The Sandwich List

Little Lucca Sign

I’m a sandwich guy. Ok, that’s an understatement. I’m really in to sandwiches. I love the variety, the simplicity (or occasionally the complexity), the different textures, the bread, the meat (yes, meat), and usually, the cheese! I’ve spent my nearly 40 years in existence looking for the best sandwiches and then going to great lengths to eat them again and again. For example, I once flew in to San Francisco for business in the afternoon and realized I have just enough time to grab a particular favorite sandwich. I raced out of SFO and after three different and hurried Uber rides I managed to get settled in to my hotel with that beautiful white paper tube of sandwich sitting on one of the two queen beds in my room.

Yes, I rank the sandwiches because of course I do! I’ve told people “Oh you’re going to Portland?! One of my top five favorite sandwiches is from there!” but I’ve never actually written the list out in a place where I can refer back to it. It’s only fair that I do that now as I always feel like there’s an element of cheating when people say something is “one of my favorites.” Out of how many and how often does this list change?! Today’s the day I write that list down, throw it in to the internet, and make my favorites as official as some middle schoolers current Facebook relationship status!

…but first a few ground rules. Well, one really. When I mean sandwich I don’t mean hamburgers, burritos, gyros or any other “sorta sandwiches”. Yes, in a technical sense they are all sandwiches, but also they aren’t because you have to draw the line somewhere and I love all of those things too much to get a “Top Five” out of them that didn’t engulf me in angst. For this list, a sandwich is defined as various non-patty ingredients stacked between two pieces of bread.

5. Sugarfire’s Grilled Cheese (St. Louis, MO)

Sugarfire Smokehouse is a BBQ chain in St. Louis, MO. I love Sugarfire, and I always hit it up when I’m back in St. Louis, because they are great BBQ but also really inventive and downright weird with their specials. So many places have great BBQ, but Sugarfire does some weird stuff and it’s brilliant. I was there in June and say “grilled cheese” as a special and thought to myself “Who the hell would come to a BBQ joint and get a grilled cheese?!” …and then right before I ordered I heard the three guys in front of me all order the same thing: Grilled Cheese. Then I looked at the ingredients and it…well…it’s not…I mean, there are multiple cheeses and it is grilled, but there’s also a ton of meat and a jalapeno popper on top…that was stuffed with smoked pork.

It was messy and it was top five good.

4. Dan’s Super Subs’ Hotel California (Los Angeles, CA)

Comes With: Canadian Ham, Turkey Breast, Swiss, Cheddar, Our Avocado Spread, Crispy Bacon Deli Mustard, Mayo, Lettuce, Tomato, Onions, Our 1000 Sauce, and Diced Pickles.

It’s just a great sandwich and one time I was there I saw Mark Summers eating at the counter. What else do you need to know? The bread is great, the avovado spread and 1000 sauce are in the perfect amounts, and it seems like a small thing but damn I love that chunky diced tomato and pickle “relish” on top.

3. Joan’s on Third’s Fried Chicken Sandwich (Los Angeles, CA)

With jalapeño cole slaw, garlic aioli and butter lettuce on rustic roll

Another LA institution, but this one is tucked in the middle of Beverly Hills off of…wait for it…third street. As you might guess, this sandwich isn’t cheap, but good god is is amazing. For one, fried chicken is one of the world’s most perfect foods and then you put it on a lovely roll with aioli and a little heat from the slaw?! It’s a beautiful thing. The key is to get your order and get the hell out of there before the paparazzi show up chasing Justin Bieber while he’s grabbing a coffee.

2. Lardo’s Porchetta Sandwich (Portland, OR)

It’s a delightfully simple sandwich: porchetta, piquant gremolata, and caper aioli on a crunchy roll and it tastes extra awesome on a rainy day in downtown Portland. I love Portland, and there are so many good places to eat that have great sandwiches (hell, Lardo has several others that are amazing), but nothing is a beautiful, simple, and delicious as the Porchetta at Lardo.

1. Little Lucca’s Ultimate Club (San Francisco, CA)

Turkey, Ham, Bacon, Cheese

Look at that description. It’s a bit of a lie. There’s more to it than that, but also not really. It is truly turkey, ham, bacon, and cheese (I go with swiss), but it also includes the Little Lucca garlic and pepper spreads and your choice of huge fresh roll (I go with the soft sweet roll). I also will add jalapeno bacon because that’s how I roll, but it’s not needed. This sandwich is just unquestionably awesome. It’s huge, it’s relatively simple, every ingredient is fantastic and eating it makes me happy and then very full and then happy and then sad that it’s gone. When I describe this sandwich to people they never sound impressed, but if I bring them along they take a few bites and look up from across the picnic tables we’re sitting at behind the South San Francisco location that was clearly someone’s little house at some point, and say “You were right. This is amazing.”