Earl of Sandwich, 18th century, cribbage, blah blah blah—let's cut to the chase: The sandwich is a superfood, and summer (grass, lake, sun) is the season of the sandwich. Some say Seattle doesn't have good sandwiches, but they are wrong. Herewith, our odes to the handheld marvels of food found near you.
Firecracker Sandwich, Tubs Gourmet Subs (11064 Lake City Way NE, 361-1621)
Tubs Gourmet Subs shouldn't be as good as it is. It's in a strip mall in Lake City. It has furniture and decor that look like they came from your grandmother's living room. It's often packed with loud, obnoxious kids from a nearby high school. The (mostly surly) staff doesn't always pick up the phone to take orders, the service is painfully slow, they stop taking call-in orders at 6:45 p.m. (WTF?!), and the sandwiches are surprisingly expensive. The 26-year-old sandwich institution has survived this long by doing one thing right: making forearm-sized sandwiches with bizarre combinations of toppings that would just be too laborious and/or messy to produce at home. Raspberry-chipotle sauce? Tuna, wasabi, mayo, and avocado? Tubs has it. Bonus: Tubs also puts bacon—nature's greatest condiment—on just about everything.
Tubs's Firecracker sandwich is a thing of messy beauty. It's chicken, bacon, a secret "firecracker seasoning," pickled jalapeños, Monterey Jack cheese, ranch dressing, mayo—yes, ranch dressing AND mayo—and the obligatory lettuce and tomato, accompanied by a tub of barbecue sauce for dipping, all on a massive roll that has the mysterious ability to sop up barbecue sauce and still maintain structural integrity.
I hate you, Tubs. But I just can't hate your sandwiches. JONAH SPANGENTHAL-LEE
Fire-Roasted Yam Sandwich, Hillside Quickie's Cafe (324 15th Ave E, 325-6429)
This isn't just the sandwich you eat when you're starving, this is the sandwich you eat when you don't plan on moving for at least an hour afterward. It's the exact opposite of the "healthy alternative to meat" dishes that most vegan sandwich shops serve up—the fire-roasted yam sandwich is sloppy, hot, and hardcore.
When you take your first bite, your lips glisten with grease, and sweet, bright orange yam mash collides in your mouth with salty, smoked seitan. Thank god for those yams. The big chunks of seitan are so rich and chewy—sopping up every bit of oil they were cooked in—that the thick layer of slow-cooked, creamy yams is the only thing that keeps your body from going into shock.
For those of you not looking for a gut bomb that'll put you in a coma for the rest of the afternoon, Hillside has a number of less intense sandwiches that are just as delicious. Sissies. That just leaves more fire-roasted-yam goodness for me. MEGAN SELING
Canadian Bacon Sandwich, Olympia Pizza & Spaghetti House III (516 15th Ave E, 329-4500)
Imagine the crispy, flaky, steamy, savory masterpiece called GARLIC BREAD. Then imagine making it one thousand times better. Truly, you have not lived and died of cardiac arrest until you've consumed the Canadian bacon sandwich at Olympia Pizza & Spaghetti House III on Capitol Hill. It's made on garlic bread, of course, which supports a hearty cushion of melted mozzarella. But the savvy sandwicheur ratchets up the haute-cuisine-o-meter by adding pineapples and a side of warm pizza sauce. True, this is related to Hawaiian pizza—but pizza is not served on crispy, steamy, delicious garlic bread, is it? And Hawaiian pizza does not come with soup or a salad. And this salad, you must understand, is what you want, because this salad may be ordered with BLUE CHEESE DRESSING, and the blue cheese dressing at Olympia House is where they put the mind-control drugs. All this—the best sandwich ever and the most addictive salad this side of crack cocaine—for only $8.50 (sides not included). Please note: There are two other Olympia Pizza Houses in the city, but different people own them and the sandwich is not as good. DOMINIC HOLDEN
Any Sandwich, Salumi (309 Third Ave S, 621-8772)
I'm sorry, everybody else, but my sandwich wins. Armandino Batali has kept meat-loving people in a state of swoon since he opened Salumi, a family business that expertly cures its own meats—soppressata with garlic and cayenne, agrumi with orange peel and cardamom—and serves them with the finest oils, cheeses, and grilled peppers and onions. Everything they make there is the best thing you'll ever have for lunch. People stand in line at Salumi every damned day, and not just Seattle people. On my latest visit, my linemates were diversity itself: an African American and her Italian friend, a gay couple (one Spanish, one Spanish American), and too many other people to talk to. While we waited, the lady behind the counter cut us slices of culatello. "The heart of prosciutto," she said. "Nothing extraneous. Good, huh?" The cured-meat sandwiches are a dream—prosciutto, fig, and goat cheese will make you a believer—but their stewed lamb, pork, and meatball are also the best sandwiches you will ever eat. Vegetarians can eat a margherita. Winos can pour a cup from the bottles always sitting on every table. Doesn't matter what your lunch plans are. Change them. BRENDAN KILEY
Midnight Cuban Press Sandwich, Paseo (4225 Fremont Ave N, 545-7440; 6226 Seaview Ave NW, 789-3100)
12:04PM What's the name of the damn sandwich again? 12:07PM Straight fucking uphill for like twelve fucking blocks. You said Fremont. I feel like I rode to Bellingham. 12:09PM I'm having an asthma attack. This better be worth it. 12:13PM Line out door. Can't breathe. Extra fifteen minute wait for this particular sandwich. No lunch item worth time, trouble if not served with side of fries, blowjob. 12:22PM Got sandwich. Very greasy looking. Heart attack next? 12:27PM Sandwich delicious. 12:28PM Impossible to eat in dignified manner. 12:29PM Worth trip, wait, attacks (asthma, heart). 12:29PM God, this is good. 12:32PM Haven't been this greasy since... I won't say when. 12:37PM Told self to think of ass, health, only eat half. 12:38PM Ate whole fucking thing. SUBMITTED VIA TEXT MESSAGE BY DAN SAVAGE
