The Best Sandwich Shop in Every State

Jason Hoffman/Thrillist
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

A good sandwich is blessedly easy to come by, considering that most of us are completely satisfied by a little peanut butter spread between slices of cheap white bread. But a great sandwich? That's another thing altogether. Luckily, we're currently in a sandwich renaissance, with greatness increasingly popping up between buns (or Texas toast or kaiser rolls or other carb creations) across the country.

Every state has stand-out sandwich shops. But there can be only one best -- and, for our money, here they are. You won't find any big chains on this list -- though you should totally still be eating Primanti Bros., Capriotti's, and Big John's whenever you find one -- nor will you find restaurants that make a couple solid sandwiches to complement their main focus (lookin' at you, Joe's!). But there's a diverse selection here: full-animal butchers, Vietnamese bakeries, delis as old as the cities they serve, and more. Grab a napkin -- things are about to get deliciously messy.


Sol’s Deli


Sol’s began slinging sandwiches and fresh-ground burgers to the hungry masses way back in 1968, and locals will tell you it was basically the best sandwich in town the minute the first plate hit the table. So when the building was condemned back in 1995, Birmingham went into mourning. But this isn’t a list of the best sandwiches you can’t get anymore: 13 years after the closure, Sol’s kids started the family business back up again, re-claiming the title of the best damn sandwich in ‘Bama thanks to honkin' huge bombs like a Cuban loaded with house-roasted pork, grilled fish po-boys, and one of the best muffulettas available outside of Louisiana. They also do a daily meat & three special, and dominate the breakfast-sandwich game with fluffy biscuits. Let’s just hope the new building is a little more structurally sound, lest Birmingham experience another tragic run of Sol-lessness. -- Andy Kryza


Krazy Moose Subs


You won’t find fancy aioli or house-cured meats at this old-fashioned sub emporium. Krazy Moose ain’t that kind of place. But if you closed your eyes and pictured a perfect, cold-cut packed sub, then pulled that image into reality and then made it about three times bigger than it should be, you’ve got Alaska’s pitch-perfect submarine sandwich. Clocking in at 10 and 20 inches in stomach-filling length, the best of the bunch is the Italian loaded with traditional (but not fancy) salami pepperoni, capocollo, and ham. And while we were a bit reluctant to try the “seafood” -- a vague term indeed, though it comes recommended -- the cheesesteak is an unexpected delight, as is the cheeseburger sub, which basically marries Philly’s best culinary innovation with a loose-meat burger glued together with melted cheese. Get the 20-inch of anything, and you’re basically set for a couple days. -- AK


Pane Bianco


Look, we know that James Beard Award-winning Chef Chris Bianco doesn’t really need any more accolades, what with his consistently being called one of the best damn pizza chefs in the country. But we’d also be lying if we picked something that wasn’t Bianco’s incredible sandwich shop. So what’s the big deal? Well, each sandwich comes on the chef’s signature focaccia bread that’s baked to order in a wood-fired oven. A simple caprese-style number with heirloom tomatoes and house-made mozzarella alone would be worth a pilgrimage, though Pane also makes one of the best damn chicken salads in the US. You can also score a killer meatball hero, and if you want to really go all in you can pair it up with one of Bianco’s signature pizzas... only here, the line’s not nearly as long as at the flagship. -- AK

TJ's Sandwich Shop
TJ's Sandwich Shop


TJ's Sandwich Shop


At first glance, the sandwiches at TJ’s look like your average bread bombs that you can find at any old shop. But it takes one quick bite to realize that Chef Todd’s not messing around, thinking about the ways each and every flavor commingles between two slices. From the pan-seared turkey, bacon, and cream cheese working together in the Gobbler to the crispness of the prosciutto and the sweetness of fig jam on the Italian Stallion, everything here’s just dancing in concert. Don’t, however, sleep on the simple pleasures of the roast beef, cooked to a perfect rareness and shaved thin on the Meaty Midwesterner, a sandwich that’s basically a dream vision of what would happen if Arby’s went hardcore artisanal. And yes, this is high praise. -- AK





Tucked away from the head shops and tourists of Venice Beach, Travis Lett's Gjusta was originally conceived as a commissary kitchen for the owner's beloved Gjelina (they also love silent G's, apparently). That kind of explains why it's a bakery that also roasts meat, makes charcuterie, smoked fish, and kind of looks like a long, brightly lit culinary museum with glass cases full of tastiness. So yea, it’s a little more than a sandwich shop. But those sandwiches... ye gods, are they delicious, especially when you consider that everything you’re consuming has been made in house. The menu is as long as it is enticing, which is no small feat, meaning you’ll likely be torn though never disappointed. Will it be a simple porchetta or rotisserie turkey masterpiece seasoned with little more than olive oil, salt, and pepper? Something more ambitious, like banh mi that adds a third layer to the world’s greatest cross-cultural sandwich with slabs of smoked brisket? Or perhaps you want to ruin a shirt with the chicken Parm, which loads an entire dinner’s worth of fried cutlet, sauce, and burrata onto a housemate ciabatta roll. Just roll the dice, place your order, and watch something magical happen on the chopping block. -- AK


