- The most iconic sandwiches in America
- Beef on Weck
- The Pimento Sandwich
- Hot Brown
- The Cuban
- French Dip
- The Reuben
- Sloppy Joe
- Italian Beef
- Philly Cheesesteak
- Lobster Roll
- Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
- Pulled Pork Sandwiches
- Southern Chicken
- Thanksgiving Sandwich
- New York City Hot Dog (Sandwich)
- Crab Cake Sandwich
- The Dagwood
- Monte Cristo
- The Elvis
- Juicy Lucy
The most iconic sandwiches in America
If there is one culinary creation that the United States of America can hang its hat on, it is the humble sandwich. Though it was invented overseas, most would argue that the USA has become the sandwich’s adoptive home – just look at how many of us get riled up while discussing whether or not a hot dog is a sandwich! (Sidenote, it is, so long as you eat it sideways.) So to pay tribute to that most versatile and wonderful foodstuff, here are some of our favorite sandwiches from across the nation.
Beef on Weck
Western New York’s answer to the French dip, the Beef on Weck is a delicious roast beef sandwich on a kummelweck roll, served with a healthy smear of horseradish and some jus for dipping.
Torta de adobada (spicy meat), milanesa (cutlet) or huevo (eggs) smothered in avocado, tomatoes, peppers on a soft roll – any Los Angeles taco-stand fan knows if you’re really hungry, this is what you order to keep you going all day long.
The Pimento Sandwich
First on our list is a southern classic that has, inexplicably, not made many inroads up north. The Pimento sandwich, a simple hot sandwich with delicious pimento cheese between two slices of buttered Texas toast puts every other grilled cheese to shame.
The Muffaletta (or Muffuletta, depending on who you ask) sandwich is said to originate at New Orleans’ Central Grocery, and we all owe them a Wookiee life debt for their work. The deliciousness of a slew of Italian sliced meats and cheeses, topped with briny olive salad and sandwiched between a gigantic round Sicilian sesame bread – there’s not much that compares.
Okay, we might be stretching it a bit here. Kentucky’s Hot Brown has more in common with a plate of eggs Benedict than it does with any of the other sandwiches on this list, but to leave this luxurious marriage of turkey, bacon and Mornay sauce off of this list would be heresy.
Louisiana makes their second appearance on this list with their Po’ boy, which provides Americans with the ideal way in which to eat fried catfish or shrimp – on a crusty French baguette, covered with mayo, tomatoes, lettuce, butter, pickles, and Louisiana hot sauce.
Before you get all “well actually” on us, let us begin by saying that the Cuban sandwich is actually a Florida creation – by way of Ybor City, Tampa, or Key West depending on who you ask. Which means that the USA gets to take credit for its perfect mix of pulled pork, ham, cheese, mustard, and homemade pickles atop a toasted Cuban loaf. Mmmmmm.
In Los Angeles, there is a bitter debate of who came up with the French Dip sandwich first; Philippe’s or Cole’s. Both are delicious, but Philippe’s serves it’s French Dip already doused in au jus, while Cole’s serves it on the side for dipping. As one of our friend’s famously said, “I don’t need anyone knowing my au jus needs,” so advantage Cole’s.
(But we like Philippe’s better. Don’t tell our friend.)
No matter whether you think the Reuben came from New York City or from Omaha, Nebraska, we can definitely all agree that corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss, and Russian dressing on rye is something magical.
What is there to say about this sandwich that hasn’t already been said? One of the few school lunch classics that still holds up today, the Sloppy Joe isn’t just a sandwich, it’s an experience that lasts long after you eat it – primarily because a glob of ground beef landed on your favorite shirt and you’re going to have to spend some time trying to get the stain out.
Since we wouldn’t be able to put a Chicago style hot dog on this list without inciting the next civil war, we decided to do the next best thing. Chicago’s Hot Italian Beef sandwiches are legendary – double dipped in jus until the bread is spongy and toothsome, and packed to the gills with Italian beef, peppers, and giardiniera. Some spots will even layer the sandwich with cheese and sausage if you’re lucky.
