Grown-Up Sandwiches

August 22, 2013

Yummy recipes for delicious grown-up sandwiches

By Raleigh-Elizabeth. Photo of Hi-Rise Bread Co.’s Georgia Ruben by Will Levitt for Serious Eats. I ate my own sandwich way too quickly to take a photo of it!

As every school child knows, there’s nothing better than a good sandwich: crusts off, peanut butter and jelly in equal parts, maybe even a little nutella and banana for a treat. But for those over the age of ten, sandwiches can get a bad rap. They get traded for wraps, for salads, falafels. And while I’m all for falafel, it doesn’t hold a candle to a good sandwich. A good, grown-up sandwich.

We spent the last week wandering around Cambridge, Mass., the culinary epicenter of good, grown-up sandwiches. As easy to find as Harvard students and Boston Red Sox Fans, are sandwiches built with rustic breads so fresh you can still smell the yeast. They are piled high with meats and vegetables perfectly spiced and slivered, slathered with cheeses, spreads, and homemade mayos that make you wish you had an old-school lunch pail to carry one to work in every day — or at least a good sandwich shop close by. And they make you remember how there’s little as good in the middle of the day as a tasty, delicious sandwich.

Take Hi-Rise Bread Co., purveyors of what might be the best sandwiches in the entire world. (I say this having eaten a LOT of sandwiches, so take me seriously.) I got to know Hi-Rise a decade ago, when I was seduced by their delicious breakfast sandwiches which I ate (rather gluttonously) on the way to Sunday services. And while indulging in one of their sammies on the way to church might come close to something of a sin, it’s only because they are so incredibly good: Ooey, gooey organic egg yolk, thick cut bacon, gorgonzola, tomato, red onion, and honey-mustard on delicious sourdough made fresh that morning in house.

And then there’s their lunch sandwiches. Really, they’re not so much sandwich as an ode to all things delicious: The #55 is homemade pork and veal pates served with pickled carrots and cucumbers, radish, cilantro, jalapeno, and serrano mayo on baguette. Or try El Presidente: Grilled Bell + Evans chicken breast alongside harissa, kalamata olive spread, tomato and red onion, all on sourdough.

These are the kind of sandwiches that get my mouth watering and, in my book, reinvent the classic lunch meal. In second grade, I started making apple and brie sandwiches on pumpernickle to take to school, but I thought I was always the odd one out. Now that I’ve grown up, I’m beginning to see that I just had a precocious start. Grown up sandwiches are delicious!

Now and again, I remember my love of really good sandwiches so much I attempt to remake them at home. This pork meatball bahn mi is pretty easy, and completely wonderful to eat — even for dinner. I also really like this Moroccan chicken sandwich, although keeping the ingredients in house is rather challenging unless you’re the sort to eat Moroccan chicken all the time. (Maybe we should be!) I also frequently make a wrap that’s a complete remake of one our college cafe served — they called it the Amour De Cosmos, and it’s spinach, chicken, apricot preserves, and jasmine rice… and it’s really, really good. Or you could go with the old standby: a delicious thanksgiving sandwich.

But the honest truth is that no sandwich is as delicious as those that come from a good, grown-up sandwich shop, perfectly wrapped in butcher paper, and ready to make the middle of your day a little bit of happy, yummy heaven. It’s the grown-up equivalent of that perfect lunchbox sandwich and a little note from mom, and just like that, it can be the little thing that makes your day. A delicious, grown-up sandwich kind of day.

Tell me, do you have a favorite sandwich place? Is there a grown-up sandwich that makes your mouth water, too? Or are you a PB&J classicist? (And for those of you living in Boston, be sure to check out Cambridge’s Flour and Darwin’s, too. Flour’s lamb sandwich is delicious, and you can’t go wrong at Darwin’s.)

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Peg Smith August 22, 2013 at 9:05 am

this sounds delicious! my favorite sandwich comes from – you guessed it – wegman’s down here in baltimore! (i loved the wegman’s conversation in the grocery store piece!) weggies, as we affectionately call it, has a really amazing chipotle roast beef sandwich that i crave all day long. grown up sandwiches are great!

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2 Raleigh-Elizabeth August 22, 2013 at 9:06 am

I know that sandwich well. It’s so tasty!

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3 Emily August 22, 2013 at 9:36 am

You’re forgetting Cutty’s in Brookline Village, MA-probably the best sandwich shop on the other side of the river!

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4 Raleigh-Elizabeth August 22, 2013 at 9:38 am

I’ve never been to Cutty’s… but their menu looks AMAZING. I’d eat a pork rabe right now if I could!

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5 Emily August 22, 2013 at 10:19 am

Next time you’re in town, stop in. The owners met working as test cooks at Cook’s Illustrated (where I work). My favorite sandwich is the broccoli rabe.

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6 Raleigh-Elizabeth August 22, 2013 at 10:28 am

*swoon* Love AND Cook’s Illustrated? Our favorite mag!

