'Wich hunt

2011-05-12T00:00:00Z 2013-01-23T17:26:07Z 'Wich huntStory by Valerie Vinyard and photos by Ron Medvescek Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Whether they're stuffed, baked, fried or filled, sandwiches are a fare of the heart.

"People like sandwiches better than anything," said Beth Jorgenson, owner of Jorgie's Cafe and co-creator of the OMG sandwich, a grilled roast-beef invention that was added to the menu in February.

"You can add stuff to a burger, but it's still just a burger. With sandwiches you can do so much more."

Many Tucsonans are devoted to delicious local heavyweights such as Baggins, Eegee's, Beyond Bread and Luke's Italian Beef.

National chains like Jimmy John's, Subway, Schlotzsky's, Quiznos and Jason's Deli (which opened near Park Place mall last weekend) have discovered that Tucsonans have an insatiable appetite for sandwiches.

And Firehouse Subs, a nationwide deli chain that specializes in steamed subs, is slated to open in August at Marana Marketplace.

For this survey of some of the exceptional sandwiches you can find around Tucson, we wanted to point out places you might not have discovered or even heard about.

After logging a couple of hundred miles driving around the metro area, our quest took us off the beaten path into sandwich shops, Italian and Asian restaurants, an organic bakery and even to a gas station.

"I think the ma-and-pa's are overlooked so much," Jorgenson said. "We give you the best sandwich in town."

Did you know?

Some say John Montagu, fourth Earl of Sandwich, invented the sandwich in the 1700s.

Montague actually didn't invent the sandwich. He first witnessed sandwiches and grilled pita being eaten while traveling in the Eastern Mediterranean and brought it back to England.

Sandwiches weren't called sandwiches in America until the late 1830s, according to the "Encyclopedia of Food and Culture."

BLT

• Where: Hot Rod Cafe, 2831 N. Stone Ave., 903-2233 (tucsonhotrodcafe.com).

• Sandwich: Big Al's BLT ($4.79).

• Description: Simplicity is the beauty of this classic sandwich.

And where better to get some lunchtime fuel than at the family-owned Hot Rod Cafe? You choose white or wheat bread, which then is toasted and layered with bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and, for a Southwestern twist, some avocado. Make it a meal deal with a medium drink and chips for $1.89; $2.19 for a large (substitute the chips with pasta or potato salad for a little extra). Plan to eat in house and enjoy decor that includes cleverly redesigned car parts.

• Serves: B, L Mon.-Fri. Delivery: Yes.

Liverwurst

• Where: Bumsted's, 500 N. Fourth Ave., 622-1413 (bumstedstucson.com).

• Sandwich: Dragon's Breath ($7.95).

• Description: Devotees of liverwurst - a sausage containing ground liver - will get their fill with the serving that comes piled on the Dragon's Breath sandwich, along with a bewitching combo of spicy mustard, horseradish mayo, lettuce, tomatoes and onions on your choice of bread. If liverwurst's not your thing, pick one of the other 43 sandwiches listed on Bumsted's massive and creative menu.

• Serves: L, D daily. Delivery: No.

Panino

• Where: Caffe Milano, 46 W. Congress St., 628-1601.

• Sandwich: Vesconti ($6.75).

• Description: From the decor to the food to the effusive Milan-born owner, Caffe Milano is probably the most authentic Italian restaurant in Tucson. The Vesconti is a panino that's a tantalizing combination of hot capicola, goat cheese, roasted peppers, spinach and homemade olive spread.

• Serves: L Mon.-Sat.; D Fri.-Sat. Delivery: No.

Tartine

• Where: Frog's Organic Bakery, 7109 N. Oracle Road, 229-2124 (www.frogsorganicbakery.com).

• Sandwich: Roasted Vegetable Tartine ($8).

• Description: This is a fork-and-knife sandwich, a sandwich to savor. The open-faced tartine is chock-full of oh-so-fresh and sometimes organic vegetables and always organic bread made at Frogs. French natives Chef Jean Luc Labat, his wife, Isabelle Labat, and Marc Lory opened the bakery in December.

Chunks of sauteed zucchini, mushrooms, onion, red, yellow and green bell peppers and tomatoes nestle comfortably underneath a layer of Swiss cheese. Basil pine nut pesto and balsamic vinegar add bursts of flavor.