Anybody who has not ordered this sandwich from any of Philadelphia’s cheesesteakeries is really missing out. A classic cheesesteak, as served in Philly, is ordered in a very specific way – first your order your cheese, either provolone or Cheez Whiz, then you indicate whether or not you want onions by ordering your sandwich “wit or witout.” Personally, we take ours “Wiz wit.”
Sure, you can get a lobster roll most anywhere in the states nowadays, but New Englanders will tell you that the blend of fresh lobster, mayo, and a vertically-sliced bun just tastes better if you’re in Boston or along the coast of Maine.
Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
If you’ve never had one of these monstrosities and are judging it on the name instead of on the giant image on your screen right now, you’d think that Indiana’s pork tenderloin sandwich is boring. Well, obviously, you’re wrong. What’s more Midwestern (and delicious) than smashing a pork tenderloin thin with a mallet and then deep frying it?
Pulled Pork Sandwiches
These can’t really be traced to one specific state or city – we’re sure Kansas City, Austin, North Carolina, and Memphis will each claim to have the best BBQ pulled pork sandwiches in the nation, and we’re happy to sit idly by while they argue. Provided, of course, that we get to judge their wares.
It doesn’t matter whether you call it a hoagie, a sub, a wedge, a hero, or a grinder, these Italian sandwiches are workhorses for us Americans, greeting us with a meaty smile every time we open up our lunchboxes at work.
It’s a sandwich so simple even McDonalds can do a decent version – simply a chicken breast brined in buttermilk, dredged through seasoned flour and batter, then deep fried and served on a bun with some pickles. And yet, this classic sandwich is so much more than the sum of its parts – especially in Nashville, where it is served as a hot chicken sandwich, one of the spiciest and most delicious regional foods the states have to offer.
In truth, there’s probably no sandwich more American than the Thanksgiving or Pilgrim sandwich – given that it is made from the leftovers of a distinctly American holiday. So load up that turkey, creamed corn, cranberry sauce, gravy, stuffing, green beans, and whatever else you have left onto a dinner roll or two and extend the gluttony by a day. You’ll work it off tomorrow. Or the next day.
New York City Hot Dog (Sandwich)
We’re not ones to go in for philosophical internet debates, but a hot dog is a sandwich and New York City hot dog from Nathan’s is absolutely a sandwich. Next!
Crab Cake Sandwich
Other states will claim to do it better, but if you want a real crab cake sandwich, you’ll have to head east to Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay, where they make them simply and perfectly – with just a dab of remoulade sauce complementing the perfectly sweet and fresh crab meat. Our mouths are watering already.
We’re kind of not sure whether this actually counts, given that the Dagwood sandwich doesn’t really have any specific recipe or ingredients. The only requirement for creating a Dagwood is making it multi-layered, incredibly tall, and ridiculously over-the-top and gluttonous while stuffing it with all sorts of meats, cheeses, and veggies – which might, in fact, make this one of the most American sandwiches on this list.
France may have the croque-monsieur, but we have the Monte Cristo – and we’ve improved on France’s signature sandwich. I mean, come on! It’s a ham and cheese sandwich on French toast, dipped in egg batter and pan fried until deliciously crisp and wonderful. You can’t improve on that! Well, unless you want to sprinkle a bit of powdered sugar on top.
You may have never heard of Binghamton, New York, but trust that you’ll remember them after digging into one of their Spiedies – sandwiches made with long-marinated cubes of chicken, veal, venison, or beef cooked on spits over charcoal and served on a soft bun with some of the leftover marinade drizzled on top.
Peanut butter, banana, and bacon. Who would have thought that those three ingredients could come together to create something so special that The King himself couldn’t resist them? According to the history books, Elvis ate his with caramelized bananas, and atop a Hawaiian roll toasted in bacon fat. Mercy.
We could have included the cheeseburger here, but we had trouble tracing it definitively to the USA. The Juicy Lucy, however, is a Minneapolis original – a delicious steamed burger with the cheese on the inside instead of on the outside. They’re almost as beautiful to look at as they are to eat.