Johnny Autry

Grab an extra napkin, and sit down to the tastiest wonders ever assembled on bread.

ALABAMA

Brick & Tin 
Birmingham

The menu description of the Brisket Panini at Brick & Tin is deceptively simple, but the flavor of this wildly popular sandwich is complex and satisfying. Braised for hours, tender beef brisket is sliced and paired with just slightly sweet caramelized onions and then doused with the restaurant’s creamy version of Alabama’s signature white barbecue sauce. The delicious variety of soups and sides is reason enough to dine here, and the eatery’s seasonally inspired menu features fresh ingredients from local farms. Brick & Tin has two locations in the Birmingham area—downtown and Mountain Brook—and both serve their popular panini sandwiches for lunch and dinner. Fair warning: Lines form during the lunch rush. Lucky for all diners, tables turn over quickly, and the sandwiches are well worth the wait. brickandtin.com

ARKANSAS

The Pantry Eatery
Little Rock

In the cozy and relaxed atmosphere of The Pantry Eatery, luncheon diners escape the hustle and bustle of West Little Rock’s retail hub to find a little Southern hospitality with a dash of European flavor. Chef Tomas Bohm’s menu speaks to his German and Czech heritage with specialties such as the Schnitzel Bun and Sauerkraut Panini, but the Belly.L.T. is the sandwich that showcases his flair for charcuterie. A riff on the South’s beloved bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich, the Belly.L.T. features tender, melt-in-your-mouth house-cured pork belly. To further enhance the umami experience, Bohm adds a swipe of roasted garlic aïoli. littlerockpantry.com

FLORIDA

Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop
Miami

At Enriqueta’s, it doesn’t take much to make a traditional Cuban sandwich delicious—the ingredients alone do that for you. Slices of pork loin, ham, and cheese get layered up with mustard and a few pickles to cut the richness. The sandwich is then griddled crisp on the outside until the cheese appears molten. If you’re craving something that’s beyond basic, order yours “preparado”—that is, the Sandwich Cubano Preparado con Croquetas—which includes two fresh Croquetas de Jamón tucked inside. Served solo on the all-day breakfast menu, croquetas are small, log-shaped ham fritters rolled in breadcrumbs and fried to a deep golden brown. 186 NE 29th Street; 305.573.4681

 Hector Manuel Sanchez

Seagrove Village MarketCafé
Seagrove Beach

For more than 60 years, the Seagrove Village MarketCafé has been a beloved member of the 30A community on the Florida Panhandle, with owners Ann and George Hartley at the helm for the last 18 years. When the original location had to be demolished a couple of years ago, they rebuilt nearby on County 395. Inside the cheery cafe, customers can attend to their craving for the popular Grouper Sandwich. Ann says the grilled version is the best seller. “But my favorite is fried—Southern girl that I am!” she adds. Whether you want it grilled, fried, or blackened with spicy Cajun seasoning, each Grouper Sandwich is served old school—topped with lettuce, tomato, and a cool house-made tartar sauce. If you’re feeling more adventurous, customize it with additions like jalapeño pimiento cheese, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, bacon, and avocado. Don’t forget a choice of sides, including broccoli salad, fries, collards, or potato salad. seagrovevillagemarket.com

GEORGIA

 Robbie Caponetto

Home Grown GA
Atlanta

Lots of places say, “The customer is always right.” In the case of the Grant’s Stack sandwich at Home Grown GA, that’s right on target! The Grant’s Stack began as a special order invented by a creative customer but is now a fixture on the lunch menu. A trifecta of Southern staples—homemade pimiento cheese, smoky bacon, and panko-crusted fried green tomatoes—the sandwich has been a hit since day one. Owner Kevin Clark estimates that he sells a hundred a day at this cozy restaurant in the Reynoldstown community of east Atlanta. The yummy, slightly sloppy sandwich is grilled on thick Texas toast. For large appetites, order it as a Blue Collar Lunch, a “value-size portion” that includes cornbread, a side, and a hot or cold beverage. When the growing season allows, Clark tries to meet the demand for tomatoes and other veggies with his organic garden. Anytime the lines are long, customers distract themselves by browsing Sew Thrifty 5 & Dime, a small thrift and local-craft store adjacent to the dining room. As Clark says, “Have a good time. It’s all good.” homegrownga.com

