clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

New York City's 10 Craziest Sandwiches

Since it began life as a hand-held snack featuring a single slice of meat between two pieces of plain bread, supposedly invented by the Earl of Sandwich in 1765, the sandwich has zoomed all over the world. Not only is it a gustatory convenience, but a chance to be creative with leftovers as well as a wide range of sometimes incongruous fresh ingredients. People occasionally goof on the sandwich, as we shall see, and diverse cultures around the world have made it their own, often by giving the earl’s original concept a swift kick in the pants.

Here are some of the city’s most unusual sandwiches. (And afterwards, check out 10 More of the Craziest NY Sandwiches)

Tranca Pecho — The name means "chest clogger," and it’s considered the national sandwich of Bolivia. (Shouldn’t every country have a national sandwich?) Mounted on a hero roll, the sandwich is layered with a breaded beef cutlet, fried egg, purple onions, tomatoes, and here’s the kicker: diced beets that leave little rivulets of purple running down the white of the egg. Find it at: Cumbre, 67-03 Woodside Ave, Queens, (718) 476-2200


Pastrami Wish — Why didn’t anyone think of it before? A Coney Island-style knish, split open to reveal the potato glory within, layered with hot pastrami and sauerkraut. It was invented not long ago in the Bronx at an obscure kosher Jewish deli by an owner who got the idea — or so he says — from his grandkids. Find it at: Loeser’s, 214 W 231st St, Bronx, (718) 548-9735


Cemita Cubana — The origin of this version of the Pueblan sandwich on a round seeded roll is uncertain. Starting out as a torta, some say it was named after a street in Mexico City. Others claim is was inspired by Havana’s Cuban sandwich. Either way, it’s a tuck-in of major proportions, featuring a carved-up frankfurter, boiled ham, beef cutlet, rivers of melted white cheese, plus garnishes that include dried chipotles, fresh jalapenos, refried beans, and papalo leaves. Find it at: Puebla de Los Angeles Deli, 722 5th Ave, Brooklyn, (718) 965-4700


Chivito — "Little goat" is the facetious name for the belt-busting national sandwich of Uruguay, a layered tour-de-force of flavor that rivals the New Orleans muffaletta in both size and culinary excellence. Yes, there may be some Italian influence there, because the sandwich, here deposited on a shiny brioche, bulges with ham, egg, steak, bacon, olives, mozzarella, pickled peppers, lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions, and mayo. Find it at: Charrua, 131 Essex Street, (212) 677-5838


Fried Chicken and Waffle — Using waffles in place of sliced bread in a sandwich is a stroke of genius, evoking the famous old Harlem dish of chicken and waffles from the 1930s, served at Wells’ Supper Club after midnight. But what if the waffles were miniaturized, as almost a parody of the Brooklyn chicken biscuit craze? And do you pour syrup on it or not? One place provides the answer, plus what Ryan Sutton called, "Manhattan’s best new fried chicken." Find it at: Root & Bone, 200 E 3rd St, (646) 682-7076


Gongura — Of the many flying-saucer-shaped entities fit to be used to make a sandwich, perhaps the South Indian idli is foremost. Like bread, it’s already white and puffy, and easily split to admit a sandwich filling. In this case the filling is merely a chunky, fiery, and gritty red chutney, but one can only begin to conceive of all the things that could be profitably put inside a gongura. Find it at: Chutneys, 827 Newark Ave, Jersey City, NJ, (201) 222-9909


Tortillas de Doble Capa — Making a sandwich with tortillas would be easy — it’s called a quesadilla. But a sandwich could also be made with a Spanish tortilla, which is basically an egg-and-potato pie. Take two thick wedges, align them over one another with a filling of, say, creamed spinach, and you have something fit to serve as a main course, or maybe as a side dish at some vegetarian Peter Luger’s. The only problem is piloting the thick thing into your kisser. Find it at: Donostia, 155 Ave B, 646-256-977


Smorrebrod — Danish cuisine has been attracting lots of attention over the last five years, mainly for the antics of prodigy René Redzepi. But one celebrity chef does not an entire cuisine make — the bedrock of Danish fare is fascinating in itself, consisting of cold fish and meat mounted on tiny slices of assertive rye bread, called smorrebrod. The juxtapositions can be mind-boggling, with cured fish, mustard, sour cream, dill, pickled vegetables, and cranberry sauce occupying the same tiny, teetering sandwich. Find it at: The Copenhagen, 13 Laight St, (212) 925-1313 [Note: Unfortunately, the sandwiches here were so crazy, that the place just closed]


Focaccia — Making a sandwich out of focaccia bread is carb-intensive to be sure, but it’s also like eating one made with gooey slices of pizza. How do you deal with the moist, tomatoey topside, for example. Don rubber gloves before picking the thing up? The breaded eggplant shown here also ramps up the richness, so that you’re not going to be able to eat a sandwich like this and turn your attention to other courses — which is just as well ‘cause the sandwich is delicious! Find it at: Café al Mercato, 2344 Arthur Ave, Bronx, (718) 364-7681


Tim Tebow – When footballer Tim Tebow sashayed into town three years ago, a sandwich was created in his honor, featuring crazy thick layers of roast beef, pastrami, corned beef, yellow American cheese, lettuce, and sliced tomato on white bread with mayo. The sandwich had to be propped up with toothpicks to stay upright, and forget about getting your mouth around it! Can a sandwich that refuses to be eaten by normal means still be called a sandwich? You tell me. Get it at: Carnegie Deli, 854 Seventh Ave, (212) 757-2245

Carnegie Deli

854 7th Avenue, New York, NY 10019-5216 Visit Website

Donostia

155 Avenue B, Manhattan, NY 10009 (646) 256-9773 Visit Website

Root & Bone

5958 South Dixie Highway, , FL 33143 (786) 785-1001 Visit Website

Cumbre

67-03 Woodside Ave, Woodside, NY 11377 (718) 476-2200

Puebla de Los Angeles Deli

722 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215 (718) 965-4700

Chutneys

827 Newark Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07306 (201) 222-9909

Charrua

131 Essex Street, New York, NY 10002 (212) 677-5838 Visit Website
A.M. Intel

NYC Restaurants Get One Step Closer to Firing Up Propane Heaters Again

NYC Restaurant News

Van Leeuwen Continues to Violate NYC’s Cashless Ban Despite Already Getting Fined

NYC Doubles Down on Indoor Mask-Wearing Guidelines as New Variant Spreads

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater New York newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world