Masterpiece Delicatessen


A prime example of what happens when a master chef turns his attentions to the simple pleasures of sandwich making, Justin Brunson -- he of the acclaimed Old Major -- isn’t kidding with that boastful name. Basically everything at this Mile High institution is a work of art, from the beef brisket -- which braises for 12 hours before getting blanketed in Taleggio fondue -- to the smoked turkey paired up with brie, pears, arugula, and cranberry honey to form an unholy alliance of smoke, nuts, sugar, and funk. And lest you think it sounds overly fancy (what’s wrong with fancy, eh?!), the simple pleasures of a basic grilled cheese here, too, manage to become transcendent, while Taylor ham is on the breakfast sandwich menu... a salute to the Jersey favorite that shows that Brunson’s a master of sandwich artistry both highbrow and lowbrow. -- AK


Franklin Giant Grinder Shop


In Connecticut, grinders are the sandwich kings (sorry, Jeff Mauro... although, we’re sure he makes a great grinder), and while you can find a fantastic version at the various locations of local chain/legend Nardelli’s, you can only find one Franklin. Which is probably a good thing, because if this Little Italy hole in the wall branched out, Connecticut might have to face a very delicious obesity epidemic. Italian meats like mortadella, Genoa salami, prosciuttini, and pepperoni are piled impossibly high on these glorious gut bombs, while the Parms also get a grinder treatment, with enough cutlet jammed between enough bread to feed half a traditional Italian wedding. Oh, and lest you think that “Giant Sandwich” shop is a joke, we’re talking about the half sandwiches here... the whole version is enough to put you into a coma. A very delightful coma, too. -- AK


Ioannoni’s Specialty Sandwiches

New Castle

Hand-carved, slow-roasted beef is the de-facto star at Ioannoni’s, a place where $15 or so will score you 21 massive inches of sandwich greatness (don’t worry, you can go much smaller). But at the risk of upsetting the entire population of Philly, this institution makes perhaps one of the best roast pork sandwiches you’ll ever have, tender and layered with sharp provolone and broccoli rabe. Were that not enough, the joint offers up eight varieties of chicken cutlet sandwiches -- from standard Parm to the Gi Gi’s Delight with rabe, roasted peppers, and fresh mozzarella -- and a bevy of grilled hoagies. Usually, when a place offers this many different specialty sandwiches (we haven’t even started in on the cheesesteaks), it means something’s out of focus. But Ioannoni’s does them all right. The only bad thing about this place is that, eventually, you have to choose one sandwich over the others.-- AK





Enriqueta’s makes the best Cubano in Miami. Which means it makes the best Cubano in Florida, if not the world (that’s a whole different list, we suppose). That makes hitting up the tiny, cramped Edgewater institution a must for any sandwich seeker. But get this: You should maybe also consider not getting that Cuban in favor of its mutant cousin the Medianoche with ham, pork, cheese, pickles, and mayo on sweet egg dough bread, which will forever make you question other similar sandwiches. Or the Cuban chicken sandwich stacked with lettuce, tomato, shoestring potatoes, and grilled onions. Actually, just maybe grab them all, and do it before the place closes at 4pm (get there early... there will be a line). We’re not here to judge... that’s what the people on the beach are for. -- AK


Lee's Bakery


How, these days, do you survive 15 years in the restaurant business in a city like Atlanta of all places -- a veritable "New Bite City" where great things happen but good things don't always last -- and somehow get more popular every year? You do it by having a famously good banh mi, and being consistent enough to keep growing the cult. The bread is un-clone-ably crispy, chewy, and delicious, which makes sense being that it's a bakery and all. And all that goodness between the bun would be just a cherry on top if not for the flavor you get when the pickled veggies and tender pork start going together like they're slow-dancing at their middle-school homecoming dance. It's pure love. -- Mike Jordan


808 Deli


Though you can get great kalua pork sandwiches all across the Hawaiian diaspora, most of them are at restaurants that aren't full-fledged sandwich shops. 808 Deli, on the other hand, has spent the past nine years dominating the sandwich game in paradise. Yeah, they have a hell of a pork sandwich -- one on which mango salsa counteracts the heat from the sweet chili sauce and pepper jack -- but it’s the variations on classics that really stand out as a prime example of sandwiches bringing different cultural traditions together. Take, for example, Kim Chee Reuben, which spices up the deli favorite with a little fermented cabbage, or a roast beef melt kicked into high gear with wasabi aioli. It’s a place that practices total sandwich diplomacy, though if you want to go easy with a meatball sub, you’re in for something exceptional there too. -- AK


