’s meat and bread. If it is, is a hot dog a sandwich? It’s meat (possibly) between bread, too, but a hot dog sure as hell doesn’t seem like a sandwich. Is a lobster roll a sandwich? We’d say yes, but that brings us back to the hot dog, which is very similar in design. So here’s what we’ll say: everything on this list is a sandwich to us, and they’re all incredible. So incredible, in fact, that we think you should take trips just to try them all at least once in your lifetime. This is your sandwich bucket list.


Xoco – Chicago, IL

You know how you’ll see any movie Quentin Tarantino puts out because you trust him to deliver? It’s like that with any Mexican dish Rich Bayless touches—even a humble sandwich. His Ahogada, which is served up at Xoco, is a sandwich composed of golden pork carnitas, black beans, and pickled onions, and it arrives in a pool of flavorful broth begging to be dunked. Link Image Credit: Cooking For Engineers

The East Nasty

Biscuit Love – Nashville, TN

Named by Bon Appétit as the best sandwich of 2015, The East Nasty has garnered the praise—and the long lines—for a spot on this list. Constructed with three items—a biscuit, a piece of fried chicken, and some sausage gravy—the Biscuit Love team transforms a basic combo into something otherworldly. Link Image Credit: Bon Appetit

Roast Pork

DiNic’s Roast Pork – Philadelphia, PA

This is the other Philly sandwich. If you hit the City of Brotherly Love and only consume your fair share of cheesesteaks, you’ve missed out on something special—the roast pork sandwich. And nobody does a roast pork sandwich like DiNic’s. Tucked inside the busy Reading Terminal Market, DiNic’s takes sharp provolone, broccoli rabe, roast pork, and a bit of stock, and delivers a sandwich that will make you forget about all those cheesesteaks. Link Image Credit: Wooder Ice

Chicken Parm

Parm – New York, NY

When you name your restaurant after a dish on the menu, you’re making a bold claim that you do that dish better than anyone. You could screw everything else up, but that one dish has to be off the charts. Luckily, the Chicken Parm, at Parm in New York City, is that good. You can choose to have your classic Italian feast on a sweet semolina roll or a sesame hero (both outstanding choices). And while Parm happens to make other fantastic dishes, this is why you go, and this is why they chose their name. Link Image Credit: Cathy Danh, Gastronomy Blog

The Z-Man

Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que – Kansas City, KS

When you arrive at Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que (formerly “Oklahoma Joe’s”), you’ll assume you’re in the wrong place. We mean, you just pulled into a gas station. But, fear not, one of the best sandwiches you’ll ever have is served up with a side of unleaded. The Z-Man is composed of slow-smoked beef brisket, smoked(!) provolone cheese, two onion rings, and a kaiser roll. Legendary. Link Image Credit: Yelp

Menage A Trois

Ike’s Place – San Francisco, CA

What started in 2007 as a little sandwich shop with some funky ideas has grown into a mini empire. With multiple locations out west, and more coming soon, Ike’s Place is growing on the heels of its killer sandwiches. While you have a lot to choose from, the Menage A Trois is really where it’s at. The sandwich, which can be found among others with names like Nacho Boy, Tom Brady, and Stupid Eggplant Sandwich, contains halal chicken, cheddar, pepper jack, and more. It’s weirdly fantastic. Trust us. Link Image Credit: Serious Eats

Fat Darrell

RU Hungry – New Brunswick, NJ

It was a sad day when the grease trucks, a collection of trucks on the campus of Rutgers University, were towed from their parking lot spots a few years back. But, fear not, you can still head to the home of the Scarlet Knights to bask in the glory of a fat sandwich. And when you want a fat sandwich, you should start with one of the classics: the Fat Darrell. Created in 1997 by Darrell Butler, a Rutgers student at the time, the sandwich is loaded with chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, fries, and marinara sauce. It’s basically a TGI Fridays sampler platter on a roll. Link Image Credit: Scarlet Menus


Central Grocery – New Orleans, LA

There are certain sandwiches that you need to eat when you’re in a particular area. When you’re in New Orleans, that sandwich is the muffaletta. And when you want a muffaletta, you go to Central Grocery. The briny olive spread is the star that accompanies the collection of meats. The oily layer seeps into the bread and delivers a tang with every bite. Then you hit Bourbon Street. Image Credit: Serious Eats

