A Review of New York Magazine’s “101 Best Sandwiches in New York” Part 1

June 18, 2010

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

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