25 Great Sandwiches

Sunday, March 24, 2013 at 7:05pm
Bahn Mi — InterAsian Market
Bahn Mi — InterAsian Market
The "Corned Dog" Reuben — Etch
The "Corned Dog" Reuben — Etch
The Vegetarian — Perl Cafe & Market
The Vegetarian — Perl Cafe & Market
The Salem — Portland Brew
The Salem — Portland Brew
Jagerwurst — The Pharmacy Burger Parlor & Beer Garden
Jagerwurst — The Pharmacy Burger Parlor & Beer Garden
Shaved Seitan — Sloco
Shaved Seitan — Sloco
Chopped Liver and Roast Beef — Noshville
Chopped Liver and Roast Beef — Noshville
Catfish — Eastside Fish
Catfish — Eastside Fish
The Tender Royale — Pepperfire Hot Chicken
The Tender Royale — Pepperfire Hot Chicken
The Frisby — The Silly Goose
The Frisby — The Silly Goose
BBQ Braised Jackfruit Sliders — The Stone Fox
BBQ Braised Jackfruit Sliders — The Stone Fox
Hot Pork Chop Sandwich — 400 Degrees
Hot Pork Chop Sandwich — 400 Degrees
Lox and Bagel — Bagel Face Bakery
Lox and Bagel — Bagel Face Bakery
The Frank Dileo — Savarino's
The Frank Dileo — Savarino's
Chicken Salad — The Picnic Cafe
Chicken Salad — The Picnic Cafe
BBQ Asian Tofu — Mitchell Delicatessen
BBQ Asian Tofu — Mitchell Delicatessen
Cubano — Back to Cuba
Cubano — Back to Cuba
Steak and Gruyere — Coffee, Lunch
Steak and Gruyere — Coffee, Lunch
Torta Milanesa — El Amigo
Torta Milanesa — El Amigo
Italian Beef Combo — Hot Diggity Dogs
Italian Beef Combo — Hot Diggity Dogs
The Haute Dog Hoagie — blvd
The Haute Dog Hoagie — blvd
Roast Beef Po'boy — Villager Tavern
Roast Beef Po'boy — Villager Tavern
French Dip — J. Alexander's
French Dip — J. Alexander's
Prime Rib — J. Alexander's
Prime Rib — J. Alexander's
Italian Sausage Stuffed Pretzel — Village Pub and Beer Garden
Italian Sausage Stuffed Pretzel — Village Pub and Beer Garden

 

You can tart a sandwich up all you want — I will always love it. Put an egg on top of it? Pour a sauce over it? Deconstruct it, reconstruct it or deep-fry it? I’m there.

I love a good sandwich, and I’m always looking for another one.

With that in mind, I asked some of the finest eaters I know to give me what they think are some of Nashville’s best sandwiches. The rules are simple: No burgers, no barbecue, no wraps and no tacos. Stay in Nashville (with one detour to Franklin). Take a picture.

What came back was probably the next month of lunches for me, and hopefully you, too. There are some classics in here (a great chicken salad from The Picnic) and some interesting new ones that people swear by (BBQ Asian Tofu from Mitchell’s).

By narrowing the list down — and there were some great sandwiches left on the cutting-room floor — we have surely created arguments for favorites we left out or overlooked. Believe me, I’d love to know what they are. Send us an email about your favorites to sandwiches@nashvillecitypaper.com. If you’ve got a picture, even better. We’ll fan out and try them for a future issue.

—Steve Cavendish, editor

 

Our panel: Chris Chamberlain, Lesley Lassiter, Ashley Akin, Dana Kopp Franklin, Steve Haruch, Jack Silverman, Jim Ridley, Nicki Pendleton Wood, James Nix, Steve Cavendish

 

 

Banh Mi

InterAsian Market

Every bite of this grand sandwich says “handmade.” Cook Boonkheng Xayarath starts her banh mi with the right bread, crackling outside and chewy inside. The velvety liver pâté so often missing from ersatz banh mi, she makes herself out of necessity. Boonkheng also makes her own mayonnaise, and she pickles, thick matchsticks of daikon and carrot for crunchy do chua. Oh also, the red roast pork —she makes that too. Vietnamese ham adds its weird, chewy texture, and cilantro completes the roster. A little visit to the toaster, then the sandwich is cut into halves, wrapped snug and handed to you, warm and irresistible.