Carne Con Pan

Gaucho Parrilla Argentina – Pittsburgh, PA

Upon entering Gaucho Parrilla Argentina, you’ll be greeted with a massive chalkboard menu, one you can peruse while in the long line. And while all your options are more than solid, the Carne Con Pan is our favorite. It’s a steak sandwich with chimichurri, caramelized onion, and peppers, but the real stars of the show are the four sauces they have around the restaurant for you to slather on—that’s when you reach meaty bliss. Link Image Credit: Yelp

The Hot Brown

The Brown Hotel – Louisville, KY

Originally created in The Brown Hotel back in the 1920s, The Hot Brown has become a Kentucky classic. When you want to try one, go to the place where it all started. The Brown Hotel still serves the open-faced turkey sandwich to guests and visitors alike. A bite after the Mornay sauce has soaked into the Texas toast is spiritual. Link Image Credit: Retro Road Map

Tipsy Texan

Franklin BBQ – Austin, TX

It takes a lot for us to order something other than ribs, sausage and brisket when we saddle up at one of America’s best BBQ joints, and that “a lot” is called the Tipsy Texan. The chopped brisket stacked between the bun is piled high and pairs nicely with some sausage and crunchy slaw, pickles, and onions. It may seem crazy to skip the platter of meat when you get to Franklin BBQ, but eat the Tipsy Texan once and you might be convinced. Link Image Credit: Pinterest

No. 19

Langer’s Deli – Los Angeles, CA

Don’t let the cryptic name fool you, you’re very familiar with the No. 19—you just haven’t had one this good. The No. 19 is composed of hand-cut pastrami, coleslaw, Russian dressing, and Swiss cheese, and it’s all loaded between two pieces of double-baked rye bread. It’s a fantastic take on the classic Rachel. We’re guessing it’s the only hot pastrami sandwich to ever receive praise from Nora Ephron in The New Yorker—and the late writer was spot on. Link
Image Credit: The Infatuation

The Mudgie

Mudgie’s Deli – Detroit, MI

There are a lot of tremendous sandwiches at this Detroit institution, many of which are innovative and bib-worthy, but the sandwich we recommend is the one that shares the name with the establishment: the Mudgie. It includes (assemble your drool catcher): beef brisket, roasted turkey breast, house-made vegetable cream cheese (trust us), romaine, red onion, and the famous Kream Mustard from Brownwood Farms. It’s all served up nice and warm on an onion roll. You’ll wish you had a beard just so you could savor some later. Link Image Credit: Thrillist


Salumi Artisan Cured Meats – Seattle, WA

Founded by Armandino Batali, father of everyone’s favorite orange Crocs clad chef, Salumi is more than a place to buy a superior spread. To go with your platter of cured meats, make sure you indulge in the store’s porchetta sandwich, which is jam-packed with flavor-infused pork shoulder, veggies, and a garlic spread. Link Image Credit: Food Spotting


Joe’s Steaks + Soda Shop – Philadelphia, PA

The Philadelphia cheesesteak wars are headlined by the battle of two Goliaths: Pat’s vs. Geno’s. Most visitors get swept up in that hoopla, but we’d advise an alternative—Joe’s. The cheesesteak joint has been serving up the best steak sandwiches in Philly since it opened its doors in 1949. Previously known as Chink’s—the old owner was Sam “Chink” Sherman—Joe’s still keeps a pared-down menu and the same killer cheesesteak recipe. Link Image Credit: Joe’s Steak and Soda Shop

The Caribbean Roast

Paseo – Seattle, WA

A great sandwich starts with great bread, and we’ve tasted few baguettes better than the ones used at Paseo in Seattle. And while they toast some up for all their sandwiches, the one that stands out the most is the Caribbean Roast. Each Caribbean Roast is filled with juicy pork coated in Paseo’s special marinade, caramelized onions, aioli, and more. Link Image Credit: Reddit

