Behold the sandwich. The ultimate food group when it comes to busting hunger and delighting the taste buds. Almost any food you can think of is best when stuffed between two pieces of bread. What takes a humble sandwich it to the heights of food infamy, is its ability to have you dreaming of it day and night, imagining its fillings, slathered with a creamy sauce, or better yet, lashings of hot gravy that drips down your arm as you desperately try to stuff it in your face before it falls apart.
From a fancy high tea cucumber sandwich fit for the Queen, to the 3am roadside snack, the humble bread encased delicacy is fit for all. Epic sandwiches have sprung up in diners and through to fine dining hotel restaurants, there is nowhere a good filled bread can’t be found. There are some however that stand above the rest. This is our mission, to find them, so you can devour them.
With sandwiches to be found in one form or another in all corners of the globe, it is a staple in most countries you visit. From the heavy hitting Rueben, to the spicy Po Boy, we all love a ‘wich. With its universal appeal and ability to unite us as one, let's delve into the ultimate sandwiches of all time. There will be controversy, but that’s why we love them, the fierceness with which we proclaim our very own favorites to be the ultimate, is a fight worth having.
20 Philly Cheese Steak
Strips of savoury beef, delicious sweet onions and peppers piled on a sub with melty cheese, this is certain to be a favourite sandwich of many readers. It truly is a culinary masterpiece with its fatty meat counter balanced with the sweetness of onions that have been left on the grill too long.
A slice or three of provolone cheese, melted from the heat of meat and veggie combo and you are ready to dive in. Do not contemplate taking on this challenge without copious amounts of napkins at the ready. Failure to do so and you’re likely to look as though you have just oiled yourself up ready for a high school wrestling match! Keep it clean people.
The big daddy of sandwiches, this guy is packing some serious meat. With enough corned beef to sink a Caribbean bound cruise ship, this is not for the faint of heart. With its serious carnivore appeal, it’s good to see this old-time fave is balanced out with some gut health inducing sauerkraut.
Best shared with a friend, unless you are seriously hungry. Just be sure said friend is one who won’t judge you, as you set about eating this tasty mound of meat quicker than a pack of starving dogs outside a restaurant dumpster.
18 Pastrami on Rye
From deli’s to diners, this classic has been keeping hanger at bay for more than one hundred years. Originally made from sheep meat, it was changed to the familiar beef sandwich we know and love today when it made its way to NYC.
Would this even be the same sandwich without the heavy rye bread that provides such a stable platform for the towering stack of beef? I think not. With slow cooked meat piled so high one would likely dislocate a jaw trying to take a bite, the succulent beef is worth such a risk. With a hint of mustard to balance the meat heavy beast, it is a trip into savoury heaven.
17 The Elvis
Let’s give Elvis some credit for his once bizarre creation of peanut butter, banana and bacon. Now as mainstream as a hipster wearing boat shoes, this flavor combination makes sense in so many ways. The creaminess of the PB mixed with the sweet soft banana balanced with crisp salty bacon, this sandwich delivers it all. What’s best about this ingenious concoction is that you are likely to have the ingredients at hand anytime a popstar-worthy hunger should take hold. All hail Elvis, and his sandwich.
16 The Club
I’ll admit right now to having eaten more of these than I care to think of. It is in fact the yardstick by which I judge any self-respecting hotel. Should a club sandwich be on the room service menu, it must be ordered, immediately, and scrutinized thoroughly. Is the bread toasted just right, the chicken or turkey moist, the lettuce crisp, tomatoes ripe, and of course the bacon covering the whole slice, not just a measly morsel hiding in the corner?
If all the above meets the standard, the defining factor is without doubt the mayo to bread ratio. Too much and it all falls apart, literally. Not enough and it becomes an experience drier than crossing the desert without water. To all those in the posh hotel world, take note – no one cares about little bottles of shampoo, do not mess up this sandwich!
What’s great about this number is the ability to make it your own. The only rules to be followed are it must be on a sub bread, stuffed with deli meats, cheese and pickles. The combination of flavors is yours. You are free to be as frivolous as you wish with whatever might tickle your taste buds. Feeling porky, then ham and pickles would be the order of the day. Need to beef it up? Head on over pastrami and cheese with a little touch of mustard. Dress it up or down, it’s yours to do with as you please, the hoagie has something for everyone.
Maybe not as mainstream as a BLT, but this pork filled roll is the epitome of classic Italian cookery in bread form. With juicy rolled pork cooked in a word-fired oven, giving it an unmistakable smoky flavour, this is a sandwich to be enjoyed, slowly; the Italian way.
It may take some persistence to hunt one down, maybe an extra few stops on the subway, but the reward for your journey will be worth it. With nothing more than salt and a few spices, the hero of this roll is most certainly the sweet pork with a slither of perfect crackling to top it all off.
13 Maine Lobster Roll
For those among us (me included) who are unlikely to be sitting down to a few tails of lobster at a fine dining affair, this is the ultimate indulgent sandwich. Loaded with fresh from the sea crustacean, cooked to perfection and loaded onto a hot dog bun. The ingredient inequality may not make sense to the untrained palate however, it is not without merit.
The complementary sweetness of the humble dog roll is the perfect match for the creamy mayonnaise and rich lobster meat. Add in some crunch from celery and a touch of sour from fresh lemon, and you have the most delicious bite of luxury.
12 Banh Mi
The French not only bought the Vietnamese great pastry, they left behind their greatest gift, the crusty baguette. Vietnamese people have taken to this staple of French cuisine and made it their own with delicious fillings in the form of Banh Mi.