Meltz Extreme Grilled Cheese

Coeur d’Alene

Fact: There is no such thing as too much cheese. That’s an ethos taken to the limits at this restaurant and its accompanying food truck, a place of cheese extremes so extreme that it’s got the word “extreme” in its name... and a “z” instead of an “s” for added extremity. Consider the mainstay Ultimate Meltz special, which manages to squeeze white Cheddar, mozzarella, fontina, provolone, goat, and gorgonzola between two slices of bread, with the extra cheese getting crispy and crunchy as it seeps out onto the grill. But Meltz takes things to the next level with its rotating selection of mad-scientist grilled-cheese innovations that constantly change with the seasons and the chef's whims, including a juicy pork belly banh mi and a fan-favorite loaded with braised short rib and huckleberry BBQ sauce sourced from the surrounding wilderness. -- AK

Publican Quality Meats
Chloe List


Publican Quality Meats


It's been just over five years since this meat-obsessed butcher shop and sandwich haven opened next to its also (but differently) meat-obsessed older sibling, The Publican, but it's already difficult to picture the Chicago sandwich landscape without it. It's not the lengthiest menu, but the seven to eight options invariably presents dilemmas like the whether to opt for comforting Parm No. 2 in all its mozz and red sauce glory or go for a reimagined take on a Greek classic with the pork belly-laden Gyro Strikes Back. If there were any more choices it's quite possible that the line would never move. -- Matt Lynch




Indy may be one of the more recent Midwest cities to receive the "Hot New Food Town" label, but its finest sandwich purveyor harkens back to a time when no one worried about such things because, well, cholera and stuff. Yep, Shapiro's has been in the deli game since 1905, and you can still get yourself a gloriously unfussy, massively stacked pastrami on rye (they ship the meat in from Brooklyn and finish cooking it in house). That's not to say they're rigidly opposed to innovation -- try a Twisted PLT, basically a pastrami, lettuce, and tomato featuring some crisped-up pastrami inspired by a customer who made the happy mistake of overcooking some at home. -- ML


South Union Bread Cafe

Des Moines

If you take one bite of your pesto chicken melt or hot turkey club and think to yourself "I never want to stop eating this focaccia," you're in luck, because they offer free nibbles of the staple bread (baked daily) for snacking purposes, abetted by a little olive oil, crushed red pepper, and Parm. It comes particularly in handy if you're so hungry you're having trouble waiting for them to finish your Italian beef, a Chicago-channeling Friday special. Don't worry, no matter how much you carbo load on the free stuff, you still won't have trouble finishing your lunch. -- ML




What else would you call a Kansas bakery obsessed with turning out loaves of meticulously crafted artisan bread before that was a trendy thing to be doing? For more than 20 years WheatFields has been providing hungry Jayhawks with loaves of sourdough rye, rosemary focaccia, walnut sage, and other carb creations that emerge from their wood-fired hearth, and thankfully they've also been taking some of said bread and making sandwiches with it. There's a mushroom melt that amps up a Swiss-Cheddar grilled cheese with roasted portobellos and onion jam. There's a spicy tuna melt that takes the deli classic in a spicy Southwestern direction with help from some jalapeño cream cheese. There's a good chance you'll want to take some extra bread home with you. -- ML



Morris' Liquors and Deli


Have you ever made a liquor run and right in the middle of it been struck with a powerful craving for some real-deal country ham or a hefty helping of pimento cheese? No? Well if you happened to be anywhere near Morris' Deli in Louisville at the time, it wouldn't be an issue, because the local landmark known for its crazy cold walk-in beer cooler is even BETTER known for smoking tender country hams, turkeys, and other meats out front, along with the kind of pimento cheese people drive out of their way to acquire. The seating is extremely limited, but these aren't the kind of sandwiches where you concern yourself with such trivialities as having a place to sit. -- ML


Domilise’s Po-Boy and Bar

New Orleans

With respect to the muffuletta, the po-boy is New Orleans’ greatest contribution to sandwich culture, and this family-run institution has spent nearly 100 years perfecting its take and, in turn, essentially defining the classic. It’s the best in New Orleans, which makes it very likely the best in the country. Set up in an boxy, inconspicuous building with a bar and a full view of the owners working the fryer, there will very certainly be a line, but for once that line is well-earned, considering each and every shrimp or oyster po-boy is fried to order, and to perfection. The place even helps you avoid a difficult choice by letting you go half shrimp and half oyster on the same bun (you could also get catfish or roast beef, but trust us, it's shrimp/oyster FTW). Don't skimp on spicy house-made ketchup. Some may say it's not traditional. Those people are idiots: This place has been going for a century. At this point, everything here is a tradition. -- AK




