Food & Drink

15 New Sandwiches That Are Already Detroit Classics

Nicole Rupersburg Published On 04/28/2015 Published On 04/28/2015

With so many nationally famous sandwiches -- the Yardbird at Slows, the chicken shawarma at Bucharest Grill, the Mudgie at Mudgie's, Green Dot's mystery meats, all of the corned beefs -- it's hard for a new sandwich to "steak" (get it???) its claim to fame in Detroit. So, we looked specifically at restaurants that opened in the last couple of years for the best of Detroit's new class of sandwiches.

Dime Store

PBLT

Dime Store (address and info)
Downtown
Surely you are familiar with the sandwich classic the BLT -- bacon, lettuce, and tomato. It is the Old Fashioned of sandwiches. Well, upscale comfort food house of worship Dime Store has stepped it up a notch with the "PBLT" -- crispy pork belly, tomato, arugula, and spicy mayo on white toast. This is definitely not your grandparents' BLT. It is the bacon-infused bourbon Old Fashioned of sandwiches. 
 

Smoked pastrami

Selden Standard (address and info)
Midtown
2015 James Beard Award semi-finalist Andy Hollyday is killing it over at Selden Standard, and while people probably aren't paying as close attention to the sandwiches on the lunch menu as they are to the exceptional dinner menu, they are doing themselves a disservice: the smoked pastrami sandwich with giardiniera, Gruyère, grilled onion, and mustard aïoli is a true testament to the sandwich arts. 

Gold Cash Gold

Bánh mì & Malibu's Meatball

Gold Cash Gold (address and info)
Corktown
Most definitely a twist on a bánh mì that you'll only find at the kind of place that specializes in "farmstead cuisine," this lunch item features slow-roasted pork, crispy pig’s ear, chicken liver paté, pickled vegetables, fresh herbs, and house hot sauce. MORE BÁNH MÌ, PLZ. Also worth sticking in your mouth: the Malibu's Meatball with beef/veal/pork franken-meatballs, house-made Calabrian red sauce, and burrata cream on a fresh-baked hoagie. Knife and fork recommended but not required. White shirt definitely NOT recommended either way.  
 

Shrimp Po' Boy

WaLa (address and info)
Downtown
It's hard to find a good po' boy this far north of New Orleans, so the fried shrimp po' boy at WaLa is a welcome addition to the local sandwich scene, right down to the spicy mayo. Located at the corner of Washington and Lafayette (hence the name), this tiny little diner deserves a spot in your regular lunch rotation. 

Nicole Rupersburg/Thrillist

Spicy Asian pulled pork sammy

Rock City Eatery (address and info)
Hamtramck
Known for a gritty Detroit rock image and globally inspired flavors at dirt-cheap Hamtramck prices, Rock City Eatery serves up the kind of pulled pork sammy that doesn't give a &$%* with 12-hour roasted pork, house-pickled cucumbers, cilantro, and Thai basil, translating into a pulled pork sandwich completely unlike anything you'll get at a trendy barbecue joint. 
 

Cuban sandwich

La Nena's Restaurant (address and info)
Southwest
La Nena's is a new Puerto Rican and Cuban restaurant in Southwest Detroit that serves up a big, meaty, messy Cuban sandwich that is everything a Cuban sandwich should be for everyone who can't afford to fly down to Cuba for the real deal, even though it's legal now. Viva La Nena's! 

Rubbed

Litte Italy

Rubbed (address and info)
Corktown
To be clear, there is NOTHING "little" about the Little Italy at Rubbed. Rubbed is the fancy deli you never knew you needed in your life, and the Little Italy -- stuffed with capicola, mortadella, pepperoni, provolone, lettuce, tomato, red onion, banana peppers, and mayo -- is the fancy deli sandwich that will have you asking, "Jimmy who?" AND they deliver, too! 
 

Lew Silver Bagel Sandwich

Detroit Institute of Bagels (address and info)
Corktown
Because there is nowhere else in the city of Detroit to get homemade bagels and lox (with cream cheese, capers, and all other appropriate fixings), and while that is indeed a travesty, it's just all the more reason to give DIB your money. 

Detroit Vegan Soul

"Catfish" tofu fillet sandwich

Detroit Vegan Soul (address and info)
West Village
There are plenty of great soul food joints in the city and plenty of great fried catfish to be had at all of them, but there is only one vegan soul food restaurant and only one great faux-"catfish" tofu fillet sandwich. It's at Detroit Vegan Soul and it's made with cornbread-battered tofu served with lettuce, tomato, and vegan tartar sauce on a whole grain bun. You can't believe it's not catfish (or butter, for that matter). 
 

