Flavor profile: This sandwich is swimming in BBQ sauce, and despite the impossibly round, perfectly soft roll, it is simply no match for the avalanche of smoky, spicy-sweet, slow-cooked piggy goodness that envelopes you.
Why it was love at first bite: It is Seattle BBQ, which is to say, slightly disadvantaged when compared to many parts of the country. But when you can hold out no longer, and must — to save your sanity — have southern sweet tea and BBQ, Pecos Pit more than rises to the occasion. It stands up, salutes you for heeding the call of the smoke and the crackle of the fire and says "you, good sir, deserve to be happy." And shoot, if that doesn't happen every time, to every person I've ever talked to about the place. The sandwich is that good.
Eaten by: Restaurateur, wine maker, and MasterChef judge Joe Bastianich.
Where you ate said sandwich:Rosticceria at Eataly in New York City.
Ingredients: Porcini rub, prime rib, baguette, olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper. The rub, a mixture of dried porcini powder, salt, pepper, chili flakes, and sugar, sits on the meat overnight. The prime rib is rotated over an open flame for about one hour. The slices of meat are topped with more sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil once folded into the baguette
Flavor profile: Unfathomably delicious.
Why it was love at first bite: It doesn't get much better than succulent juicy medium rare beef — the fat glistening, topped with sea salt and olive oil on a freshly baked warm baguette.
Where you ate said sandwich: Provisions, Straight Wharf, Nantucket, Massachusetts.
Ingredients: Turkey, stuffing, cranberry, mayo on homemade Portuguese bread.
Flavor profile: Thanksgiving in summer.
Why it was love at first bite: I suppose you could have a Turkey Terrific from Provisions at any time of year, but for me, growing up, it was always August. Every year during that month, I'd spend a week visiting a friend on Nantucket who had the summer job of stocking the soft drinks in the refrigerators at Provisions, a homey sandwich shop at the foot of Straight Wharf in downtown Nantucket. It hadn't occurred to me that stuffing and cranberry could be sandwich ingredients — but oh, they can, and, decades later, I can't think of a Thanksgiving-themed sandwich done better than the Turkey Terrific. I haven't been to Nantucket in a while, but Provisions' website lists the sandwich right at the top, where it undoubtedly belongs.
Flavor profile: Falafel: dense and rich. Eggplant: thick and not too greasy. Cucumbers and cabbage: a balancing crunch. Harissa: so good I carry two jars to carry back to NYC. The whole thing is an absolute mess to eat, and I have gladly waited 45 minutes in the rain for one.
Why it was love at first bite: First of all, how great that there's a National Sandwich Day? Second of all, how can you pick just one? I dream about the veggie hoagie at Chickie's Italian Deli in Philadelphia, and I once a week I wish Village in NYC would re-open because I can't keep living without their grilled cheese, tomato, and bacon. But Paris wins my sandwich devotion. It started when I was a broke college student and an Egyptian pal took me to a hole in the wall in Saint Michel, where a Lebanese guy he called Uncle Jean served mujaddara: lentils and rice, fried onions, hummos, tahini, salad, pita. It was massive, it was delicious, and, at 15 francs ($3), it was the best meal I could eat. Jean closed shop ages ago, and I am still angry about it. I started to get over it when I discovered L'As du Fallafel at the suggestion of my friend Charlotte Druckman. There are lots of falafel joints in the Marais, some Arab, some Israeli. For years, I've been going to the wrong ones. Charlotte (and everyone else on earth) was right about L'As: It's not easy to balance textures in falafel, but they do. The place is casual — you pay at the counter, you sit where you want. I go at least once whenever I'm in Paris, in between Michelin-star feasts around town. I swear any 14-course extravaganzas taste better when I know my next meal will be this sloppy pita of perfection.
Where you ate said sandwich:Cafe Viena on La Rambla in Barcelona.
Ingredients: It's a super simple sandwich. They start with a perfect baguette-style roll, smear a bit of tomato on the inside, and lay down a few slices of Iberian cerdo negro ham (none of them are overlapping).
Flavor profile: The combination of crusty bread and salty fat melting in your mouth is as perfect as anything I've ever eaten.
Why it was love at first bite: I think that the best hams you get in Spain are perhaps the most delicious things that exists in the world. Lay that on a piece of perfectly cooked bread, and you can't really get any better.
Ingredients: This classic BLT is made from farm-assured British streaky bacon, which is cured for five days and beech-smoked. The bacon is sliced wafer thin and then grilled until dark and crispy. There are five thick slices of tomato and crunchy leaf salad.
Flavor profile: Tasty, crunchy, and just what I need before a flight.
Why it was love at first bite: It has a combination of flavors that work for me. It is a rare treat.
Eaten by: Justin Carter, DJ and founder of Mister Saturday Night and Mister Saturday Night Records
Where you ate said sandwich: My mom's house, growing up.
Ingredients: This sandwich is the most simple but most excellent sandwich in the world as far as I am concerned. It is a Southern tradition, I think, but I have heard people say that their Russian grandfathers made it as well, and because my grandfather's family on my mom's side comes from Minsk, maybe it's more of a former USSR thing. At any rate, it consists of white bread, mayonnaise (slathered generously), fresh sliced tomato, salt, pepper, and that's it.