KENTUCKY

 Sarah Jane Sanders

The Brown Hotel
Louisville

Few foods have achieved the renown of the famed Hot Brown, associated with Kentucky as much as mint juleps on Derby day. The complex, open-faced sandwich was made famous by chef Fred Schmidt at the historic Brown Hotel in downtown Louisville in 1926. The hotel’s chef de cuisine, Andrew Welenken, credits the popularity of the dish to the rich and delicious combination of bacon, turkey, cheese, cream, tomato, and bread that makes it everything you need in a meal. The Hot Brown is built in stages: Bread is placed in the bottom of the baking dish, followed by hand-carved turkey, fresh tomatoes, and rich Mornay sauce. It’s baked for 18 minutes until bubbly and then topped with bacon. After another two minutes in the oven, it’s finished with freshly grated cheese and a dash of paprika and parsley. So rich and saucy, it’s almost a casserole. The original Hot Brown is available for breakfast, lunch, or dinner at all three dining venues inside The Brown Hotel. brownhotel.com

LOUISIANA

 Courtesy of Cochon Butcher

Cochon Butcher
New Orleans

While the muffuletta is a distinct New Orleans favorite, there’s nothing Cajun or Creole about it. The hefty, round sandwich gets its name from the bread—a fluffy, sesame-topped Sicilian loaf that’s stuffed and stacked with Italian deli meat, cheese, and a tangy olive salad. Gifted chef Stephen Stryjewski at Cochon Butcher adds his characteristic touch with a trio of house-cured meats, including an all-pork mortadella that stays moist and flavorful with generous pieces of fatback. Capocollo is made from pork shoulder cured in a spice rub and cooked low and slow. A simple blend of oregano, garlic, and black pepper seasons the salami, which is aged for 90 days. For balance, olive salad with some giardiniera—a pickled vegetable blend—is spread evenly so it anchors to the sandwich without slipping out. Chef Stryjewski prefers to serve the sandwich hot to melt the provolone slightly and bring together all the flavors. cochonbutcher.com

MARYLAND

 Scott Suchman

Boatyard Bar & Grill
Annapolis

On the corner of Severn Avenue and Fourth Street in Annapolis, the Boatyard Bar & Grill is just a few blocks from the water in the historic neighborhood of Eastport. Walking up the planked ramp and into the spacious restaurant, you might feel as if you’ve just strolled into a maritime museum. Photographs, paintings, and trophies cover the walls from floor to rafters. Look closely and you’ll even see singer-songwriter Jack Johnson’s autographed surfboard hanging from the beams. This gathering spot for local sailors and visitors alike keeps fresh Chesapeake Bay seafood prominent on the menu and maintains a loyal following for the Best Crab Cake Sandwich You’ll Ever Eat. The generous crab cake is rounded high with jumbo lump crab that appears to defy gravity. Chef George Betz’s secret recipe involves gently folding the crab in a rich sauce that helps hold everything together. The crab cake is broiled to a light golden brown and served on a tender brioche roll. A lemony house-made tartar sauce is included on the side and makes a great dipper for the fries that come with it. Don’t fret if you can’t satisfy your craving with a visit to the restaurant— the Boatyard ships crab cakes nationwide from its online store. boatyardbarandgrill.com

MISSISSIPPI

 Courtesy of Saltine Oyster Bar

Saltine Oyster Bar
Jackson

Chef Nicole Medrano of Saltine Oyster Bar specializes in our favorite briny bivalve, but don’t overlook the way she works a pond-to-plate favorite: catfish. Her catfish po’boy is prepared in the classic New Orleans style with cornmeal-dredged fillets fried crispy on the outside, flaky and tender on the inside. Your po’boy arrives fully dressed with lettuce, onion, pickles, and local Salad Days tomatoes. For an added kick, the sandwich is topped with a spicy Creole mayonnaise. Medrano sources the fish from Simmons Farm Raised Catfish in Yazoo City, Mississippi, about an hour away. “It’s fish from our backyard!” she says. “It has a clean taste and is processed the day it’s delivered.” You’ll want to order the Po’boy Lunch Special, which includes a half sandwich with a choice of fries, salad, house-seasoned Old Bay chips, or a cup of seafood-filled gumbo. saltinerestaurant.com

