Special Report

America's Most Iconic Sandwiches

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11. Pastrami on rye

Any Jewish deli worth its salt needs to excel at making one particular sandwich: pastrami on rye bread. Pastrami is made by brining, smoking, and steaming beef brisket (or, more traditionally, a cut called the navel), then slicing it to order and serving it up hot. Good-quality pastrami should be able to stand on its own without any augmentation, but a schmear of deli mustard doesn’t hurt.

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12. Pimento cheese

A hallmark of Southern cuisine, pimento cheese is, at its most basic, a spread made by combining cheddar cheese, mayo, and pimentos (little red pickled peppers also called cherry peppers). Every Southern chef seems to have their own variation on it; popular additions include Velveeta, cream cheese, hot sauce, Worcestershire, and paprika. You’ll see it simply served with crackers or even dolloped atop a burger, but when sandwiched between two fluffy slices of white bread it makes for a perfect lunch.

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13. Lobster roll

Another regional specialty, the lobster roll is one of the hallmarks of Northeastern cuisine. It usually comes in two primary versions: Maine-style, in which the lobster is cold and tossed with mayo; and Connecticut- or Rhode Island-style, which is served warm with butter. Both tuck the lobster meat into a split-top hot dog bun (or sometimes a round burger bun in Connecticut), which is usually griddled with butter. It’s not cheap and some have argued that turning a delicacy as expensive as a lobster into a sandwich is below its station, but if you ever find yourself sitting on the rocky shores of Maine with a fresh lobster roll in your hand, it’s truly like biting into a little piece of heaven.

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14. Italian sub (hoagie, grinder, etc.)

Call it a sub, a hero, a hoagie, or a grinder, there’s no denying that the Italian sub is anything other than wildly delicious. A staple of Italian delis nationwide, the sub has countless variations, but they all include a wide variety of Italian meats like salami, capicola, mortadella, and ham, along with cheese (usually provolone), lettuce, tomato, onion, optional additional veggies like pickled banana peppers, and a squirt of oil & vinegar to finish it off, perhaps with a sprinkling of Italian herbs.

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15. Po’boy

The po’boy is one of New Orleans’ signature foods. As the story goes, back in 1929, during a four-month strike against the city’s streetcar company, husband and wife Benny and Clovis Martin fed the strikers free sandwiches; the term was coined when they referred to the strikers as “poor boys” coming in to eat. Nowadays, the po’boy can be found at countless restaurants and sandwich shops throughout the Big Easy. It always starts with a soft, crusty loaf of French bread (ideally from local bakery Leidenheimer’s), and there are countless filling options, from fried shrimp, crawfish, and oysters to roast beef, ham, and sausage. Order it “dressed” and it’ll come topped with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayo.

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