Donald and Daisy’s nightmare dinner party definitely doesn’t skimp on its waterfowl, served up by a James Beard-winning chef in a cozy, brick-laden oasis. Duck fat is what the signature Belgian frites are fried in, and is a base in the gravy that turns them Canadian in the poutine. Both are essential accompaniments to the place’s signature grilled paninis, which don’t so much complicate classics as expand on them, from a slow-roasted pork Cuban to a BBQ brisket that would hold up deep in the heart of Texas. And, naturally, there’s a quack sandwich in the form of the Overnight Duck Confit, loaded with miso mayo and a spicy slaw. Pair it with that poutine and a donut hole with -- yup -- duck fat caramel and you’re having duck three ways... which is way more delicious than the image of Disney-themed trysts conjured by that regrettable phrasing. -- AK


Chaps Pit Beef


Pit beef is sometimes touted as Baltimore's answer to BBQ, but truth be told, it's kind of its own thing, grilled over an open charcoal pit, sliced thin while still rare in the center, and piled high on (traditionally) a kaiser roll or white sandwich bread, with some seriously potent horseradish and onion. And sure, it's nice that the Charm City institution has had visits from dignitaries like Guy Fieri and multiple shout outs on The Wire, but all that did is clue the rest of the world into something Baltimore has known and loved for decades. -- ML




What started as a pushcart operation from a Chilean native bent on turning more people onto the sandwiches of his homeland has grown into a brick-and-mortar operation because, well, the sandwiches are really amazing and everyone was lining up to buy them. And rest assured there are still lines of people looking to get their hands on some of Juan Hurtado's fresh-baked bread, filled with grilled steak or chicken (or both?!), a smear of avocado, Muenster, tomato, and some steamed green beans. Don't spend any more time agonizing over how green beans can possibly be the secret ingredient in Massachusetts finest sandwich. Just go get one. -- ML

Flickr/Nathan Bergler


Zingerman's Deli

Ann Arbor

While places like Detroit’s Mudgie's are raising the Great Lakes State’s sandwich profile, none have yet topped the glories of Ann Arbor’s Zingerman’s. The corned beef here is the stuff of legend, which gets the Reuben treatment piled high on the house-made Jewish rye, while the chopped liver and roasted turkey offer up all sorts of variations to the long lines of college students and sandwich pilgrims drawn like moths to a flame that smells suspiciously like somebody roasting the best beef you’ve ever had. Zingerman’s has Michigan’s hordes in the palm of its hand... ironic, given it’s located in the palm of a state shaped like a mitten. -- AK




Mercifully much better than a certain Will Ferrell reboot, Be'Wiched is the breadchild (get it?) of Minneapolis chef Mike Ryan, whose pastrami has made even the most strident New Yorker grudgingly nod in admiration. It's not all classic deli fare -- more adventurous selections include a tuna confit on focaccia with preserved lemon and a smoked turkey ciabatta cleverly married with bacon, medjool dates, and goat cheese. But it's all capable of putting you under its spell (!) which is a much better joke than just about anything in a certain Will Ferrell reboot. -- ML


United Deli & Grocery


Look, we love Combos and pre-packaged cookies as much as the next gas-station snacker, but not even the greatest road foods hold a candle to the enormous sandwich craft on display at United Deli & Grocery. Yes, this is a gas station deli counter in a small town near the 'Bama border, but these enormous French rolls packed with meat prove that you can’t judge a book by its cover, even if the cover is soaked in petrol. And they’re a steal. The Mike’s Deluxe -- loaded with turkey, ham, roast beef, avocado, cheese, and bacon -- is a juggernaut as likely to give you a bulging bicep as a gut, and clocks in at under $10 for a foot long. There’s also an excellent shrimp po-boy and a rock-solid meatball sub, though we’re gonna go ahead and recommend you don’t take that one in the car unless you really hate clean upholstery. -- AK



St. Louis

Named for the proprietor's mother, Nora's quaint coffee shop vibe belies its big flavors, loading up soft hoagie rolls with pork loin smoked in-house over applewood (plus caramelized onions, applesauce, bacon & brie) to create the gloriously melty For Pete's Sake -- an exclamation one could envision one's mother uttering upon enjoying such a feast. Of course, there's also the smoked turkey, genoa salami, bacon & provolone Hangover Club, so it's not like they don't also know how to party. And make singularly tasty sandwiches. -- ML

staggering ox


Staggering Ox


With nearly every square inch covered in quirky art by local artists, you know you’re in for something unexpected the minute you walk into Staggering Ox’s flagship location in Helena. But nothing can really prepare you for the sight of a Clubfoot sandwich, which is like the mutant cousin of a baguette, a runza, and a burrito, with meat, cheese, and veggies stuffed into a gigantic tube of bread that stands straight up. And it’s as delicious as it is dumbfounding, especially when it’s loaded up with Gouda, turkey, spicy cream cheese, and cucumbers, as in the Holy Smokes, or with gyro meat, black beans, Gorgonzola, and salsa in a concoction known as Yo’ Momma Osama, which is basically like a Greek street food mated with a French bakery in Tijuana. This place is expanding across Montana, too. If it staggers your way, get in line immediately and be ready to be perplexed and amazed. -- AK


Kitchen Table


Opened by a couple of Omaha natives who spent five years honing their culinary chops in San Francisco before returning home to open a place of their own in 2013, and it's all gone quite well at the Table thanks to creations like The Whole Bird, basically a celebration of chicken in all its glory that takes seared breast, confit leg salad, crispy skin, and a fried egg, and combines it all between two slices of their up-to-the task homemade bread. Also worth noting: their seasonal jam sandwiches (like a summer-y squash creation with mozz and tomato balsamic jam) will make even the most devout carnivore glance over at the next table and say "what's that over there?" -- ML




Fact: umlauts make everything taste better. Fact number two: even though this labor of love from a couple of restaurant industry vets may sound like it specializes in broth-based creations, the sandwiches aren't to be missed, either. Though, if you want to add on a cup of loaded baked potato to your chimichurri-sauced steak baguette with caramelized onions and New York Cheddar, you could experience steakhouse life in soup and sandwich form. Or you could take the house-roasted turkey with pesto ranch and provolone on jalapeño jack bread and add some gazpacho. Or, you know, just save more room for the sandwich. It's your world. -- ML

New Hampshire

Bierdman's Deli & Pub


There are a lot of things that go well together -- peanut butter & jelly, mashed potatoes & gravy, Dave Matthews & the mute button -- but there are few pairings as beautiful as a great sandwich and an ice-cold craft beer. For four decades, Bierdman’s has managed to function as a classic sandwich shop and a solid beer bar in the tiny, picturesque town of Plymouth’s Rockwellian Main Street. That means there’s always something on draft to elevate the already great sandwiches, among them the chicken/prosciutto/mozz/pesto-laden baguette known as the Old Man or the Basement Bomb, which loads tender roast beef, cukes, and Boursin cheese onto rustic wheat bread. There are specials too, like a blue cheese-kissed flank steak that manages to taste like an entire fancy steakhouse meal in sandwich form. Pair it with a Stoneface IPA and you’ve got a culinary tour of New Hampshire right in the comfort of a classic New England small town. -- AK

Millburn Deli
Courtesy of Millburn Deli/Andy Foster Photography

New Jersey

Millburn Deli


Like assorted other Jersey legends (the Boss, Sinatra, Snooki, etc.) Millburn Deli's legacy has crossed over Garden State lines to become one of the more renowned sandwich purveyors on the East Coast. They've been slinging sandwiches from a tiny storefront on the ground floor of what could easily be your grandma's house since 1947, and even though the shop changed hands in the early '90s, the Fluke family has upheld the deli's tradition as a place for consistent local cheer and even more consistent(ly delicious) sloppy Joes. Now, these probably aren't the "sloppy Joes" that conjure images of lunch lady Doris slapping ground beef and tomato sauce into a kaiser roll. They're triple-decker sandwiches stuffed with various combos of turkey, corned beef, roast beef, Virginia ham, and pretty much every other meat variation known to man... or at least Jersey. But if that's not your style (for some reason?), you can opt for one of the grillers like the aptly named Godfadda, which pairs stereotypical Jersey ingredients (mozzarella cheese, Russian dressing, chicken cutlet) with a stereotypical Jersey accent. Who cares. Fugetaboutit. It's delicious. -- Wil Fulton

New Mexico

Palacio Cafe

Santa Fe

The menu at Santa Fe’s Palacio at first glance looks like standard diner fare, but don’t be fooled: This is a place where the sandwich game bursts out of the expected regional offerings and covers everything from classic tuna sandwiches to a Cuban-inspired take on the Reuben that ditches mojo pork for corned beef and loads it up with sauerkraut and Thousand Island. The real star, though, is the fantastic Taos Style panini, with beef, provolone, caramelized onions, and NM’s signature green chiles packed into sourdough then pressed until it’s all melted together into one beautiful cacophony of deliciousness that will have you wondering why the Tex-Mex model of putting green chiles on everything isn’t a mandatory offering for any sandwich... peanut butter included. -- AK

New York

Sal, Kris & Charlie's Deli


How does one choose the best sandwich in New York? It's like picking a favorite child, or, choosing the "best" Slick Rick song. It's just really, really hard. Until you find out about the Sandwich Kings of Astoria -- Mr.'s Sal, Kris, and Charlie, one of the city's best deep cuts for food. Yea, this long-standing outer-borough deli (it doesn't even have a website!) is basically a bodega on 'roids. But that's not a bad thing. It's cheap. It's simple. And it's exactly what the sandwich world needs right now -- zero pretension, and a full menu of standard sandwich classics done right. Look no further than the legendary Bomb, which, as the menu states, has everything. And that's not a classic case of NYC bravado skewing facts. It literally has more ingredients than the freezer at the Cheesecake Factory -- turkey, salami, ham, three types of cheese, mayo, LTO, and so, so many more meats, dressings, and accoutrements. If we listed them all, we'd get carpal tunnel. For these sandwich kings, and for the Bomb in particular, we all should be compelled to bend the knee. -- WF

