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New York's Craziest Sandwiches Strike Back

This decade might be dubbed the Era of Crazy Sandwiches, because every day more seem to appear. Consider them mini works of art: not only are many fun to eat (in some cases, only if you can figure out how to do so), but they’re beautiful to look at. Others are simply over the top, such as the Freight Train from Zaro’s in the Grand Central Dining Concourse, which is a study in modern excess. Here, then, is our fourth collection of strange sandwiches.


Freight Train — Of course it’s not good for you, isn’t that the whole point of this bizarrely overstuffed breakfast sandwich? It contains three eggs, four strips of bacon, two sausage patties, two slices of boiled ham, two slices of American cheese, and — here’s the coup-de-grâce — a layer of fried hash browns. This surfeit of ingredients is deposited on a croissant, which is fat-intensive by itself. For dieters, you can also get it on a bialy. The cost? $10.99, but that’s not bad for two meals worth of calories. Find it at: Zaro’s Bakery, Grand Central Dining Concourse, 89 E 42nd St, (212) 292-0160


French Toast — While we’re on the subject of crazy breakfast sandwiches, this delicious absurdity features two slices of brioche French toast, real salt-cured country ham, eggs scrambled with cheese, and fig jam. At this point you could actually hold it in your hands and eat it, but pour over the maple syrup as shown in the picture, and you’ll have to resort to a knife and fork. This is really one of the best things we’ve tasted all year, though depressingly low on vegetables. Find it at: The Heyward, 258 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn, (718) 384-1990


Marinated Garbanzo Beans — Weird vegetarian and vegan sandwiches are having their time in the spotlight. Rather than the usual egg salad or sliced cheese on whole wheat with mayo, such newfangled sandwicheries as Portland’s Bunk are exploring the creative use of vegetables, often pickled. Such is the case with this garbanzo contraption, featuring pickled whole beans, hot peppers, arugula, and feta to put a Greek spin on things. It tastes great and fills you up, and no one’s going to blame you if you put the free potato chips inside the sandwich. Find it at: Bunk Sandwiches, 740 Driggs Ave, Brooklyn, (347) 763-0434


Hot Sage Sausage — It looks a bit ungainly, doesn’t it? A thick link of sausage shoved into a mangled slice of white bread. Yet nothing could be better or cheaper than this North Carolina standard, with the poofy bread sopping every drop of drippings, keeping your hands relatively pristine. And the sausage itself is so strongly flavored with herbs and hot chiles that you’ll crave the bland effect of supermarket white bread. Find it at: Carolina Country Store, 2001 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, (718) 498-8033


Fried Chicken — The big mystery that surrounds the fried chicken sandwich — which features full pieces of fried chicken, bone and all — is how the hell do you eat the thing? Certainly, you can take a first bite of flesh and bread, and maybe a second, but eventually you’re going to have to deal with bone. One technique involves taking a bite and gnawing at the bone en passant as you do so; another involves stripping the flesh from the bone and re-stuffing the sandwich, while keeping the bone on the side to be chewed on later. It’s totally up to you. Find it at: Mitchell’s Soul Food, 617A Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn, (718) 789-3212


Egg and Spam Banh Mi — Vietnamese banh mis usually fall into eight or so expected categories, stuffed with combinations of ham, head cheese, pork pâté, barbecued beef, sardines, and grilled chicken. But every so often, an unusual variation appears such as this one, overstuffed with soft scrambled eggs and Spam. And who doesn’t love Spam, as long as it’s in your sandwich and not in your inbox? Find it at: Luu’s Baguette, 134 E 26th St, (212) 679-8881


Aloo and Paneer Tikka Pav — A pav is a street snack specialty of Mumbai (formerly, Bombay), on India’s west coast. Originating around 1950 and showing both Portuguese and British influences, it consists of a roll something like a Parker House stuffed with a number of possible fillings, often vegetarian. This oddball example mixes tandoori-cooked fresh cheese (paneer) with masala potatoes to great effect, served in a puddle of verdant green chutney tasting of cilantro and green onions. Find it at: Desi Galli, 101 Lexington Ave, (212) 683-2292


Rock IV Hero — Named after the 1985 movie in which Rocky’s friend Apollo Creed is beaten to death by Russian boxer Ivan Drago, this sub, if you eat the whole thing, is something like being beaten to death with mashed potatoes. Indeed, spuds and not roast beef is the primary filling component, aided by gooey white provolone cheese and a weird gravy containing big pieces of orange carrot. Flail away! Find it at: Drive-In Sandwiches, 690 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, (917) 387-3271


Avocado and Asparagus Tartine — A tartine is a French open-faced construction served on a piece of split baguette. In this case, the sandwich is first smeared with ripe avocado and then layered with arugula, shaved parmesan, steamed asparagus, and pumpkin seeds, at which time a poached egg is put on top, making a godawful mess when you bite into it. Better to assay the thing with a knife and fork. Find it at: Tartinery, Hudson Eats, 225 Liberty St, (646) 755-8484


Doubles — "Doubles" is both singular and plural, and designates a Trinidadian sandwich made by taking a pair of miniature pooris and stuffing them with a lively chick pea curry. At your discretion, a pair of chutneys are then squirted on, one made with tamarind and called "tamarind," the other made with Scotch bonnet chiles and dubbed, "pepper." This small sandwich can usually be purchased for a dollar or two, and is supremely delicious. It’s also vegan. A & A Bake & Doubles Shop, 481 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, (917) 892-9562


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