NORTH CAROLINA

Fill My Cup Café
Asheville

Portuguese allspice is the secret behind many of the savory dishes at Fill My Cup Café. Here, owner Joe Freitas draws on his heritage to create his own earthy and aromatic blend of 11 different spices that season the comfort food he serves from breakfast to tapas at dinner. The thoughtfully created Harvest Abundance features the spice blend in a jazzed-up homemade chickpea hummus topped with fresh spinach, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, and your choice of cheese. The colorful sandwich is served on locally sourced flatbread that doesn’t overpower the veggies like a thick bun would. It comes with a side of steak fries, sweet potato fries, or crunchy apple slaw. Finish off your meal with a tasty traditional Portuguese treat—Salami de Chocolate. Resembling a link of salami, the sweet concoction of dark chocolate, nuts, and pieces of Bolacha Maria cookies is not quite a candy but is just as satisfying. fillmycupcafe.com

 Johnny Autry

The King’s Kitchen
Charlotte

Not only does this restaurant in Charlotte’s Uptown feed bellies—it feeds souls. Founded as a nonprofit in 2010 by North Carolina native and chef Jim Noble, The King’s Kitchen & Bakery is managed by Jim Noble Restaurants and donates 100% of its proceeds to local programs that feed the hungry while also providing a range of job opportunities in the kitchen and dining room. By partnering with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Dream Center and other area ministries, The King’s Kitchen helps locals who are in need of a fresh start take advantage of job training, life-skills coaching, etiquette workshops, financial-management guidance, and more. The menu features locally and regionally grown food with an upscale “New Southern” approach. The most popular item on chef Phil Barnes’ lunch lineup is the Fried Chicken Sandwich, made using chicken from nearby Prestige Farms. A 6-ounce chicken breast comes on a chargrilled potato roll slathered in Duke’s mayonnaise and topped with homemade slaw that’s tossed in a creamy honey-mustard sauce. English cucumber pickles, made in-house, complete the sandwich. On the menu, you’ll also find such Southern fare as the NC Crab Cake and Ashe Co. Pimento Cheese served with a fresh King’s Bakery Baguette. kingskitchen.org

SOUTH CAROLINA

 Courts of Butcher & Bee

Butcher & Bee
Charleston

Launched on Charleston’s King Street in 2011, Butcher & Bee has now expanded to a larger Holy City location on Morrison Drive; a market and coffeehouse, called The Daily, on King Street; and a full-service location in East Nashville. The restaurant’s original mission—to provide “a gourmet meal between two pieces of bread”—has also expanded to include not just sandwiches but all kinds of other foods on an ever-changing menu of fresh, sustainable, seasonal ingredients from local farms. Their vegetarian riff on a pulled-pork sandwich features “Pulled Squash,” which is served on a sourdough hoagie and dressed with smoked cabbage, cilantro vinaigrette, and barbecue sauce. It delivers the kind of smoky goodness you would expect from the typical pork barbecue with a tomato-based sauce. We were also intrigued by the Phatty Cakes on the dessert menu: spicy ginger cookies with vanilla mascarpone. And you have to love a cocktail called Smokey and the Bandit, made with Vida mezcal, satsuma-chili syrup, lime, and smoked chili salt. butcherandbee.com

The Glass Onion
Charleston

While out-of-towners flock to downtown Charleston for its iconic Southern fare, locals and others in the know drive across the Ashley River to the outskirts of the city to find their favorite spot. Even area chefs know The Glass Onion is the go-to place for casual Lowcountry comfort food like a great shrimp po’boy. Chef Chris Stewart combines family heritage with as many all-natural, local ingredients as he can find, filling the menu with Southern recipes. The abundance of seafood in bays and estuaries around Charleston makes shrimp a natural filling in The Glass Onion’s toothsome po’boy. Wild-caught shrimp coated in a crunchy layer of cornmeal batter are quickly fried and then piled high on light and chewy Leidenheimer Baking Company bread. The po’boys are classically dressed with Bibb lettuce, slices of ripe tomato, and a swab of just enough Duke’s mayo to hold it all together. ilovetheglassonion.com

TENNESSEE

 Robbie Caponetto

Etch Restaurant
Nashville

If you share chef Deb Paquette’s passion for captivating flavor combinations, then the Shiitake and Gouda Grilled Cheese won’t disappoint. Far beyond basic, this grilled cheese features sliced shiitake mushrooms that are blended with oil, seasonings, and a generous amount of fresh thyme and then slow-cooked to a silky tenderness. Brined apples are vacuum packed in what Paquette calls a “potion” of vinegar and caraway. They are stacked between slices of fresh rye bread with caramelized onions and a hint of Parmesan-horseradish mayo. And it doesn’t end there. The outside is slathered in soft butter and griddled to a crisp golden brown. All the “sammies” on the lunch menu arrive with a handful of house-made chips dusted in Etch’s own chili-malt salt. As Paquette says, “Behold the bold!” etchrestaurant.com

