Special Report

America's Most Iconic Sandwiches

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21. Bánh mì

Brought over to the United States by Vietnamese immigrants, the bánh mì is a perfect example of the influence of French imperialism in the country’s foods. It starts with a small Vietnamese baguette (which has a thinner crust and a more airy crumb than its French counterpart), and a classically filled with meats that might include ham, shredded pork, meatballs, pâté, or grilled chicken along with fresh cilantro, shredded pickled carrot and radish, and condiments including hot sauce and mayo. Most bánh mì shops offer at least 10 options for the filling.

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22. Hot Brown

The Hot Brown is the signature sandwich of Louisville, Kentucky, and unlike most iconic sandwiches, its origins aren’t up for debate. It was invented by chef Fred K. Schmidt at Louisville’s Brown Hotel in 1926 as a late-night dinner, and it remains the flagship menu item at the hotel to this day. To make a classic Hot Brown, sliced bread is topped with turkey, bacon, tomatoes, and a layer of cheesy mornay sauce. It’s then broiled until the bread crisps up and the top begins to brown. It’s a cheesy indulgence, and definitely makes for a great late-night snack.

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23. French dip

The French dip might be a menu mainstay nationwide these days, but it was actually invented in Los Angeles back in the early days of the 20th century. Two LA restaurants claim to have invented it — Philippe the Original and Cole’s — but regardless of its birthplace, it’s an ingenious creation. The sandwich starts with thinly-sliced hot roast beef, which is served on a French roll (hence the name). Some restaurants dunk the sandwich in beef jus before serving and others serve it with a cup of jus on the side for dunking. Both Philippe’s and Cole’s serve theirs with spicy mustard; we suggest you do the same.

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24. Fried pork tenderloin

The fried pork tenderloin sandwich is a hallmark of Midwestern cuisine, especially in Iowa, Missouri, and Indiana. It was reportedly invented at Nick’s Kitchen in Huntington, Indiana. To make this beloved regional specialty, a slice of pork loin (not tenderloin) is pounded thin, breaded with breadcrumbs or crushed saltines, and deep-fried to crispy golden-brown perfection. It’s then served on a plain hamburger bun with toppings including lettuce, onions, pickles, mustard, and ketchup. The more it overhangs the bun, the better.

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25. Philly cheesesteak

If you visit Philly without eating a cheesesteak, have you really visited Philly? A delicious gutbuster of a sandwich, the Philly cheesesteak was reportedly invented by Pat and Harry Olivieri back in the early 1930s (Pat’s remains the city’s most famous cheesesteak shop, along with Geno’s across the street). It’s a cheesy, greasy mashup of thin-sliced griddled beef, cheese (usually American, provolone, or Cheez Whiz), and chopped onions all piled into a long hoagie roll, and it’s wildly delicious.

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