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7 Emily August 22, 2013 at 10:34 am

I’m not sure if you live in Cambridge or were just visiting? Shoot me an email if you’re local. I’m happy to show you around the kitchens here. I’m assuming you can see my email in the comment form? If not, let me know.

8 Ann August 22, 2013 at 9:40 am

My grandfather made the best sandwiches. Just something about them, the grilled bread, the mayo, the love put into it? I don’t know. It was always great. If he offered to make you one, you always jumped at the opportunity.

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9 Raleigh-Elizabeth August 22, 2013 at 10:12 am

I love those kinds of sammies. My mama makes a grilled cheese that I swear is magical – and I recreate it it diligently all the time. She swears mine tastes better, but there’s something about hers that is just… perfect.

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10 Clara August 22, 2013 at 9:57 am

There are dozens of sandwich shops in Cambridge, UK as well. And the English sandwich is something to behold. It is often a hybrid between a simple french baguette sandwich and English hearty sensibility. But if you want to get any kind of food-to-go in Cambridge it had better be before three in the afternoon or you are out of luck.

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11 lina October 3, 2013 at 5:49 am

Of course, you could have a baguette with a slice of cheese and a bit of lettuce or such things in Cambridge, UK. However, I strongly disagree with your point of view: Having lived in Cambridge, UK for a whole year I couldn’t find the same kind of mouthwatering, creative sandwiches you can have in NY, Boston, Philly,… anywhere apart from 1-2 locations where “decent” sandwiches are served.

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12 Melissa August 22, 2013 at 10:12 am

I love sandwiches. I could have a good sandwich for every meal and be completely satisfied and happy. Sadly, we haven’t found a go-to sandwich place here in Eugene. It’s a college town, so surely there’s a good sandwich place hiding somewhere in this city!

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13 Raleigh-Elizabeth August 22, 2013 at 10:13 am

SURELY there is! Here on the coast of NC, we have a Subway… and don’t get me wrong, I’m no food snob. I can really love Subway sometimes. But that’s just it… it’s sometimes. And only sometimes.

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14 Erin August 22, 2013 at 10:38 am

My life changed just a little after trying grilled blue cheese sandwiches.

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15 Raleigh-Elizabeth August 22, 2013 at 4:02 pm

The extent to which I feel my life has been empty should be summed up by saying we’re now having these for dinner.

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16 Linnea August 22, 2013 at 10:41 am

Sandwiches are the best! I recently happened upon Hitchcock Deli on Bainbridge Island, WA — their sandwiches are heavenly. Their BLT and reuben are mouthwateringly incredible. I always go with a friend, so we can go halfsies and sample two of their amazing creations. It’s a must-go location if you’re ever in the Northwest (and the ferry ride to Bainbridge is pretty awesome, too).

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17 Raleigh-Elizabeth August 22, 2013 at 10:43 am

One of my college roommates grew up in Bainbridge, and she always talked about how pretty it was. I’ve never been, but we hope to come visit at some point… just to check it out! Now I have two reasons: tourism and sandwiches. (Clearly one of these is more important than the other.)

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18 Erin August 22, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Since I think you visit Maryland often I will mentioned Randy and Steve’s General Store in historic Ellicott City. Grabbed a sandwich there this summer while wondering around. It was so good. Here at home in NC, our local co-op sells sandwiches from 11-2, they are named after different counties or cities in NC. Just thinking about a few of them makes my mouth water.

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19 Lauren August 22, 2013 at 1:14 pm

I love to give myself a break sometimes and make fancy sandwiches for dinner! I compiled all my favorite recipes into a blog post here: http://plumfieldshop.blogspot.com/2012/05/fancywiches.html
Your breakfast sandwich description has me wanting to run to the grocery store right now!

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20 Raleigh-Elizabeth August 22, 2013 at 4:03 pm

So delicious! Thank you for sharing, Lauren!

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21 Jeanette August 22, 2013 at 6:21 pm

I am a sandwich girl, through and through! My dad was the ultimate sandwich maker in our house and each payday, he would splurge on meat, cheese, condiments, and good bread. I’m always on the hunt for a great sandwich.

PS…I whole-heartedly agree with Linnea. You MUST visit the Puget Sound region.

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22 Becca August 23, 2013 at 12:30 pm

I have a favorite sandwich–I just had it for lunch today.

Wheat Bread + Mayo on both sides + Pastrami + leftovers sauteed onions and red peppers (from fajitas last night) + Avocado

It kills every time!

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23 Karen August 26, 2013 at 8:35 am

I love sandwiches! My favorites include: Meatball sub (with lots of cheese), Thanksgiving sandwich (turkey, stuffing, and cranberry relish on white bread), and an extra messy Reuben. If you’re in the Bay area, The Refuge is THE place to go for a Reuben: http://www.refugesc.com.

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24 Shelley September 4, 2013 at 7:23 pm

I’m not sure how you managed a post on the sandwiches of Cambridge without even a mention of All Star Sandwich Bar! If you’re visiting again soon – you must check it out (along with the poutine fries).

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