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A very sloppy round sandwich with tendrils of carrot flopping out.
Our number two sandwich features chicken cutlets — grilled, not fried — coated with Indian masala spices, keep a napkin handy.

Eater Critic Robert Sietsema’s 11 Favorite Fall Sandwiches So Far

From lamb-and-chicken shawarma laffa to a beef tongue baguette, these sandwiches are getting our senior critic through the fall

Over the last year, I’ve found myself eating more sandwiches than I had previously. This is partly because downing an entire restaurant meal has become fraught — with vaccine checks, sanitizing rituals, fear of indoor spaces, QR code menus, and, yes, higher prices.

A sandwich bypasses most of this. You can eat it with one hand while walking or working, and you can often acquire one quickly at modest expense, and eat it with pleasure in a few minutes. Besides, sandwiches are enjoyable and unfussy.

Lately, I’ve been collecting my favorites every three months or so and ranking them, culminating in the one I liked best. Here’s the latest installment.

The previous rankings: A Tribute to the 11 NYC Sandwiches That Are Getting Us Through the Pandemic; 11 More NYC Sandwiches That Are Getting Us Through the Pandemic (and Beyond); and 11 More of Our Favorite Sandwiches in NYC Right Now


11. Fresh turkey sandwich at Champs Gourmet Deli

Whenever I walk into a neighborhood deli I scan the sandwich counter to see if there’s a roast turkey visible. Sometimes, if you go early in the day, it will still be warm and you can ask that burnished skin be included in your sandwich. This modest Wall Street deli eschews those awful cylindrical turkey roll in favor of a whole skin-on breast, sliced thick and piled high. Add iceberg and a swish of mayo or Russian dressing and you have a perfect, compact sandwich ($7.50). 30 Broad Street at Exchange Place, Financial District

Two halves of a sandwich held aloft to show cut surface with thick sliced turkey and lettuce visible.
Fresh turkey sandwich at Champs Deli.

10. Leg of lamb sandwich at Bedawi

This tiny, decade-old Jordanian Bedouin restaurant in Windsor Terrace is sumptuously decorated, but it functions mainly for excellent Middle Eastern carryout. Among several desirable sandwiches that come wrapped in a flat (not pocket) pita, a leg of lamb ($11) is made of roast meat with a caramelized surface and is layered with lettuce, onions, pickles, and mint mayonnaise for a chewy, mellow, and utterly satisfying sandwich. 266 Prospect Park West, between Prospect Avenue and 17th Street, Windsor Terrace

A hand holds a meat and lettuce sandwich with a pickle chip sticking out almost wrapped completely in a flatbread.
Leg of lamb sandwich at Bedawi.

9. Pan bagnat at Le Fournil

There was much wringing of hands when Moishe’s Bake Shop closed in the East Village, but it was quickly replaced with Le Fournil, a Parisian bakery unlike which the neighborhood had never seen before. The array of freshly baked breads, tarts, and quiches (as well as faithfully recreating pastries of its predecessor, like rugelach) is impressive, but don’t be so dazzled you forget to examine the pre-made sandwiches in the knee-high case, which may include pan bagnat ($8). This specialty of Nice, France, deploys canned tuna, mayo, avocado, tomato, and boiled egg, among other ingredients. It’s the world’s best tuna sandwich, and needless to say the round roll is exceedingly fresh. 115 Second Avenue, at Seventh Street, East Village

Two rows of round sandwiches lined up with boiled egg, tuna, and tomato visible at the edges.
Pan bagnat at Le Fournil.

8. Cucumber and cream cheese sandwich at Tea & Sympathy

In England, there’s seemingly four meals per day, of which the lightest is called tea, and features pastries and airy sandwiches in addition to a tea service. The sandwiches at Tea & Sympathy are often vegetarian, and one of the most beguiling piles up peeled and sliced cucumbers on white bread ($8.50). White cream cheese holds the thing together, but also participates in an interplay of flavors that leaves the tea itself as the strongest taste on the table. Subtlety can be a good thing. 108 Greenwich Avenue, at Jane Street, West Village

White bread sandwich with sliced cucumbers, both sides smeared with white soft cheese.
Cucumber and cream cheese sandwich at Tea & Sympathy.

7. Lamb and chicken shawarma laffa at Al Aqsa

Named after a Jerusalem mosque, this modest Palestinian lunch counter has become famous across Brooklyn for the quality and heft of its pita sandwiches, the foremost of which provides a choice of chicken, lamb, or beef shawarma. For a dollar more, one can have the sandwich on a tubular laffa rather than a pocket pita, and why not also choose both meats that rotate on any given time on the vertical spits ($9.99). Al Aqsa knows that when you order a shawarma sandwich, it’s mainly the meat you’re interested in, and thus provides an abundance of it, along with the jolting flavors of pickle and the ultra-garlicky mayo called toum. 6917 Fifth Avenue, between Bay Ridge and Ovington avenues, Bay Ridge

You can see shreds of meat inside a flatbread tube dabbed with white sauce.
Lamb and chicken shawarma laffa at Al Aqsa.

