For many, the sandwich is the go-to meal. It's simple, easy food, a meal you can hold in your hand. It's perfect for everyone, from kids at recess eating soggy peanut butter and jellies to college kids subsisting on meat-packed subs to late-night shift workers and fridge-foraging bachelors crafting homemade assemblies that would make Dagwood proud.
The best part about the sandwich is the freedom to make it any way you like, with almost any foodstuff shoveled in. Throw together whatever ingredients you can find, and pile it up as high as you can handle it. No rules, no tradition, and no one telling you that's not how it's done. Just eat.
This is a list of the best sandwiches in Broward County, the ones that have managed to perfectly marry bread, meat, cheese, veggie, and condiment into one easy-to-eat vessel. If you're looking for lunch, maybe one of these can help.
This Pittsburgh-based chain of sandwich and pizza joints is treated like a temple of all things greasy and delicious. Here in Florida, the Primanti Brothers chain of restaurants serves the same great Italian-American specialties late into the night. The place is most famous for its pizza, followed by their "almost famous sandwiches," monstrous slices of Italian bread stuffed with meat, cheese, cole slaw, and salty hand-cut French fries. We're referring to the second-most-popular menu item, the Pitts-burger sandwich: a beef patty, sweet and sour cole slaw, tomato, provolone cheese, and fries all nestled together under two big hunks of sliced Italian bread.
Smack in the middle of Wilton Drive in Wilton Manors, you'll find the New York Grilled Cheese Co., what is no doubt a lactose intolerant individual's worst nightmare. Why? Because everything on the menu has melted dairy. Situated inside an old frozen yogurt shop, it's a whimsical space to order up a delicious array of gourmet takes on the childhood snack favorite. Even side items include a good mix of late-night favorites, like poutine-style fries with cheese curds and gravy, or jalapeno poppers with sweet chili aioli. The Wall Street Grinder is the most outrageous sandwich here, however, with American-cheddar cheese, french fries, bacon, caramelized onions, garlic butter, and scrambled egg on thick-cut, sourdough country bread.
In New York City, every neighborhood has its own corner deli; it's the type of place where you can find all your favorites, like pastrami on rye, tender corned beef, fresh-baked turkey, or lox. In South Florida, to find a truly transcendent deli, you have to know where to look. So look no further than Pomperdale, a place that will gladly slap a slab of Swiss on top of your house-cured pastrami, but that also excels in the more esoteric selections of Jewish culinary tradition: the sublime knish, the curative chicken soup, and the enigmatic kugel. Their smoked fish selection swims with the stuff bubbeh adores, nova and lox, whitefish, and even pickled herring. New owner and self-described "deli guy" Larry Bruskin has helped keep the Pomperdale Deli tradition strong, with original recipes -- and few new ones of his own. Really, though, the slogan says it all: This is home to the overstuffed sandwich. Like the "Superstuffed Sloppy Joe," a towering pile of meat on rye with a heaping portion of Sloppy Joe to finish it off.
See also: Ten Best Lunch Spots in Broward County
Founded in 1998 by owner Abraham Sharabi, an Israeli-born chef, this Middle Eastern and Mediterranean deli masterfully creates some of the most authentic kebabs, falafel, and shawarma in town. The menu offers something for everyone, from the carnivores and meat-lovers, to the vegetarians and vegans. Its take on Middle Eastern street food comes with an Israeli perspective (the owners are Orthodox Jews) and most of its customers follow the same age-old doctrines. But even if you don't keep Kosher, don't let that hold you back. Much of the food is vegetarian, but the meat is still plentiful with turkey shawarma, beef shish kebab, and chicken breast, to name a few. Your sandwich is just a few choices away. Simply choose your filling, the bread -- fresh pita, a long baguette, or pillowy lafa rolled up like a burrito -- and any of the half-dozen fillings. Get yours with a bit of everything, including the cucumber salad, tomato and onion side, pickled cabbage, eggplant mixed with coriander, or the parsley-flecked tahini sauce.
A longstanding establishment and lunch spot, La Mia Focaccia, has been dishing out some amazing eats for close to 20 years. The owner and her son bring a taste of authentic Italian cuisine to the area with their line of fresh-made focaccia and panini breads baked daily, and on-premise. Free of preservatives, and topped with fresh organic herbs grown from the owner's own garden. They include rosemary and garlic; artichoke and olive; and tomato, basil and garlic -- soft, fresh breads the size of small plate. Sandwiches include ingredients like grilled eggplants, roasted peppers, sundried tomatoes, broccoli rabe, prosciutto, and homemade Italian sausage. Once you've managed to narrow down the options, they'll assemble your sandwich in front of you, and throw it under the panini press to melt cheese and toast the bread. A crowd favorite: #21, a combination of spinach, smoked mozzarella, roasted peppers, and chicken.
