Although the 4th Earl of Sandwich is given credit as the source for the name "sandwich," there can be no doubt that Americans have truly perfected this hand-held meal. Whether it’s for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert or an afternoon snack, we have embraced the sandwich – now arguably as American as baseball and apple pie.
In honor of this great culinary concoction, USA TODAY 10Best and Sandwich America have scoured the states for the best of the best. We selected 10 iconic regional sandwiches and enlisted a team of local experts and chefs to help nominate 20 stellar examples in each category. For the past four weeks, our readers have been voting daily for their favorites in each category, and now the results are in!
Click on each category below to see a complete top 10 list of winners:
On opening day of Zucker’s owner Matt got word that his bagel machine operator could not report to work. In a scramble, he found someone who could hand-roll and kettle-boil bagels, and the response to the bagels was so fantastic the business model changed immediately. The machine was destined to collect dust. Zucker's pairs their bagels with lox from Acme Smoked Fish, a four generation institution out of Brooklyn.
After learning from the best German wurstmachers, Fred Usinger came to Milwaukee in the late 1870s with $400 and his favorite sausage recipes. Four generations of Usingers have maintained operations of this nationally recognized business devoted to the craft of sausage making. The Usinger's Sausage shop sits in the heart of downtown Milwaukee.
Located in the town of Llano outside of Austin, Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que is famous for their Lone Star brisket – peppery on the outside and juicy on the inside. This joint's brisket sandwich is of the chopped variety. The restaurant offers a condiment table where you can fill a Styrofoam cup with the thin house BBQ sauce, only on the side and never used in cooking.
Visiting Philadelphia natives credit The Groove Cheesesteak Co. (formerly Southside Steaks) as the closest to a Philly original you can get in Pittsburgh. The classic rendition comes with sliced beef on a soft Italian roll with sauteed onions, peppers and cheese sauce, while the "Pittsburgh" comes topped with mozzarella, french fries, lettuce, tomato and cole slaw.
True to its name, Ocean City's Crabcake Factory USA cooks up crab cakes filled with huge lumps of crab meat. If that's not enough crab for you, they also make a mean crab Bloody Mary to sip alongside the sandwich, which comes on a toasted kaiser roll.
Tampa native Michelle and her husband Robert say Cubans are in their blood. Given the humble origins and working man appeal of the Cuban, it's only fitting that a food truck is known for serving one of the best Cuban sandwiches in Florida. Michelle is lauded by her followers (literally they follow her truck around) for putting love and attention into every aspect of her Cuban creation, which includes honey ham, pork roasted in house, handmade pickles and La Segunda bread – considered the best in Tampa.
Blake's Lotaburger, a fast food chain exclusive to New Mexico, has a legion of local fans who stop in or drive through for their LOTA Burger topped with cheese and Hatch Valley green chile. And don't let the fast food label fool you – this green chile is spicy!
Novi’s claim to fame is a their time-honored recipe of beef sliced thin and coupled with a selection of tantalizing spices that they claim makes theirs the best in Chicagoland. Founded by Nick “Novi,” a man with a vision to create a local restaurant where “ordinary people could stop in and get a great beef sandwich for a good price,” Novi's still uses its original recipe today.
Open seasonally, this fast food joint in Maine describes itself as serving "wicked good seafood and burgers” and is a favorite of locals, including lobster boat owners. The lobster roll is what lobster dreams are made of: a butter-toasted bun topped with tender, sweet lobster meat and just enough mayo to bind it all together. Diners order from a takeout window and enjoy to-go or on nearby picnic tables.
Parkway Bakery and Tavern first opened for business in 1911, and it has been a NOLA icon ever since. Fans can't seem to agree on the best po' boy either. Some rave about the slow cooked roast beef, while others come return time and again for the fried shrimp. Can't decide? The Parkway Surf and Turf features both!