One of the best things about the sandwich—aside from your first bite—is its versatility. It can be as simple as a PB&J, or you can put everything in your refrigerator on a ciabatta bun and create an epic mountain of sandwich goodness. Follow along as one sandwich lover takes you on an American tour.
Sometimes there’s nothing like sinking your teeth into a tasty sandwich. If you grew up in a certain area of the country, you’re probably partial to the sandwiches you grew up eating, whether a Philly cheesesteak or a Fluffernutter. But there are plenty of other sandwiches from every corner of the U.S.A. that you may never have even heard of—but are totally worth trying.
Alabama: Pulled Chicken with White Sauce
While some form of barbecue sandwich is popular in most southern states, Alabama has a unique take in the form of a pulled chicken sandwich with white sauce. The mayo-based sauce is tangy and mildly spicy thanks to cider vinegar, horseradish and a potpourri of other spices. A surprising runner-up? The simple tomato and mayo on white bread. Find out what the best slow cooker recipe from your state is.
Arizona: Fry Bread Taco
When I took a poll among my Arizona associates for their state’s best sandwich, none of the answers I received were, in fact, sandwiches. In keeping with the heritage of this southwestern border state, I’m giving the nod to the fry bread taco, which—to further confuse things—isn’t actually a taco either, but a flatbread piled with pulled meat, beans, and cheese. You can make something like it with this recipe.
California: The French Dip
California is a big place with a diverse array of cultures, and it would be easy to pick any number of sandwiches to represent our most populous state, including the fish taco and the avocado club. In the end though, I have to go with the French Dip, traditionally made with roast beef on a French roll and dipped in its own juices. Which L.A. eatery invented the sandwich is a matter of some dispute. You know you’re from the West Coast if you’ve tried all of these foods.
Colorado: Denver Omelet
There’s no waffling among Colorado experts on the state’s most iconic sandwich: It’s the Denver omelet sandwich. The traditional omelet was first a sandwich and features eggs, ham, cheese, peppers, and onions. If you can’t find it in sandwich form on a menu, just order the omelet with toast and assemble it yourself.
With a large Cuban population, it’s no surprise the Cubano is the Sunshine State’s most iconic sandwich (and in full disclosure, a well-made Cuban is among my favorite dishes). The panini-style sandwich is stuffed with Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, and ham, salami and/or pork. I have a friend in Florida who claims to have had a religious experience eating the Cubano at Drago’s in Bradenton. The Cubano is definitely one of the best sandwiches from around the world.
Georgia: Pimiento Cheese Sandwich
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This simple blend of cheese, mayonnaise, and pimientos (a sweet red pepper) on white bread is so iconic to Georgia (and the entire South), it’s even served at the Masters golf tournament every April as the tournament’s official sandwich. You can easily make some at home to enjoy while you watch the big event in the spring; ill-fitting green jacket optional.
Hawaii: Hawaiian Pulled Pork
While half the states on this list could claim a pork barbecue sandwich as their own, the good people of Hawaii enjoy whole hogs slow-cooked in an underground oven, sometimes with a tangy sweet sauce that features pineapple. Perfect for a barbecue on the beach, or—if you live in the landlocked Midwest like I do—a barbecue you’re pretending is on the beach. Here’s how to cut a pineapple like a Hawaiian.
Idaho: Peanut Butter and Jam
I was so afraid we were going to go through this list and not find a spot for the sandwich most of us grew up with in our school lunches, the classic PB&J. Fortunately, Idaho is here to save us from that fate. They don’t make just any peanut butter and jelly in this mountainous state, however. Idaho is known for using huckleberry jam with Idaho huckleberries to add some style to this classic. Find out where peanut butter and jelly came from in the first place.
Illinois: Chicago-Style Hot Dog
My wife’s whole family is from Chicago. If I get this wrong, I’m in trouble. Relatives have said I need to pick Italian beef, Polish sausage, or The Horseshoe. My wife, however, has told me to do the right thing and pick the Chicago-style hot dog, because, in her words, “If any one state on your list gets to claim the hot dog, it’s us.” Just make sure you skip the ketchup—it’s verboten on a Chicago dog. Check out where to find the best hot dog in every state!