There is nothing more freeing than being able to hold an entire meal in the palm of your hand and know that a superb variety of flavors and textures await you with every bite. Okay, maybe not everybody feels that way when eating a sandwich, but one thing is for sure: we sure love sandwiches in the United States.
Naturally, the culture, history, and resources in every region have formed traditional and iconic cuisines. These trends have translated into some of the most famous and quintessential sandwiches in the nation.
After consulting with fellow Spoon contributors, prowling some of our favorite food websites, and stalking social media, I have compiled a list of the best sandwich from every state based on popularity, local reviews, and the cuisine of the area. Check out how each state serves up their best sandwich and start planning a road trip to celebrate these specialties and local businesses yourself.
Alabama: Medium Rare Roast Beef from Panini Pete’s
The beef is house-roasted and paired on a ciabatta with gorgonzola, onion confit, tomato, greens, and spread with Dijon. The roast beef is only one of several solid panini being served up.
Alaska: Turkey from Krazy Moose Subs
Krazy Moose treats their subs well with freshly baked bread on the daily. It’s also necessary to pick up one of their assorted Kit Kat, Snickers, M&M’s, or Reese Peanut Butter Cup cookies, which sound absolutely ridiculous.
Arizona: No. 20 from Zookz
The toasted sandwiches are inspired by the owner’s childhood memories in North Africa where her grandmother would create crispy sandwiches for her family. What makes sandwiches at Zookz even more unique are the house-made condiments, like the Spicy Mustard featured in the No. 20.
Arkansas: Fried Bologna Sandwich from Southfork Restaurant
Fried bologna can be found throughout small town diners all across Arkansas. To get the real deal, you have to travel to Southfork Family Restaurant and Truck Stop that serves up the perfect diner food for truckers and hungry travelers alike. This sandwich may not be highly considered among gourmands, but you can’t beat the Southern comfort staple.
California: BLTA from Ike’s Place
Colorado: The Denver Sandwich from the Denver Diner
We all know the Denver omelette: diced ham, green peppers, and onion. Now imagine it sandwiched between two slices of bread, ready to eat with no fork required and you get the ultimate breakfast for commuters.
Connecticut: Burger from Louis’ Lunch
This place is literally the home of the hamburger. Established in 1895, owner Louis Lassen slapped some ground steak in between two slices of toast for a hungry customer in a rush. Seemingly small on the outside, this place is mighty in the burger game.
Delaware: The Bobbie from Capriotti’s
The “favorite sandwich shop of Vice President Biden” is just one of several accolades this Delaware-based restaurant has received. And nothing can get more patriotic than signature homemade turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce.
Florida: Cubano from Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop
Ham, pork, Swiss cheese, and pickles are smashed between two slices of yellow mustard-stained bread. This dreamy sandwich was named Tampa’s Signature Sandwich in 2012. When you bite into one, it’s obvious why. Enriqueta’s is an acclaimed favorite and you know it’s the real deal when Food Baby NY has been there.
Georgia: Yo Mama’s Sweet Meat Heartburn Remix from Bone Lick BBQ
Smoked pork, slaw, fried pickles, pork rinds, and cheese sauce on Texas toast. Not sure whose mama created this triple-decker, but I can definitely understand the foreshadowing of heartburn. Bone Lick BBQ serves up this mouthful in Atlanta for any daring foodie willing to take it on.
Hawaii: Kalua Pork Sandwich from Uncle Bobo’s
When most people think of Hawaii, they picture an endless luau with leis and tiki torches. That’s why kalua pork is an appropriate pick from the many dishes of this tropical state. Kalua signifies a Hawaiian cooking method that literally translates to “cook in an underground oven,” and is the main event and dish for any luau extravaganza.
Idaho: Whiz Cheese Steak from the Best Sandwich Shack
Though they don’t have the most humble name, the Best Sandwich Shack is proudly serving up an East coast favorite to residents of Idaho. Many different variations are available, but the crowd-pleaser is the classic Philly with Cheez Whiz sprayed on top.
