Between the Bread: In Search of the Best Sandwich on the North Shore

Bless you, Earl of Sandwich. When you first created your masterpiece and namesake, did you realize that you were changing the concept of lunch forever?

You made the bag lunch and the picnic possible. Because of you, Potbelly, Subway and Quizno’s exist.

I went in search of sandwiches worthy of bearing the Earl’s name. Here are some of my favorites in and around the North Shore. Go forth and eat, my friends.

Moo and Oink Sandwiches

Gyros at Avli: Juicy beef and lamb cooked on a vertical spit, sliced thickly and piled onto fresh greek pita with tomatoes, onions, and garlicky tzatiki sauce. An odyssey unto itself.

The Buster at Bat 17
: Warm, thinly sliced Eisenberg corned beef, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing piled high on grilled Bennison’s rye bread. That’s “Buster” as in “gut.” Styled after Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, the mecca of deli sandwiches.

Slow-Cooked Pork Shoulder and Brisket at Inovasi: Combined with Italian tomatoes, homemade Chinese BBQ sauce and topped with shredded Chinese cabbage, all on a buttery brioche roll. That’s good eating.

Bacon Loretta at Sarkis: Crispy bacon and melty cheese on French bread with mayo, tomatoes, green peppers and onion. A five-napkin sandwich.

Sandwiches with Wings

Spiced Chicken Tikka Naanwich at Marigold: Saucy, spicy chicken tikka with frisee and arugula, corn bhuta and cucumber raita, all wrapped in a fresh-baked naan, served with papadum chips. So many flavors happening in my mouth I might explode. But I’ll die happy.

Turkey Club at Mrs. D’s Wilmette Diner: Your basic turkey, bacon, lettuce and tomato, except more delicious. My advice: light on the mayo, add some Dijon mustard, and for goodness sake, do it on whole-wheat toast.

Grilled Chicken Sandwich at
Abigail’s American Bistro: with Fontina cheese, arugula, tomato chutney, and basil aioli all on a grilled ciabatta roll. Perfection.

Sandwiches that Swim

Shrimp Remoulade at Cosi: chilled shrimp tossed with spicy, creamy Creole sauce, shredded lettuce and tomatoes on fresh-baked flatbread. Yum.

Traditional Tuna Melt at Prairie Grass: just right tuna (i.e. not overly mayo-ed) on a toasted English muffin with melted cheddar cheese, served with a wedge of iceberg lettuce with 1000 Island dressing. Kicking it old style.

Catfish Po’ Boy at Pappadeaux: Half-blackened catfish on a hoagie bun with coleslaw and creamy remoulade dressing… pair it with some gumbo for the true NOLA experience.

Lox and Key at Bagel Art: luscious buttery lox (smoked salmon) with a chive cream cheese schmear, tomatoes, capers and red onion. My grandma would approve.

Vegged Out Sandwiches

Eggplant Parm at Pompei Bakery: fried eggplant slices, red sauce, Parmesan and Mozzarella cheeses on an Italian loaf, served piping hot. Delicioso!

Roasted Vegetable Torta at
Frontera Fresco: roasted zucchini, mushrooms, poblano rajas, Chihuahua cheese, black beans, cilantro chimichurri, and avocado on Mexican flatbread. Rick Bayless can do no wrong.

Egg Salad at Prairie Joe’s: served classically with lettuce and tomato, and toast is a must. But for the real connoisseur experience, sprinkle liberally with black pepper and add in a few potato chips for crunch.