North Carolina

The Fried Turkey Sandwich Shop


You can get a great pulled-pork sandwich in every corner of the Carolinas, but when push comes to shove a BBQ place that happens to have sandwiches isn’t technically a sandwich shop. Luckily, The Fried Turkey Sandwich Shop also has a great pulled pork sandwich -- oh, no, wait, they don’t. They have fried turkey. Lots and lots of tender, juicy, salty, glorious fried turkey, which come with sides of cranberry sauce and gravy and take a surprisingly diverse number of forms, from a spicy bean salsa-covered Santa Fe version to a classic Thanksgiving-style sandwich that puts a slab of turkey and stuffing in between butter-grilled slices of Texas toast. But really, if they just threw a slice of this impeccable bird on a piece of Wonder bread and served it with their perfect fried okra, it’d still be a no-brainer for North Cackalack’s finest sandwich shop, pulled pork or no. -- AK

North Dakota

Siggy's Sandwich Shop

Watford City

We’ve never met Siggy, but from what we can tell, the man is as patient as he is innovative. This is a place that could double as a legitimate BBQ joint were it not for the chef’s obsession with taking his tender, juicy smoked chicken and pork and using it as the base for some seriously complex sandwiches. For the pulled chicken -- a meat for which Siggy should be canonized -- the best bet is raw Chicken Shack Shootout, which pairs sharp provolone with bacon, chicken, and house-made BBQ sauce (sweet or spicy) on a toasted pretzel roll. The pulled pork, meanwhile, gets unexpectedly complex with the addition of avocado and black-bean salsa, setting it apart from its vinegar-tinged Carolinian brethren. Not a fan of smoked, pulled meats? Well, you’re an idiot. But you’re an idiot with options! Siggy also does wonderful things with turkey and Italian meats, and even offers up eight slabs of the signature sugar-cured bacon on a BLT that will make most other similar sandwiches seem light by comparison. -- AK

Carissa Russell/Thrillist




Exciting things are happening in Cleveland's dining scene these days, but exciting things ALSO happened to Cleveland in 1963, when Freddie Slyman's parents opened up their diner and starting turning out pastrami and corned beef piled irresponsibly high enough between slices of rye to make New York transplants homesick. But make no mistake, Slyman's is an institution unto itself, and unlike certain basketball stars, it belongs to Cleveland forever.  -- ML


Trenchers Delicatessen


Named after the medieval practice (and sandwich predecessor) of taking a slice of stale bread and using it as a plate, piling it high with whatever food was available, Trenchers actually has an homage to said practice, though the slice of bread isn't stale and the food in question is some incomparably tender wine-braised pork shoulder with grainy mustard of a quality that certainly wasn't available to the peasantry of the Dark Ages. They'll also employ the more popular two-slice construction style here, filling rye with thick, moist slices of house-made pastrami and Dutch crunch with a combo of Swiss, bacon, avocado mayo, and turkey that's also roasted in-house. They do a lot of that sort of thing here. You'll be able to tell. -- ML


Stacked Sandwich Shop


A brand-new edition to the Portland artisan sandwich scene, Stacked had to do something special to pull ahead of a crowded field that includes Lardo, Guero, Bunk, and other heavyweights. And prodigal chef Gabriel Pascuzzi -- who like so many local chefs ditched an international fine-dining path to make great sandwiches in Stumptown -- quickly jumped to the front of the pack with the masterful oxtail French dip, a knockout of gloriously fatty meat, charred onions, and crimini mushrooms under a blanket of havarti served with rosemary au jus. It’s transcendent. Other highlights in this gem hidden in the city’s industrial Eastside include a roasted lamb leg on a pesto chèvre-loaded housemate focaccia and a chicken-fried pork cutlet with roasted corn. Opulent? Yeah, it’s pretty over the top, but also absolutely delicious. And since you’re already getting indulgent, you might as well come at happy hour to pair it up with cocktails and fried turkey skins. -- AK


John's Roast Pork


Apologies to the Primanti's of Pittsburgh (it's a chain, people!) and the splay of other cheesesteak purveyors scattered all over the city of Brotherly Love -- John's is just the best of the best of the best. And while they do have a cheesesteak that can rival any in Philly, the true sweet spot on the menu is John's titular specialty: the roast pork. Like the working-class city it hails from, the roast pork is simple and hearty, with sharp provolone, a surprisingly delicious sautéed spread of spinach, and the juiciest smoked pork known to man (or beast). They've been making these suckers since 1930 (it's "Pop Pop's recipe" after all) and if the continuous line that forms every day at lunchtime is any indication, it's not going anywhere anytime soon, despite the ill intentions of Philadelphia's seedy underbelly. Basically, for Pennsylvanians, John's is the jawn. Don't worry if you can't understand that -- people from Philly do. -- WF

