The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread
By Lauren Norton
I have loved sandwiches since I was a little kid. Growing up in Ireland, my Mom always made me a packed lunch to take to school, a tradition she continued well into my high school years. Everyone at school knew about my mom’s sandwiches, and she would often make me extras to share with “the boarders”—the students who lived in dormitory during the week and supplemented their cafeteria diet with large quantities of sugary snacks from the tuck shop. The best sandwich my mom made, (and I’m hoping she will make when I visit over the holidays, wink!) is the roast chicken sandwich, which includes white and dark meat, sausage stuffing, arugula, mayonnaise, and a few slivers of red onion. This was usually served on a perfectly fresh and crunchy French baguette. I think because my mother is an artist and interior designer, she can’t help but express her superior understanding of the intricacies of flavor and texture and proportion even when making a humble sandwich.
Dad’s Sandwiches, 1310 S Street
I started the quest to find a sandwich as good as something Mom would make at the aptly named “Dad’s Sandwiches.” This hole in the wall establishment on S and 14th was recommended by a slew of people on our Facebook page and I immediately liked the azure blue exterior and the corral of tables outside, where you can enjoy a beer with your lunch. I was having trouble choosing a sandwich so the cashier recommended the Meatless Meatloaf. He said it had just made its way onto the regular menu thanks to the overwhelming demand for this vegan special.
The Meatless Meatloaf looked great when it arrived, but became something of a debacle the second I took a bite. All I could taste was BBQ sauce, which not only overwhelmed the flavor of the other ingredients, but dripped all over the place. I tried taking the sandwich apart and removing some of the goop with a potato chip, but the meatloaf just didn’t have the nutty texture or substantial flavor I’ve enjoyed in other vegan patties. The bathroom was also out of soap, so I drove to my afternoon appointment with sticky hands.
Cafe Rolle, 5357 H Street
Cafe Rolle was my next excursion, a restaurant I hadn’t heard of before a reader suggested it. I called ahead and ordered the Pâté sandwich and the Chicken Breast sandwich to pick up. I was sorry I wasn’t eating in, the café was filled with gossiping East Sac neighbors (with plenty of opportunity to eavesdrop!) but I had already arranged a picnic style lunch date in Midtown.
We had a hard time deciding which option was the superior sandwich. The pâté was very mild, and I’m one of those strange people who likes the tangier flavors involved with eating liver. The chicken breast was chilled and served with tomato, pesto, and mayonnaise—very satisfying. Both sandwiches also cost less than $7, making them the cheapest options I had all week, despite the very high quality of ingredients. I’m looking forward to becoming a regular.
Corti Brothers Deli, 5810 Folsom Boulevard
The Tuscany, a beast of sandwich from the Corti Brothers Deli, was personally delivered to my house over the weekend while I painted the bathroom. My friend, who was insisting I include this deli that’s way on the outer edges of the grid, sent me a text saying: “they are baking the bread, and slicing the cheese, won’t be too much longer.” The result was a sandwich so heavy you could have bludgeoned attackers with it. There must have been two pounds of salami layered between sourdough as thick as beach sandals. My jaw was physically tired after eating one half, so I put the other half in the fridge. Eventually I took it apart and made three more sandwiches with its contents. While not my favorite sandwich, I would very much appreciate having this in my lunch box at the onset of the zombie apocalypse.
Juno’s Deli, 3675 J Street
On Monday morning I decided to find a cute date on OKCupid to take to Juno’s. Joshua was a big fan and suggested we meet there after the lunch rush. I ordered the Panko Crusted Eggplant with spring mix; he chose the Banh Mi. I told him about my quest to find the best sandwich in Sacramento, which was really more about breaking old habits and getting to know the city better. Joshua was enthusiastic about the idea and talked about how much he loves Sacramento, how he often diverts friends who are travelling from Portland to the Bay to spend a day or two downtown. For Joshua, Sacramento has everything that people seek out in big cities like SF, LA or New York: superior food and art and culture. The only difference, he said, is that we can afford to live here.
I should say right now, that I don’t expect to find sandwiches better than what we ate, mostly in incredulous silence, at Juno’s. The bread was freshly baked, the ingredients meticulously selected. The eggplant was meaty, tender, with a delicate panko crust, and perfectly complimented with roasted peppers, Manchego cheese, tomato, basil aioli, and balsamic reduction. I was almost sorry to be exchanging halves with my date, until I tasted the char on the pork loin, the riot of citrus in the pickled radish and spliced carrot. It made me wonder at how much of our lives we waste on substandard meals—humming along to Top 40 when we could be devastated by Tosca!
Mr. Pickles, 1050 20th Street
I know my editors prefer to publish positive articles, so I will just note that Mr. Pickles is right next door to a yoga studio, where you can watch lovely long-limbed people going out into the day, high on Om.
Thank you to everyone who sent in your suggestions, I will continue to sample the best Sacramento has to offer between two slices of bread! Coming soon, #BestSacCocktail
The sloppy Meatless Meatloaf from Dad’s.
Rosie enjoys leftover Meatless Meatloaf at Dad’s Sandwiches.
The Winner of #BestSacSandwich Panko Encrusted Eggplant from Juno’s.
Juno’s Banh Mi Sandwich with Pan Fried Potatoes.
The high scoring Chicken Breast Sandwich from Café Rolle.
The Tuscany from Corti Brothers Deli.
Skip it, the Veri Veggie from Mr. Pickles.