While I love local fresh raspberries and alder plank-roasted wild salmon, a good sandwich is near the top of my food craves. So today's post is dedicated to sandwiches I have known and loved, along with a few contributors' fave sandwiches.
The first sandwich I fell in love with was an Italian salami sub at a little indie sub shop downtown Portland. That shop is long gone, but the memory lingers. The mixture of a fresh, chewy sub roll piled with savory thin wine salami, tangy oil and vinegar with herbs, provolone, shredded lettuce, and spicy pepperocini was exotic compared to the meat and potatoes fare at my home when I was a kid.
Here's my random list of memorable sandwiches. Please add yours in the comments below!
Simple Done Well Doesn't Need More
It's a safe bet that any good artisan bakery that offers sandwiches will do a stellar job because they clearly care about quality ingredients. The top of my list is the ham and butter baguette sandwich from the Anjou Bakery in Cashmere, Washington, right off Highway 2 between Leavenworth and Wenatchee. So simple, so exquisite. With one bite through the crusty-soft bread, I'm transported back to my college days wandering the streets of Paris. With top-notch ingredients (sweet cream butter, Niman Ranch ham, fresh onsite baked bread) in a classic combination, who needs more?
|Anjou Bakery ham and butter baguette sandwich|
Essential Bakery, Essential Sandwiches
Set in an old refurbished brick building above Lake Union near Gasworks Park, Essential Bakery was one of Seattle's first enduring artisan bakeries. Some years ago they added a cafe to their bakery, where tasty soups, salads, and sandwiches are served with freshly baked bread. My favorites are their classic tuna salad sandwich (pictured above) and the sophisticated roasted fennel and shitake mushroom sandwich generously heaped with fresh arugula, herbed goat cheese, and caramelized onions on rosemary bread. (Now Essential has cafes in Madison Valley and Georgetown.)
|Essential Bakery's roasted mushroom and fennel sandwich|
Vietnam meets Ballard
A classic East-West fusion is the bahn mi sandwich popular in Vietnamese restaurants. I prefer Monkey Bridge's vegetarian baguette, a light baguette stuffed with an in-house mayo and marinated tofu then topped with pickled carrots and daikon and sprigs of fresh cilantro. It's always served warm on the crispy soft bread. I find the blend of textures (soft, crisp) and flavors (savory, tart, tangy) irresistible. The photo below taken on my phone in low light doesn't do this splendid sandwich justice. Head to Ballard in Seattle for this treat.
|Monkey Tree's vegetarian baguette sandwich|
When visitors to Seattle ask me about ideas for things to see and do here, I always recommend hopping the ferry to Bainbridge Island. In the last decade a multitude of excellent places to eat have opened in the former downtown Winslow (now encompassed as just Bainbridge). I've had several outstanding lunches at the informal but charming Fork & Spoon, opened a few years ago by the owners of beloved Blackbird Bakery a few doors away. Since I've loved tuna sandwiches since I was a wee girl, I always enjoy their tuna on whole wheat laced with thinly sliced red onions and organically grown lettuce.
|Fork & Spoon tuna salad sandwich|
My sister Vic, who lives on Bainbridge and works at Eagle Harbor Books, loves the deli sandwiches at Hitchcock just a few doors down. Hitchcock is all about island-sourced, hand-crafted foods, meats, and charcuterie cured on the island. They even make their own mustard! One of my sis's favorites there is Zee German (braunschweiger, Swiss cheese, and mustard on rye).
|Zee German sandwich from Hitchcock deli|
My friends Dan and Suezy rave about the roasted portobello and artichoke ciabiatta sandwich at the Southcenter Nordstrom's Cafe (right off I-5 in Tukwila near Sea-Tac Airport). Says Dan, "One of our favorite sandwiches is a crusty artisan ciabatta bread with roasted portobello mushroom, baby artichokes, spinach, a little gruyère cheese. You may want to split this hearty sandwich with a friend to save room for kettle chips or a salad, and a chocolate chip/coconut/macadamia nut cookie. Wash it all down with a Blue Moon Belgian White Ale and you are refreshed and ready to continue shopping."
|Nordstrom's Cafe roasted portobello and artichoke ciabiatta with Blue Moon beer|
Because I live in the northern fringe of Ballard in Seattle and spend a lot of time there, I must plug three more great Ballard sandwiches. Any sandwich at Savour on Market Street in downtown Ballard is outstanding, made fresh with high-quality ingredients, locally sourced meats and excellent cheeses, and breads from Ballard bakeries. Over at Miro Tea, they serve several tasty sandwiches, including the ham and swiss with roasted red onions and the light matcha chicken wrap stuffed with fresh greens and a light minty, matcha green tea-infused mayo. (Go early, their sandwiches often sell out by early afternoon.)
Continue west on Market Street past the Ballard Locks to Paseo in the old pink shack on Shilshole Avenue facing Puget Sound. (They also have a shop on Fremont Avenue.) I haven't eaten there in several years, but people still rave about their Caribbean-style marinated chicken sandwich. Go with a good appetite and a bib.
My friend John recommends the Bayview Star Store in Bayview on Whidbey Island (on the main highway up the island from the Clinton ferry terminal). Says John, "It's a perfect stop for picking up lunch on the way to Ebey's Landing or Fort Casey for a hike. They use really good ingredients and make all sandwiches to order. My favorite is the half molinari salami on multigrain, with a small bag of kettle salt and pepper chips."
|I love half sandwich and salad combos, Essential Bakery|
The topic of good sandwiches elicited an excited response from Suezy, "OH...Oh...Oh! I love Rebar Modern Food Restaurant in Victoria, B.C. They have some fantastic sandwiches. Favorites: Tempeh Reuben with Swiss Cheese, Beets and Sauerkraut, or The Rebar Club with Lox, Shrimp, Chipotle Mayonnaise and Avocado....but my #1 Fav from there is the Cheddar Chutney Grilled Cheese with Green Apple and Watercress....OH MY....now I'm really hungry."
My niece Lindsey, a Ballardite, loves the huge, freshly made sandwiches at the Other Coast Cafe East Coast-style deli on Ballard Avenue (my favorite there is the turkey) and the meatball subs at Olympic Pizza.
I've got to give a shout-out for the made-to-order sandwiches at the Homegrown Market & Deli in Eastsound on Orcas Island. When I was there for a weekend this winter, I let go of restraint and got three of their sandwiches over four days. My choice was wonderful fresh whole grain bread, natural Applegate turkey, organically grown carrots, spinach, pickles slathered with organic mustard and light mayo. These sandwiches are so big that I ordered a half each time.
I know there are many more great sandwiches here in the Northwest (and elsewhere). Absent from my list is anything in Oregon. Sorry, haven't spent enough time down there recently and didn't get any feedback from my Portland peeps. So you Oregonians need to chime in with a comment below about where to get your favorite sammies!
Where and what are your favorites?