—NPW

2160 Nolensville Pike, (615) 742-3268

 

The “Corned Dog” Reuben

Etch

Most Nashville culinarians know that Chef Deb Paquette at Etch is something of a mad scientist. Her approach to menu creation and layering of flavors has kept her on the cutting edge of Nashville cuisine for years, but who knew what she could do with a hot dog? It took more than 60 different trial runs for her to perfect a method of injecting and sealing a pickling brine into an all-beef Wagyu wiener. The delicious resulting “corned” dog sandwich is reminiscent of a Reuben with a different delivery system.

—CC

303 Demonbreun St.

(615) 522-0685

 

The Vegetarian

Perl Cafe & Market

There’s a lot to love about this sandwich, but the best reason is the fry bread, which is like a savory doughnut, minus the hole. The bread is freshly prepared each day and is spread with baba ghanoush — mashed eggplant with olive oil and spices — and goat cheese, then topped with thinly sliced watermelon radish (for a crisp, peppery flavor), sprouts, roasted tomatoes and sweet potato “hay.” The combination of the creamy, chewy and crunchy textures makes for a supremely interesting and satisfying sandwich.

—LL

7114 Highway 70 S., Suite 109

(615) 646-1390

 

The Salem

Portland Brew

“Hot mess” is usually a derogatory term for gaffe-prone starlets, but in this case, it’s a good thing. Spicy egg, tomato and provolone cheese are served on your choice of bagel (we suggest “Everything” and we add ham, lest any meal go pork-less). The egg is fried and drenched in Frank’s RedHot, creating a hot, seeping mess of breakfast-food goodness. Wear dark clothes and bring wet naps.

—AA

2605 12th Ave. S.

(615) 732-2003

 

Jagerwurst

The Pharmacy Burger Parlor & Beer Garden

If you’re going to have a beer garden, you have to serve a good sausage sandwich, right? At The Pharmacy, they certainly do. Tops among their list of the best of the wurst is their Jagerwurst sandwich, a house-made pork sausage seasoned with coriander, garlic, mustard seed, nutmeg and ginger and served on a custom roll baked by Provence. Topped with a mild beer-braised kraut and served with your choice of either a maple or beer mustard, this is a real deal of a meal.

— CC

731 McFerrin Ave.

(615) 712-9517

 

Shaved Seitan

Sloco

Seitan is a meat substitute created from vital wheat gluten. The result is a chewy, high-protein mass that’s very similar in texture to real meat (no, really). Chef Jeremy Barlow makes his own seitan, so it’s perfectly seasoned (with a hint of umami) and quite juicy. It’s then thinly sliced and placed on a hoagie roll that’s made in-house daily. Pickled seasonal squash, crispy chickpeas and “microherbs” (grown in the store) are added, and it’s all steamed together to make a very healthy, much-appreciated vegan alternative to a roast beef sandwich.

—LL

2905 12th Ave. S.

(615) 499-4793

 

Chopped Liver and Roast Beef

Noshville

There’s a King of the Hill episode where Bobby becomes obsessed with Jewish deli food, in particular chopped chicken liver — “It’s meat you eat with a spoon!” The enthusiasm’s understandable. Noshville, where they make chopped liver fresh in house, has an off-the-menu sandwich that combines the delicious “spoon meat” with a meatier meat: roast beef. Put ’em on pumpernickel, add a schmear of Russian dressing (or not) and let carnivorous worlds collide in your mouth.

—DKF

Multiple locations

Noshville.com

  

Catfish

Eastside Fish

Any joint with the moxie to call its fish “the crunkest in town” knows it will be expected to deliver. Eastside Fish boasts at least two sandwiches that could comfortably wear that crown. (Actually, the crown would probably be too small for the monstrous pound-and-a-half O.G. King Fish.) They fry up a mean Southern catfish sandwich — tender, flaky meat encased in a perfectly bronzed breading that’s salty and crisp with just enough kick to make it crunk.