Flavor profile: You don't have to do much to a tomato to make it taste good, as the Italians have taught us. But adding white bread to soak up the juices, fatty mayo to contrast the acidity, and salt to bring out the deeper flavors elevates the already superior nightshade to a new level of goodness.
Why it was love at first bite: Arguably makes a tomato better than it is on its own, which is difficult. Also, it reminds me of home in a way that few things do.
What it is: A lyrical ode to the egg-n-cheese breakfast sandwich.
Eaten by:Jeralyn Gerba, co-founder and editorial director of Fathom.
Why it was love at first bite: There is love seeping through every nook and cranny of this magical focaccia concoction. It's a glorious mess to eat and gets better with each bite. It's the gastronomic equivalent of a nap in a hammock.
Where you ate said sandwich: A long-gone salumeria, Sal's, around 240th and Broadway.
Ingredients: Classic italian hero with homemade old school baked ziti on it.
Flavor profile: Euphoric Italian.
Why it was love at first bite: Memories of sandwiches are powerful. I remember the chicken parm from Luigi's: I ordered 500 times over four years of college in Washington, DC. The Broccoli Classic from No. 7 Sub always stands out to me. There was a turkey melt on rye I had years ago a retro diner in Pasadena that I can't get out of my mind and perhaps never will. All of these sandwiches were love at first bite, of course, each one a symphony of flavors and textures, balanced and deeply satisfying. But all pale in comparison to the absolutely filthy bliss I associate with the Ziti on a Wedge. So incredibly wrong it's still the rightest sandwich I've ever had.
Where you ate said sandwich:Freddie's Deli, a sandwich shop from Paris food truck pioneer Kristen Frederick.
Ingredients: Sirloin, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, provolone, mayo, salt, pepper, sandwiched between a specially made roll by Gontran Cherrier, one of the city's top bakers.
Flavor profile: Sinful, melt-in-your-mouth goodness with a kick (thanks to spiced cheese and chipotle sauce).
Why it was love at first bite: It offers a taste of my hometown but better — all the trappings of a quality cheesesteak, sans the Cheese Whiz. (I've always been partial to provolone. Also, can you imagine the disbelief if Parisians saw cheese from a can being sprayed onto their sandwiches?) And of course, you just can't top French ingredients.
Where you ate said sandwich: Under an olive tree on the first day of our very first olive harvest in October 2004. Cathy and I, harvest virgins, were being guided by Antonio, weathered veteran of a hundred harvests. The three of us had been hard at it since 7 a.m., fueled only by a flask of espresso and our guileless enthusiasm. By midday, with several crates now packed with olives, we needed to refuel. Since we were at the very depths of the longest steepest grove, there was no time to trek up to the house, so we raided Antonio's lunch box. A simple Parmesan panino for each of us and a corked bottle of local white wine. We couldn't have been happier.
Ingredients: In the UK and US, we eat what are known unappealingly in the business as "wet" sandwiches. We add butter and slatherings of any conceivable condiment. If you are weaned on these, it can be a shock to discover the Italian "dry" sandwich — bread with meat or cheese inside, and that is it. So this particularly memorable sandwich in 2004 was no more than an eight-inch long ciabatta sliced in half with two thick wedges of parmesan cheese inside.
Best way to describe the flavor profile: The crystals of salt in the thick chunk of Parmesan teased my electrolyte-starved blood. The crunchy, possibly slightly stale, crust of the ciabatta left the roof of my mouth raw, in that pleasure-pain sort of way, and the effort of chewing made me feel I'd earned it.
Why it was love at first bite: When you are really hungry, and you feel like you have deserved your food, the pleasure of eating is magnified beyond measure.
Ingredients: Roasted turkey breast, stuffing, and cranberry mayo on a white roll. Heaven between two buns.
Flavor profile: Well, aside from being "the best" Thanksgiving on a bun, the turkey is juicy, the stuffing a perfect mix of crunch and soft and the cranberry mayo is very well balanced, not as acidic as your typical cranberry sauce. The roll is a good ol' American classic kaiser roll. I look forward to this sandy every year.
Why it was love at first bite: The sandwich is like taking a bite out of America. I love Thanksgiving. Most people only eat turkey stuffing and cranberry sauce in November. Not me: Hell no! This sandwich is nostalgic, delicious, and not typical.
Where you ate said sandwich: Some shitty deli on the Upper East Side of New York City.
Ingredients: Toasted whole wheat bread, mayonnaise, roast beef, turkey, American cheese, shredded iceberg lettuce, sliced beefsteak tomato. The trick to this sandwich is to toast the whole wheat slices, then slather with extra mayo. In the meantime, put the roast beef, turkey, cheese slices, and tomato in the microwave, warm the meat, and melt the cheese. Finally, assemble with the crisp iceberg lettuce as the only cold component.
Flavor profile: Moist, crispy, rich, clean, satisfying, and delicious.
Why it was love at first bite: Every now and then, you order something simply to fulfill the base need to eat and are blown away to find yourself with an unintentional culinary delight!