TEXAS

 Wynn Myers

Noble Sandwich Co.
Austin

Standing in line isn’t a problem at this popular Hill Country spot. In fact, the wait is helpful because you can use that bit of extra time to study the extensive menu if you aren’t yet familiar with the unique gourmet sandwiches created here by chefs John Bates and Brandon Martinez. While brisket typically takes the lead on sandwich boards in the Lone Star State, Noble Sandwich Co. instead pays a delicious homage to pork with the restaurant’s namesake, The Noble Pig. This ode to smoke offers up a fantasy trio of spicy ham, pulled pork, and bacon. The meat holds so much flavor that all this sandwich needs for a big finish are cheese and a few condiments. Add a side of fries or jalapeño slaw to round out your meal. Noble Sandwich Co. is open for lunch and dinner at both of its Austin locations. If you’re in a rush, use the restaurant’s online order form. noblesandwiches.com

Louie Mueller Barbecue
Taylor

No question—beef brisket is the barbecue of choice in the Lone Star State. Since 1949, Louie Mueller Barbecue has been smoking Prime-grade, lean black Angus beef in brick-and-steel pits fired up with post oak wood. Third-generation pitmaster Wayne Mueller explains that briskets are rubbed in a simple blend of salt and pepper and smoked every day except Sunday, when the restaurant is closed. In the Chopped Beef Sandwich, smoked brisket is cut into pieces large enough for diners to see the pink smoke ring and black pepper bark that distinctively coats the outside of the beef. Each portion gets tossed in about a quarter cup of Mueller’s original “thin-dip” sauce, a tomato-based concoction seasoned with onions and peppers. As the menu says, the sauce “was created to complement meat, not cover it.” louiemuellerbarbecue.com

VIRGINIA

Feast!
Charlottesville

Just about anyone strolling through the Main Street Market inevitably ends up at Feast! This charming marketplace and cafe has been attracting and feeding Charlottesville for 15 years. It features an impressive array of specialty grocery items, such as cut-to-order gourmet cheeses, charcuterie, and a wide selection of artisan food products. At lunch, the bustling cafe transforms local produce, fine meats, and gourmet goodies into a varied menu. The Ham, Goat Cheese, and Plum Panini features tangy small-batch goat cheese from nearby Caromont Farm paired with a spicy plum chutney from another local gem, The Virginia Chutney Co., and served on fresh focaccia with peppery arugula and salty rosemary ham. All of the ingredients on this sandwich can be purchased at the attached specialty-foods store, so you can make your own version at home. feastvirginia.com

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Photo by Scott Suchman
 Photo: Scott Suchman

Woodward Takeout Food

Woodward Takeout Food brings its own sweet and smoky spin to the classic chicken sandwich by adding cranberry relish and crispy slices of bacon to the combo of seasoned fried chicken breast and lettuce. It’s stacked high on a toasted potato bun with a bit of mayo in a house favorite called the Chick Chick. The fast-casual eatery offers breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday and is frequented by the working-lunch crowd and tourists who meander here from nearby Lafayette Square and the White House. This eatery is the offshoot of the adjacent Woodward Table, a fine-dining restaurant located in the 1911 Woodward Building, for which it’s named. Though Woodward Takeout Food is closed on Saturday and Sunday, the top-selling Chick Chick sandwich appears on Woodward Table’s weekend brunch menu—look for it in the sweet and savory Chicken & Waffle combo with bacon and whipped apple butter. woodwardtable.com

WATCH: Southern Cheese Steak Sandwiches

WEST VIRGINIA

Secret Sandwich Society
Fayetteville

You don’t need a password to get into this rustic gastropub situated in a quaint multilevel historic building on Keller Avenue in downtown Fayetteville. The restaurant has two locations, but the original Fayetteville outpost is close to the New River Gorge, an area popular with outdoorsy folks looking for both relaxing and energetic recreation. It’s common knowledge that the tavern serves delicious gourmet sandwiches named after former U.S. Presidents. If you elect (pardon the pun) to get the McKinley, be ready for a spicy kick in this meatloaf sandwich. That’s what makes the traditional comfort food interesting. Chipotle-spiked bacon jam adds more sweet heat, and the crisped onions give it a bit of crunchy texture. The McKinley is served on toasted sourdough, but you can opt for gluten-free bread on all the sandwiches here if you prefer. They’re served with house-made chips seasoned with Society Magic Powder. secretsandwichsociety.com