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May 23, 2013 07:12 PM

Sandwich of the City

I will be traveling to Chicago, NYC and Philly soon. I am looking for the sandwich that best represents New York. I figure the Italian beef in Chicago, the Cheesesteak and Roast Pork in Philly. I'm kind of stumpen for New York city. I went to Defonte's last year and had their Roast Beef and Italian (Nicky) Hero.I'm trying to get the foods of the city, like a Knish at Yonah Schimmel's Knish Bakery, a Pastrami on Rye at Katz's, and so on..........What would be some other good ideas for the NYC food experience.................Thanks in advance..............Bill

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  1. Pastrami on rye. Maybe smoked salmon on a bagel. Those to me are the signature sandwiches of NYC.

    More "Only in NY" types of foods: pizza, hot dogs & papaya juice, black and white cookies, cheesecake, egg creams, pickles, halal carts.

    Russ & Daughters (takeout, busy on weekends), Katz's Deli (from When Harry Met Sally), Papaya King etc. (not gourmet but iconic), William Greenberg's black and whites, Junior's cheesecake, egg creams from Gem Spa or Ray's, Pickle Guys, the Halal Guys (53rd and 6th after sunset), are all iconic "NY" sorts of places that are worth a look.

    If you're interested in some of the places I listed above, you could do a LES food crawl.

    I highly recommend RGR's self guided Lower East Side Gustatory tour but sub in Pickle Guys for Guss' Pickles and note that Economy Candy's address is incorrect:

    We also have some of the harder to find Chinese cuisines: Henan, Shaanxi (Xian Famous Foods) and Fuzhou in Manhattan, and many more in Queens and Brooklyn (Shangdong/Qingdao and Dongbei to name a few). scoopG's Chinatown list (dependent upon where you are coming from these may be exotic or not... most places don't have Henan or Xian style food though):

    You might also want to do a restaurant doing creative takes on Asian, like at Momofuku Ssam Bar, Wong, Fatty Cue, Takashi, RedFarm, Mission Chinese, Jungsik, Kin Shop, or Danji.

    My favorite unique places in NY serve Xian (Chinese) food, Issan (Thai) food, organic/local/sustainable Japanese BBQ, authentic Basque (Spanish) tapas, creative diner food, pretzels, hot dogs, halal food, steak, upscale rustic Italian, Italian subs, creative Italian-American, high end non-sushi Japanese (like kaiseki), creative desserts, molecular gastronomy, mixology/creative cocktails, and creative brunches (sometimes every day of the week).

    4 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      "Pastrami on rye. Maybe smoked salmon on a bagel. Those to me are the signature sandwiches of NYC."


      1. re: iluvcookies

        A third option might be the classic deli / bodega / street cart breakfast sandwich, "egg on a roll." (The roll is kaiser.)

        1. re: kathryn

          Egg and cheese on a roll is a great answer.

          It's incredibly New York, and such a part of our fabric as just a functional sandwich, that it's usually overlooked for the touristy options.

      2. re: kathryn

        Excellent suggestions...just want to add a push for Barney Greengrass for breakfast.

      3. Kathryn's answers of pastrami on rye and smoked fish on a bagel are certainly on point (and the rest of her list is worthy, for sure).

        i dont think Xian's "burgers" are emblematic, per se, but they are delicious (i prefer the pork to the cumin lamb, which is a bit one-note to me, a good note but just flat).

        Defonte's serves two sandwiches which, in my opinion, are better than the two you tried last year - the steak pizzaolo and potato and egg. the first has incredibly tender tomato sauce braised beef, and the latter is certainly very typical of NYs italian communities. it sounds weird at first but the buttery egg and potato combo on their great semolina roll w seeds is a really excellent sandwich.

        taim's falafel (or, perhaps even better, sabich) is a NY sandwich that id be happy to have represent us and our foods-between-breads greatness.

        i guess some people would question whether hamburgers are sandwiches or a stand alone category, but you could pretty easily make the case that they'd be one of NYs most emblematic sandwiches, and a search of the boards would reveal much contention as to the best style and maker.

        2 Replies
        1. re: tex.s.toast

          While I've not tried the pizzaolo, I wasn't too crazy about the potato and egg. To me, their best sandwich is what the OP had (roast beef and fried eggplant).

          Personally, I'm still looking for a good meatball parm (didn't care for Defonte's meatball) and a good eggplant parm-- both on hero. I've had some good eggplant parm, just not memorable. I don't recall having a good meatball parm in the city yet (not for lack of trying). Like my burgers, I like a simple meatball w/o all the crazy complexities (e.g. meatball shop, etc). I did like meatball obsession's beef mb...

          1. re: rottyguy

            Second the eggplant parm. I also like chicken parm and veal parm sandwiches when I'm in NYC, but the good ones seem to be harder and harder to find these days.

            Tuna melts aren't common where I live, so I also associate tuna melts with NY coffee shops.
            Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop would be a good place for a tuna melt.

        2. Thank you all for the great info........I grew up in Bridgeport, Ct. The Italian Sand in that area were Meatball Grinders, Sausage and Pepper Grinders. My favorite Italian hangout had a great Egg and pepper on a Italian roll. I am really surprised that no one does a Italian sausage and pepper hero in NYC, Greeezzzz with all the great Italian sausage in the Italian delis you would think it would be popular............I was thinking that Hallo Berlin Cart on %4th and 5th would be a good choice of a true NYC kind of food. I guess with only one Cart of its kind it really doesn't represent that, it does hit my interest..........I was also thinking of a Lobster roll, and a Slice here and there.........My little girl would like Pommes Frites, she would go nuts on the dips........................We will be starting our Food fun fling at Peter Lugers, right from the airport. I figure it doesn't get any more New York than Peter Lugers.........My family loved the place last yr, not a good idea having their favorite steak house being 3000 miles from home............Thanks for the help....................OG

          3 Replies
          1. re: Oregonguy

            If you're in the East Village, Luke's Lobster for a lobster roll. Then South Brooklyn Pizza for a slice. Then walk to Pommes Frites!

            1. re: Oregonguy

              I haven't tried the Hallo Berlin cart, but I like their restaurant. It's very good and quite inexpensive, and they have good beer _and wine_ at low prices.

              1. re: Oregonguy

                if you have room for another steak, do try the boned in ribeye at quality meats (6th ave & 58th, near the park).

              2. taim's falafel (or, perhaps even better, sabich) is a NY sandwich that id be happy to have represent us and our foods-between-breads greatness.

                ?????????? Is there anyplace else that would have the same qualith as Taim's Falafel, I know Taim's is a busy place, is there another place that I could just walk up and get a Falafel or Sabith............Thx..........OG

                1 Reply
                1. re: Oregonguy

                  Well, a contender would be Jerusalem, on Broadway near 104th St., for shawarma or falafel (no sabich), but it's not a place I take a round-trip to on the subway, though definitely good enough to take a detour to if I'm in the area.