—SH

2617 Gallatin Pike

(615) 227-8388

  

The Tender Royale

Pepperfire Hot Chicken

Pepperfire isn’t much more than a shack on Gallatin Pike, but they put out some amazing stuff from that tiny kitchen, including the Frankensandwich they call The Tender Royale. First they make a pretty tasty cheese sandwich using appropriately tasteless spongy white bread and piquant pepper-jack cheese. Then they batter and deep-fry the concoction until it has a crunchy golden crust like a Scotch egg and a gooey cheesy middle. To take it over the edge, Pepperfire tops it with three of their fiery hot fried chicken tenders to add an excruciating pain/pleasure component to the whole experience.

—CC

2821 Gallatin Pike

(615) 582-4824

  

The Frisby

The Silly Goose

The portobello has become the de facto meat substitute for sandwiches at a lot of restaurants, but often it’s rendered as a feeble concession to vegetarian diners. Not so with The Silly Goose’s Frisby, which strikes the difficult balance between healthy and delicious better than any sandwich in town. And it’s utterly unique: herb-grilled portobello, walnut pesto, sundried tomatoes, Tomme cheese and kalamata olives meld together on honey flaxseed for a delightfully complex taste sensation.

—JS

1888 Eastland Ave.

(615) 915-0757

 

BBQ Braised Jackfruit Sliders

The Stone Fox

Vegetarians (and those looking for healthy alternatives) can rejoice in the revelation that green jackfruit from Asia is remarkably similar in texture to pulled pork. At The Stone Fox, they braise the jackfruit and combine it with their own Sun Drop barbecue sauce. The result is satisfyingly similar to real barbecue. And delicious. The trio of barbecue jackfruit sliders is only available during happy hour, so wash it down with one of the local beers on draft or a genuine RC Cola (also on tap!).

—LL

712 51st Ave. N.

(615) 953-1811

  

Hot Pork Chop Sandwich

400 Degrees

There’s plenty of debate about who serves the best hot chicken sandwich in town. While you may be a fan of the venerable Prince’s or an upstart like Hattie B’s, there’s no question about who serves the best hot pork chop sandwich. At 400˚ in SoBro, they batter and fry a huge bone-in chop to a golden brown and then dredge it in an incendiary paste of secret seasoning. The giant cutlet dwarfs the slices of white bread that soak up the spice, but at least afterwards you can enjoy what aficionados call “the devil’s cinnamon toast.”

—CC

319 Peabody St.

(615) 244-4467

 

Lox and Bagel

Bagel Face Bakery

Nashville’s multicultural dining options have expanded greatly in recent years, but good Jewish food is still in short supply. When I need matzo ball soup I head to Noshville, but when I want a good bagel-lox-and-cream-cheese sandwich, Bagel Face Bakery is the place. The Shuckman’s lox — smoked up I-65 in Louisville — is solid, and the sliced red onion, tomato and capers make it authentic. But it’s the divine bagels, made fresh in house each day, that elevate this sandwich from good to geshmak.

—JS

700 Main St.

(615) 730-8840

 

The Frank Dileo

Savarino’s

Named for Michael Jackson’s longtime manager — not to mention the guy who played Tuddy Cicero, the mob goon who whacked Joe Pesci in Goodfellas — the Frank Dileo sandwich at Savarino’s is a fitting tribute to a man who was larger than life and loved his Italian roots. Simple yet hearty, the Dileo is an elemental masterpiece, the faint sweetness of grilled Italian sausage complementing the bitterness of the garlicky broccoli rabe. It may well be the most quintessentially Italian, not to mention fabulous, sandwich in town.

—JS

2121 Belcourt Ave.

(615) 460-9878

  

Chicken Salad

The Picnic Cafe

Picnic chicken salad is immoderately modest in the old Nashville way. It’s won hearts for 30 years the old-fashioned way: by getting it right, staying the same and not cutting corners. Remy Trail, The Picnic’s chicken salad maker of 18 years, steams 150 pounds of chicken every day. It goes through a meat grinder to get the right mix of chunks and shreds. Hand-peeling is the only way to do each day’s 30 dozen boiled eggs. Chicken, eggs, salt, mayo, celery, a whisper of onion and plenty of pepper. Notably absent are controversial ingredients like grapes, curry powder and pecans. Sometimes winning hearts is a matter of purism.

