It’s May, and that means summer is right around the corner. Summer means cookouts, baseball, and, of course, road trips. The next time you’re road tripping, you’ll know the best spots to stop around the country for the best meal because we here at the Tailgate Society have got you covered. Welcome to the first installment of the TGS Best I Ever Had series, where our contributors will share the absolute must-have food that they have encountered across the United States.
First up? The humble sandwich. Often created but seldom perfected, a sandwich is an everyday meal for many people and yet somehow still an afterthought. Sandwich quality can range all the way from “pre-packaged turkey with a Kraft single between white bread” all the way to the crème de la crème that we share today. So read on and learn what a sandwich can truly be.
These are the Best Sandwiches We Ever Had.
Tami Dooley – “Bleu Bronco” from Fat Guy’s Fresh Deli in Meridian, Idaho
Sandwiches are never my favorite, but always appreciated. But when one blows my mind, it’s like a revelation. They don’t have to be boring affairs for when you’re in a hurry. They can be brilliance.
The best one I’ve ever had is a work of art. It’s the Bleu Bronco from Fat Guy’s Fresh Deli in Meridian, Idaho. It would’ve been easy to talk about the crab roll from a shop on the wharf in San Francisco or how an American cheese and bologna on white, squished in the bottom of a cooler all morning is the best thing ever after gathering cows off the mountain since dawn, but it would’ve done a disservice to the truth.
That truth is simple. For under $10, you can get a huge vessel of beautifully seasoned and thinly sliced roast beef, mixed with some dank bleu cheese sunk in the middle of the beef so its all melty, then topped with creamy pesto aoli and thick slices of bacon. It comes with a bowl of au jus on this fluffy amazing bun.
The whole thing just melts together in your face and then you can die happy. Best sandwich ever!
Jason Mitchell – “Jamaican Turkey Sub” from Our Daily Bread in Boone, North Carolina
The best sandwich I’ve ever had was at Our Daily Bread in Boone, North Carolina. This restaurant is on the main street of downtown Boone (King Street), which makes it popular with locals and tourists alike.
Our Daily Bread (or ODB as the locals call it) specializes in sandwiches of all variety, including a great selection of vegetarian fare. On one particular trip, though, I decided to order the Jamaican Turkey Sub, and my taste buds were rewarded with an experience that will live in my mind forever.
The Jamaican Turkey Sub is a mouthwatering combination of smoked turkey on a toasted sub roll. The turkey is topped with melted pepper jack, Jamaican relish (insane), lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and the ODB special sauce. With its combo of smoke and heat, this is a sandwich to be downed with a local beer choice, of which, coincidentally enough, ODB has a fantastic selection.
When in the High Country of North Carolina, it’s hard to beat some ODB.
Alex Gookin – Special of the Week in September 2015 from West Street Deli in Ames, Iowa
I’ll be honest: I’m a burger guy. If I’m at a restaurant and I want food between two slices of bread, it’s going to be a burger 95 percent of the time. That means my non-burger sandwich exposure is not as extensive as it probably should be at my advanced age of 24 years old, but there is one sandwich that I had on September 21st, 2015 (and then September 22nd and 23rd) that has never escaped my mind.
Wow, if you are in Ames today, go ahead and get yourself the special sandwich from West Street Deli. Just changed my values and beliefs.
— Alex Gookin (@_AlexGookin) September 21, 2015
West Street Deli was a personal favorite of mine while a student at Iowa State University, amplified by the fact I lived within spitting distance of their front door. You might think I’m speaking out of pure nostalgia, but the place is great (between Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Foursquare reviews, the restaurant maintains a 4.5-star rating with more than 200 reviews). But just because the place has phenomenal sandwiches doesn’t mean I think they have *the* most phenomenal sandwich—except they did for a week in late 2015.
Picture this: Sliced Italian sausage, topped with a fresh tomato-basil bruschetta mix, spinach, red onion, mozzarella, all between two slices of grilled french bread.
Sounds good, right? Well, it was better than that. The thick-cut Italian sausage and mozzarella is an elite combo to begin with, but what put it over the top was the tomato-basil bruschetta vinaigrette with the perfectly-crusted french bread. Sweet, tangy, spicy, complex flavors and textures, but most importantly, fresh.
Even as a broke college student, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get that limited-time sandwich for the next two days before the item was replaced by another tasty, yet inferior special sandwich of the week. Maybe if we’re lucky, West Street Deli will reintroduce the best sandwich I’ve ever had.
Spencer Hughes – “Turkey Club” from Reuben’s Deli in Atlanta, Georgia
I know what you’re thinking: “It’s a turkey club.”
Yes, it is. But it’s the best damn turkey club I have ever had.
Club sandwiches have come as close to perfecting the Art of the Sandwich as anything else. At Reuben’s Deli in Atlanta, they have perfected the club itself.
Reuben’s is consistently recognized as the best deli in Atlanta and might just be the best in the entire southeast. They have a tremendous volume of customers over the lunch hour and will be short with you if you slow them down and aren’t ready to order. It’s like a taste of New York manners to go with your New York-quality sandwich.
Every sandwich I’ve had here is excellent (and Reuben’s is, unsurprisingly, best known for their reuben), but the Turkey Club is my pick for the best. It’s got exactly what you would expect on it: turkey, ham, and bacon, with Swiss cheese, and all the toppings including your choice of regular, spicy, or Greek mayo. It’s also the size of a small child. You can make two substantial meals out of this behemoth, or you can do what I did and eat every last delicious bite in one sitting. Make Reuben’s Deli a lunch destination for your next trip to ATL.
J.T. Nutt – “Dad’s Killer” from B&B Grocery, Meat & Deli in Des Moines, Iowa
The Dad’s Killer is a famous sandwich in Des Moines – and for good reason: the sandwich is just damn delicious. It has roast beef, smoked ham, turkey, corned beef, lettuce, tomato, pickles, mustard, miracle whip, Italian dressing and a three cheese combo of American, Swiss, and Pepper.
I get weird with mine and just do the meat, tomato, and Italian dressing, and it’s still the best sandwich I’ve ever had. It’s a family run shop not too far from the heart of downtown Des Moines and worth the trip.
Jacqueline Cordova – “Dublin Club” from Dublin Bay in Ames, Iowa
When considering the best sandwich I have ever had, I traveled through the depths of my brain to settle on a no-brainer: The Dublin Club at Dublin Bay Irish Pub and Grill located in Ames, Iowa, is a sandwich that has truly positively impacted my life.
Sure, a club sounds pretty average and boring and universal, but this isn’t just any club. This club comes packed with ham, turkey, bacon, CARAMELIZED ONIONS, provolone, cheddar, lettuce, and mayo. As conceived, it also comes with spicy BBQ sauce, but I like to switch it up a bit and get chipotle ranch on it.
What makes this sandwich amazing (besides the fact that it has caramelized onions on it) is the ciabatta bread. It’s amazing and hands down the best I’ve ever had. Just writing this made my mouth water. I just realized that I need to go back and inhale one. Now.