Blog of an aspiring foodie

Best sandwiches in Houston

Posted by beer_chris on 28-May-2009

A few weeks ago, The Houston Press published a review of Manenas, an Argentine deli/bakery on the west side of Houston. Included in this review was a bold statement – that the milanesa sandwich was “easily the best sandwich in Houston”

Those are strong words, especially to a sandwich lover like me. I had a number of conversations with friends and family about this, and to be honest, I doubted the conclusion. In doing so, I started building my own personal list of the best sandwiches in Houston – while I can’t come down to just one, I did come up with a bit of criteria:

  1. Hamburgers don’t count – that’s a special category all its own
  2. The best sandwich had to be something I was willing (and in most cases, have) driven long distances just to eat – where the primary purpose of the trip was specifically to eat the sandwich. This narrowed the list significantly.
  3. Price, style, nothing really counts – some of these sandwiches are simple and basic (and cheap) some are complex and expensive. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks, and those need to be documented.

So, without further ado – the list:

Original Antone’s Super Original Note – this has to come from the Original Antone’s, of which there is only one remaining: on Holcombe in West University.

This sandwich has the perfect balance of really nice italian deli meats and sharp provolone cheese. There’s real chow chow on it, unlike at the chain Antones restaurants. Lastly, the bread. It’s crusty and really tasty, but soft enough to keep from cutting your mouth up. One of these with a bag of Cheetos, a Dr. Pepper in a can and some grape leaves is just heaven, and one of the best lunches I can think of.

Rueben with extra Russian dressing – Kahn’s Deli

Some say this isn’t a sandwich as much as a couple slices of toast with a pound of pastrami corned beef. Not everyone is a big fan – however, ordering this on a Saturday afternoon – just a bit late, so you’re really hungry – with the extra russian dressing for dipping along with some Guldens mustard really is awesome. The pastrami corned beef is heated just enough, the kraut is not too sour, and eating the second half as leftovers the next morning is really one of the best parts of this sandwich. Definitely worth a special trip to the Village.

Club Sandwich, Market Square Bar and Grill

I don’t know what it is about this place – who am I kidding, of course I do. It’s the great beer selection and the amazing horseradish mayo served with everything your order here. There’s not a whole lot that the magic flat top at Market Square can do wrong, but the club sandwich is one thing that never touches it – but tastes really great. A good club sandwich mixes all the great taste of a BLT (mayonnaise-y, bacon-y goodness) with a great ham and cheese and heavily buttereed toast – all some of my favorite flavors. This, folks, is a good club sandwich. Add a nice dollop of the aforementioned horseradish mayo and you’re approaching perfection. A regular stop for me almost any day of the week (save for Sunday, they’re closed).

Roast Beef Po-boy, BB’s

A recent addition to my list – this thing is amazing. The roast beef on the sandwich is cooked to that perfect place where it can still be sliced but is also falling apart. This way each bite has great bits of fat, meat and juice that makes good roast beef grand. The extra fluffy buns soak up a fantastic melange of mayo, gravy and meat juices that I think should be jarred and sold as a condiment. The sandwich itself is imposing – served on what appears to be a 12 inch roll. When you’re finished you are aware you have eaten something large – but you don’t regret a single bite. Dipping this into the ‘pepper cream’ sauce that comes with the ‘Pollo bullets’ improves something that on its own is nearly perfect. This sandwich is worthy of being a king.

Honorable mention – mixing this po-boy with the sriracha mayo from Little Bigs across the street is another genius idea I plan on trying soon.

Softshell crab sandwich, Texas Crab Festival

I struggled with including this one, because it’s not really available but one weekend a year – but this is the definition of a ‘special trip’ sandwich. For the first few years I went to the crab festival on Bolivar I went seeking one thing – softshell crab sandwich. This one is basically a softshell crab deep fried (whole), but on a sesame seed hamburger bun, smeared in mayo and tartar sauce and served. It’s esoteric to eat this standing in the sun on the peninsula, and is something I look forward to every May.

Cheesesteak Hoagie, Rockys Subs

I’ll never forget walking into Rocky’s Subs on Greens Rd and I-45 for the first time – I had been working on this side of town for about a month, and was exploring the local delis and sandwich shops around my office. I walked through this door in a storefront, nestled between a ratty Kroger and a check cashing place, and found a little hole in the wall decorated in Philly memorabilia and serving that Philadelphia classic, the cheesesteak. Now, this cheesesteak isn’t especially authentic – no cheez whiz, former owner had sold out to an Asian family – but this family took his recipes to heart and faithfully got all their ingredients from the same suppliers. Each sandwich, served on a really tasty po-boy roll, is stuffed with more chopped sirloin than you would expect for the price and smothered in tasty white cheese.  Topped off with sliced-just-right onions, it’s really a great sandwich.  Adding in the fun of introducing people to Greenspoint vis-a-vis this random little spot for a surprisingly good cheesesteak, and you have one the great sandwiches in Houston.