6. Tuna sandwich at Nili

You may have imagined that there was not much room for improvement in the humble tuna salad sandwich, but Nili proves that assertion wrong. This establishment located directly above the Carroll Street station on the F has a beguiling menu for what is basically a coffee shop. It’s tuna sandwich ($10), which comes premade and neatly wrapped in white butcher paper, incorporates wasabi-flavored tobiko (miniature flying fish roe) and mayo laced with harissa, the Mediterranean chile paste, for an international perspective on the sandwich. And the whole grain bread with its crunchy wheat berries further improves on the formula. 360 Smith Street, at Second Place, Carroll Gardens

A sandwich cut in half on coarse whole grain bread with dry looking tuna inside and squished lettuce and tomato.
Tuna sandwich at Nili.

5. Italian special hero at Faicco’s Italian Specialties

The menu of subs at Greenwich Village salumeria Faicco’s is bewildering in its length and detail, but two sandwiches stand out, a pair of heroes that reflect the new world and the old in their selections of cold cuts. Skip the American special for the time being and go for the Italian special hero ($11), which incorporates cappy ham, prosciutto, and sopressata, along with optional pickled red peppers, dressed in the Italian fashion with oil and vinegar. It’s big enough to share with a friend. 260 Bleecker Street, between Morton and Leroy streets, Greenwich Village

Two halves of a hero bulging with three kinds of pinkish meat and red red peppers.
Italian special hero at Faicco’s.

4. Chilaquiles torta at Michelada House II

The food of Mexico City turns out to be as playful and hybridized as that of New York City, a fact that can easily be seen in the drinking snacks of Michelada House II, right on Jackson Heights’ thrumming Roosevelt Avenue. The chilaquiles torta ($13.95) is a good example, a sandwich on a telera roll slathered with beans and crema that spotlights a crisply fried chicken cutlet, but then jokingly adds chilaquiles, a breakfast dish of tortilla chips tossed with salsa, creating a dish that pulls in several directions at once, but is rich in the crunch that one desires when drinking alcoholic beverages. 88-19 Roosevelt Avenue, at 89th street, Jackson Heights

A sandwich held up by a pair of hands in which a fried cutlet and tortilla chips are visible.
Chilaquiles torta at Michelada House II.

3. Beef tongue baguette at Sami & Susu

Sure, Jewish delis often serve beef tongue, but it’s usually rubbery. The tongue in this baguette sandwich immediately stood out at Lower East Side Israeli restaurant Sami & Susu because it’s soft and pliable, more like the tongue found in a taco. The taste is ramped up with herbs and capers, but the number one flavor vector is anchovies, making a wonderfully screwy version of surf and turf that I’ve returned to eat again and again, $13. 190 Orchard Street, between Houston and Stanton streets, Lower East Side

A long baguette with anchovy and meat, dabbed with green herbs and capers.
Beef tongue baguette at Sami & Susu.

2. Chicken masala sandwich at Meat and Bread

Never fear a gloppy sloppy sandwich (that’s what napkins are for). This chicken sandwich ($15) is grilled rather that fried, and the breast is first smeared with a pungent masala. The cooked cutlet is then placed on a bouncy potato roll with a slaw that adds a hefty dose of turmeric to the usual mayo. The result is a succulent chicken sandwich, and you may not go back to the usual fried cutlet usually found in chicken sandwiches, at this Lower East Side sandwich specialist that only uses halal meats. 201 Allen Street, between Houston and Stanton streets, Lower East Side

A grilled chicken sandwich with carrot slaw slivers hanging over the patty like bangs.
Chicken masala sandwich at Meat and Bread.

1. La Chilanga at Tortas Morelos

Made on a light-as-a-balloon telera roll, the torta is one of the world’s greatest sandwiches. At this wonderful Bay Ridge Mexican spot concentrating on tortas, the one called La Chilanga is among the best: moist without being soppy, rich without being fatty. It’s made with layers of boiled ham and head cheese, a very urban combo, along with crumbly fresh cheese, tomato, avocado, refried beans, and pickled jalapenos. You won’t be bored by this contraption. 271 Bay Ridge Avenue, between Third Avenue and Bay Ridge Place, Bay Ridge

Two halves of a sandwich on a white plate piled with two types of meat and cheese.
La Chilanga at Tortas Morelos.

Champs Gourmet Deli

30 Broad St, New York, NY 10004 (212) 363-4000 Visit Website

Le Fournil

115 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

Michelada House II

88-19 Roosevelt Avenue, Queens, NY 11372 (718) 433-9595 Visit Website

Meat and Bread

201 Allen Street, New York, NY 10002 Visit Website

Tea & Sympathy

108 Greenwich Avenue, Manhattan, NY 10011 (212) 989-9735 Visit Website

Nili

360 Smith Street, Brooklyn, New York 11231

Al Aqsa Bakery & Restaurant

6917 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11209 (929) 350-9091

Sami & Susu

190 Orchard Street, Manhattan, NY 10002 (646) 559-2856 Visit Website

Faicco's

260 Bleecker Street, Manhattan, NY 10014 (212) 243-1974

Tortas Morelos

271 Bay Ridge Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11220 (718) 333-5222

Bedawi Cafe

266 Prospect Park W, Brooklyn, NY 11215 (718) 499-3444 Visit Website
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