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Photograph: Virginia Rollison

The 10 best sandwiches in NYC

Including top chopped cheese, SECs, no-surprises pastrami on rye and a falafel favorite.

Written by
Will Gleason
Anna Rahmanan
Shaye Weaver
Amber Sutherland-Namako

Sandwiches are among the world’s most inspirational foods. It would be a Sisyphean task to even begin to enumerate all possible combinations here. They are there at some of life’s happiest moments. Picnics in the park. Half-imaginary tea parties. The big game. When people talk about “sad desk lunches,” they are usually talking about salads. If you’re ever feeling like blasé, find motivation in the myriad possibilities of the sandwich. If you can dream it, a sandwich can be it. Unless it’s a hotdog.  

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The best sandwiches in NYC

What’s on it? Ground beef with onions, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, ketchup and mayo on a hero. 

Blue Sky Deli in East Harlem is fondly believed to be the birthplace of this NYC sandwich staple. The creation’s long been attributed to Carlos Soto, who worked at the deli for over 20 years before passing away in 2014. Whether or not it’s the iconic item's official founding location, you’re still not going to find a better example of the delicious, melty masterpiece. A hero oozes melted cheese and ground beef in this classic that may just be the most comforting thing you can eat while on the go.—WG

Turkey leg sandwich at Henry Public

What’s on it? Turkey and crispy fried onion laces on toast. 

“This is the best turkey sandwich you’ll ever have in your life,” I tell people before taking them to Henry Public, and then it is. That old Thanksgiving prize, Renaissance fair staple and cartoon food-go to, the turkey leg, is shredded, piled high, topped with thin, frizzled onions for a little sweet crunch, and fit between thick slices of toast. It is quite large; big enough to share, for sure, and boxy enough to make even a two-handed attempt a worthy challenge, although I have seen it done.—Amber Sutherland-Namako


What’s on it? Shredded chicken breast marinated with chipotle, tomato and onion with avocado, lettuce, tomato, onion, sour cream, crispy cheese and jalapeños or chipotle.

Substantial and flavorful, this torta delivers a delightful kick in the tastebuds. It's a hearty Mexican sandwich, but it's also a celebration of flavors packed into an easy-to-chow-down-on package. Want to bump it up a notch? It's a meal that can only be made better with a side of Chela & Garnacha's amazing guac and chips.—Shaye Weaver

What’s on it? Turkey breast, crispy prosciutto, avocado, tomato compote, provolone, greens, Calabrese aioli on a house-made focaccia.

This turkey club is amped up with an Italian twist that'll create a disco of flavor in your mouth. Biting down into the flaky focaccia and sinking your teeth into the layers of meat, cheese and other goodies is just so, so good. This café and bakery has other tasty treats you'll want to try as well (the BEC, the chocolate chunk cookie, and the oatmeal cream pie) but if you're looking for a hearty lunch, make sure you get this perfectly balanced sandwich!—SW


What’s on it? You’ve got to be kidding. 

I mean this precisely, because you can get a sausage, egg and cheese on practically anything—an unwieldy bagel; an ingredient-obscuring roll—but the best vehicle for the breakfast sandwich classic’s titular items is a lightly-griddled English muffin. And they know just how to do it at Bonafide; almost imperceptibly, but enough to transform the nooks and crannies from lightly chewy to lightly crisp. The detail is small but key, and goes a tremendous way toward supporting its salty sausage patty and cumulus egg with beautiful, bright yellow American cheese folded in for a glorious surprise you know you ordered when you pull apart the two halves of this perfect circle.—Amber Sutherland-Namako

What’s on it? Pastrami and mustard on rye bread (with a sour pickle on the side)

There are countless things that tourists come to eat in New York that are actually awful. The pastrami at Katz’s Deli is not one of them. (And no best sandwiches in NYC list would be complete without it.) You can either sit down for a bite in the deli’s cavernous, frame-lined cafeteria or get one to-go for the first time in 132 years. Put simply, when it comes to pastrami in the city this is still the best of the best. It’s also large enough to get two or three meals out of.—WG


What’s on it? Salami, pepperoni, roast beef, ham, turkey, pastrami, mortadella, chicken and American and provolone cheese on a 14-inch-long hero roll.

The word "sandwich" doesn't do The Bomb justice. When you order this baby from "The Sandwich King of Astoria," don't expect to down the whole thing in one sitting. No, it'll take at least two, if not three, meals to demolish it yourself. Luckily it's also great to share with friends and family. The staff actually cuts The Bomb into quarters because they know just how gigantic it is. As you might expect, with so many meats and cheeses stacked on it, it tastes divine—it's your ultimate hero.—SW

What’s on it? Falafel, tahini, green spicy sauce, tomatoes, pickles, sour cream and green chili peppers in a pita.

The most daring aspect of the extraordinary falafel sandwich served at all Miznon locations is the fritter itself. Chef Eyal Shan serves a big, fat falafel patty instead of the traditional balls that lovers of Israeli food are accustomed to. And it's for the better: everything ends up more evenly distributed than it does with smaller counterparts; the perfect canvas for delightful tahini, sour cream and spicy green sauce. And the tomatoes and pickles add a nice crunch.—Anna Rahmanan


What’s on it? Cod, tartar sauce, lettuce, tomato and red onion on ciabatta bread.

"It’s an ode to the many fish sandwiches I consumed growing up in Florida,” Mary's Fish Camp owner and chef Mary Redding says about the shop's cod sandwich. And what an ode it is. Served on Balthazar ciabatta, it boasts seasoned cod lightly dusted in flour and cracker meal, sautéed and slathered with a house-made tartar sauce (capers, red onions, cornichons and lemon). Tomato, lettuce and more onions pack a flavorful punch indeed. Add to that the hand-cut French fries served with all sandwiches and you’ve got a memorable meal.—AR

What’s on it? Fried chicken, coleslaw and gravy on a buttermilk biscuit

You can get a taste of New Orleans without having to leave downtown Manhattan at this Big Easy-influenced shop. The popular destination is best known for its shrimp and oyster po’boys, but we can’t get enough of the decadent fried chicken and gravy sandwich. The rich gravy tops crispy fried chicken between two pillowy, biscuity layers in this quick to sell out sandwich.—WG


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