Tat's Italian Sub, Tat's Delicatessen (115 Occidental Ave S, 264-8287)
My favorite sandwich doesn't exist in Seattle. In Maine, where I was born and raised, every corner store sells an Italian sandwich for three dollars or less. It's never anything fancy: ham, cheese, peppers, tomatoes, olives, onions, and pickles on a foot-long roll, cut in half and doused with olive oil, salt, and pepper. It's kind of a honky banh mi. The always-crowded Tat's Deli (subtitled "East Coast Steaks & Subs") in Pioneer Square doesn't make this kind of Italian sub—instead of waxy American cheese, they use provolone, for instance, and three types of cured meats to create a tangy, filling mess of a sandwich. It doesn't cost three dollars, either: An 8-inch is $7.50; 12-inch is $12. But it is by far my favorite twist on the classic Italian sandwich on either coast: a ham-and-cheese sandwich that bites back. PAUL CONSTANT
Any Sandwich Made by Maria, QFC deli counter, 1401 Broadway, 860-3818
Her name is Maria. Her face hides nothing, and her heart and hands are one. She makes the most love-filled sandwiches in Seattle. Maria, who works at the deli in the QFC on Broadway and East Pike Street, has this gift: She can transmit the love she has inside of her into the core of a sandwich. No matter what you select—ordinary rye bread, ordinary slices of roast beef, ordinary tomatoes, ordinary onions, ordinary Swiss cheese—her hands transform into it a feast. And love is nothing but the condition of abundance. This is why the sun (our star) loves us most: It never stops giving us light. It just gives and gives and gives. Maria's sandwiches are so thick and rich and hearty; you have only paid $5.99, but the sandwich feels like it's worth much more than that. Indeed, it feels like a part of it, the very soul of it—which is nothing else than Maria's love—is priceless. CHARLES MUDEDE
Banh Mi, Pretty Much Anywhere in the ID (but especially Seattle Deli [225 12th Ave S, 328-0106] and Saigon Deli [1237 S Jackson St, 322-3700, with downtown, U-District, and Bellevue locations, too])
If there's anyone out there who still doesn't know about banh mi, ENOUGH. The time for not knowing about banh mi is past. The time for knowing about banh mi is now! Banh mi is Vietnamese grilled pork (or tofu or ham or whatever—just get the pork) stuffed into a chewy French baguette with pickled carrots and daikon, cilantro, mayonnaise, jalapeño, and cucumber. Banh mi will make you want to KISS COLONIALISM ON THE MOUTH. This sandwich costs less than $5 and sometimes less than $3, and it's available all over the International District. Here is the very best thing to do: Travel to International District. Exchange dollars for banh mi. Take banh mi across Jose Rizal Bridge to park/viewpoint on other side. Sit at picnic table, consume banh mi, observe downtown and the Sound, and feel overcome with love for a city that gives you such perfect sunshine and perfect sandwiches. LINDY WEST
French Dip Sandwich, Cafe Flora (2901 E Madison St, 325-9100)
I'm not usually a fan of vegetarian- switcheroo food: "Mock chicken" simultaneously mocks chicken, tofu, and mockery. But Cafe Flora's veggie French dip sandwich is a miraculous exception. Meat impersonation is kept to a minimum: The "sliced beef" is a not-even-faintly-beefy sliced portobello mushroom (garnished with caramelized onion and Swiss cheese), while the would-be meat-dripping jus is an herby, salty, garlic-mushroom broth. But what matters is the bread: an herbed baguette from Columbia City Bakery that's ambitiously crusty on top, fully poppy-seeded on the bottom, and of an exactly correct sturdiness for the crucial component of a French dip—the mini tug-of-war that accompanies each bite as the roll softens, eventually yielding perfect jus-soaked deliciousness. The aforementioned ambitiously crusty, fully poppy-seeded baguette guarantees that every bite is as rewarding as the first. DAVID SCHMADER
Reuben Sandwich, I Love New York Deli (93 Pike St #4, 381-DELI)
The New York–style delicatessen sandwich should not be upheld as the Platonic ideal of a sandwich. Almost any sandwich can achieve greatness—even the quotidian grilled cheese—and to hold one type above all others is foolishness, especially if part of your argument rests on the slippery slope of authenticity. That being said, the Reuben at I Love New York Deli, in Pike Place Market, is irrefutably the best sandwich in the city. In the mode of such sandwiches, it is massive. (Overheard: "This is honestly too damn big." Oh, Seattle.) Likewise, it is laden with meat: three-plus inches at the center, imported from New York City, steamed prior to being packed on. The absurd amount of meat on a New York–style deli sandwich is not necessarily a virtue—it can get dry or monotonous—but this corned beef, moist and rich, is empirically good. The bread: your choice of four kinds of rye. The sandwich is grilled on a noncommercial electric griddle in the back of I Love New York's tiny stand, possibly by New York import/owner Jon Jacobs (a big sweetheart) or Elena (she of the sonorous accent—"It's a biiig sandwich! And a yommy one!"). When it gets to you, it's hot and toasty and tangy; it's also disintegrating under the weight of its own goodness. You don't even have to be especially fond of Reubens to recognize this sandwich's inherent awesomeness. This sandwich will convert you. BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT