Written by Hayden Lynch
Crowning the best sandwich of all time may sound like fun and games, but with a Dagwood's-worth of entrants, working our way with labored breath to Number One required biting off a staggering collection of bread-bound meals. The result: a comprehensive, thoroughly researched, totally scientific countdown of the Top 50 sandwiches of all time. While banh mis did make the list, this still isn't 'Nam, and so there are rules...at the bottom, because rules are boring. Tuck a napkin into your collar, because you're going to need it to catch the drool:
50) French Dip
Likely named for the eponymous roll that holds its thin slices of rare rib eye, the French Dip was actually born during the early 20th century in Los Angeles, though two separate restaurants lay claim to its creation. Now a staple at greasy spoons and fast food restaurants across the country, the Dip is the only sandwich on our list that could be classified as an activity, requiring frequent dunks into the included trough of drippings. Unfortunately, its greatest asset is its ultimate undoing -- give an American the opportunity to dunk their food in a vat of rendered juices, and you inevitably end up with mouthfuls of disintegrating, yeasty slop accompanying your roast beef. Extra points deducted for the term "au jus" sounding vaguely racist when properly enunciated.
49) Egg Salad
Most often found in its natural habitat of brown paper bags, the Egg Salad Sandwich can be generally defined as two slices of cheap bread holding a mixture of hardboiled eggs, mustard, mayo, salt, pepper, and probably some onion & celery for crunch. While its popularity is undeniable, these humble ingredients make it hard to elevate this sandwich beyond its satisfying, but simple, origins. Unless you're younger than 12 or over 65, eating this sandwich in public is generally considered unacceptable. Egg Salad Sandwiches can also smell like farts.
48) The Dagwood
Born from the pages of Chic Young's Blondie comic strip, The Dagwood is a culinary symbol of America itself: imposing in size, open-armed to ingredients of all stripes and colors, frustrating to work with, and ultimately hellbent on crushing you. You would do just as well to skip the presentation and alternately shovel fistfuls of turkey, ham, lettuce, mayo-covered tomatoes, and anything else you can find in your fridge into your mouth.
47) The Caprese
At its rarified best, the Caprese is an ode to Summer's bounty, bursting with the bright acidity of fresh tomatoes, the subtle bite of pert basil leaves, and the unctuous, salty creaminess of hand-pulled mozzarella. At its typical worst, the Caprese is a meatless piece of crap.
46) Clam Roll
Somewhere inside the Clam Roll lurks a great sandwich. Done right, it's a veritable horn-of-plenty of crunchy, chewy, perfectly oily deep fried shellfish piled high on a simple bun. But the amazing roadside seafood shack is one of America's great fallacies, more often than not taking the local bounty (or worse, tins of discounted clam bellies), over-dredging it in an uninspired batter, and frying it in stale oil.
45) Ham and Cheese
Like many of its sandwich staple compatriots, the Ham & Cheese suffers from its overwhelming popularity. Generally you're working with sliced deli meats, which tend to be watery and underwhelming, barely standing up to the bread they sit on. Which, of course, is why you're throwing on slices of processed cheese in the first place. If you're working with truly great ham, you don't make a Ham & Cheese --you go straight HAM.
44) The Jibarito
If fillings are placed between two ends, but those ends are not made of bread, is the resulting food sandwich? If you're talking about the Jibarito, then the answer is, "Si". Invented at a Puerto Rican restaurant in Chicago during the mid-'90s, the Jib piles lettuce, tomato, onion, aioli, and, typically, steak between two deep fried plantains. The result may not overtake the traditional sandwich anytime soon, but it can provide a welcome break.
43) Bologna Sandwich
Perhaps no entry on this list has been quite as maligned as this one, driven into the schoolyard ground by an endless stream of faceless iterations. Bologna on white bread has all the personality of gruel, and none of the warmth. But don't give up on this potluck of a porcine sausage -- it can be crisped in a pan and paired with mayo & mustard to make the popular midwestern Fried Bologna Sandwich, while a pile of imported German bolognas or Italian mortadella (essentially a protobologna with visible chunks of fat) virtually demand to be eaten unburdened by additional condiments beyond mustard. Bologna can also be spelled baloney, which is hilarious.
42) Pastrami or Corned Beef on Rye
That this classic bread bomb has earned a spot on the Mount Rushmore of NYC foodstuffs alongside the pizza, bagels, and cheesecake, speaks to its greatness. Unfortunately, that greatness spills over into its size like a regular customer's gut over his pants. No matter how perfectly succulent the meat, it's inevitably piled so high as to make eating this Kosher leviathan a Lovelaceian chore, and once the bread disintegrates you're left eating a giant mound of beef with your hands. Bonus points for being the only thing in the last 20 years to give Meg Ryan an orgasm.
41) Tuna Salad
It's impossible not to include the classic Tuna Salad Sandwich on this list, and yet its issues are manifold. Even classifying it isn't easy, holding under its umbrella everything from two pieces of white hastily scraped with brown-hued fish, to slabs of artisanal multi-grain bursting at the seams with freshly chopped yellowfin, olive oil, and a garden's worth of vegetables. Between its proliferate disgusting iterations and the fact that its main ingredient is done better service in another style of sandwich altogether (see: Tuna Melt), the Tuna Salad Sandwich couldn't crack the top 40, but it should be commended for ability to make something as innocuous as a sandwich culturally polarizing.
40) Hamburger Sub
Defiantly punching its torpedo-shaped brethren right in the cholesterol, this monstrosity of meat is typically composed of three patties, three slices of cheese, and three decades of not getting laid. On the one hand, it gives the act of eating three burgers in one sitting an vague whiff of acceptability. On the other, you usually just wish you had eaten an actual burger. The Burger Sub remains a strong contender for the title of Leading Cause of Hypertension.
39) The Primanti
Created by an eponymous Pittsburgh family, the original Primanti was conceived as a sandwich that truckers could eat with one hand while steering a rig with the other (unlike, um, every other sandwich ever.) If you did accept their vehicular gauntlet, though, you would likely swerve into a pole whilst suffering a heart attack, as a "Primanti" is basically any combination of meat heaped with traditional sandwich sides of tomato, coleslaw, and french fries between your slices of Italian bread. The Primanti ultimately suffers from the deluge of soggy-French-fry-incorporating impostors that have come after it, but even an excellent rendition needs to be eaten speedily, before those delicate potatoes sweat themselves into a puddle.
38) The Gatsby
The Gatsby is basically a South African Primanti, but without the coleslaw, and served on a sub roll. Sub rolls are bigger than sliced bread, and therefore better.
37) The Elvis
Purportedly invented by Elvis Presley, but probably just lifted from the African-American community and made palatable to square whites, this sandwich appropriates the common peanut butter, honey & banana sandwich, adding some bacon to the mix and requiring time on the griddle to warm its innards to a soothing, gooey consistency. Unfortunately for the Elvis, it seems to reside in a nebulous mealtime netherworld, lacking the proper protein for a meal, yet being not quite sweet enough for dessert. It also takes the ultimate no-fuss sandwich, the PB&J, and turns making it into a process that involves actual cooking. Side note: archetypal '90s musician/cat lady Lisa Loeb made one for her future husband on their first date!
36) The Club Sandwich
The Clubhouse Sandwich is cloaked in mystery, its exact birthplace being unknown to this very day (though a common theory is that it was birthed in 1894 at the Saratoga Club House). This two-story stack of bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and toasted bread is routinely served with an old, wrinkly pickle wedge or over-mayo'd coleslaw, a sure sign you're about to bite into a somehow-still-satisfying mouthful of inferior turkey, dry bread, and an hors d'oeuvre stick, making it one of the few sandwiches that routinely fights back. Respect.
35) Tuna Melt
Forget open-faced English muffins topped with an ice cream scoop of tuna and half-melted slice of American. A real Tuna Melt requires buttering two slices of bread and pan frying them until golden brown, so that the cheese lives up to its namesake. But the Tuna Melt's greatest strength is also its weakness -- warmed-up gobs of mayo and canned tunafish are revolting to anyone not ingesting them. Eating a late-night Tuna Melt in front of a woman is a sure sign you've completely stopped giving a crap.
