The title is borrowed in part from a PBS documentary that aired in 2008. The title, “Sandwiches that You Will Like,” was itself a borrowing by documentarian Rick Sebak of the motto of a Pittsburgh ice cream chain that was also noted for its sandwiches.
With National Sandwich Month in full bloom, we decided to give readers a taste of some of the highpoints of the local sandwich scene. So fasten your bib (some of these are messy) and let’s get started.
If there’s one sandwich that defines New York more than any other it’s the deli sandwich. When done right, this meal between slices of crusty bread boasts a half-pound of meat and is served with a good sour pickle and a side of slaw. Which is how PJ Bernstein on the Upper East Side (1215 Third Avenue, 212-879-0914) has been doing it for the past 56 years. Try the “cardiologist special,” which combines hot pastrami, tongue, and chopped chicken liver, or the “opera,” piled high with smoked Nova and cream cheese on pumpernickel with cucumber and dill.
From the belly-busting to the exotic, we hop scotch into Sunset Park Brooklyn for some of the excellent banh mi served up at Thanh Da (6008 Seventh Ave, Brooklyn, 718-492- 3253). Maybe our affection for Vietnamese food derives out of our affection for French food, which influences not only the crisp baguette that provides the foundation of the sandwich but of the liver pâtè (called “lunch meat” here) that provides part of the filling of the house special combination sandwich. The meatball sandwich, xiu mai, is also a winner.
New York has no shortage of burger restaurants, but our vote for the best goes to Hero Certified Burgers (453 E. 78th Street, 646-823-9123). Call this choice an unsung hero because the place is hardly ever mentioned in best-burger conversations, let alone writeups. So what, in our opinion, sets HCB apart from all the others? The meat. This is the burger to go for if you’re in the mood for a steak: The beef is juicy and crusted and evince a beefy essence. Options for building your burger abound, but we strongly recommend the cheddar with sliced pickle.
French dips these days are nearly as prevalent on restaurant menus as burgers these day. One sandwich that stands out in this category is the version offered at Waterfront Ale House (540 Second Avenue, 212-696-4104). What makes the sandwich so memorable is that it is a cross between a French dip and a cheesesteak. Which is to say that it comes with melted cheddar and caramelized onions, making for a messy — if enjoyable — experience. Another plus is the “jus,” which here tastes like something derived from beef drippings.