Est. 1933, Pittsburgh, PA
Number of Locations: 18 in Western Pennsylvania; 16 scattered throughout Ohio, West Virginia, Florida, Indiana, and Maryland; two coming soon in Michigan
Why it made the list: In the early '30s, Joe Primanti and his brothers opened up a little sandwich joint in Pittsburgh's blue-collar-as-hell Strip District, where they designed the perfect work-time lunch: a meal (bread, fries, coleslaw, meat) in the palm of your hand. Flash-forward 80 years, three generations, and six Lombardi Trophies later, and the corner shop for steel workers has turned into one of the Steel City's most enduring icons this side of Fred Rogers.
If any sandwich has a true cult following, it's the Primanti. I mean, when people are willing to shill out $100 to get one air-mailed, it's obvious there's some gastro-magic happening. While its crawl into spots outside its native Western PA has been slow, recent expansions into different states (and two planned locations in Michigan) have fans of the 'Burgh's Almost Famous sandwich hoping, dreaming, and yearning, that one day, they'll be able to sip an IC Light over a few thick slabs of cheesesteak all over the country. I mean, if Dock Ellis can pitch a no-hitter on acid, anything should be possible, right?