The sandwich. It's a glorious thing. And it feels like South Florida just can't get enough of it.
In 2013, we offered our picks for the best sandwich shops in South Florida -- a near-futile endeavor that proved way too limited in scope. To make up for it, this year we've been on the hunt for the best sandwiches -- all those specialty takes from the neighborhood restaurants and local corner cafés where devoted fans can turn an everyday meal into a cult classic.
To start, we searched out the top sandwiches in Broward County. Now, we're looking at the sandwiches that put Palm Beach County on the map for good eats. Don't be surprised to find LaSpada's missing from this top ten, however (we're only counting the original Broward County location). Likewise, you won't find the surplus of chain sandwich spots delivering all types of fast and cheap deli delicacies.
Instead, these are the sandwiches that offer a little something more -- dare we say out of the ordinary? -- from a unique concept designed to squelch the late-night munchies to a creative riff on the Reuben and a Floribbean-style fish sandwich.
These are the ten best sandwiches in Palm Beach County.
For the past 20 years, Seaside Deli in Boynton Beach has been serving some of the best sandwiches around. Located off A1A near Briny Breezes, next to Nomad Surf Shop, the tiny convenience store/deli is stocked to the brim with an amazing selection of food, with more than 35 deli subs and sandwiches. The spot offers more than 150 import beers by the bottle and more than five cases of specialty sodas and drinks, like the Sprecher fire-brewed root beer. But second-generation owner Richie Podvesker's specialty sandwiches are what shines, all 38 of them. Many have enough ingredients to make a four-course meal but are still less than $10 each, including the #13, which features thick-sliced turkey, thin-sliced roast beef, American cheese, chopped bacon, and house-made potato salad and coleslaw stuffed into an oversized sub roll.
This family-run establishment has been on the Boca Raton scene for more than five years, but few people know about it thanks to a clandestine location off the less-traversed part of Old Dixie Highway just north of Glades Road. The menu is a bit different than what you'll find at the average sandwich shop -- but that's what makes it special. The sandwiches are offered in cold or hot, small or large, wheat or white. The most popular among the signature sandwiches is the D'Pilgrim, what is without a doubt the best Thanksgiving meal between two slices of bread you will ever have. Pillowy-soft stuffing and spice-flecked pulled turkey meat -- dark and white for those who care -- are piled between two slices of thick, crusty bread, one side carrying a hearty helping of cranberry sauce, the other slathered in mayo. And while you may feel comfortably acceptable to eat a full sub from Subway in one sitting, not so here.
This place has it all, from salads and soup to premium sandwiches and wraps, plus a few takes on the grilled cheese, burgers, and hot dogs. The first thing you notice is the artwork, several posters and pictures scattered along the walls, each denoting the merits of marijuana. Next, you'll order using names like Mary Jane, Up in Smoke, and Cheech & Chong -- or Willie Nelson, Bob Marley, and even Snoop Dogg. Are you picking up on a theme yet? We love the Mr. Nice Guy for its all-around deliciousness, a thick slab of juicy pork loin paired with prosciutto, caramelized onions, mushrooms, Fontina cheese, and madeira sauce served on a toasted focaccia kaiser roll.
For nine years, Saquella's Cafe has been serving some of the finest fare in Boca Raton. Originally open for breakfast and lunch, the café became so popular that it expanded hours for a daily dinner service. The paninoteca section of the menu -- or sandwich shop -- offers a number of delectable creations, all served on homemade bread baked fresh daily. There are breakfast sandwiches served on fresh croissants, cheese and onions served on crispy French baguettes, and chicken and veggies on soft, pressed panini. But the real winner: the house muesli bread, dotted with nuts and fruit. It's best toasted, with a heaping portion of the deli's pulled rotisserie chicken salad, made with green apples, dried cranberries, grapes, and toasted walnuts.
A New Jersey original, Rinaldi's has been serving Italian-deli lovers some of the best subs from its South Florida location for more than five years. The current owners -- a couple hailing from New York and New Jersey -- offer a variety of hot and cold subs using Boar's Head meat and fresh-baked bread. The menu has a great selection of specialty sandwiches -- more than 20 in all -- many of them given Italian Mafia-related names, like the "mobster," "Brando," and "Pauly Special." Ask for the house specialty, however, and everyone will tell you to get the "Godfather," a hot sub combo of chopped steak, bacon, cappicola, salami, pepperoni, and provolone and finished with the standard lettuce, tomato, and mayo. If you go early, try the pork roll egg and cheese. It's as New England as you can get, served right at this tiny slice of the Bronx in West Palm Beach.