Illinois: Italian Beef from Johnnie’s Beef
Simple, but the definition of a classic. Seasoned beef on a hearty, long Italian roll that has been dunked in the glorious juices the meat was cooking in, topped with Italian-style giardinieria or sautéed green peppers. If you ever find yourself in Chicago, ask a local and they’ll probably send you to Johnnie’s.
Indiana: Breaded Pork Tenderloin from Ray’s Drive-In
The Hoosiers prefer a crispy pork loin sticking out of a basic hamburger bun. Not all sandwiches are as extreme as the mammoth pictured above from Ray’s Drive-In in Kokomo.
Iowa: The Undead Elvis from Zombie Burger
Zombie Burger’s menu is stacked with apocalypse-loving burgers, each quirkier than the last. Peanut butter, fried bananas, bacon, American cheese, egg, and mayo are all fixings I wouldn’t mind getting cozy with in a bunker, though.
Kansas: Z Man Sandwich from Joe’s BBQ
Joe’s may be the most deceiving looking place on this list, mainly because it shares a building with a gas station. But locals and tourists alike know not to be fooled by the fuel stations outside and pour in to taste what has been claimed to be some of the best barbecue sauce in the nation. In addition to the renowned sauce, the Z Man contains slow-smoked beef brisket, smoked provolone, and two crispy onion rings.
Kentucky: The Hot Brown from the Brown Hotel
Referred to as “Louisville’s culinary legend,” this is the open face sandwich you have been searching for all your life. The bread is layered with turkey, Mornay sauce (essentially a fancy cheese sauce made with Gruyere), and bacon that marks the spot for deliciousness.
Louisiana: Muffuletta from the Napoleon House
We can thank the French Quarter for this beast. A round Italian muffuletta sesame bread is filled with marinated olives, mortadella, salami, mozzarella, ham, and provolone. All kinds of yes. The Napoleon House can be a trusted source since it has been running since 1914.
Maine: Lobster Roll from Fisherman’s Grill
No surprise that Maine is filled with shacks and restaurants featuring “the best lobster roll ever,” but the Fisherman’s Grill claims to have the biggest. So follow your stomach and get any lobster fix steadied at this shack with the meatiest roll around.
Maryland: Crabcake Sandwich from Crabcake Factory USA
They were featured as one of USA Today’s 10 Best Crabcakes in Maryland because of their big lumps of crab in every cake. Can’t make it to Maryland anytime soon? No worries, you can order the famous crabcakes online.
Massachusetts: Roast Beef from Royal Roast Beef and Seafood
Boston is as almost as rich in roast beef sandwiches as it is in history. It’s almost guaranteed that any pub you enter will offer the thinly sliced roast beef, onion bun, and what the locals call “the three way.” Don’t get any ideas. It just means your sandwich will be topped with mayonnaise, cheese, and barbecue sauce. You can grab an authentic sandwich from Royal Roast Beef and Seafood for $4.50.
Michigan: Tarb’s Tenacious Tenure from Zingerman’s Deli
Zingerman’s has gained recognition as one of the most famous delis in the nation due to its commitment in providing fresh and supreme ingredients to its customers in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They have any sandwich imaginable to suit your fancy, and Tarb’s Tenacious Tenure happens to be a favorite for University of Michigan students.
Minnesota: Beef Banh Mi from Jasmine Deli
It’s not uncommon to find this cuisine in metropolitan Minneapolis that’s studded with Vietnamese restaurants, as well as a substantial Vietnamese population. This staple sandwich is an ideal blend of French and Vietnamese cuisine.
Mississippi: The Elvis from Cafe 212
Tupelo, Mississippi is the birthplace and hometown of Elvis. But even after he grew into a music icon, it was rumored that he noshed on this sandwich twice a day, containing bacon, mashed bananas, and an ungodly amount of peanut butter. A snack fit for a king.