Hammer of the Gods

McShane's Pub & Whiskey Bar (address and info)
Corktown
Served at one of the fast-dwindling Irish bars of Corktown. Featuring smoked Dearborn pit ham smothered with smoked Gouda, lettuce, and tomato topped with sweet Vidalia onion vinaigrette on fresh-based grilled challah bread, it is the Thor of sandwiches. And a shout out to McShane's Gaelic Club with house-smoked turkey breast too, since we’re here. 

Brooklyn Street Local

Ploughman's

Brooklyn Street Local (address and info)
Corktown
Made with J&M smoked ham, organic provolone, house-made mustard pickles, maple mustard, and mayo, this is a hearty ploughman's platter between bread that you should order with a side bucket of breakfast poutine (with bacon and a sunny-side up egg) because you can, and therefore you should.  
 

Breakfast BBQ sandwich

Maccabees (address and info)
Midtown
So Maccabees makes these things called "potato pancake sandwiches," which use potato pancakes to bookend piles of meat and cheese instead of slices of bread. Which is brilliant. There are several varieties available for lunch, but the brunch version with brisket, cheddar, and over-medium eggs is next-leveling all other breakfast McSandwiches.

Firebird Tavern

Fried Green BLT

Firebird Tavern (address and info)
Greektown
Another bar, another interpretation of the BLT; this one's got lightly breaded and fried sliced green tomatoes, Applewood-smoked bacon, lettuce, jalapeño crème, and Swiss cheese on toasted rye. Seriously, if you haven't been to Firebird Tavern, you're really missing out. Skip all the other BS in Greektown and head here instead.
 

Rabbit sandwich 

Rose's Fine Food (address and info)
East Jefferson
We've said before that Rose's Fine Food over on East Jefferson is so cute you'll want to pinch its counter, and now Bon Appétit agrees. As that writer notes, "Few diners take the eat local ethos as seriously as Rose’s; fewer still serve a rabbit sandwich on homemade bread." There's really not much more that needs to be added to that, except that said rabbit sandwich features herb-braised rabbit, carrot slaw, and roasted garlic aioli -- and you can get it with a side of homemade doughnuts, and therefore should.  

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1. Dime Store 719 Griswold St, Detroit, MI 48226

This American brunch bar, located inside the Chrysler house, offers a trendy downtown meal at an affordable price, packed with gourmet ingredients. The space is high-ceilinged and festooned with eclectic wall art, neon lights, and a bright color palette that evokes mimosas. As if the menu of omelettes and sandwiches weren't telling enough, the meal du jour here is breakfast and lunch, with a side of booze (even beermosas!), and it's all by way of Detroit. If you're curious where any of your courses come from, look to the last page of the menu, which lists all of its midwestern sources. Midwestern gastropub fare

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2. Selden Standard 3921 Second Ave, Detroit, MI 48201 (Midtown)

Made moody and proper with charcoal black tables and seats, and a white-tiled full-service bar that intimidates with its wide liquor selection, Selden Standard marries the upscale with fresh, rustic fare usually seen in more whimsical settings. The menu is brought to you with the help of partnerships with michigan farms, and features simply dressed courses like charred octopus, chicken and ricotta campanelle, and half grilled chicken.

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3. Gold Cash Gold 2100 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48216 (Corktown)

Gold Cash Gold gets its name from the pawn shop that previously occupied the space. They kept the iconic exterior murals and signage and even used salvaged wood from the old shop, along with flooring salvaged from a school gym, factory beams repurposed into benches, and warehouse windows re-welded and set with stained glass. But GCG isn't just another pretty repurposed space: it's also one of the best restaurants in all of Metro Detroit, with Executive Chef Josh Stockton's "farmstead" cuisine – upscale farm-to-table comfort food without all the gimmickiness of upscale farm-to-table comfort food.

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4. WaLa 1010 Washington Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226

At WaLa's you'll find urban street food for cheap, like an incredible pesto grilled cheese or their famous shrimp po'boy in a six-inch version for only $4.99. Yes, please. Yes. Right now, yes.

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5. Rock City Eatery 11411 Joseph Campau St, Hamtramck, MI 48212 (Hamtramck)

Food, booze, and pies are the pillars upon which Rock City Eatery rests, and the industrial-chic eatery in Hamtramck has entertained a steady flock of regulars because of it. The breadth of the globally-inspired menu attests to the culinary skill of owner Nikita Santches, who proves that it's totally possible to excel at everything from duck fat-fried poutine to Spanish octopus. here's a big emphasis on local solidarity, ranging from regional microbrews behind the bar to the ingredients used in the kitchen, so don't be surprised if certain items on this focused, market-driven menu run out towards the end of the day.

