Special Report

America's Most Iconic Sandwiches

26. Torta milanesa

The torta is a traditional Mexican sandwich, and it makes for a deliciously filling lunch. It starts with a soft roll and a wide variety of meats, and toppings usually include avocados, pickled jalapeño, lettuce, tomato, onion, refried beans, and a stringy cheese called queso Oaxaca. Protein options can range from ham to scrambled eggs, but a very popular variety is milanesa, a thinly-pounded, breaded, and fried cutlet of pork, beef, or chicken.

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27. Sloppy Joe

A staple of school lunchrooms nationwide, the sloppy joe is made by simmering ground beef with onions and a savory tomato-based sauce, and spooning it onto a hamburger bun. It is indeed sloppy, and even though it can trace its origins to the early 20th century, it really became popular with the advent of Manwich in the late 1960s, which allowed home cooks to simply mix the canned sauce with beef to create the sandwich. In New Jersey, there’s a very different sandwich called the sloppy joe, which is made by stacking deli meats with Swiss cheese, coleslaw, and Russian dressing on three slices of rye bread.

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28. Spiedie

Brought by Italian immigrants to upstate New York in the 1920s and popularized in the ensuing decades, the spiedie is today one of Binghamton’s most popular foods, and there’s even an annual festival devoted to it. To make this sandwich, cubes of lamb, chicken, or beef are marinated in oil, vinegar, and Italian herbs before being charcoal-grilled and served on a soft Italian roll. It gets its name from the Italian “spiedini,” meaning skewers, on which cubes of meat can be grilled.

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29. Meatball

In Italy, meatballs are generally eaten with only marinara sauce and a sprinkling of parmigiano. But here in the states, they’ve have found their way into countless culinary applications, including with spaghetti, on pizza, or in a sandwich. To make a meatball sub the true Italian-American way, slice meatballs in half, load them up on an Italian roll, top them with plenty of tomato sauce and mozzarella, bake it up until melty and toasty, and go to town.

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30. Pulled pork

Along with ribs and brisket, pulled pork is one of the hallmarks of barbecue, and many would argue that it’s best enjoyed in sandwich form, on a bun. Every barbecue spot has its own recipe, but they all start with pork shoulder, which is slow-smoked until falling apart before being shredded or chopped, sauced, and bunned. Sauces vary regionally; in Kansas City, for example, it’s sweet and tomato-based, and in the Carolinas it’s usually thin and vinegar-based (or mustard-based in South Carolina). Some opt to eat it straight, while others will add on coleslaw. Pulled pork is also easy to make at home (sans the smoke), especially with the help of a slow cooker or pressure cooker.

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