The gyro (or shawarma…or doner kebab…) originally hails from Thessaloniki (or Priaeus…or Bursa…), and consists of lamb (or chicken…or beef...) that's slowly roasted on a vertical spit, thinly sliced, and slapped on a pita with onion, tomato, tzatziki, and hot sauce. Oftentimes the meat itself is mixed with extra layers of fat, which makes it a particularly excellent sandwich when you're hungover…or still inebriated…or soberly grotesque.
33) Kentucky Hot Brown
Being both open-faced and smothered in Mornay sauce, the KHB almost didn't make the list thanks to Rule #5 ("If you can't pick it up, it isn't a sandwich"). But considering how loaded most people are when they consume it, such trifles as cheese-infused béchamel would hardly send one running for cutlery. Yet piled as it is with freshly-carved turkey and crispy bacon, the Hot Brown is essentially the 2011 Red Sox of sandwiches: destined for a championship on paper, but in execution too often a hot mess.
Tacos may not have been able to make the list, but consider the Mexican torta their doughy replacement. Whatever proteinaceous filling you choose for your fresh-baked bolillo roll -- crumbled chorizo, shredded chicken, fried shrimp -- it'll likely be accompanied by onions, tomato, beans, guacamole, jalapeños, and fresh Oaxacan cheese. Were it more of an everyday option on this side of the border, this SoBo bomb might have made it even higher on the list, but being relegated to the bench, it'll have to settle for the 6th Man-wich of the Year Award.
31) The Falafel
The Lebanese, Palestinians, and Israelis all claim ownership of the falafel, and do so with unsurprising animosity -- seriously, the Lebanese Industrialist's Association has previously threatened action against Israel for copyright infringement for stealing their delicious, deep-fried balls of chickpeas. The original street food (they've been served out of carts since 8thC B.C.), falafel in sandwich form provides a satisfying-enough nosh for anyone on the go, but to taste a homemade version, with a pillowy pita yielding to perfectly crunchy falafel, crisp lettuce, tangy tomatoes & cucumbers, and creamy tahini, is transcendent.
30) Fish Sandwich
The fish sandwich may be more universally feared by children than the boogeyman, clowns, and the Chinese government's habitual economic manipulations combined, but before you throw the baby fish out with the Gorton's bathwater, consider that many chefs have made it their personal mission to salvage the sinking Filet-O-Fish. While you won't find it at the corner store, a gently fried or pan-seared piece of whitefish perched (get it? as in perch? the fish? whatever…) on a pleasantly yielding baguette slathered with aioli and topped with a few bitter greens is hard to beat.
29) Italian Beef
Those from outside of Illinois may have only heard word of the Italian Beef whispered across the plump lips of obese mid-Westerners, but Chicagoans have exported their famed sandwich across the country. Done right, an IB consists of either sirloin or round roasted in a seasoned broth, shaved thin, re-dipped in its broth, and then mounded onto Italian sub bread that has either been double-dipped into the jus as well, or given a restrained single bath. Other condiments typically include sweet peppers and spicy regional relish "giardiniera". While it sounds like a French Dip, it eats more like a sopping-wet Steak and Cheese, which, despite what any local may tell you, makes it more suited to late night binges than everyday lunches.
That sound you hear is likely a rabid throng of New Orleanians making their way to murder us for having debuted their grand Muffaletta so early in our rankings. Thankfully, we sent a 12-piece brass ensemble and a hurricane machine to distract them. The Muffaletta is like a deep-dish Italian Hero, sporting an army of cured meats, one or two kinds of cheese, and a signature briny olive spread between the namesake bread -- a dense, round Sicilian sesame loaf that may have properly filled to the farmers who first ate it, but too often overwhelms the other ingredients. Just like loving Lisa "Left Eye" Lopez (R.I.P.), eating a Muffaletta is great at first, but inevitably'll end up burning you.