Missouri: BLT from Crown Candy Kitchen
If the amount of bacon alone doesn’t have you crawling to St. Louis, the milkshakes will. The Soda Fountain and Candy Shop has been serving outrageous milkshakes, malts, and sandwiches since 1913, and they’re only getting tastier with age.
Montana: The Nuke from the Staggering Ox
The sandwich looks odd and intimidating, but a great amount of intrigue pushes all doubts aside and leaves patrons wanting more. All Staggering Ox sandwiches come in a vertical bread barrel with the “guts” pulled out and replaced with various sandwich fillers. Now, how one goes about eating this is another story.
Nebraska: Reuben from Crescent Moon Ale House
It is rumored that a Jewish butcher from Omaha by the name of Reuben was the mastermind behind this iconic sandwich. With help from his poker buddies, the flawless balance of corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Thousand Island dressing on rye was born. For this reason, take their Reubens seriously and turn to Crescent Moon to get it done right.
Nevada: Catfish Sloppy Joe from RM Seafood
Only in Vegas would a combination of catfish, ketchup, and onions fly and become a city favorite. Put a little casino winnings to the side to try out Chef Rick Moonen’s mature twist on a childhood favorite.
New Hampshire: Beer Battered Fish Sandwich from Nadeau’s Subs
It does’t get more East Coast than beer battered fish. The sandwich obviously needs to be paired with some chips on the side and maybe some Ben and Jerry’s for dessert. Because New Hampshire?
New Jersey: Godfadda from Millburn Deli
Millburn prides themselves on making homemade ingredients, and it’s no different for their Godfadda sub: fried chicken cutlet, fresh mozzarella, bacon, and homemade Russian dressing. Keep your friends close, but your sandwiches closer.
New Mexico: Green Chile Cheeseburger from Rockin’ BZ Burgers
Green chilies are an essential topping when visiting New Mexico. Rockin’ BZ Burgers have all your green chile needs covered with their New Mexico State Fair award-winning burger.
New York: Pastrami Sandwich on Rye from Katz Deli
Katz’s is considered one of the most iconic delis in New York City, if not the nation. This is one location in the city where it is acceptable for locals and tourists to mix because it is nearly impossible to stay away. Word on the street is they’re pretty generous with their servings of meat, too.
North Carolina: Pulled Pork Sandwich from Stamey’s BBQ
North Carolina represents a whole other unique region and style of American barbecue. Within the state itself, Eastern and Western divide two different methods of preparing pork that involve different cuts of meat and barbecue sauces. Stamey’s serves up Western (Lexington) style barbecue, and they were the first to bring hush puppies to the state. Bless them.
North Dakota: Sloppy Joe from The Fabulous Kegs Drive-In
The Sloppy Joe was actually declared the state sandwich of North Dakota maybe because you can’t really find a greater comfort food than that messy handful that makes kids around the country rejoice.
Ohio: Reuben from Izzy’s
How can you say no to a sandwich that is deemed the “world’s greatest?” Izzy’s has 8 total Reuben varieties on the menu, ranging from a cod Reuben to the Reuben-ator. It’s probably in your best interest to accompany each of these German treats with a side of potato pancakes.
Oklahoma: Chicken Fried Steak Sandwich from Cattleman’s
Crispy, pan-fried breaded steak served up on a soft kaiser roll represents Southern comfort to a tee. At Cattleman’s Steakhouse they use special seasonings to hand bread their steak which stays together with every bite. More for your mouth and less for your plate.
Oregon: The Original Schnitzelwich from Tábor
What started as a popular food cart has turned into the unofficial “Czech Food of Portland.” The innovative sandwich includes breaded pork loin or chicken breast on a Ciabatta roll with lettuce, paprika spread, sautéed onion and horseradish.