Italian Beef

Johnnies’s Beef – Elmwood Park, IL

Before departing Chicago a few years back, Anthony Bourdain took to Twitter to send out a pic of a Johnnie’s sandwich. The comment that accompanied the no-frills lunch read, “The Glory That Is Chicago—in meat form.” And, as is often the case, Bourdain is right—the Italian Beef is glorious. Get it dipped and with hot and sweet peppers for a soggy, mouth-watering masterpiece. Image Credit: Serious Eats


Primanti Bros. – Pittsburgh, PA

Since the 1930s, Primanti Bros. has been providing locals with tasty carb bombs to keep them satiated. It’s become a Pittsburgh institution that tourists flock to. And while places overrun with out-of-towners are ripe for backlash, we will say that a Pitts-burger, eaten on the spot, is rib-sticking goodness. Packed with fries, coleslaw, meat, and assorted juices that get sopped up in the fresh Italian bread, it will leave you coated on the inside. Link Image Credit: Brown Eyed Baker


Las Olas Cafe – Miami, FL

When in Rome, right? Before taking in the Miami nightlife, consider filling your innards with a expertly crafted classic. The Cuban sandwich at Las Olas Cafe is an affordable treat that skips the flair and delivers tasty authenticity. It’s an oozing, buttery sandwich that will only run you five bucks. Image Credit: Yelp

White House Special 

White House Sub Shop – Atlantic City, NJ

It’s not hard to find a good sub in New Jersey, but if you want the best sub, you go to the legendary White House Sub Shop in Atlantic City. An institution since 1946, the seaside joint whips up meat-stuffed subs on next level bread. And while we wouldn’t fault you for going the classic Italian route, we like to sink our teeth into the White House Special. Each is packed with Genoa salami and a copious amount of crushed hot peppers for plenty of flavor. Link Image Credit: Road Food

Pork Fennel

Cutty’s – Brookline, MA

Exclusivity breeds excitement. Simply knowing that the Pork Fennel sandwich at Cutty’s is only available on Saturdays makes our taste buds curious. While we already loved Saturdays, if the Pork Fennel was only available on Mondays, Monday would be our favorite day of the week. It’s that good. Loaded with slow-roasted pork, pickled fennel, and roasted garlic, it’s a pungent, breath-wrecking work of art. Link Image Credit: Yelp

Fried House-Made Bologna Sandwich

Au Cheval – Chicago, IL

Au Cheval makes a killer burger, which you shouldn’t eat. You’ll have to skip that for something you’ll probably laugh at—a bologna sandwich. Yes, a bologna sandwich. But this isn’t the Lunchables meal from your youth, Au Cheval’s Fried House-Made Bologna Sandwich is stacked with thinly sliced meat and melted American cheese. It coats your mouth with savory, greasy perfection with every bite. Link Image Credit: Yelp

Katz’s Pastrami Hot Sandwich

Katz’s Delicatessen – New York, NY

There isn’t any praise for Katz’s we can offer that hasn’t already been mumbled through a mouthful of hot pastrami. The iconic deli makes what is, perhaps, the sandwich. And for anyone who hasn’t tried the pastrami from Katz’s, it’s hard to convey how good it is. So, we’ll just say this: taste it. Travel if you must, but taste it. There’s a reason Katz’s has been a New York institution since the 1800s. Link Image Credit: I Love Katz

Lobster Roll

The Clam Shack – Kennebunkport, ME

The lobster roll should not be gussied up. We’ve seen versions lavishly constructed in fine dining establishments that were so wrong it was laughable. For a proper lobster roll, visit The Clam Shack, a tiny outpost in Kennebunkport, Maine, where you can feast on yours at a picnic table with the water’s breeze at your back—the way it should be. But basic doesn’t mean boring. Thanks to fresh lobster, a perfect New England roll, and perhaps a little bit of magic, you’ll be sinking your teeth into the best lobster roll around. Link Image Credit: Eater

The Conquistador

Zunzi’s – Savannah, GA

A sandwich so named, we believe, because it must be conquered, not eaten, The Conquistador is one hearty monster. Yes, it’s a chicken breast sandwich, but don’t go imagining something drier than a California sidewalk. Not only is the chicken juicy, but the special sauce swoops in to steal the show. Link Image Credit: Zunzi’s

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