27) Patty Melt
This sublime mash-up made it past the hamburger ban thanks to being swaddled in buttery, golden slices of rye instead of a bun. Cheese and sautéed onions are a requisite, but the typical Belarusian toppings of fish roe and chicken eggs are not. Unless you're in Belarus. But while the Patty Melt is great, it's also a specialist, showing up pretty much exclusively at diners in front of aging Jews and post-rage crews. Appreciate the Patty Melt for what it is, and don't ask it to be anything more.
The PB&J actually has its origins in high-society New York tearooms, which was pretty much the only place you would find a luxury like peanut butter being served 100 years ago. But as time went on, it found its way into everything from school kid lunch bags to WWII rations. So why isn't it higher? The PB&J may ride high on nostalgia, and it might be incredibly easy to make, but search inside yourself and you'll have to admit that it's really more of a snack than a sandwich. And snacks are for high-society New York tearoom babies.
25) Meatball Sub
The Meatball Sub long ago worked its way into the starting rotation, taking the best part of a spaghetti dinner and putting it right in your grubby paws. Plus: melted goddamn cheese. But an over-sauced sandwich on inferior bread can become a nosh nightmare, and plenty of pizza joints and corner delis are more than happy to serve up a hardened sphere of unknown animal provenance that's been sitting in a tomatoey version of swamp ass for the past 72 hours.
This South American specialty climbed the list thanks primarily to its doughy cornmeal exterior, which can be grilled, baked, or boiled by anyone stupid enough to not fry it in oil. What comes inside that crispy-yet-chewy shell is really just gravy, though not literally, because fillings range from melted cheese, to slow-roasted beef, to a blend of chicken, mayo & avocado. Arepas are almost always made to order, a snail's-pace process that makes them both extra delicious and extra maddening. The term "arepa" is also vaguely threatening.
Born in Puebla, Cemitas may not be easy to find in the U.S. outside of the stronghold established in Chicago's Mexican communities, but they're making their way coastward, popping up in both Los Angeles and New York. One difference between a Cemia and Torta (#32) is the bun: an airy, sesame-seed-covered sweet egg roll. Another difference: deep-fried meat. Thin slices of beef or pork are breaded and fried like little pieces of schnitzel, then topped with avocado, mild white cheese, onions, and spicy salsa rioja. Also, Senoria Cemita is an awesome name for a restaurant.
22) Chicken Salad
It’s easy to forget about the humble Chicken Salad Sandwich, but, you know…don't. In the late 1800's, the price of chicken was so steep that only the Monopoly Man could afford to eat it, let alone douse it in mayonnaise and toss it with luxury ingredients like… wait for it… spices. These posh beginnings aside, Chicken came out as a la king of the Salad Sandwiches in our rankings for two reasons: 1) poultry provides far more resistance than either tuna or egg, and 2) it won't make you a social leper.
21) Softshell Crab Sandwich
If you don't mind the unnerving suspicion that your sandwich might get up and crawl all over your floor, then few are as tasty as those that incorporate an entire soft shell crab. Unlike a Clam Roll (#43), if an establishment can afford to prepare such seasonal delicacies, then chances are they know how to do a proper deep fry. The key to success is a soft roll -- anything crusty will take from the deep-fried crustacean crunch -- and condiments shouldn't reach past lettuce, tomato, mayo, and maybe some Old Bay.
20) Meatloaf Sandwich
This behemoth isn't even the top leftover sandwich on our list, yet it doesn't quite get the respect it deserves. To defend it requires first defending meatloaf itself, a dish that in years past landed with a thud as a heaping log on uninspired dining room tables across the country. But at its core, meatloaf is a glorious concept, baking the same three ground meats (pork, beef, and veal) that comprise Italy's regal Bolognese into a freaking loaf. Take a piping hot, aromatic slab of that loaf, melt some cheese on it, lay it on the bread of your choosing, top it off with mayo and maybe some ketchup, and you have a sandwich -- nay, a meal -- worthy of being called the 20th greatest of all time.
