Why you should care
Wiping meat and cheese from your face is the best way to spend lunch.
Who doesn’t love a hearty cheese and meat extravaganza on bread? From delis and lunch counters around the globe, we’ve rounded up some of the best sandwiches — from a belly-busting beef handheld to a monster sub. So get ready, gut! Be brave, belly! You’re about to experience a whole lotta omnomom in the sandwich department.
Pro tip: You’re going to need some napkins … and an elastic waistband.
The francesinha, the glorious gastronomic anomaly of Porto, is not for the small of stomach — or palms, for that matter. It’s a handheld that is almost impossible to eat with your hands. Picture a stack of fresh sausage, tender beef, several different kinds of ham and a mountain of cheese atop fresh bread. Sometimes roasted pork loin or a fried egg can be added for good measure, in case you’re feeling short on protein. Then it’s all doused in a zesty beer-and-tomato sauce. So you might wonder why its name means “little French girl.” Its origin is under debate, but theories point to France … and also Porto. But what you really want to know about this behemoth of a sandwich is how many you can safely consume in a month. Your heart may not take the news well.
The hot brown is a palate pleaser — and a heart-stopper. And forget about eating it with your bare hands. Created at the Brown Hotel in downtown Louisville, the hot brown begins with Texas toast laid in a ceramic dish. Top that with hunks of roasted turkey, tomato quarters and enough Mornay sauce to make it look like soup. After broiling — when it’s both hot and brown — the mighty sandwich is finished off with bacon, chives, Parmesan cheese and paprika, before landing on the table with a thud … and a warning.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a celebrity who hasn’t been to the White House, a small, family-owned sub shop on a slightly sketchy backstreet of Atlantic City. What it’s known for: monster subs. We’re talking 2-foot-long Italian sandwiches, with freshly baked bread rolls overflowing with fresh, authentic meats. The classic Italian joint has barely changed in 70 years, and the decor doesn’t just look vintage, it is vintage. Framed in pride of place above the cash-only register is Frank Sinatra’s towel from his last performance in the city. The crooner was an early White House fanatic, along with other performers who stopped in the tourist town. They came for the food, says the general manger. But the question is, can you finish one of its sandwiches in one sitting?
Beirut has some good sandwiches, but according to the locals, one of the best hails from deep in the crowded lanes of Bourj Hammoud, Beirut’s Armenian neighborhood. The area was settled by Armenian refugees in the 1930s. Try one of these tasty handhelds with Armenian spiced sausage, called soujouk. Or go with basterma, which is Armenian cured beef coated in spices. Either way your stomach is going to thank you. Perhaps even in Armenian.
Sometimes simple is spectacular. If “tomato sandwich” sounds like a snoozefest, you likely haven’t had one. To achieve the perfect tomato sandwich, you need to wait until the perfect time — likely August. Start with toasted hearty multigrain, slather each piece with mayonnaise and top them with thick, luscious slices of tomato. If you feel daring, add a bit of salt or pepper, or maybe a scattering of basil. You’ll also need patience: You might have to restrain yourself from wolfing the whole thing down. But what really makes this ridiculously simple combination so, so good on the palate?