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The Classic Sandwich to Order in Every State
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It’s an overwhelming feeling standing in line at the deli trying to decide what sandwich you’re going to order -- they all look so good. Some people have their diehard go-to meal, while others like to try new things, especially when in new places. There’s no better way to learn more about a new city or small town on a road trip than getting a taste of their local delicacies.
We did the work for you and researched what wholesome sandwich is the most popular and original in all 50 states in the US -- you’re only going to find a reindeer sausage sandwich in Alaska. Yes, reindeer. Take notes for your next adventure because here’s the classic sandwich to order in every state.
Pulled Chicken with White Sauce Sandwich
In the heart of barbecue country, Alabama is home to its whole smoked chickens and rare mayo-based white barbecue sauce. The chickens are smoked over hickory wood for three hours before being doused in tangy sauce, served on a toasted bun and topped with slaw. Try the original at Big Bob Gibson’s Bar-B-Q in Decatur.
Reindeer Sausage Sandwich
Although reindeer don’t fly, they are in fact -- real. While Mr. Claus might not put you on the nice list for this, spicy sausage links from reindeer meat in sandwiches are hard to come across. Although reindeer came to the Last Frontier by way of Siberia, Alaskans have become the true trailblazers for this sandwich. Try it at Tiki Pete’s Island & Alaskan Dogs.
Arizona is known for it’s Navajoland, beautiful red rocks, and hot temperatures. Between a sandwich and pastry, thinly sliced ham, avocado, seasoned black beans, cheese, and chipotle sauce, the Southwestern Panini is the true taste of Arizona flair at JJ’s Delicatessen.
Fried Catfish Po’ Boy
It’s a toss up between the fried bologna sandwich and the fried Catfish Po’ Boy. If we know anything about Arkansas, it’s that the only way to go is fried. Usually served on a plate rather than on a roll, the Catfish Po’ Boy is a local delicacy to try at Eat My Catfish.
Step aside avocado toast -- the French Dip was invented in Los Angeles, specifically at this 100-year-old restaurant, Philippe the Original. The Beef Double-Dip is a can’t miss on the menu, where both slices of bread are dipped in jus before adding tender roast beef.
None other than Elvis Presley once took his private jet from Graceland to Denver solely to purchase 28 Fool’s Gold sandwiches from the Colorado Mine Company restaurant. Originally from Colorado, the sandwich is made from a hollowed-out loaf of French bread, covered in margarine, baked, then stuffed with a pound of bacon, peanut butter and jelly. A former employee of Colorado Mine Company opened his own place, Nick’s Café.
Fried Clam Roll
Covered in shorelines, Connecticut is the destination for prime seafood shacks. On a nice summer day at Costello’s Clam Shack, nothing sounds better than fried clams, served on a pillowy roll, or even on a single piece of buttered toast.
The easiest way to describe this sandwich is taking all of the fixings of Thanksgiving dinner and putting it into a sub. Invented by Delaware’s Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop more than 40 years ago, it’s made with house-roasted turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and mayo. It’s a personal favorite by Joe Biden.
South Floridans know a good Cubano when they see one. Made with two kinds of pork, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles pressed on Cuban bread. While you can find this sandwich everywhere, Versailles in Miami’s Little Havana offers one that's not to be missed.
Pimento Cheese Sandwich
A local staple to southern states is pimento cheese -- a spread or relish combining shredded cheese, pimentos and mayonnaise. Georgia offers many variations on this lunchbox classic, many of which you can find on Buttermilk Kitchen’s menu. This sandwich comes with housemade pickles, red pepper jelly and white toast.
Kalua Pork Sandwich
You won’t find this anywhere else in the country, and no one does this Hawaiian staple better than Kono’s. The pork is slow-roasted for twelve hours and served not only as a variation of sandwiches but also in a breakfast burrito, biscuit or nachos. Sandwiches include guava barbecue sauce, grilled onions, ham and bacon.
Idaho isn’t just known for their potatoes -- but huckleberries too. It’s an instrumental ingredient at Trillium in Boise -- made into a delicious barbecue sauce slathered on a roasted turkey & brie sandwich.
Italian Beef Sandwich
Italian immigrants started making Italian Beef Sandwiches on Chicago’s South Side in the 1930’s. Now available everywhere in Chicago, the supposed originator is Al’s -- dry roasted beef coated in a secret blend of spices, topped with peppers inside a rich roll. You can get it “wet”, with extra meat juice poured on like gravy.
Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
This sandwich breaks all stereotypes you know about a form-fitting sandwich. At Edward’s Drive-In Restaurant, larger than the bun, a breaded, deep-fried pork loin cutlet is topped with condiments such as ketchup, mustard, lettuce, onions and pickles.
Legend has it that in the 1930s in Sioux City, a cafe cook named Joe added tomato sauce to his loose meat sandwiches and the rest is history. Although it’s one of the most basic recipes on the list, it’s also one of the most satisfying. Be sure to get one at Hudson’s Southside Tap.
Burnt End Sandwich
While ribs and brisket take the spotlight in one of America’s barbecue capitals, the local speciality is burnt ends. It’s all about the crisp crunch at Burnt End BBQ, with these charred, fattier ends from the point section of the brisket -- covered in sauce, it’s irresistible.
Local to Louisville, this sandwich was created at the infamous Brown Hotel in the 1920s. Welsh rarebit with some extra heft, this open-faced sandwich consisting of turkey, bacon and cheese sauce is broiled and always served hot. Nowadays it’s sometimes served with toast to add some crunch.
Shrimp Po’ Boy
This New Orleans staple came into fruition during the Depression-era street car strike, when owners of a local restaurant fed the striking drivers. You don’t need to be on strike to taste this hoagie of fried shrimp on crusty French bread, topped with mayo, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and hot sauce. Try one at Po-Boy Express.
There’s nothing better than a classic Maine Lobster Roll at The Lobster Shack at Two Lights after a day out on the open water or at the beach. A buttery roll with fresh lobster, served cold with mayo...it's hard not to take a picture of it before devouring it minutes after.
Crab Cake Sandwich
A summer on Chesapeake Bay isn’t complete without a crab cake sandwich. A Maryland staple at The Original Crabcake Factory, seasoned with Old Bay, fried golden brown, tartar sauce and lemon wedges on a bun.
I know, what exactly is a Spuckie? Coming from Italian immigrant roots from the word spucadella, which is a type of Italian long roll. Like an Italian hero, a spuckie is made with a mix of Italian cured meats and cheeses and can be served cold or pressed. One of the most well-known can be found at Cutty’s in Brookline Village which has a variety of Spuckies to choose from.
While it may not have been invented in Michigan, no one does Reuben Sandwiches like the delis in Detroit -- especially Zingerman's Deli. Thinly sliced corned beef and Swiss cheese, piled high only buttery rye bread, finished off with sauerkraut and Russian dressing. You can’t go wrong grilled or hot-pressed.
Fried Walleye Sandwich
Walleye is the official fish of Minnesota, so it’s only right to fry it and put it into a sandwich. Try Mac’s Fish and Chips who serves the classic sandwich -- battered and fried with pickles, lemon and tartar sauce.
Pig’s Ear Sandwich
Pig’s Ear Sandwich is a Mississippi tradition, especially in a sandwich. Big Apple Inn in Jackson is known for this iconic sandwich -- pressure cooked until tender, served with homemade hot sauce, slaw and mustard. This is the only state to try them, and unless experienced we don’t recommend making them at home.
This open-faced sandwich topped with garlic butter, ham and local provel cheese (a processed mix of cheddar, Swiss and provolone) makes up The Gerber. If you want the original, try it at Ruma’s Deli, the local restaurant invented this delight in 1973.
Pork Chop Sandwich
This sandwich was made famous by Montana native Evel Knievel. While many restaurants claim they have the best version (Knievel’s favorite is at the Freeway Tavern), you can’t go wrong with a solid Pork Chop Sandwich.
Runza Restaurants opened in Nebraska in 1949, and it’s signature sandwich made of a dough exterior filled with ground beef, cabbage, onions and seasonings gained so much popularity it became a state-wide household name. You can thank the creation of this treat to Nebraska’s German and Russian immigrants.
While the Patty Melt was created in California, some of the best in class is in Nevada. After an intoxicating, all night out with no sleep in Sin City, sometimes a Patty Melt is exactly what you need. Ease your hangover at Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers. There’s many variations and toppings from different types of cheese (we love muenster) to caramelized onions and tomatoes.
Roast Beef Sandwich
New Hampshire is home to some of the best roast beef. Local delis (try Bentley’s Roast Beef) specialize in not just any generic roast beef, but the rare, thinly sliced meat. It’s popular although it’s tough competition is pizza and seafood as well.
Given New Jersey’s vast Italian-American population it should be a given that a good ol’ Italian hoagie is done right in the Garden State. Cosmo’s Italian Salumeria in Hackensack has one of the best. It’s a beautiful combination of ham, salami, soppressata, capicola, mozzarella, provolone and sweet peppers served cold.