19) The Submarine, a.k.a., the Grinder, a.k.a., the Hoagie
Outside of its iconic shape -- which, according to legend, was born in Maine, but first called a "Submarine" by a Boston-based restaurant in order to entice the WWI navy servicemen stationed there -- what exactly constitutes a sub? The answer: a Submarine is a long, soft, aerated roll containing some combination of deli meats, shredded lettuce, tomato, onions, and various other condiments, especially mayo. As a catchall, subs fall prey to inferior iterations less often than other, similarly popular sandwich types readily made with Wonderbread (looking at you, Tuna Salad) by mothers more interested in their Chardonnay than their child's lunch. Also, their sheer heft makes them far more consistently satisfying. One last note: Philadelphians say their Hoagie is somehow magically different, but spend some time at an Eagles game and ask yourself if you would trust any of them to not urinate on your child when you weren't looking.
18) Croque Madame
Literally translating to “Mrs. Crunchy,” the first step in making this French staple requires sliding fresh ham and gruyere into a classic grilled cheese, then covering the whole thing in preposterously rich béchamel. At this point, you have a Croque Monsieur, but put a poached egg on top and you’ve turned it into a lady. Historically, the name is attributed to the fact that, with the egg, the sandwich (or as the French call it, “sandwich”) resembles an old fashioned ladies hat. Then again, these are the same people who named the Tetons after boobies, so something something ovaries something.
The Mies van der Rohe of sandwiches, BLT's represent culinary minimalism at its best -- cool yet hot, crispy yet creamy, bacon-y yet more bacon-y. Like Batman or mid-'90s Prince, even the name evokes an idea far greater than the ingredients that comprise it. The only thing holding this marvel of design from creeping higher on the list is that when one craves a sandwich, they rarely crave subtlety.
16) Chicken Biscuit
Tearing off a piece of fried drumstick with your mouth and shoveling some crumbly biscuit up in there too generally isn't acceptable behavior. And yet biting into a Chicken Biscuit is. And as if buttery biscuits and crispy fried bird weren't a delicious enough combo, imagine it all drowning in a sea of gravy and cheese. The Chicken Biscuit is a testament to man’s endless, corpulent predictability.
The Porchetta may be Italy's most under-sung culinary contribution. A plateful of perfectly roasted suckling pig is one of the most universally recognized delicacies known to man, but pile all of that meat between two pieces of bread and you have a sandwich that changes with every bite, each mouthful presenting its own balance of flavorful meat, juicy fat, and crunchy, scorched cracklings. The Porchetta is so delicious that it may also be the only sandwich on this list that is best served with absolutely no condiments.
14) Italian Hero
Italian Hero The term “hero” first popped up in New York City in the late 1930’s, but don't mistake it for the variations that spontaneously and simultaneously emerged along the eastern seaboard. The true Hero is basically packs an entire charcuterie board into every bite of a preferably-crispy sub roll: cured meats (salami, soppressata, coppa, culatello, speck, bresaola…), semi-hard-to-hard cheeses (Provolone, Parm-Reggiano, but no mozz), Italianate condiments (pepperoncinis, olives, etc), olive oil (mayo is for Submarines), and vinegar. Judging by her weight gain, this might actually be the hero you'd find if you looked inside Mariah Carey's heart.
13) The Cubano
The Cuban is like the Voltron of sandwiches, combining together a Ham and Cheese (#46), a Porchetta (#15), and, in some cases, elements of an Italian Hero (#14) to form an enormous robot that defends the universe from other enormous robots…no, wait… a bigger, even more awesome sandwich. At its best, the Cuban is made with leftover roast pork from a suckling pig (a Cuban tradition), Swiss cheese (another Cuban tradition?), glazed ham, dill pickles, and mustard, all loaded onto Cuban bread (essentially a baguette with fat incorporated into it) and pressed on a plancha. The inclusion of salami, mayo, lettuce, and tomato is a regional option found mostly around Tampa. Tampa has great strip clubs. And Cubans
12) Lobster Roll
The Lobster Roll is easily New England's greatest contribution to the world of sandwiches. Large chunks of knuckle roughly chopped and mixed with mayo, celery, and maybe some dill, all bursting from a butter-kissed hot dog roll fresh off the griddle. Short of loading lobes of foie onto a caviar-studded baguette, the Lobster Roll is about as decadent as a sandwich gets, which only throws into greater relief the common pitfall that many vendors fall prey to: drowning the sweet crustacean in a sea of mayonnaisse. On Long Island, the Lobster Roll is traditionally served on an un-buttered hot dog bun, giving Maine something to brag about in their interstate rivalry other than N.E.S.C.A.C. colleges. Go Colby Mules!
