The state’s love for Taylor ham or pork roll is such that Taylor ham burgers (pork plus beef on a bun), Taylor ham pancakes, and other dishes can be found at diners and breakfast spots around the state. Toast in Montclair, for one, offers the Shamewich -- Taylor ham, egg, and cheese sandwiched between two buttermilk pancakes. It’s one of my favorite guilty pleasures.
In terms of the regular sandwich, is there one place that's considered the shrine of Taylor ham, egg, and cheese-dom? No, any Jersey deli or diner worth its salt will do a credible version.
But of course there are some standouts -- Bagel Chateau in Westfield (for Taylor ham on a bagel); Frank’s Deli & Restaurant in Asbury Park (a big meaty sandwich in a priceless retro atmosphere); Fredon Deli in Fredon (for a Taylor ham sandwich with particularly fresh-tasting eggs); the Olde Towne Deli in Boonton (winner of a statewide Taylor ham/pork roll sandwich showdown I did in 2014); the Summit Diner in Summit (the state’s oldest diner, where Taylor ham sandwiches are called “sliders’’); the White Rose Diner in Linden; and the Allenwood General Store in Wall, where you can enjoy your pork roll sandwich in a wood-floored general store that also doubles as an antiques shop jammed with steamer trunks, vintage records, old magazines, tools, typewriters, and tons of other... stuff.
Truthfully, I still think Taylor ham/pork roll is overrated -- bacon has so much more going on taste and texture-wise -- but that doesn’t mean it won’t always be a Jersey icon. The Taylor ham/pork roll sandwich will always come first in the hearts -- and stomachs -- of New Jerseyans.
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Peter Genovese is a features/food writer for NJ.com and The (Newark) Star-Ledger. He is the author of 10 books, including Jersey Diners and Pizza City: The Ultimate Guide to New York’s Favorite Food. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.