Adam Richman, the Travel Channel's food personality (a job title now>"/>
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Adam Richman, the Travel Channel's food personality (a job title now available to Yale School of Drama grads who've worked behind restaurant counters), recently swung through Seattle for his Best Sandwich in America show. He sampled the oxtail sandwich at Salumi, which was notable mostly because he didn't eat the roast pork at Paseo.
But the city's sandwich story doesn't start and end with those two heavyweights. Across Seattle, there are a number of restaurants dishing up satisfying versions of meat and cheese on bread. Here, a guide to our 10 favorite local sandwich spots. And yes, Salumi and Paseo both made the list: We don't deduct points for popularity. Still, we're just as excited about the other eight restaurants, including our first-place finisher, which you'll find on the final page. As always, the runners-up are randomly ordered. Erin Thompson compiled our contributors' comments.
A final note: The official title of this list should be Seattle's Best Sandwich Joints, Non-Banh Mi Division. If it's a Vietnamese sandwich you're craving, check out our recently-published list of the city's best banh mis.
An easy-to-miss hole-in-the-wall in Pioneer Square with an upscale interior and Eurocentric m.o., Delicatus groups its sandwiches into two categories: "The Traditionalists" and "The Progressives." You can't go wrong with either--the portions are ample, the ingredients top-notch, and the ideas delectable. Case in point: the Chief Stealth Bomber, a "Traditionalist" made with roast beef, sautéed onions, sharp provolone, and horseradish aioli on a toasted Italian roll, with jus for dipping. Among "The Progressives," the Pavo Diablo is prime, with smoked turkey, avocado, spinach, cilantro, havarti, a fiery chipotle aioli, and roasted poblano peppers on sourdough.
There are few things this town is as passionate about as the Cuban roast pork sandwich at Paseo. Die-hard Cuban-sandwich aficionados will tell you this isn't a true specimen, as the clearly Caribbean-influenced sandwich is served on a chewy roll (instead of pressed panini-style) and lacks some crucial ingredients. But whether it's legit or not, it's delicious. Fall-apart tender pork is dressed with little besides some grilled onions, aioli, pickled jalapenos, and a few sprigs of cilantro between that crusty bread. The result is a drip-down-your-forearm creation that's won the beach shack of a restaurant--with locations in both Ballard and Fremont--praise not only from local publications, but national ones as well.
Long before Quiznos spread across the city like a rash, Tubs Gourmet Subs was serving sandwiches on toasted baguettes to hungry car dealers and high-school students from its Lake City Way location. A couple dozen sandwich variations are on the menu at the original location and at the second outpost in Lynnwood. Many varieties, like The Joker, pile on multiple forms of meat: ham, turkey, roast beef, and bacon. All sandwiches are served with small Stryofoam containers of warm BBQ sauce for dipping. Why BBQ sauce? Who cares? It's delicious! Fresh baguettes from The Essential Baking Company are delivered daily, sliced open, and topped with meat, cheese, and sauce, then sent through the salamander.
At Grinders Hot Sands, the sandwiches aren't cheap--most are between $10 and $12--but they're enough for a hearty meal plus leftovers, or to share between two people. Try The Dipper, packed with roast beef made in-house, portobello mushrooms and caramelized onions on warm ciabatta bread spread with horseradish and melted cheese. Served with a side of jus, it's a drippy, dippy, meaty mess, but worth every bite. The Gilbano is a highbrow cheesesteak (owner Mitch Gilbert is a Pennsylvania native): Thinly sliced steak is grilled with sweet and spicy peppers, garlic, and caramelized onions. The mixture mingles all the flavors, and is added to tangy gorgonzola and mozzarella cheese on an Italian roll. There's wine on tap from Proletariat, imported beer in bottles like Chimay and Krušovice, and live music on Saturday nights.
Geraldine's Counter serves an array of scrumptious dishes, and the place is always packed. There's beautifully puffed French toast, and plentiful scrambles make their way to other people's tables. But this sunny, upscale diner has earned a place in our heart for one reason: its unparalleled BLT. Actually, make that a BAAT, because you're offered the option of adding avocado (which you absolutely should), and instead of lettuce there's arugula, adding a slight sharpness that contrasts perfectly with the bacon. And did we mention that the bacon is especially meaty and crispy?
The Cheez Whiz-slathered Philly cheesesteaks at Tat's Deli are so tasty, cheap, and authentic that lunch-hour lines regularly stretch out the door. The restaurant's website even has a "line cam" so customers will know how long they should expect to wait. But to beat the crowd, skip lunch altogether and try Tat's breakfast sandwiches instead. Served on the same hefty hoagies, these gut-busters come oozing melted cheese, and are stuffed with a fried egg, grilled onions and peppers, and your choice of meat. The steak option features the same finely shredded beef that overflows from their Phillies, but the best filling might be the Italian-Copa, a thin-sliced Italian cold cut that glistens with grease after a stint in the oven.
Here's an unadvertised tip: The Honey Hole always has a draft-beer special, usually something like a sweet, lovely pint of Manny's for $3. It's a smart move on their part, since a cold beer happens to be the perfect accompaniment to their savory, melty-hot sandwiches. There isn't a miss among all the creatively named options--the tangy Corleone is stuffed with house-cured pastrami and sauerkraut; the Bandit is your basic favorite barbecued-beef brisket topped with coleslaw and cheddar; its counterpart, the Buford T. Justice, is a spicier variety with pulled pork and pepper jack. If the promise of cheap beer doesn't draw you, the tantalizing aroma of all that smoked meat definitely will.
Dining at Salumi is all about planning. Slump in without preparation and you're liable to stand in the cold for an hour. For the uninitiated, that's not a typo. Armandino Batali's cured meats in overstuffed sandwiches at reasonable prices (hovering around $10 a sammy) are worth the wait. It's the cured meat. It's the bread. It's the serving size, fit for two. But after the wait, you'll need it. Yeah, there are times of the day when there's a manageable line--say, after 2ish. But by then the best stuff is gone. And the experience of standing with a dozen like-minded brothers and sisters is part of the fare.
The Other Coast Cafe serves big, messy deli sandwiches. Huge chunks of meat and cheese are for sale in the shop, just in case you think you can match its sandwich-making abilities at home. Chances are you can't, so you'll just have to order a sub while you're in there. At the Ballard location, a giant, unchanging menu is painted on the cement wall behind the sandwich-preparation line, although sandwich makers are happy to switch things up if you tip well. Their main vegetarian sandwich, the Roasted Veggie, is bulky enough to stuff even the most vehement of carnivores. Packed with eggplant, zucchini, and yellow squash, this toasty sandwich is made complete with melted havarti and pesto.
Matt Lewis' sandwiches--served from his roving food truck, Where Ya At Matt--bring a taste of the South to the Seattle sandwich scene. Po'boys overflow with lightly breaded seafood (catfish, oysters, or shrimp) that's fried crisp and nestled inside lightly toasted buns dressed with mayo, pickles, chopped lettuce, and tomatoes. The Peacemaker combines those fried oysters with bacon, pickled hot peppers, and Cheddar. Add some Crystal hot sauce and be transported from the side of the street to the shores of the Bayou.
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