See also: Ten Best Suburban Restaurants in Broward
Tucked away in a tiny, nondescript shopping plaza, this restaurant offers sandwiches that are anything but. In fact, this tiny Peruvian sandwich shop in Wilton Manors promises "The Best sandwich you'll ever taste!" While Bravo offers a whole list of delicious entrées, it's the sandwiches that are truly edible miracles. The house favorite is the Bravo! steak sandwich, a signature sub stuffed with chunks of steak, a fried egg, potato sticks, and cheese -- all served on a flaky-fresh bun that somehow manages to soak up the meat juices without becoming a saggy, sad mess. A bonus: The staff is super friendly, and the owners have given it a family-owned touch while staying true to the Peruvian cuisine. A must-try are the house sauces -- an olive, avocado, and spicy one -- served in large plastic bottles. They deliver an entirely new level of flavor to anything you order.
Located at the crossing of 441 and Davie Blvd., this Southern bell is all about the barbecue. However, the Georgia Pig also serves a lot of breakfast and lunch options that aren't, including non-smoked fare like cheeseburgers and grilled chicken sandwiches -- despite the fact that the entire place emits the smell of irresistible barbecue. The pulled pork sandwich is legendary, served drenched in the famous house Georgia-style sauce.
This hidden gem is what every gas station convenience store should look like; it's the type of place you dream of walking into when you're equal parts hungry and thirsty. Like any other convenience store, it's cramped and cozy with literally dozens of random items displayed for sale. But wander in towards the back and you'll find a deli counter that offers some of the best sandwiches around. They can make you anything, but the list of a few dozen house specialities are where it's at. Of course, you should try the most popular thing on the menu: the Italian. Get it with everything -- even the hot peppers -- and drowned in olive oil and vinegar.
The Lauderdale-by-the-Sea sandwich shop -- the first of what is now five locations -- has been slinging sliced meat for more than 35 years since its South Florida inception in the early 70's. But the story begins in Chester, Pennsylvania, where these hoagies originated. Here, it's all about the proper method of sandwich construction, and LaSpada's has hoagie engineering down to a science, starting with its fresh-baked rolls. Slathered with mayo and mustard (or olive oil and vinegar, for the Italian sandwiches), next comes a generous portion of top-quality deli meat before handfuls of fresh lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and sweet and hot peppers find their way atop. Finally, these mammoth sandwiches are given a layer of cold cuts, carefully tucked in tight along each side of the roll, ensuring the proper ratio of meat-to-bun per bite. Today, the Italian is still the most popular sandwich, but it's the Monster that takes the sub for us: a meaty combo of ham, turkey, cheese, and roast beef arranged into a perfect hoagie as only LaSpada's can do.
See also: Ten Best Brunches in Broward County
Rarely do you see a place that takes the navel plate end of the brisket to make pastrami. Lucky for us, Blue Willy's in Pompano Beach is one of them. It's not every day you get to sample something so decadently delicious. Which is probably why owner Will Banks doesn't serve it every day. A thing of beauty, it's nothing like the lean cuts of round you find at the grocery store or deli, injected with brine and nitrites and sliced thin. To truly appreciate this glorious, fat-ribboned meat, you should understand what makes good pastrami. Here, Banks has been preparing his pastrami the "old school" way since forever. That means finding a place that will sell him the same cut as the one used by the NYC butcher shops of the 1940s, a vestige of the Romanian Jews who started the process to re-create their pastrome in the 1890s. It begins with 1,100-pound lot, portioned out and prepared 200 pounds at a time, in a rigorous five-week process, to yield the final product. The entire ordeal is so labor-intensive, Banks sells the stuff only on Thursday. Thick-cut and stacked sky-high, it's served on the restaurant's signature onion bun (or plain rye bread, if you prefer) with a dollop of house cole slaw. Six months ago, the pastrami would last for a few days. Now, Banks is lucky if it lasts for two hours thanks to a nonstop line out the door, dishing out as many as 350 sandwiches until it's all gone.
Follow Nicole Danna on Twitter, @SoFloNicole.