11) Ham Sandwich
You could be forgiven for believing the Ham Sandwich to have been covered previously under the guise of the Ham and Cheese (#42), but only briefly. When you have a truly great piece of ham, you don't insult it with a slice of processed dairy product -- you put it on some crusty bread, give it a spread of mustard, and eat it with unacceptable greed. An acceptable variation of the Ham Sandwich is France's Jambon Beurre, a baguette blessed with nothing more than shaved ham and butter. Soo-oui!
10) The Gobbler, a.k.a., The Thanksgiving Leftovers
It’s Black Friday, and your girlfriend, wife, and/or life partner is out gorging on holiday discounts, leaving you at home alone. The echoes of the empty halls call to you, raising up a deep-seated need within your bowels to do something dirty, sticky, and altogether disgusting, leaving your hands trembling as they furtively reach for… turkey, stuffing, cranberries, mashed potatoes, and gravy! and while the Thanksgiving leftover sandwich may only come once a year, that's part of what makes it so damn good. It's the only sandwich you anticipate for weeks, and it always lives up to expectations.
9) Pulled Pork
If BBQ is America's cuisine, than the Pulled Pork sandwich must be America's sandwich, which alone should earn it a spot in the top 10. It's also one of the few times you can look at a sandwich and say "I'm gonna take a bite outta yo' butt". That butt -- properly the Boston butt, or shoulder -- must be slow-smoked and infused with the flavor of burning wood, whether hickory, cherry, apple, or otherwise. While regional preparations vary (North Carolina = vinegar sauce, Tennessee = tomato), the end result is best thrown on a sturdy bun with at most some coleslaw. Plus: how many other sandwiches take 12 hours of attentive preparations to produce?
8) Grilled Cheese
Though the exact birthdate of the grilled cheese is unknown, most "food historians", i.e., liberal arts majors, date it to the 1920s, after which it eventually became a popular special on artisanal Great Depression menus across the country (interestingly, it was originally an open-face sandwich known as the "Cheese Dream", the top piece of bread not becoming de riguer until the '60s). Of course, cooked bread & cheese has been a meal for as long as there has been bread and cheese to cook, but for clarification, the Grilled Cheese has no other ingredients. Yet in spite of its simplicity, the inclusion of any number of gourmet cheeses can elevate every K-schooler's wet dream into a royal affair. Indeed, there is perhaps no sandwich that can satisfy so many urges, which is perhaps why the entire month of April has been declared "National Grilled Cheese Month". Suck it, May Lupus Awareness Month!
7) Bahn Mi
In Vietnam, "Banh Mi" is a catchall term for bread. Having had baguettes introduced to them during the French colonial period, the Vietnamese quickly set about making it their own. The meaty backbone of the bahn mi -- often a trifecta of moist roast pork, velvety pate, and gelatinous head cheese -- is satiating on its own, but its the delicate balance between spicy jalapeños and soothing cucumbers, cilantro, and shredded carrots that makes the Bahn Mi an edible work of art.
6) Roast Beef
How did the Roast Beef sandwich make it this far? Well first, because of the roast goddamned beef. But second, because of its incredible versatility. Ultra-rare roast beef shaved thin and complemented by nothing but mayo and two slices of white bread? Amazing. Throw on shredded lettuce and tomatoes? Amazing. Sub out the mayo for horseradish sauce? Amazing. Serve it on weck? Western New York amazing. Rub it and call it a Pit Beef Sandwich? Baltimore amazing. Put it on a bun at Kelly's? Wicked Boston amazing. Piled with "mutz"? New Jersey amazing, and kind of stupid, cause mozzarella isn't pronounced "mutzarella".