Pennsylvania: Philly Cheesesteak from Dalessandro’s
Thinly sliced beef, onions, peppers, and melted provolone, American cheese, or Cheez Whiz all stuffed in an Amoroso roll. Locals all have their favorite spot, but Dalessandro’s is a reasonable choice. Just prepared for a long line and be ready to order.
Rhode Island: Hot Weiners from Olneyville New York Factory
The concept is simple: a veal or pork hotdog, served in a steamed bun with celery salt, yellow mustard, and chopped onions. But what separates it from a Chicago dog is the seasoned meat sauce that can contain different ratios of cumin, paprika, chili powder, or allspice. Olneyville’s New York Factory offers directions on how to make their “secret” sauce, with purchase of their pre-measured spice mix.
South Carolina: Mike’s Famous Duck Club from the Tattooed Moose
The Tattooed Moose serves up the local favorite featuring duck confit, applewood smoked bacon, and hickory smoked cheddar with garlic aioli, lettuce, tomato, red onion on sweet, sweet Hawaiian bread. Now that’s a home run.
South Dakota: Pheasant Sandwich from Pheasant Restaurant and Lounge
The state is crawling with hunters come fall for the pheasant season, so naturally locals began eating them sandwich-style. Pheasants are so popular that the sandwiches were served to WWII soldiers by ladies of the American Red Cross Brown County Chapter while traveling the Aberdeen railways.
Tennessee: Hot Chicken Sandwich from Prince’s
Chicken battered in a spice blend and served between slices of white bread seems simple but done the right way can land a local business a James Beard Award. Prince’s was awarded the America’s Classic award because nothing gets more classic than fried chicken.
Texas: The Tipsy Texan from Franklin BBQ
Texas is such an enormous state with thousands of eateries and barbecue joints that it seems unfair to narrow it down to a single sandwich. However, the Tipsy Texan in all its brisket, slow-cooked sausage, tangy cole slaw glory appears to be worthy of the position as well as the approximate 90-minute line you can expect outside Franklin BBQ.
Utah: Original Crown Burger from Crown Burgers
The Crown Burger chain was found in Salt Lake City, with the signature cheeseburger topped with normal fixings and piled high with pastrami. The idea has been imitated across the state of Utah, and for good reason.
Vermont: The Vermonter from Nooonie’s Deli
It’s hard to avoid choosing a sandwich named specifically after a state. Good thing no other sandwich can compete with this combination of fresh deli ingredients: turkey, ham, sharp white cheddar, honey mustard, and thinly-sliced green apples.
Virginia: Country Ham Sandwich from Gayle’s Market
What appears to be a simple sandwich is actually high and mighty in flavor and purity. Country ham is a method of curing ham used in assorted Southern states, and Gayle’s is known to source some of the best country ham from surrounding professionals. These sandwiches even draw loyal customers to commute a few times a year from Colorado, Florida, Wyoming and more.
Washington: Blackened Salmon from Market Grill
Market Grill is located in the infamous Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington. Fresh fish is nearly unavoidable in Seattle, but always welcome. Tartar sauce and a locally baked baguette from Le Panier makes this sandwich a do-not-miss.
West Virginia: Pepperoni Roll from Country Club Bakery
What may look like the original Hot Pocket was created by Giuseppe Argiro as a portable lunch for Italian mine workers in 1927. Today, the Country Club Bakery is still serving Giuseppe’s recipe as a warm snack to West Virginia locals.
Wisconsin: Bratwurst from Milwaukee Brat House
Wisconsin loves to celebrate three things: its German heritage, beer, and cheese. All three can be found at the Brat House. Bratwurst comes served on a pretzel bun, beer is constantly flowing, and cheese curds are encouraged.
Wyoming: Bison Burger from Terry Bison Ranch
The state is swamped with the regional meat, even used in Reubens to substitute corned beef. There’s no better way to enjoy bison then in a juicy burger and locals emphasize finding a ranch to get the very best results.