Where you ate said sandwich: In the garden of a good friend's French country house in Normandy.
Ingredients: Brioche bread fresh from the local French baker that day; homemade mayo; perfectly, and I mean perfectly, cooked thick-cut bacon from the local butcher; local lettuces from the farmers market in Trouville-sur-Mer; ripe avocado; roasted red peppers from Normandy; another slice of toasted brioche; huge chunks of lobster, procured from the poissonnier that morning; more mayo; a last slice of brioche.
Flavor profile: Clean, fresh, artisanal luxury.
Why it was love at first bite: It's the perfect balance of ingredients and restraint — if you can believe it. I could eat ten of these. Which is not showing restraint at all!
Ingredients: Hoagie bread, proscuitto, provolone, roasted hot pepers, roasted sweet peppers, romaine lettuce, tomato, grated parmesan, oregano, artichoke hearts, and the most incredible creamy balsamic-based house dressing I have ever encountered.
Flavor profile: Salty, spicy, acidic, a little sweet. Basically everything.
Why it was love at first bite: It's a messy and wonderful sandwich, and I've been eating it since I was a kid. It's one of those taste memory things. You stand in line at the deli counter at this crowded open market and encourage them to put lots of extra dressing on it (on the bread and also on top of the ingredients themselves) and then go searching for a hard-to-find table to sit down to eat it and hope that you grabbed enough napkins.
Where you ate said sandwich: I had this wonder for the first time when I was in college on a five-week road trip from L.A. to NYC (it's a long story). I'd been hearing about it for years and years, as it was basically my grandpa's favorite food on the entire planet. And Central Grocery is more than 100 years old and has a Wikipedia page, SO...
Ingredients: Look no further than Stately Sandwiches, which sells an art print of the ingredients — no joke. You slice a round Sicilian sesame bread in half horizontally and fill it with thin (but not TOO thin!) slices of three meats (mortadella, ham, and salami), plus two cheeses (mozzarella and provolone), and olive salad. You really can't mess around with the olive salad, which is like a spicy-tangy giardiniera. You're really best off ordering a jar straight from the ;source.
Flavor profile: Balanced…and intense. Once it's assembled, the sandwich is quartered, pizza-style.
Why it was love at first bite: It’s really all about the olive salad. If that isn’t right, the whole sandwich is off. I've sung the praises of the Central Grocery version so loudly, in fact, that I convinced the editor-in-chief of the magazine I used to work at to have the sandwiches overnighted from NOLA for a staff-lunch taste test.
Where you ate said sandwich: Bar Lidia in Florence, Italy.
Ingredients: Crusty, salty, oily focaccia bread smeared on both sides with pesto. Then the following ingredients were each weighed out separately: prosciutto crudo, fresh mozzarella, pesto, tomato. I realize the mozz is not very Tuscan, but it was good!
Flavor profile: Salty, meaty, and oily — but bright!
Why it was love at first bite: The owner would assemble every sandwich by hand. When he ran low on an ingredient, he would yell to his wife, "Lidia!" Everything was super fresh and delicious. I would bring the sandwich to a bench on the NYU campus (I was studying there) and look over the hillsides and think about how great it all was.
Super Stacked Sandwich for Big Mouths
The details:Le Fooding gave it that name, and I like that description. I'm not quite sure of its official menu name because I ate this on a Saturday, and there are no other choices for lunch on Saturday at Abri. I'm not even sure if it was on the menu. My friend and I chatted while the staff quietly ate makanai (family meal) at a community table next to us.
Where you ate said sandwich:Restaurant Abri, Paris, France 92, rue du Faubourg-Poissonnière.
Ingredients: Toasted pain de mie, thin slice of Mimolette, pork tonkatsu, tamago with vegetables, purple cabbage slaw, and some kind of magic sauce.
Flavor profile: Like a bento box on bread.
Why it was love at first bite: This is a fork and knife sandwich, which is very Parisian (you've heard how the French eat burgers with a knife and fork); yet the flavors are Japanese, so I was eating things I usually eat with chopsticks. Everything was not as it should be, but perfect at the same time. This sandwich is a real rule-breaker.
Ingredients: Two thinly sliced, toast-to-order slices of fresh bread, chunks of butter on one side, a generous smear of kaya (pandan-flavored coconut jam) on the other. Essentially, the local Singaporean take on English toast and butter.
Where you ate said sandwich: I grew up eating this both at home and when dad decided to take the family out for Sunday breakfast. Any proper coffee shop in Singapore should have it, but my favorites are those that are open at two a.m., usually filled with old men and young teenage boys shouting at a soccer match on the 15-inch television hanging overhead.
Flavor profile: Mine is the only sweet sandwich in this roundup! Kaya toast paired with two soft-boiled eggs drowning in soy sauce is the perfect savory-sweet ratio; a hot cup of kopi-o (black coffee with sugar) is the perfect drink for it.
Why it was love at first bite: It's light enough to be my go-to, late-night, post-drinking meal, and it's always the last meal at the airport before I leave Singapore. It's the last taste I want in my mouth whenever I leave my home country.