Ocean State Sandwich Company
Courtesy of Ocean State Sandwich Company

Rhode Island

Ocean State Sandwich Company


The choices at this small, locally sourced sandwich oasis top two dozen options, ranging from healthier fare like roasted beets with spiced walnuts to more opulent fare like Reuben-ivied roast beef sandwich and the impossibly loaded Ocean State Ultimate Grinder. Which is to say, picking the right thing on the menu is incredibly tough, but always satisfying. That said... you should probably get the Thanksgiving 365, a sandwich that jams Ocean State’s pitch-perfect house-roasted turkey into a sub roll with cranberry sauce and herb mayo to create a handheld version of America’s favorite eating holiday... the only thing missing is a casually racist uncle. We’ll call it a victory! -- AK

South Carolina

The Southern General

Johns Island

With the legendary Butcher & Bee transitioning from sandwich shop to restaurant that has sandwiches too, you’d think that South Carolina would be a tough call. It wasn’t. The Southern General is like a meat-induced fever dream of a southern comfort restaurant where everything’s made in-house and nothing is simple. Each offering is the product of fine-tuning and inspired innovation, from the sweet tea-infused BBQ sauce that covers the pulled pork to a Cuban-inspired banh mi with candied pork belly and sweet potato-garlic kimchi. The coup de grâce, though, might be the Southern Pot Roast, which packs an entire slow cooker’s worth of sirloin, veggies, and gravy into a hoagie roll smacked with local honey. And sure, if you’re looking for something simpler, you can get that too (go with the beer-battered shrimp po-boy)... but don’t sleep on the poutine, loaded here with beer-battered mozz curds. -- AK

South Dakota

Muggsy's Sub Galley


While we’ve got a great fondness for the gloriously dubious open-faced beef sandwich at Wall Drug, the greatest subs in SoDak can be found in Yankton, home to the state’s best dive bar and one Tom Brokaw. At Muggsy's, good old-fashioned cold-cut subs offer up no-nonsense comfort of the East Coast variety smack in the middle of the Dakotas, but it wasn’t the Muggsy’s Special -- an immaculate stack of Genoa, mortadella, ham, bologna, and cheese that all but defines the straightforward lack of pretentiousness of this gem -- that put them on the map. Nor was it the barbecue beef, though that’s a thing of beauty. That honor goes to the much-lauded steak & cheese, a sizzling pile of gloriously seasoned beef that pushes the bun to the breaking point. And since you’re not in Philly with some dude yelling at you for your dairy choices, get it with white American cheese, which beats the pants off the orange stuff and, as Muggsy’s proves, might be the cheesesteak’s perfect companion. -- AK

Mitchell Deli
Courtesy of Mitchell Delicatessen


Mitchell Delicatessen


When Chef David Mitchell opened his deli in 2008, he completely ran out of food on the first day. East Nashville, it seems, was hungry for all-natural, all-delicious ingredients made into beautiful sandwiches. In the ensuing near-decade, the market/restaurant has become an institution thanks to offerings like the now-legendary Asian flank steak, the clear breakout of the menu that went from a Monday-only special to a daily essential loaded with giardiniera and provolone. The spot also offers favorites like braised turkey & Brie with jalapeño cranberry relish, apples, and mustard on a hoagie and a monster of a smoked BBQ brisket, but it also caters to vegetarians, with options ranging from classic caprese to the Seiten Supreme with whipped feta. Were there ever to be a catered peace accord between the Butchers Union and PETA, Mitchell would be the perfect place. -- AK


Noble Sandwich Co.


Originally known as Noble Pig, Noble Sandwich helped put the NW Austin neighborhood on the map courtesy of its homemade loaves and house-cured meats. But one restaurant could not sustain the city's desire for salty duck pastrami Reubens and crispy oyster po-boys. Now, two locations are packed with folks eager for a taste of Noble's wares, from the signature seared beef tongue layered with smoked green onions and a red pepper zip to the sweet mustard-covered fried bologna and the chorizo-and-egg sandwich whose cumin kick and relative lack of grease have made it the city's top breakfast sandwich. The addition of a new location has certainly reduced the need to drive an hour, as some are wont to do. And that's a great thing, because you're gonna be better off taking a nap than getting behind the wheel after this feast. -- AK


Moochie's Meatballs

Salt Lake City

This tiny storefront turned Guy Fieri-approved three-location local favorite isn’t messing around with the meatballs in its name: These glorious beef globes are big enough that it’s a wonder they don’t have their own gravitational field, and come dripping in tangy red sauce and provolone. But this place also does ambitious things with the humble cheesesteak, offering up a traditional take on the rib-eye-fueled classic as well as a startlingly good pizza steak that meets at the confluence of Philly and Jersey. Still, it’s hard to pass on those meatballs, both because they’re amazing and because of the fact that they really might have the ability to draw foreign objects toward them. -- AK


