There’s nothing I love more than that first alluring bite of a well-composed sandwich. Sure, you say it’s just a sandwich, but to me and other foodies at Spoon, the making of a sandwich is like performing open-heart surgery.
Each ingredient is weighed for its texture, classified flavors, and functions in the sum total of the sandwich. This examination includes but is not limited to: bread, fillings, temperature, seasoning, freshness, menu description, aroma, overall flavor and appearance.
Finally, after the sandwich has gone through a panel of sandwich analysts we vote whether it would be eaten again. If it sounds complicated then you’re probably not cut out for the job of being a sandwich analyst. Luckily for you, we’ve done all the dirty (tasty) work, to find you the best sandwich shops scattered across New England.
If you find yourself in Woodstock, Vermont, then you’ve gotta go to “The Farmer’s Market” for one of their sandwiches. “The Garden of Eden” has lettuce, tomato, avocado, thinly sliced apple, cucumber, onion, finished with a generous smear of Fox Hollow Farm mustard all assembled between two slices of chewy, multi-grain bread. The “Moonlight in Vermont” features turkey, apple, tomato, Vermont cheddar, lettuce, smeared with mayo and stuffed between house-made sourdough bread.
“The Kitchen” in Portsmouth, New Hampshire serves anything from quinoa curry, to fried hushpuppies served with spicy mayo. I haven’t had a meal there I honestly didn’t like. I love their spin on the classic food — fried tomatoes on a turkey club? Let me tell you — it’s a game changer. Or try the pressed veggie wrap, loaded with caramelized onions and marinated eggplant.
If you’re passing through Montpelier, Vermont and want a quick, cheap lunch that’s sure to satisfy — go to Pinky’s. Take your sandwich to-go, like most of the folks in this area were doing. I scanned the tantalizing menu and decided on “The Green Goddess” which was wheat bread stuffed (and I mean stuffed) with Boursin cream cheese, spinach, cucumber, red onion, pea shoots, avocado and tomato. It’s so big you have to unhinge your jaw just to take the first bite.
Now walk towards the steps of capital hill and do a Rocky reenactment because you just ordered the best sandwich in the capital of Vermont. Congratulations.
My parents and I stumbled upon this quiet cafe in Kittery, Maine, This little corner of Kittery is a heartfelt place for anyone craving soups, sandwiches, and baked items. Not to mention their homemade chips put Lay’s to shame — to shame I tell you. Ordered from their simple yet flavorful menu: open-faced tomato, cheddar, and avocado melt.
Adjacent to the iconic Nubble Lighthouse is an even greater sight: Fox’s Lobster House. After you’ve taken over a million selfies with the Maine staple, there’s only one thing left to do: walk ten paces towards Fox’s Lobster House, order a lobster roll on a buttered New England roll, patiently dance/stand/throw a tantrum while your order is being freshly handmade, pay the nice people in exchange for the holy dish you now are the owner, and soon to be consumer of, find a nice rock overlooking the waves crashing against the cliffs, and take that first bite and prepare for a post, lobster-coma nap.
You’re going to want to be sitting for this — and after, for that matter. Roll up your sleeves at Sam LaGrassa’s in Boston, the pastrami and corned beef is served dripping, hot and fresh on pumpernickel. Carved before your eyes by masters of the craft. Ruby red pastrami, encrusted with crackly pepper dances before your eyes, before you blackout, you decided to go full-throated, tasting the nutty flavor of pumpernickel combined with salty, melt-in-your-mouth slices of meat. Don’t worry about your appearance or mental state at this point, just relish in the moment.
Sit down at any one of the five tables stationed steps away from the open farmhouse kitchen. This feels like home. When it comes to comfort food, Colby’s in Portsmouth, New Hampshire knows what they’re doing. On those rare occasions I don’t order from the all-day breakfast menu, I get a wrap, stuffed with the freshest ingredients they have on hand that day, like spinach, house-made pesto, and chicken salad. The combination of nourishing whole foods, and the patter of their creaky wooden floors lets me know everything’s going to be okay.
Want to know the way to a girl’s heart? It involves curry fries and crispy fried chicken sandwiches called cemitas. STREET in Portsmouth, New Hampshire puts their own spin on this classic Mexican sandwich by putting a succulent, fried chicken thigh on a cemita bun, topped with pickled red onion, avocado, sprinkled with cilantro, smacked with some chipotle mayo and — Fried. Queso. Fresco. What is queso fresco you ask? Well, think of it as if soft mozzarella had a baby with feta, but not as tangy. The result is a mild, refreshing, (hence the name) soft cheese. It’s what makes this sandwich go from so-so to sabraso.
This humble little bakery is easy to miss, but down a side street from Market Square in Portsmouth, New Hampshire is a cafe and bakery, with a saying that goes “eat something, you’ll feel better.” But the sandwiches – they’re in a category of their own.
When I first bit (or rather, chomped) down on my made-to-order egg salad sandwich on anadama bread I was reminded of summer’s past. A time when it’s okay to walk outside your front porch barefoot and pull a vine ripened tomato out of the garden. Ceres masters the balance of honest, fresh ingredients, without being cunning. In sum, Ceres Bakery is (with the utmost respect) to the tortoise what McCafé is to the hare. Yep. I just went there.
And there you have it. Nine sandwich shops that made the cut. My panel of sandwich analysts and I will continue our research for the greater good of humanity as we eat our way through the midwest. Stay tune for our debut podcast, say it with a sandwich. Until then — I’m going to go make me some toast.
Disclaimer: This article does classify variations such as wraps, open-face sandwiches, buns, and New England rolls as sandwiches. If you have an issue with this, please contact my panel of sandwich administrators, and we will get back to you immediately.