Frog's sandwiches come with field greens and your choice of homemade dressing or a cup of soup.

• Serves: Breakfast, Lunch Tues.-Thur., Sun; Dinner Fri., Sat.

• Delivery: No.

BBQ

• Where: Brushfire BBQ Co., 2745 N. Campbell Ave., 624-3223 (www.brushfirebbq.com).

• Sandwich: Smokey Brisket ($6.90).

• Description: Imagine a pile of slow-smoked, juicy, sliced beef brisket on a challah roll from La Baguette Bakery. You choose one of six BBQ sauces and any of 23 toppings, such as slaw, pickles, onions, lettuce and tomato.

Manager Bill Harmon said Brushfire sells "a ridiculous amount" of the sandwich. The shop, which smokes more than 2,000 pounds of beef, pork and ribs a week, plans to open another location in the coming months at Kolb Road and 22nd Street in a former Blockbuster Video store.

• Serves: L, D daily.

• Delivery: Yes.

Po'boy

• Where: Don's Bayou, 8991 E. Tanque Verde Road, 749-4410 (www.donsbayou.com).

• Sandwich: Oyster Po'Boy ($10.95).

• Description: Owner Don Garrot, who hails from Baton Rouge, La., serves his popular oyster po' boy on a soft, hoagie-style roll that is buttered and lightly toasted. It's stuffed with four or five delicately battered and fried oysters and then dressed with dill pickles and a spicy housemade cocktail sauce that has a delayed kick. The sandwich includes a side (we recommend the cole slaw).

• Serves: L, D Tues.-Sun.

• Delivery: No.

Horseshoe

• Where: Wings and Rice, 5502 E. Pima St., 731-3313 (wingsandrice.com)

• Sandwich: Horseshoe ($8.75).

• Description: This is a perfect sandwich for a fall-off-the-diet wagon.

The Horseshoe is two open-faced fried pork cutlets on a slice of white toast. But here's where it gets better: The meat is covered with 10 ounces of fries that are then soaked with eight ounces of Cheddar cheese sauce.

If that's too dire of a diet decision, the Pony Shoe ($5.95) is one pork cutlet, seven ounces of fries and five ounces of cheese.

It's not the kind of sandwich you'd expect at a place that describes itself as "an eclectic blend of cuisine from Buffalo to the Pacific Rim."

Manager Warren McCollom said that the Horseshoe originated at a hotel in 1928 in Springfield, Ill. "Every restaurant in Springfield you go to - they have their own version," said McCollom, noting that Lona and Ken Kang opened Wings and Rice in 2006.

• Serves: L, D daily.

• Delivery: No.

Tuna

• Where: Village Bakehouse, 7882 N. Oracle Road, 531-0977 (www.villagebakehouse.com/).

• Sandwich: Farmers' Tuna ($6.65).

• Description: This sandwich isn't just for farmers, but it packs enough heft to satisfy after a day in the fields.

The Farmers' starts with fresh tuna salad on Asiago pepper bread that's made at Tucson's Bakehouse Bread Co.

Layers of tomato, cucumber, lettuce, red onion, light mayonnaise and vidalia vinaigrette complete this filling sandwich.

• Serves: B, L daily.

• Delivery: No.

Reuben

• Where: Sausage Shop Meat Market, 1015 W. Prince Road, 888-1701.

• Sandwich: The Richard ($6.61).

• Description: The Richard brings the Reuben to new heights, by packing on a second story of towering meat, Thousand Island dressing, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese in this double-decker brick of a sandwich. The Sausage Shop takes the pressure off from choosing grilled pastrami or corned beef by giving you heaping piles of each, packed between thick slices of marbled rye.

Tucked in the back corner of an unassuming shopping plaza, this tiny shop makes its own sausage in addition to 55 sandwiches that fill the place with devoted - and patient - regulars at lunch.

• Serves: B, L Mon.-Sat.

• Delivery: No.

Roast beef

• Where: Jorgie's Cafe, 2900 E. Broadway, 795-0888 (www.jorgiescafe.com).

• Sandwich: OMG ($6.49).

• Description: Sit at the counter and watch this grilled roast beef sandwich being made, all while listening to the friendly chatter from three generations of the Minnesota-born Jorgensons.