Woodstock Farmers Market


OK look, we know what you are thinking: You came here to find out the best sandwiches in America, and we're giving you a freakin' farmers market? Uh, yes. Yes we are. And we're doing this because we vowed to give you the best of the best, and in Vermont's sandwich scene, nothing rises above Woodstock's bountiful farmers market, which boasts a fully loaded menu of locally sourced (obviously, it's Vermont) sandwiches with delightful names to boot. For starters, there's Harv and Willy's Daily Double, with Vermont-smoked bacon and grilled chicken breast on roasted garlic bread. And then there's the Garden of Eden, a veggie medley with sweet apple slices, avocado, and Fox's mustard. But the beauty of this de facto sandwich shop isn't in the standouts, it's in the consistency. Literally any of their dozens of sandwiches can be considered the state's premier option for food between slices of bread. Vermonters are a proud bunch -- but this may be the only thing they like more than Bernie Sanders. Or, public radio. Look: if you can please these people, you've done something right. And Woodstock Farmers Market has done many things right. -- WF


Union Market


Located in what essentially looks like a quaint memory of an old-timey country market come to life, Union Market strikes the perfect balance between comfort sandwiches and innovative flavor-building, with a hyperlocal approach to sourcing each and every ingredient. Each carefully constructed sandwich is slightly tweaked from expectation, from the pastrami sandwich (available in tempeh form) that balances the Russian dressing with kimchi to the French dip’s Sriracha-infused horseradish sauce. Perhaps the most inventively surprising sandwich, though, is the chicken tarragon, which turns grandma’s chicken salad on its head with the addition of spice, plum ginger jam, and crunchy chicken skins. From the moment you walk into the brick building, everything you see is at once familiar and wonderfully different. -- AK



Salumi Artisan Cured Meats


Mario Batali straight-up loves this place, but that's kind of a given because his dad runs it. We'd wager, though, that even if the place were run by his worst enemy, he, like all of us, would be enamored with the church of meat Armandino built. Naturally, the little Pioneer Square shop offers a wide assortment of house-cured meats -- from hot soppressata to a variation kissed with mole – but that's just the basics. In addition to an extra-Italian take on NOLA's muffaletta, there's the explosively messy meatball Parm and the grilled lamb with roasted peppers. But never mind all that. Get the porchetta, a tender and crispy slice of garlic-bathed pork butt stuffed with herbs and a meatball mix that's jammed into a bun. It is perhaps the best in the country, after all, and you can always get some salumi packed to go for future sandwich adventures at home. -- AK

West Virginia

Cam's Hams


Virginia may be for lovers, but West Virginia’s Cam’s Hams is for lovers of extremely delicious cured pork. The signature ham sandwich -- carved off in thin little flakes akin to shaved beef, if shaved beef was kicked up with sugar -- is a glorious tower of pork and lettuce stacked on a burger bun and closing in at a scant $4 for the big version. There’s also a solid coleslaw-topped roast beef option, but get real. You didn’t come to this old-school diner/museum of Coca-Cola memorabilia to get something that’s not pink, cured, and delicious. Except maybe the onion rings, which complement that legendary and simple ham masterpiece beautifully. -- AK


Underground Butcher


This whole-animal butcher will happily outfit you with all manner of steaks, chops, and sausages to make yourself a meal at home, but thankfully they're also ready to make you an outstanding sandwich in case you're feeling lazy, culinarily incompetent, or just really, really hungry. There's Texas-style brisket paired with decidedly un-Texas (but tasty!) fixin's of kimchi and whole-grain mustard. There's their house salami on a baguette with creamy Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese, Dijon and aioli. There's a house-made hot dog on Fridays, but that's just not a sandwich debate we're prepared to wade into at the moment. -- ML


The Sandwich Bar


It’s a concept so simple it’s a wonder you don’t see it everywhere: Basically, Sandwich Bar takes the concept of a salad bar and applies it to sandwiches. So you roll in, pick a bread from eight options ranging from hoagie to jalapeño/cheddar, then you go to town. Feeling like something light? Load a bunch of veggies and light dressings onto wheat bread. Feeling indulgent? Stack every kind of meat -- all either carefully sourced or roasted in-house -- and a dairy’s worth of cheese onto a sub roll. Can’t decide? Talk to the crazy-friendly workers who are more than happy to share their tips and hacks to sandwich perfection they’ve honed during more than a decade watching people make their dream sandwiches. Then weigh it, pay, and eat. It’s a simple concept, sure, but the options are endless, as is the weirdly pure joy you get when you get to make a great, complex sandwich but not clean up afterward. -- AK

Andy Kryza is a senior editor whose favorite sandwich is now, and forever shall be, the Super Steak & Cheese from Big John's in Flint, Michigan. Follow him to extra red sauce @apkryza.

Deputy editor Matt Lynch destroyed multiple sandwiches in the course of contributing to this article. Destroy his choices @mlynchchi.

Wil Fulton and Mike Jordan also dropped knowledge on this report.