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6. La Nena's Restaurant 8600 W Vernor, Detroit , MI 48214

This Puerto Rican and Cuban restaurant in Southwest Detroit serves up a big, meaty, messy Cuban sandwich that is everything a Cuban sandwich should be for everyone who can't afford to fly down to Cuba for the real deal, even though it's legal now. Viva La Nena's!

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7. RUBBED 2015 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48216 (Corktown)

This Corktown eatery is first and foremost a charcuterie and sandwich shop, but three nights a week it hosts an upscale, meat-focused dinner service. The space is small and casual, but the meat offerings, particularly the charcuterie plates, are generous. It's not a cheap outing, but you will definitely get your money's worth regardless of what you order.

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8. Detroit Institute of Bagels 1236 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48226 (Corktown)

Corktown's home for baglemaster Ben Newman’s bagel sandwiches, this spot offers up bagels with avocados, eggs, goat cheese, bacon, and of course, cream cheese, in between slices of chewy, fresh-baked bagels. The space is perpetually bright, airy, and beautifully tidied in honor of the most important meal of the day.

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9. Detroit Vegan Soul 8029 Agnes St, Detroit, MI 48214 (West Village)

Marrying vegan cuisine with soul food flair, this cozy West Village spot serves up some serious flavor. You’d think it’s impossible to create authentic Southern barbecue fare using 100% plant-based, organic ingredients devoid of trans-fat, but Detroit Vegan Soul executes it perfectly -- for example, take the signature “Catfish” tofu sandwich, a gluten-free option with cornmeal-battered tofu, broccoli-corn slaw, redskin potatoes, and onions. Combined with the cute, contemporary digs and friendly staff, it’s a neighborhood staple.

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10. McShane's Pub & Whiskey Bar 1460 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48216 (Corktown)

This Corktown Irish bar is perfect for St. Patrick's Day or a drink before a Tigers, Red Wings, or Lions game. Pre-game with hearty, Irish fare; McShane's reps its roots with items like bangers & mash, shepherd's pie, and lots of and lots of Guinness. Pro tip: you have to order McShane's insanely addictive corned beef Irish egg rolls. Thank us later.

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11. Brooklyn Street Local 1266 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48226 (Corktown)

Founded in 2012 by a Canadian couple, Brooklyn Street Local is a homey Corktown lunch destination for vegetarians and carnivores alike. Ingredients are sourced fresh from Detroit's urban farms and are used to create an array of flavorful favorites, such as The BSL, traditional poutine made with organic cheese curds and beef gravy (can be adapted to vegan appetites), The Works, a thick, organic beef patty topped with cheddar, bacon, and a fried egg, the Vegan Reuben served on rye, and rich banana walnut pancakes. The interior has all the marks of an American diner (banquette seating, warm hanging lamps, framed photographs on the walls), but the stylish outdoor patio calls to mind the industrial cityscape of Bushwick, Brooklyn.

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12. Maccabees 5057 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202 (Midtown)

Maccabees at Midtown offers up delicious salads and sandwiches, including "potato pancake sandwiches," which use potato pancakes to bookend piles of meat and cheese instead of slices of bread. Accented with wood and bronze, and projecting a decidedly art deco vibe, the '20s throwback space provides an appropriate atmosphere for its bistro menu offerings.

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13. Firebird Tavern 419 Monroe Street, Detroit, MI 48226 (Greektown)

This Greektown bar offers awesome drinks and great food, like a Fried Green BLT, a diner burger, and pretzels with warm dipping cheese.

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14. Rose's Fine Food 10551 E Jefferson Ave, Detroit, MI 48214

The small building that Rose’s Fine Food inhabits has been a diner for decades and has retained all of its original, crusty East Detroit charm. But by making everything from scratch from locally-sourced products, Rose’s delivers an "ultimate" gourmet twist on typical American diner food. For breakfast it serves options like decadent, gluten-free buckwheat pancakes and the Poodle Platter (2 poached eggs, sautéed greens, potatoes, and homemade toast with homemade ricotta cheese and jam); lunch is more savory with options like buttery lamb tacos with homemade turmeric yogurt on homemade tortillas. The owner’s believe in paying their employees a living salary, as in they don’t need tips to survive but they are still appreciated and part of those proceeds go to local charities.

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