Below are my thoughts on specific sandwiches listed in New York Magazine’s “101 Best Sandwiches in New York” Grub Street list.  Rather than review the list sandwich by sandwich, I’m just going to address the stand-outs, ie, the sandwiches that make me say “I really want to try that”; the sandwiches that make me say “That isn’t a sandwich whatsoever”; and the sandwiches that say “Ugh”.

I think Eisenberg;s gets the shaft with having the last ranked sandwich. Making it # 101 makes it seem like they were forgotten about and added later. Very unfair.

The Chacarero Completo (97) looks like a taco on a sandwich. Well, I love tacos, and I love sandwiches, thus, I gotta go and get me this sandwich.

The telera (94) looks like something created from the land of misfit leftover Thanksgiving dinners.

I’m torn about pulled pork sandwiches (92), mainly because they are just bread, pork, and bbq sauce. It doesn’t really take much to make this other than patience and a good recipe. This one happens to feature cole slaw.

The picture of the chopped liver (84) proves why I don’t eat chopped liver. It looks like tuna fish gone bad.

A Chick-fi-A sandwich (78) is one of the best chicken sandwiches? Really? It’s one breaded breast of chicken on a hamburger bun and pickle. It looks like it came out of a box found in your local grocer’s freezer and it doesn’t look appetizing whatsoever.

I want to run out and get the Brisket (77) right now. And I just had a sandwich. It looks that good.

The fried chicken (72) looks like a heart attack waiting to happen, but it’s a heart attack I would gladly suffer from after eating this sandwich,

From the looks of it, the Fatty Crabs Tea Sandwiches (60) need some help. Such as more ingredients. It I wanted a sandwich with nothing on it I’d make a bologna and American cheese.

The shrimp roll (59) and the lobster roll (16) look divine. Perfect examples of how you’re supposed to put fish between bread (right after a shrimp Po boy). The oyster Po boy (73) looks like a passable New York version of the New Orleans staple. The oyster roll (47) and the fried whiting sandwich (66) are perfect examples of how not to put fish between bread.

Some of these sandwiches (95, 80, 79, 63, 54, 39, 26, and 12) look like you can’t eat it without a knife and fork. If I wanted to eat with utensils, i wouldn’t have ordered a sandwich I would have ordered a meal.

I think the egg toast (51) is missing something, Oh right, the other slice of bread so you can eat it like a sandwich and not an egg salad.

Sliders (45) aren’t sandwiches, especially ones made with meatballs.

Looking at the vegetarian sandwich (41) makes me so happy to be a carnivore. This looks like seaweed between bread.

I realize bahn mis are hot sandwiches, even I wrote about them, but 5 sandwiches from 5 different places (4, 17, 20, 48, and 49)? Couldn’t you decide which one was the best from one location and write about that one only?

The tuna (19), yet another sandwich that lost the second slice of bread. Are these for carb conscious eaters?

I don’t see how the smoke meat (11) is going to stay together after one bite. It looks like the type of sandwich that will be all over your plate within seconds of commencing eating.

It’s good to see the Romeo at number 8. Since this is one of my favorite sandwiches, I feel it should have been rated higher. But 8 is still pretty good.

The number 1 sandwich is a smoked brisket that is only available late-night on weekends. Is this sandwich # 1 due to its taste or the infrequency with which it is available for consumption? I don’t want the best sandwich in the city at 1 AM on a Saturday. I want it at 1 PM on a Tuesday when I can enjoy it.

The Top 51 appeared in the June 7, 2010 issue of New York Magazine, and the Top 101 can be found at: http://newyork.grubstreet.com/2010/05/the_101_best_sandwiches_in_new.html

I have some issues with the print and online editions of New York Magazine’s “101 Best Sandwiches in New York”. I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t eaten a large majority of these sandwiches. Thus, this post is less about how the sandwiches taste, how they are constructed, etc., but rather, it is an assessment of the types of sandwiches that have made the list. (I’ve broken these posts into two parts. This first part details my overall thoughts on the lists. The second part details my thoughts on individual sandwiches, but not all 101 of them because that post could go on forever.)

The list has some good variety in it because there are sandwiches for every palate and every budget. . If you like sandwiches, you can review this list and find sandwiches you’ll want to immediately run out and get. There are breakfast sandwiches, BLTs, vegetarian sandwiches, grilled cheeses, pork sandwiches, et al. You’ll also find sandwiches you might never want to try. The list is not comprised of the everyday sandwiches your mom made you for before you left for school (well, maybe the grilled cheese is something your mom made on weekends). Nor are these the types of sandwiches you make for yourself on a lazy weekend.

There is a lot of creativity in these sandwiches. These are not your standard meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and dressing on two slices of white bread sandwiches. It’s different types of bread, every meat imaginable, new dressings/sauces. It’s like the sandwich world has been turned on its head to make newer, better, more tasteful sandwiches using new, fresh ingredients. Hats off to all of the chefs with the creative streaks to make these sandwiches. Some of these sandwiches are minimal (bread, meat, dressing) while others feature combinations of items I would not think work together but look perfect on paper.

I think it’s kind of funny that the majority of these sandwiches come with a pickle on the side. These chefs make these highly original sandwiches, yet they all think a plain old pickle pairs so well with them. If it’s not pickles it’s potato chips. A good sandwich needs neither a pickle nor potato chips, it just needs to be a damn good sandwich that leaves you wanting more sandwich when you’re done, not one that leaves you reaching for chips or pickles.