Torta de Pastor, Taqueria Huetamo

Another Greenspoint find, this is easily one of the best places for pork cooked in the ‘pastor’ style in town. That and getting a giant torta made with it for less than $3 is simply amazing. Dipping this sandwich in the mouth puckeringly hot green sauce that comes gratis with each order is another memory for me of working on the north side of Houston.

Small po-boy, Colonial House of Sandwiches (Baytown)

Part of the allure of this place is, without a doubt, the name. It just sounds like some kind of southern small town hangout, and I’m sure it may well have been back in the day. Now, it has 2 locations in Baytown and is absolutely packed for lunch. The sandwiches are generally meh – cheap meat, American cheese,, plastic bread – but the po-boy is a little different. It’s just a darn good sandwich, made with decent ingredients and done carefully. It’s also cheap – less than $3.

Honorable mention:

  • Softshell crab po-boy, Jazzie’s Cafe
  • Oyster po-boy, Calliope
  • Muffaleta, Mandola’s Italian Deli
  • Steakburger, Steak and Shake

14 Responses to “Best sandwiches in Houston”

  1. Laura said

    I am sad to say that MY favorite sandwich place/Argentine deli has closed down. Perhaps you remember it? I’m sure you do. Giannottis Deli on Bissonnet across from Bayland Park. THEY had the best milanesa sandwich I have ever had, and probably will ever have. If you never went there, brother, then I feel sad for you and your sandwich lovin’ heart. Their bread was out. of. this. world. Fresh… soft, but crusty. Everything homemade with love. I drove there for sandwiches often since I moved to Gulfgate and would go there still if they were around. After Ike hit, they never came back. OH, and their pasta… that is something for an entirely new blog post though. I have to stop writing about it, I am genuinely upset that I will never see the old man’s face behind the register recommending his favorites to me on my lunch break from the plumbing company. Lots of good memories there with dad too, which add to the nostalgic love I have for them. Oh and also, nice use of esoteric… One of my favorite words, and yet I never seem to find the right time to use it.

    • ytee said

      OF COURSE I remember Gianotti’s – in fact, it’s the memory of their milanesa sandwich that originally got me thinking of this post. The Houston Press article was a review of an Argentine deli/bakery, and so all I could think about was how much I miss G’s and that fantastic milanesa sandwich on fresh bread!

      You may remember, sis, that we had Gianotti’s empanadas at Jaime’s thirtieth. Holy crap those were good.

      Gianotti’s certainly would have made the list – but the sandwich needed to be attainable.

      • Laura said

        durh. I completely forgot about that. Oh MAN! Those empanadas… I’m mad at you for bringing them up. I miss those like I miss Granny’s homemade bread. And that, my brother, is truly saying something.

      • Laura said

        Also, why do I keep saying “brother?” What is up with that? Oh well, at least I don’t say “broseph.” Ugh… gross.

  2. GunsandTacos said

    Nundini Italian Deli & Food Store on N.Shepherd has some of my favorite sandwiches in the city. The only downside is, you can’t hardly get the same sandwich there twice.

  3. Fulmer said

    Wow most of my favorites are on your list (BB’s, Kahn’s, Jazzie’s Cafe). Latina Cafe’s Cuban sandwich deserves attention, as does the shrimp BLT @ Paulies. Bánh mì deserves its own category me thinks.

    • ytee said

      Hrm, I drove past the little Banh Mi place at St. Joseph & Dowling this morning and thought the same exact thing. Ive recently become a Banh Mi aficionado, so perhaps another list is needed.

  4. dirtykitchenadventures said

    I’m always on the lookout for a good po-boy – recently discovered that Lankford Grocery has an awesome shrimp po-boy special, but only on Fridays and Saturdays. Do you like the new Kahn’s as much as the old? I’ll have to try the other sandwiches on this list!

    • ytee said

      Ive actually not been back since they reopened, but my friend that introduced me to this sandwich says its the same.

  5. Bren said

    Interesting list you’ve put together. I’m going to have to try some of the places! There is one thing, my old friend. I think our tastes diverge a bit. We should grab a pint and discuss.

  6. Joe said

    “It’s esoteric to eat this standing in the sun on the peninsula”

    Houston has a peninsula?

  7. jodycakes said

    I will have to try Kahn’s – so they use Pastrami instead of Corned Beef for the Reuben? That is one of my FAVE sammies EVAH.
    Kenny & Ziggy’s, expensive, is worth it…they fly their pastrami & corned beef in from NYC weekly.
    Great post Chris.

    • ytee said

      Nope, they use corned beef. I corrected the entry. I was nudged about this by a friend of mine, who pointed out my mistake.

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