South Florida loves the pig, from gastropubs touting pork belly this and that to the inaugural Bacon Fest set to take place in Fort Lauderdale. And almost everyone is offering some version of the pulled-pork sandwich. But not everyone has a 12-hour-smoked, long-braised, homemade, hand-pulled version the way M.E.A.T. Eatery & Taproom does it in Boca Raton. The restaurant goes through an average of 85 pounds of pork shoulder each week, sourced from specialty purveyors. The process for making the pulled pork begins with the house rub, a mashup of smoked paprika, brown sugar, chili pepper, sea salt, and several additional "secret" ingredients, then smoked onsite, followed by an overnight braise in the oven. Last, it's hand-pulled and given a dousing of South Carolina-style vinegar mop before it's plated and set before you. The restaurant serves the sandwich two ways: with a dollop of coleslaw the traditional way, or country-style with pickled broccolini, banana peppers, and provolone cheese.
Nothing beats a fish sandwich, and South Florida does it better than anyone anywhere. Typically, restaurants around these parts promote the locally caught mahi sandwich -- AKA dolphin (fish, not Flipper) -- and places like Food Shack and Leftover's in Jupiter are popular haunts for such fare. But there's one place that does it a little different, offering a Floribbean-style take that goes for the gold. Golden macadamia- and coconut-encrusted grouper, that is. The sandwich at Frigate's in North Palm Beach combines these two tropical ingredients for a special breading on a gigantic grouper fillet. It's flash-fried to perfection and served on a kaiser roll with lettuce, tomato, Bermuda onion, and the restaurant's own tangy mango chutney.
Gary Zinger's deli, formerly the Pastrami Queen, is quite possibly Boca Raton's best representation of a New York, kosher-style deli -- never mind one of the best spots to grab a sandwich. The one that steals the show here is a riff on the Reuben. Choose from hot corned beef or house pastrami (or both, like we did) and add some melted Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and homemade Russian dressing. Last, pile all that homemade, house-cured goodness between two made-to-order, thick-and-crispy grilled potato pancakes. Sure, it makes a grease bomb of a meal, but the pancakes are a far more satisfying option than thin slices of bread. It has enough artery-choking fat to die from, but it's still worth every fat-infused bite.
A true Italian deli, V&S serves hot and cold sandwiches with house-made recipes and fresh, top-quality ingredients. Just ask the people who know some of the best: the New Englanders. In Philadelphia, it's called a hoagie; in New York City, a hero; in New Jersey and Connecticut, it's a sub; and throughout the region, grinder is accepted. At V&S, you'll want to order the classic Italian combo. It starts with the bread -- baked on-premises, this sesame-encrusted Italian is the only way to go. It's fresh and flavorful, at once soft and crusty. Second, the meat: specialty, high-quality cuts sliced thin and to order. Third, the owners were born and raised in the sandwich capital of the world: the Northeast. Enough said -- they learned their craft well. Just one word of advice when you go. Whatever you decide to order, ask for an extra slab of their fresh-pulled mozzarella or house made roasted red pepper sauce. It will make any sandwich that much better.
If pork belly is your thing, prepare to meet your match. Recently, Rack's Fish House & Oyster Bar in Delray Beach was given an honorable distinction as winner of one of Restaurant-Hospitality.com's "Best Sandwiches in America" for 2014. Out of more than a dozen categories covering beef, chicken and pork, Rack's earned the top spot for its sandwich known as the Pork Belly Patty Melt. According to Racks Culinary Director Matthew Danaher, and the restaurant's executive chef Todd Katz, the inspiration for the sandwich is simple: obsessing over awesome food. And what makes this sandwich the best in the county -- and, also the nation? A melding of the key ingredients, which are unforgettably delicious: grilled pork belly, caramelized onions, small-batch Russian dressing, a tangy kale and apple slaw, and rich Gruyere cheese, stacked between thick-sliced marble rye.
Nicole Danna is a food blogger covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on Clean Plate's Instagram.
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