—NPW

4320 Harding Pike

(615) 297-5398

  

BBQ Asian Tofu

Mitchell Delicatessen

Purists of various stripes may bristle at the use of “BBQ” and “Asian” in the name, but like its continentally vague steak counterpart (available only on Mondays), this meatless wonder packs enough flavor to silence all doubters. Savory slabs of baked tofu anchor the flavor under a tangle of avocado, cucumber and sprouts, while sesame ginger dressing binds everything together beautifully with a salty-sweet flourish.

—SH

1402 McGavock Pike

(615) 262-9862

  

Cubano

Back to Cuba Cafe

Any sandwich that begins with the slathering of butter across hot metal has a good chance of making a list like this, and the Cubano at Back to Cuba does not disappoint. Pork, ham, cheese, pickle and mustard get compressed to perfection between two slabs of Cuban bread, forming a meaty, gooey, tart and flaky masterpiece worth defying any trade sanctions or at the very least, the drive to South Nashville.

—SH

4683 Trousdale Drive

(615) 837-6711

 

Steak and Gruyere

Coffee, Lunch

Beef tenderloin and butternut squash are cooked sous vide for an intense flavor and succulent feel. Leeks are dusted with cornstarch and frizzled until the edges caramelize. A few leaves of arugula add peppery, meaty crunch. The soft, fresh roll is made in house by pastry chef Audra Dykes. Each ingredient is arranged to cover the entire surface of the cut roll. Sourcing the bread in house keeps food cost down, and the sandwich sells for an affordable $7.95, though chef Zack Maddox says he’ll probably have to raise the price. Consider yourself warned.

—NPW

300A 10th Ave. S.

(615) 678-8254

 

Torta Milanesa

El Amigo

The well-executed torta may be the near perfect sandwich. El Amigo’s torta milanesa takes pounded-thin, breaded pork cutlets and surrounds them with all the goodness of your favorite Mexican meal: tomatoes, avocado, grilled onions, refried beans, lettuce and jalapeños. And while all of that is good (VERY good, in fact, including the sneaky-hot pepper that torched my tongue last week), the bread makes it great. It’s pressed down on a griddle until it gets the caramelization that turns a soft bun into just-so-crisp goodness.

—SC

3901 Nolensville Pike

(615) 833-6434

  

Italian Beef Combo

Hot Diggity Dogs

This Chicago staple isn’t officially on the menu, but just ask the friendly staff at Hot Diggity Dogs to make you an Italian combo. It’s an obscene amount of meat — a heap of Italian beef plus a split-and-grilled Italian sausage — bolstered by the sweetness of grilled peppers and the pickled heat of giardiniera. It’s flavor overload in the best way, and while we do recommend you get the bun dunked in some garlicky jus, we do not recommend leaving your sleeves unrolled.

—SH

614 Ewing Ave.

(615) 255-3717

 

The Haute Dog Hoagie

blvd

Hot dogs weren’t allowed for this feature. But Arnold Myint’s creation for his new restaurant in Cha Chah’s former space cheats in all the right ways. Two Porter Road Butcher hot dogs (the ones made with ground-up short ribs) are sliced, grilled and tossed onto a shallot bun with smoked cole slaw, Sriracha aioli and mustard seeds. It’s a ridiculous combination that is unwieldy — the criss-crossed, flayed out wieners spill out of the bread — and completely over-the-top in its richness and satisfaction.

—SC

2013 Belmont Blvd.

(615) 385-2422

 

Roast Beef Po’boy

Villager Tavern

When steady shots and a sympathetic bartender aren’t enough to stifle the blues, this Hillsboro Village staple oughta do the trick: an industrial-strength dose of comfort food, drenched in brown gravy and specks of roast-beef debris. At $6.29 for a half sandwich as long as your forearm, this counts as both a great bang-for-your-buck deal and a liquor sop par excellence. Be sure to check out the jukebox and the thousands of snapshots that make a mosaic of the wall space.

—JR

1719  21st Ave. S.