I question the portability of some of these sandwiches. Some look like a mess waiting to happen. Be prepared before you order so you don’t ruin your dress shirt or pants. There’s also a possibility that heavily dressed sandwiches will become “mushy” by the time you get it home.

I could have used a better description of some of the sandwiches. Yes, a picture says a thousand words, but sometimes you need to tell me the ingredients my eyes are seeing. Some of the sandwiches have all of their ingredients listed, while others are just a 20-word description of how the sandwich tastes. It’s the Internet, say as much as you want. (On a side note, I went to one of the establishments with a high-ranking sandwich, and they informed me that their particular sandwich was chosen because it photographed well and, as far as they were aware, no one tasted it. I take this with a grain of salt. However, it’s information like this that makes me question the validity of this list.)

The list seems reasonably priced. Excluding the $70 salmon and caviar, I think the average is around $11 per sandwich, which is a decent amount to spend on a quality sandwich. Thankfully, there are no appearances by cheap chains (I’m looking at you Subway and Quiznos). However, there is a Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich on the list, which is more than out of place. With one location on the NYU campus, this might be the hardest sandwich to get a hold of.

Was this list needed? Yes. Could it have been better? Of course. Is it a good indicator of the variety of sandwiches this fine city has to offer? Yes. Did it do its job? Yes. It gives me more sandwiches options while showing me what to stay away from.

The Top 51 appeared in the June 7, 2010 issue of New York Magazine, and the Top 101 can be found at: http://newyork.grubstreet.com/2010/05/the_101_best_sandwiches_in_new.html

Eisenberg’s

June 11, 2010

Eisbenberg’s is one of the oldest eateries in New York City, having served sandwiches and other delicacies to New Yorkers, both native and foreign, since 1929. They offer a variety of sandwiches, from simple PB&Js to ham & cheese; from classic combos to grilled sandwiches; from hot sandwiches to cold. You’ll find no wraps or Panini’s here. Unlike other sandwich shops, Eisenberg’s doesn’t bog their sandwiches down with fancy, useless names. These sandwiches are more easily identified by what is actually on the sandwich, making the ordering experience a lot easier.

On my first visit, I went with the roast beef, turkey, and cole slaw combo. I quickly learned that cole slaw should not be on a sandwich, or at least not on a sandwich that already has two different meats on it. The sandwich became slippery due to the cole slaw and the sandwich’s mayo. This slipperiness made the entire sandwich lose its structural integrity, causing there to be more sandwich on my plate then on my bread. Halfway through the sandwich I ditched the cole slaw so I could finish the meat portion and then ate the cole slaw with a fork. The roast beef was a little tough, I hit a rough patch of fat, but I forced my way through it and the sandwich was tastier without the cole slaw. Overall the sandwich wasn’t what I expected, but it also wasn’t something I was willing to try again.

Having read up on Eisenberg’s, ie, watched the episode of “No Reservations” it was in, I opted for their signature sandwich on my second visit: The Grilled Tuna Melt on Rye. I’ve been getting it ever since. I grew up on Chicken of the Sea and Bumblebee, and this tuna tasted comparable to that. The sandwich has just the right mayo/tuna ratio and is topped with one slice of cheese. One slice of cheese means the sandwich isn’t overly cheesy. It also wasn’t heavy on the mayo, which means you’re able to taste the tuna and not the accessories. I think this sandwich reminds me of my youth and weekend lunches my mother would make. The sandwich doesn’t fall about, so you’re not picking up bits of your sandwich during and after eating it. Which is nice.

Could I make this at home? Probably. But it’s so much easier to have someone else make it for me.

Although I’ve never had it, I know that the corned beef sandwich is immense. They give you so much meat you could probably make a second sandwich. If you like affordable corned beef sandwiches with lots of meat, Eisenberg’s is the place to get it from.

I was disappointed in the Philly cheese steak. Not enough cheese, not enough onions or peppers, and not enough meat for to my liking. The meat was thinly sliced and neatly placed on the bread rather than heaped on. There wasn’t enough cheese to even call it a cheese steak. And I think I lost all of my onions and peppers to my plate (there weren’t too many of them to fall out to begin with). Also, the sandwich was tiny. I expect my cheese steaks to be on the ginormous size, with heaping piles of hot steak with cheese and onions all over the place. Not so here.

Finally, there’s the breakfast menu. I love egg sandwiches. And one day I will go to Eisenberg’s before 11 AM, sit at the counter with the New York Times, and I will relax with a cup of coffee and an egg sandwich. Until then, I can only fantasize about it.

For pure greasiness, the French fries/onion rings combination is one of the best sides on the menu. These steak fries are as thick as fingers and the onion rings even thicker. This fried goodness usually remains crispy even after a 10-minute trek home, but every once in awhile you get home with a mushy batch. It happens.

The staff is super friendly. A lot of their customers are regulars, people you’ve seen in newspapers and TV shows, and they do get their fair share of celebrities (as their web site can attest to). The cashier always greets every customer, regular or newcomer, with a smile and makes small talk, if she can, while you wait for your order.

It might not seem like it, but, overall, I like Eisenberg’s, I like the staff. I like the atmosphere. I like the variety. I found the one item I can order over and over again and not get tired of it.

Whether you’re a celebrity, an everyday New Yorker, or a tourist looking for a quick bite, they make you feel right at home as you sit and wait for your food. Like they say, “You either get it or you don’t”

Eisenberg’s is located at 174 5th Ave (www.eisenbergsnyc.com)