Only the most popular handheld lunch food "typically taken to work, school, or picnics" since the visionary fourth Earl of Sandwich purportedly threw together a Cold Cut Trio (no?) in between hands of poker in the mid-18th century, it's not at all surprising that you can't walk a block through Boston without hitting a spot that serves a great sandwich. But what are the five tastiest, most creative, downright "best" sandwiches in all of the Hub? Good, albeit loaded, question. At the risk of engaging in a fool's errand, here are our five top handhelds that you need to eat right now.
Steak Sandwich, River Gods
Absolutely worth having to ask one of the many homeless in Central Square for directions to get there, the filet mignon-tip sandwich at this eccentric neighborhood hangout is topped with boursin cheese and caramelized onions, and comes with salad, mashed potatoes, or fries. Although you'd be remiss if you didn't get fries, with an order of roasted garlic aioli for dipping -- it's ridiculous.
The Burke, Parish Cafe and Bar
Haha, no -- it's not 1995. We get it. That's funny. Seriously, Parish Cafe -- both on Boylston and Tremont -- continues to kill it when it comes to making some of the Hub's tastiest sammies, as is still evidenced by the lines you have to wait in to get a table. While the prosciutto-, capicola-, and soppressata-loaded Burke topped w/ Provolone and sided by a spicy red pepper relish takes best in show, the Schlesinger (an open-faced smoked ham & melted Monterey Jack w/ a mango chutney on banana bread!!) and Regal Regis aren't far behind.
Super Cluckin’ Sunday Fried Chicken Sandwich, Cutty's
Since taking over the former Franky 'N the Boys spot in Brookline Village almost four years ago, this 16-seat gourmet sandwich shop continues to pile up the accolades, drawing rave reviews for their Roast Beef 1000 with Thousand Island dressing & crispy shallots, and the Saturday-only, slow-roasted pork w/ pickled fennel. You'll want to wait for the one Sunday a month, though, when they serve nothing but their crunchy buttermilk fried chicken sandwich topped with melted cheddar and tangy honey-Dijon, and served on a buttered sesame brioche bun. Trust us. They start serving at 10a and go until they run out.
Atomic Meatloaf Meltdown, All-Star Sandwich Bar
Hands down the star attraction at this popular, brothers-owned, Inman Square sandwich shop, the infamous Meatloaf Meltdown garners not one, but two spicy fire icons on the menu and brings together grilled meatloaf, Jack cheese, and caramelized red onion jam (all topped with a habanero-based "Inner Beauty Hot Sauce") on sourdough bread.
Pastrami Traveler's, Sam LaGrassa's
Self-proclaimed purveyor of the "World's No. 1. Sandwiches", this popular Hub institution's been slinging sammies in the DTX since the Tet Offensive, and -- while you can't go wrong with anything on the menu -- the place earns its rep with the Vermont cheddar-topped "Famous Rumanian" Pastrami Traveler's on grilled pumpernickel.
Located in the heart of Downtown Boston, Sam LaGrassa's is only open for lunch on weekdays, but it reigns nonetheless as one of the best sandwich spots in the city. You have your work cut out for you with its stacked menu of specialties like Asiago Turkey and Jalapeño Chicken, but the true must-try is its Rumanian Pastrami: house-made, dry-cured beef that's seasoned then smoked before being piled high on light rye bread and crowned with Swiss.
Operating with the ethos that “a good sandwich is like an old friend,” All Star Sandwich Bar offers the ultimate sandwich experience from its post on Cambridge Street. The mounted chalkboard menu is home to all sandwich options on offer: the burger bar (featuring... burgers), classic sandwiches (like a tuna melt, or a chili cheese dog) funky sandwiches (this is where you’ll find house signatures, namely the lauded Mr. Miyagi, a hoisin-glazed pulled pork sandwich with Thai basil, English cucumber, pickled daikon and carrots, a fried egg and Sriracha aioli on brioche), and veggie sandwiches. To further the experience, All Star Sandwich Bar knows that nothing goes better with a sandwich -- of any kind -- than poutine, and nothing goes better with poutine than a pitcher of beer. All Star Sandwich Bar has got you covered.
Did you accidentally stumble onto the set of Alice in Wonderland 2: Winter is Coming? No -- you’ve just walked into one of the weirdest and coolest bar-staurants in Central Square. Pay homage to the river gods by slurping down an Amazon’s worth of classic cocktails, then chase it down with one of their tasty sandos, all amidst the gargoyle-bedecked walls, red-velvet seating, and Halloween-year-round decor.
A four-star American resto, this second edition of the Parish Cafe at Tremont builds delicious gourmet sammies and also serves up plenty of apps, comfort food and brews, in a space furnished with mahogany tables and a marble-top bar.
Cutty’s is the patron saint of sandwiches. If you're stopping into the Brookline Village shop for breakfast, you have inventive options at your fingertips like a Thai sausage sandwich and an eggs-Benedict-wich, but Cutty’s Egg Sandwich is always a solid choice, composed of eggs whipped with butter, sharp cheddar cheese, and either spicy Sriracha aioli, truffle ketchup, or red-eye mayo on Iggy’s black pepper brioche. For lunch, Cutty's Roast Beef 1000 is the must-order, piled high with house-roasted meat, crispy shallots, and sharp cheddar drizzled with Thousand Island dressing on brioche. Even noted car-driver Guy Fieri approves of the sandwiches here. Whether that makes you want to visit more or less is your prerogative.