From lemongrass pork to spicy beef, it can take on many forms. None are complete without the traditional toppings of pate, mayo, pickled carrot, cilantro and of course mayo and for those who are brave, slices of fresh burning hot chili. What makes this sandwich though is the mix of fillings, leave one out and it’s just not the same. They all contribute to its delicious and complex flavours.
11 Meatball subs
Meatballs are already on high on the list of comfort foods we love. When you take that a step further and nestle them between a crusty sub roll, we have a warm hug in culinary form. From the giant to the petite, size doesn’t matter, it is all about the flavor. Pork and veal, beef or really any combination of meats will suffice as long as the marinara sauce is sweet and tangy, and the cheese is melty, nothing else matters. Remember this sandwich next time you cook up a batch of your Nonna’s famous meatballs, forget the noodles and go the sub.
10 Sloppy Joes
Favorite of The Simpson’s school lunch lady, Doris, these are a cafeteria staple. Heaping’s of ground pork or beef in Worcester sauce and mustard are, as aptly named, slopped on top of soft white rolls. Why they are named after Joe is anyone’s guess, but when something tastes this good it really doesn’t matter who we call it. If you are one of the elites who can manage to get this down before the bread disintegrates, we salute you. For the rest of us, use your hands, a fork or even a spoon just don’t let any go to waste.
9 Croque Madame
Oh France. How we love your ability to be utterly over the top with just about any culinary creation. The humble ham and cheese sandwich is taken to new artery clogging heights, with a slathering of rich white sauce on top of smoked ham. That may seem enough to get you through a tough morning after, but wait we aren’t finished. With golden melted gruyere on top of this pan-fried specimen, the sandwich becomes the croque monsieur. When only true indulgence will do, top that bad boy with a sunny side up egg, and his girlfriend, the Croque Madame is served.
8 Pulled Meat
Pulled meat is going to taste good on just about anything, but when it is put between crusty white bread, or on top of a buttery brioche roll we are talking serious flavor. Forget bothersome chewing, with the tender meat literally falling apart from hours of long slow cooking, there is nothing stopping you from scoffing it down. From pork to beef and even the humble chicken, pulled meat is delicious no matter what the variety. Squirt on your favorite sweet BBQ or spicy hot sauce and you have sandwich heaven on your hands.
Cubano’s were brought to Florida by immigrant workers in the early 1900’s and we thank them for it. With not one, but two kinds of pork adorning this delicious sub, we are treated to a symphony of flavor. Traditionally pork is marinated in mojo sauce (orange and lime juice, oregano, garlic and cumin), then cooked before slicing ready for its date with a sandwich. With the tender pork, ham, cheese and pickles on bread, or a roll in a pinch, what makes this sandwich is the final grilling. Perfect for lazy Sundays at home, try making your own with this recipe.
6 Po Boy
Hailing from the deep south of Louisiana, you know already this is gonna pack some serious taste. Originally based on scraps of leftover roast beef and dripping (that’s fat for you youngun’s) in gravy, created to feed workers, otherwise known as ‘Poor Boys’, in the 1930’s.
Take a stroll down New Orleans famed streets and you will find this once humble sandwich has gone through an evolution. With everything from tender prime beef to fried shrimp, this is no longer the poor boy’s sandwich, it is however still just as delicious.
5 Monte Cristo
French toast made into a sandwich. Let the pure ingenuity of that sink in for a minute. French toast alone is a brunch classic for good reason. Thick white bread soaked in eggy batter and fried until golden brown. Now we add slices of turkey or ham, heck add both, and chuck on some cheese while you are at it. Fry it up, in butter of course, and balance out the creamy goodness with a side of mustard. Feeling hardcore? Dust it with powdered sugar – go on I dare you.
4 Tuna On Rye
Keep it simple is surely the motto of this old time classic. Canned tuna with mayonnaise, crunchy celery and red onion on slightly bitter rye bread will keep you going well into the afternoon. With the punch of raw onion to cut through the creamy dressing it balances it perfectly.
With the risk of fishy onion breath, grab a mint or your colleagues will be handing them out to keep your onion breath at bay, and from stinging their eyes during the 3pm marketing meeting!
3 Hot Brown Sandwich
With roots in Kentucky you know this sandwich isn’t going to appear on the lighter end of the scale. Created in 1926 at the Brown Hotel in Louisville Kentucky, this heart stopper is famed for its hangover cure qualities.
Triangles of thick cut Texas toast, tomatoes, hand cut turkey and bacon covered in rich mornay sauce and cheese are baked in a skillet until bubbling and brown. If it was good enough for the high flyers of the swanky Brown Hotel back in the day, it deserves a place on our list. Make your own here.
2 Roast Beef Dip
Is there anything better than sneaking a piece of bread and dipping it into the roasting tray when no one is looking? Not in my book. The Roast Beef dip is essentially the sneaky post roast mop up. Rolling with the theme of keeping it simple, the juicy dip is worthy of its place on any list of banging ‘wiches.
Thinly sliced roast beef piled onto crusty baguettes with cheese and onions and a bowl of cooking juices on the side, to dip. This is not a refined offering and no matter how hard you try you will be licking the delicious jus from down your arms.
1 Breakfast Sandwich
With no hard and fast rules dictating the contents of the first sandwich of the day, there are infinite possibilities. I should imagine it must contain bacon in some form or another, how could it not? Crispy bacon with a fluffy scrambled egg, some burning hot sauce to wake up the taste buds and let's go all out and top it off with some tangy cheddar cheese.
As long as it’s hot and filling, make it your own with pickles, sauces and whatever else is lurking in the door of the fridge. Breads, bagels and even fancy rolls will all make the perfect vehicle for your breakfast sandwich creation, toasted and buttered with abandon. It sets the tone for a great day.