(615) 298-3020

 

Italian Sausage Stuffed Pretzel

Village Pub and Beer Garden

For those who don’t care much for bread, relegating it to “edible meat holders,” we need our bread to do tricks — salt it and twist it into knots. Slide a butterflied Italian sausage topped with tomato confit, caramelized onions and melted mozzarella between the pretzel buns, and you’ve got something. And when the sausage is gone first, which is probably going to happen, you still have some pretzel to sop up the escaped confit.

—JN

1308 McGavock Pike

(615) 942-5880

 

French Dip and Prime Rib Sandwiches

J. Alexander’s

French dip and prime rib sandwiches from J. Alexander: the Winklevoss twins of the meat-and-bread set. Elegant, rich, brilliant, expensive. And worth it. They’re so close, but the details make the difference. French dip ($17) puts the rib meat into the slicer and cuts it thin. It’s set on the bread in bunches, toasted, then cut on a sharp diagonal. The resulting sharp point and large cut-surface area on each half are engineered for dipping into the oniony jus. The prime rib sandwich ($18) uses a thick, cooked-to-order slab of beef, and gravity to keep the sandwich pristine and sog-less: griddled hoagie halves balance upright like mattresses on their sides against a mound of shoestring fries, and the perfectly cooked slice of rib meat leans against them. Put them together, apply horseradish as needed. It’s crunchy and tender and chewy in all the right places. Insert your own Winkelvoss joke here.

—NPW

Multiple locations

jalexanders.com

 

12 Comments on this post:

By: Blanketnazi2 on 3/25/13 at 7:34

I'm so happy Inner Asian Market made the list! It is well deserved.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 3/25/13 at 7:44

The eggplant parmesan sandwich at Savarinos is also to die for! But then so is every other sandwich at Savarinos. :)

By: PKVol on 3/25/13 at 7:44

I would prefer the list be limited to 25 Great Sandwiches under $10. This would probably cut at least 1/4 of these sandwiches off the list, but for most people, this is the tipping point of what they would pay for a great sandwich. Since burgers, dogs and barbeque were omitted from consideration, it would be responsible jounalism to do a list for each of these categories, or at least a list for all of these.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 3/25/13 at 7:53

PK, what would you add to the list?

By: Blanketnazi2 on 3/25/13 at 7:53

I also love the BLT with avocado and cheese at M.L. Rose!

By: Dukeee53 on 3/25/13 at 9:37

The Nooley's Special at Nooley's in the Farmer's Market is a great sandwich. I should be added to the list.
Also an awful lot of vegetarian sandwiches on the list....

By: JamiesDent on 3/25/13 at 11:18

Such a tragedy that Rae's Gourmet Sandwich Shop is missing. Not only is the food high-quality and creative, the expereince is half the satisfaction! The Tuesday special of Shrimp Po' Boy has people lining up out the door!
http://www.yelp.com/biz/raes-gourmet-catering-and-sandwich-shoppe-nashville
http://raesgourmet.com/

Trust me on this one; they are a standard by which the wich' should be judged.

By: courier37027 on 3/25/13 at 12:59

Along PK's line of thought I would put Jack's beef brisjet sandwich on my sandwich list. Turkey and avocado at MItchell Deli (referenced in column) is very good, too.

By: whitegravy on 3/25/13 at 1:45

As a starving student, 10 DOLLARS or LESS appeals to me.....always on the lookout for some GREAT, AFFORDABLE eats that arent mass produced/processed.......thanx for the heads up and addresses

By: zugswang on 3/27/13 at 7:54

Piranha's (what kind of name is that for a bar anyways) "Titan" is incredible..every sandwich there is great, order half the fries on the sandwich, half on the plate and the wings are a slapshot and score. Hey bring back the kielbasa!

Nobody went to Savarino's? Yousguys at the paper is going to receive a visit...
The chicken parm sandwich... Fugetaboutit! Save room for dessert!

By: BMike on 3/27/13 at 11:04

I'm all about supporting my East Nashville businesses, but I'm not going to pretend The Pharmacy has any business being the top ten of anything. Just cus it's a hipster hangout doesn't mean it's decent.

By: scavendish on 3/29/13 at 3:37
Zugswang -- We didn't forget Savarino's. The Frank Dileo! It's fantastic!