5) The Parms
The genus Parma holds many members within its taxonomy: the Eggplant Parm (Parma Melongena), the Chicken Parm (Parma Pullus), and the Veal Parm (Parma Vitellus). Arriving on a toasted sub roll, the Parm is somehow satisfying even in its most pathetic form. More so if its a Chicken Parm.
A mix of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut & Russian dressing, the Reuben is a superior version of the Pastrami or Corned Beef on Rye (#46) that has been adopted across the country as an elemental part of any self-respecting sandwich menu. Conversely, The Ruben is a mix of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut & love songs, and is superior to Clay Aiken. Even when not made with succulent, dripping, fresh-roasted brisket, the Rueben compensates for that shortcoming with melted butter and cheese.
3) Breakfast Sandwich
Just like Donald Trump's licentious 'do (that hair gets mad laid!), the breakfast sandwich is powered by its greasy essence. A common staple of morning commuters and underachieving undergrads alike, the Breakfast Sandwich can be served on a bagel, an English muffin, or two waffles (a.k.a., an All-In-One). But it's best on a simple sesame roll, with a slice of melted American, the salty meat of your choosing, and a fried egg covered in butter. Few things are better than a Breakfast Sandwich, and among those, only two are other sandwiches.
2) Po' Boys
Placing the Po' Boy at number 2 might just be an insult to its greatness. Popularized (maybe) during a streetcar company strike in 1929 by two brothers who jokingly called the striking workers "poor boys" (1920's humor is hilarious!!), there are two crucial elements to this sandwich, the first of which is the size. Traditionally cut from 24" rolls, a regular Po' Boy is a full foot long. The second is the filling, which could be any number of things, but really should be either fried shrimp or oysters. An entire plate's worth of them. Dress it up with lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayo, and some Creole hot mustard, and you have a crunchy, toasty, fatty meal that just might be the best sandwich on the face of the planet, were it not for...
Maybe the Cheesesteak isn't your favorite sandwich, but it's in almost everybody's Top 10, and you can't deny that sort of consensus. While Philadelphians may claim a real cheesesteak must come on a local Amoroso roll, they also claim it should come "wit Wiz", and Cheez Wiz was invented 20 years after the sandwich (next we'll find out the Constitution was really signed in Delaware). A real cheesesteak needs nothing more than frizzled, chopped up, griddle-seared sirloin with Provolone thrown on at the last minute to melt, all turned upside down on a sub roll. The beauty of a Cheesesteak, and the secret to its top ranking, is that even a bad Cheesesteak is still delicious. Low quality meat and processed cheese only accentuate its fatty heavenliness. And its versatility makes it equally satisfying as a late-night binge or a midday escape to a dreamscape of obesity. Even its name is awesome. So bow down and pay homage to its mighty power, then pray that you'll be able to stand up afterwards.
1) The Thrillist Sandwich Countdown® concerns itself only with general sandwich styles, not specific sandwiches from this or that deli or restaurant.
2) Availability is taken into account. If there's an amazing sandwich that's only served by a buddhist monk with gilded robes and particularly well-manicured eyebrows at the top of Machu Picchu, it's going to be docked points.
3) A specialty sandwich born at a particular restaurant, or endemic to a region, can still make the cut, provided it has been recognized as a general sandwich style recreated by other sandwich makers. Primanti lovers rejoice.
4) Certain sandwiches are grouped. We won't break down grinders by their various meat combos, but Chicken Salad is different than Tuna Salad.
5) If you can't pick it up with your hands, it isn't a sandwich.
6) For the purposes of this list, a hamburger is not a sandwich. It is a hamburger.
7) A hamburger sub is a sandwich, as it falls under the subset of Submarine Sandwiches, kind of like the Irish kid you went to college with who got a full ride for being 1/16th Swazi.
8) There will be no cased meats, including bratwursts, knockwursts, frankfurters, or spankfurters. If a sausage is sliced into rounds and piled between bread as a deli meat, it is a sandwich.
Published: November 1, 2012 at 3:50pm EDT
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