American Bread: A Guide to 41 Hyper-Regional Sandwiches


America is a regional country: Food that's core to the identity of one place chili on spaghetti in Cincinnati, Spam on everything in Hawaii, Kool-Aid pickles in the South is treated as nothing more than an oddity elsewhere. With that in mind, Grub Street set out to track down all of the country's hyper-regional sandwiches: individual creations that, for one reason or another, seem to exist only in particular pockets of America.

To be clear, there are some things you won't see here: po'boys, lobster rolls, muffulettas, grilled cheese, peanut butter and jelly, cheesesteaks, club sandwiches, Dagwoods, burgers, patty melts, or any sandwich that consists of simply placing some other kind of regional specialty brisket, pulled pork on bread. Those are the chart-topping hits of the sandwich world; this list is about the deep cuts.

The country is full of weird, wonderful creations that you've probably never heard of unless you live in their natal home: Gut-busters like the Midwest's horseshoe (an open-faced sandwich covered with cheese fries), upstate New York's beef on weck (named for its carraway-studded roll), or even chow mein sandwiches from Fall River, Massachusetts (exactly what they sound like).

Some of the sandwiches on this list have facsimiles outside their places of origin; others are only to be found in the areas where they were invented. They may differ wildly in concept, but that's the whole point the thing that all of these sandwiches do have in common is a fan base in some particular neck of the woods, and the potential to grow those devoted fans all across America.