What Are Boston's Best Sandwiches?
Employees at WGBH weigh in on what's got them under their thumb.
Deli's, bodegas, speciality shops — you can't walk a block in Boston without running into a sandwich shop. And 'running into' them we are. Boston is a city that loves its sandwiches, and the offerings are delicious.
Defining the "best" is a disputable topic. Fall too far down the rabbit hole and it can get existential. But the one thing you can count on is that everyone has a favorite, and we asked folks around WGBH to weigh in on the subject matter. We were more than delighted to see results coming in from all over the sandwich spectrum.
The Texas Rachel in a Skirt at Rosebud American Kitchen & Bar (pictured above)
Marketing/PR Copywriter Rosa Hargrove enjoys the Texas Rachel in a Skirt from Rosebud American Kitchen & Bar in Somerville.
“It just hits all the right notes: salty, meaty, tangy,” she says. “And it’s perfect paired with any cocktail.”
The sandwich is made with smoked brisket, BBQ onions, horseradish sauce and a creamy slaw, topped with a cheese skirt, and served on fresh rye with a healthy side of crinkle-cut fries.
"You’re in for a world of hurt if you try to finish this thing in one sitting, but it’s worth it for the experience of eating it warm." Hargrove adds.
381 Summer St., Somerville, 617.629.9500, rosebudkitchen.com
The Thorty Black and Gold at Michael’s Deli
Henry Santoro from WGBH News, loves the Thorty Black and Gold at Michael’s Deli in Brookline. The sandwich is made of black pastrami with cheddar cheese, honey mustard and hots, all served on a bulkie roll.
“It was created in honor of former Boston Bruin Shawn Thornton's grandmother who lost her life to Parkinson's disease," says Santoro. "Michael's owner, Steven Peljovich, wanted to support Shawn and his foundation and that's how the sandwich was born.”
A portion of the sale of every sandwich goes to the Shawn Thornton Foundation for Parkinson's & Cancer.
"His foundation was created about the same time I bought the deli so I reached out to Shawn and asked him to help me create a sandwich that I would sell and donate $1 of each to his foundation, which we continue to do to this day," Peljovich tells us. "If I had to guess we’ve donated well over $7,000 through the sales of the Thorty Black and Gold."
"And it's not just the story that makes the sandwich great, it's the taste!" Santoro adds. "Michael's, by the way, has some of the best pastrami in the Boston area."
256 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-738-DELI (3354), michaelsdelibrookline.com
The Smoky-Spicy Turkey at Dave’s Fresh Pasta
Emily Balk in Media Relations (and Craving Boston contributor) likes literally every sandwich at Dave’s Fresh Pasta in Somerville, but it’s the Smoky-Spicy Turkey that tops her list.
“Turkey might sound boring, but I love the Smoky-Spicy Turkey in particular because of the huge flavors and textural contrasts," she says. "They’re hitting you on multiple fronts with the smoke, including smoked mozzarella, spicy chipotle aioli and a creamy smoked tomato mayo. That’s balanced with the really peppery turkey that’s sliced fresh, red onions and bright, crunchy pickles."
The sandwich begins with Plainville turkey, topped with smoked mozzarella, red onion, dill pickle and chipotle aioli, and is finished with a smoked tomato mayo.
"I like it on the sliced ciabatta, but no matter what bread you pick, you should get it grilled," Balk adds. "That melts the cheese and adds a lovely crunch to the outside.”
81 Holland St., Somerville, 617-623-0867, davesfreshpasta.com
Johnathan's Vegetable Garden at Hi-Rise Bread Company
Digital Producer (and Craving Boston contributor) Andrea Wolanin loves her veggies. So it came as no surprise to find out that her favorite sandwich is Johnathan's Vegetable Garden at Hi-Rise Bread Company in Cambridge.
"I love Hi-Rise; it’s always cozy and smells like fresh bread and pastries, which is exactly what you need three seasons out of the year." says Wolanin. "Every time I know I’m going to be near Huron and Concord (in Cambridge) I plan my day around stopping in to grab a latté, a chocolate cookie, and a Jonathan’s Vegetable Garden."
The sandwich starts with a healthy serving of goat cheese topped with radish, cucumber, red leaf lettuce, tomato, basil pesto (no nuts), and is served on their signature sprouted wheat sourdough bread.
"The combination of tomatoes, radishes and cucumbers gives it an incredibly springy/summery flavor, while the goat cheese, pesto and sprouted sourdough bread make it hearty enough for the winter and fall," Wolanin adds. "To top it off, it’s got a great crunch and a rich flavor that make it feel like it’s not as healthy as it is."
208 Concord Ave., Cambridge, 617-876-8766, hi-risebread.com
The State Street Café Special at Al’s State Street Café
Senior Marketing & Data Analyst Rob Vassegh can’t get enough of the State Street Café Special at Al’s State Street Café in Boston.
“The sandwich is basically a Caprese salad with a layer of salty ham – prosciutto, mozzarella, tomato, and basil on a soft baguette with a slightly crispy exterior – simple yet so delicious.” Vassegh says. “Ordering can be a bit chaotic, but the wait time is shorter than you’d expect.”
"And you better know your order." Cristina Quinn from WGBH News adds. "They will be nice to you but everyone in line will wonder why the hell you got in line without knowing what you're ordering."
Quinn is also a fan of the State Street Café Special. "They bake their own bread and really, it's their linchpin."
The Kama-Kazi at Carl’s Steaks
Payroll Manager Steven George loves the steak subs at Carl’s Steaks in Waltham.
“They're awesome.” he says. His favorite is the Kama-Kazi. It’s a bomb of a sub piled high with steak, sausage, bacon, ham, pepperoni, BBQ sauce, and topped with melted provolone cheese. “My advice is to get a small because the large is enough to share, or save half for the next day.”
George also recommends the Porkey, Firecracker, Nacho Steak, Chipotle Steak, Cajun Steak, Mexican, Cherry Bomb, and the frightening Mistake.
“It is impressive when you go and see the mounds of freshly ground steak being piled on the grill tops.” George adds.
The Taiwanese Organic Chicken Cutlet Bun at Dumpling Daughter
Director of Member Engagement Yuri Stern has favorite sandwiches all around Boston, but it's the Taiwanese organic chicken cutlet bun from Dumpling Daughter in Weston that tops his list.
"We (he and his wife) go at least once a month, after discovering it during an anniversary lunch," Stern says. "Their dumplings are great as well, but it was the buns that really stood out. The warm crispy chicken paired with the cool pickles and mayo is perfect."
The mini sandwiches start with crispy organic chicken cutlets, topped with lettuce and pickled radish, and are served with a light mayo on a soft, steamed bun.
"They have a great story as well. The owner is the daughter of the owners of the famous Sally Ling's, but this place really stands up on its own."
37 Center St. Weston, 781-216-8989, dumplingdaughter.com
And my favorite sandwich?
The Banh Mi at Dash Café
There isn't a sandwich around that makes me happier than the Banh Mi at Dash Café in Brighton. It's perfect layers of flavors and textures, packaged into a 'Scooby-sized' delight.
The sandwich begins with your choice of pork, tofu, or chicken, and is generously topped with julienned cucumber, pickled carrot and daikon radish, soy sauce, mayo, and finished with sliced jalapeño to keep things spicy.
Then comes the best part, the perfectly toasted French roll. It's crunchy and fresh, and you'll be hard-pressed to find a more perfect sandwich bread to pair with this beast. I just can't get enough of it.
5 Henshaw St., Brighton, 617-254-2767, dashcafe.net