The family introduced the OMG in February. In addition to the meat and melted pepper jack cheese, Jorgie's stuffs french fries into the sub roll and slathers it with BBQ sauce with a slight kick.

• Serves: B, L Mon.-Fri.

• Delivery: Yes.

Philly Cheesesteak

• Where: Melt. A sandwich joint, 5056 E. Broadway, 326-6358 (www.melttucson.com).

• Sandwich: Philadelphia ($7).

• Description: This fledgling restaurant wants to be known for its Philly cheesesteak, and it's already making a dent in Tucson's competitive cheesesteak market.

Melt opened April 15, and already 40 percent of its sandwich sales are the Philadelphia, said owner Tim Hibsman, who is a Philadelphia native who started Philly's Finest 26 years ago in the same spot.

It's easy to taste why: Thinly sliced ribeye steak is piled high with mushrooms, grilled onions, sweet peppers and American cheese on an Italian roll.

Purists might quibble over the lack of Cheez Whiz, but the combination works.

• Serves: B, L Mon.-Sat.

• Delivery: Yes.

Chicken

• Where: Frog and Firkin, 874 E. University Blvd., 623-7507 (www.frogandfirkin.com).

• Sandwich: The Hen House ($7.95).

• Description: You don't need to be a fox to enjoy this Hen House.

Slices of warm white chicken breast and bacon are layered on a white hoagie that's brushed with aioli.

Cheddar cheese is melted over the chicken and bacon while Washington Red apple slices are artfully arranged along the top of the roll.

It's a taste medley of sweet, salty and solid.

• Serves: L, D daily.

• Delivery: Yes.

Torta

• Where: Papa Locos Tacos and Burgers, 8201 S. Rita Road, 663-3333 (www.papalocos.com).

• Sandwich: Al pastor torta ($5.50).

• Description: This Mexico City-style torta is a destination sandwich. We found it worth the drive to Rita Ranch, where Papa Locos opened last summer (you'll find the 10-table restaurant inside a market at a gas station).

It starts with chunks of grilled pork shoulder that have been marinated two to three days with a variety of chiles, including pasilla, guajillo and ancho. The pork then is cooked and blended with garlic, ginger and paprika, among other spices.

Chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, mayonnaise and avocado slices are added to the grilled bun from El Triunfo Bakery. ¡Sabroso!

• Serves: B, L, D Mon.-Sat.

• Delivery: No.

PB&J

• Where: Susie's Cafe, 4553 E. Broadway, 881-1363.

• Sandwich: PB&J ($5).

• Description: Step up to the counter and order the largest peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich we've ever seen. Once your name is called, you'll pick up a basket with thick-cut and freshly made white or wheat bread that's toasted and smothered with strawberry preserves and creamy peanut butter.

Sandwiches come with a brownie and a bag of chips, so it's a carbo-loaded meal to be enjoyed in moderation. It's difficult to ignore Nadines Bakery next door, though.

• Serves: L Mon.-Sat.

• Delivery: No.

Specialty

• Where: Sausage Deli, 2334 N. First Ave., 623-8182 (www.sausagedeli.com).

• Sandwich: The Omar ($5.50-$6.75).

• Description: Just once, don't order the ever-popular Susie Sorority and instead try The Omar.

Your choice of a white sub roll or 4-inch onion roll will be slathered with yellow mustard and decorated with three pieces of Swiss cheese, seven slices of salami, onions, bell peppers, chopped pepperocini, Italian dressing and a "bead of turkey down the middle," said owner Chris Fanelli.

Fanelli, who has owned the Sausage Deli since 1992, said a deli employee named Omar came up with the sandwich in 1978.

• Serves: L Mon.-Sat.

• Delivery: No.

That's Italian

• Where: Roma Imports, 627 S. Vine Ave., 792-3173 (www.romaimports.com).

• Sandwich: Matt's Special ($7.99).

• Description: Order the No. 12, or Matt's Special, and get ready for an Italian feast. Roma adds prosciutto and fresh mozzarella to the Ultimate Roma, which is capicola, Genoa salami, mortadella, provolone, roasted red peppers, lettuce, tomato and vinaigrette. To complete the sandwich, choose either hot or mild gardiniera, a relish of pickled vegetables.

• Serves: L, D Mon.-Sat.

• Delivery: No.

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