November 3 was National Sandwich Day. As with so many other putative food holidays, nobody knows exactly who established it or decided when it should be celebrated. Americans hardly need a special occasion to honor the sandwich: According to some estimates, we eat more than 300 million sandwiches a day — extraordinary if true, since the current U.S. population is only about 330 million.
Merriam-Webster’s principal definition of “sandwich” is “two or more slices of bread or a split roll having a filling in between.” Within those terms, the possibilities are endless: classics like grilled cheese (the most popular sandwich in America, according to a 2017 study by Datassential, a food industry market research firm), peanut butter and jelly, the BLT and the club; deli sandwiches and subs (aka heroes, hoagies, grinders, etc.); regional and international specialties (including Philly cheesesteak, New Orleans po’boys, Mexican tortas and cemitas, and Vietnamese bánh mi — the last of which has grown 393% in popularity in the past five years, according to Datassential), and many more.
When you have the craving for a sandwich, why choose an independent establishment over a chain like Subway or Quiznos? Independents are admittedly more expensive, but they are much more likely to let patrons customize their orders, and at least in some cases are probably able to spend more time (and money) sourcing quality ingredients than chains that buy or produce in bulk.
The best reason, though, might just be for the sake of variety. A cold cut combo at Subway will likely taste the same from Seattle to Miami, but every Italian deli version will be a little bit different.
To identify the best independent sandwich shop in each state, 24/7 Wall St. indexed ratings weighted by number of reviews for thousands of sandwich shops on Yelp! and Google. Ratings are out of 5. We excluded chain restaurants and otherwise used our discretion to ensure only independent shops were considered. To break ties, we chose the restaurant with more Yelp! Reviews.