While tacos get all the attention, it's sandwiches that fuel the world. Here in Cleveland, we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to classics, originals and over-the-top creations. Anything goes in the world of sammies as long as the results are delicious. We think these 10 are worth a try.
Smoked Turkey Club at Herb'n Twine
4309 Lorain Ave., 216-465-9600, herbntwine.com
People lose their minds over the smoked turkey club at Herb'n Twine, a 5-year-old gourmet sandwich emporium in Ohio City. This artful construction is composed of house-baked French bread, house-smoked turkey breast, maple-glazed bacon, smoked Gouda, pickled onions, fresh spinach and sun-dried tomato mayo.
Italian Beef at Ferrara's Imported Foods
5750 Mayfield Rd., Mayfield Hts., 440-442-3700, ferrarasimportedfoods.com
Despite a sizeable Italian-American contingent in Cleveland, there is a disappointing lack of legitimate Italian beef sandwiches. Fortunately, there's Ferrara's Imported Foods, an eastside staple for 60 years. If you've ever enjoyed a real-deal Italian beef sandwich while visiting Chicago, you know exactly what to expect from the version prepared at this grocery and cafe.
Torta at La Plaza Taqueria
13609 Lakewood Heights Blvd., Lakewood, 216-476-8000
We know, the tacos here are heaven on Earth, but, once or twice, cycle a torta into your rotation. You still get to choose your meat (al pastor, chorizo, carne asada ...), but instead of being plopped into tortillas, it's stuffed into a soft, round bun with cheese, refried beans, tomatoes, lettuce, avocado and sour cream. There's nothing preventing you from hitting that salsa bar on the way to your seat.
Lobster Roll at Lobster and Pho
6901 Rockside Rd., Independence, 216-264-4007, lobsternpho.com
We never expected to stumble upon one of Northeast Ohio's best lobster rolls at an Asian eatery in Independence, but there you have it. Folded into a toasted split-top bun is a combination of chopped knuckle meat and tender, whole claws. Garnishes are kept to a minimum, with little more than a drizzle of melted butter and dollop of mayo.
Hot Chicken Sandwich at Parkview Nite Club
1261 West 58th St., 216-961-1341, parkviewniteclub.com
Short-lived Chow Chow in Lakewood provided many Clevelanders with their first taste of Nashville hot chicken. That business was rolled into the Parkview when the chef joined the team, bringing many adoring fans of that crispy, high-octane delicacy with him. Get the hot chicken sandwich here and prepare to be blasted with spicy, crunchy-fried chicken on a soft bun capped with refreshing cabbage slaw.
Philly Cheesesteak at Original Steaks & Hoagies
10735 Ravenna Rd., Twinsburg, 330-998-6586, steaksandhoagies.com
We have yet to find a better version of this Philly-born classic. From the Amoroso rolls and shaved ribeye, which is chip-chopped to perfection on the griddle, to the fried onions and Cheez Whiz (or provolone if you so choose), these sandwiches would fool a Flyers fan. Since launching in Twinsburg 10 years ago, this homegrown "steak shop" has added five additional spots.
Bravacado Sandwich at Beet Jar
1432 West 29th St., beetjar.com
It's a strange sensation to not feel bloated and logy after demolishing a sandwich, but the Bravacado from the Beet Jar manages to leave diners feeling blissfully energized. This avocado toast on steroids includes toasty coconut, red onion, greens and creamy housemade cashew spread, all tidily stacked atop toasted Sicilian bread from Stone Oven.
Cubano at Caribe Bake Shop
2906 Fulton Rd., 216-281-8194
We've been blessed with the opening of nearly half a dozen new Puerto Rican bakeries in town, each proffering excellent versions of this hearty pressed sandwich. But we always find ourselves heading back to Caribe, where the Cubanos come in three sizes. Here, the ideal bun is layered with roast pork, ham, melted cheese, dill pickles and yellow mustard before getting the hot-iron treatment.
OMG Philly from Black Box Fix
25359 Cedar Rd., Lyndhurst, 216-675-3129, blackboxfix.com
Black Box Fix isn't messing around when it comes to the OMG Philly, a knife-and-fork hoagie loaded with Philly-style chicken, grilled shrimp, mushrooms, onions and peppers. What brings it all together is the dreamy "yum-yum" sauce, a mayo-based spread. The success of the sandwich has even birthed a spin-off, the OMG 2.0, which adds buttered lobster to the already winning combination.
Potato Pancake Reuben at Der Braumeister
13046 Lorain Ave., 216-671-6220, derbrau.com
Winter is just around the bend, and in preparation for our annual hibernation, it's time to put on some weight. Might we recommend the gut-busting potato pancake Reuben at this 35-year-old treasure? Just like it sounds, this bell-ringer consists of the usual corned beef topped with sauerkraut, melted Swiss and Thousand Island dressing, but the two-fister swaps the bread for a pair of potato pancakes. Goodnight.
Banh Mi at On the Rise
Multiple locations, ontheriseartisanbreads.com
As On the Rise bakery in Cleveland Heights marches toward the 20-year mark, it continues to expand its operations. Three years ago the artisan bread shop doubled its storefront footprint and last year, it debuted a satellite shop at Van Aken District's Market Hall. Throughout it all, the beloved banh mi has been satisfying diners with its perfect marriage of tender shredded pork, thin sliced pate, rainbow of pickled, julienned veggies, and slather of silky aioli. All of the above, of course, is packed into one of Cleveland's best baguettes.