These are good times for a change in your lunch routine. Besides, why eat another tuna sandwich or ham & cheese when you can choose from a world of sandwiches? In case you haven’t noticed, ethnic sandwiches are popping up all over the city. Eateries are serving up every imaginable global flavor between bread. And by bread, I mean everything from Indian roti to Mexican tortillas. Some sandwiches are traditional, while others are a representation of flavors and ingredients used in creative and delicious ways. There’s even a few mashups of several cultures at once, like Mexican burritos stuffed with Korean barbecue.
If you’re not ready to commit to just one cuisine, No. 7 Sub is a good place to start. Tucked inside the Ace Hotel, No. 7 Sub turns out subs with an American, Asian, Latin or a Mediterranean kick to them. One of our favorites is the General Tso’s Tofu sandwich, entirely vegetarian, composed of crispy-edged tofu and layered with yellow squash, shiso and pickled ginger on a plush sub bun. While you may not be acquainted with Cambodian sandwiches yet, you’ll want to familiarize yourself at Num Pang in the Village, where they serve everything from five-spice glazed pork belly with pickled Asian pear to roasted cauliflower alongside eggplant spread and soy milk chili mayonnaise on a French roll. (Definitely get a side of Num Pang’scorn on the cob sprinkled with coconut flakes, chili powder and chili mayo.)
There’s nothing wrong with American grilled cheese, but Mumbai Express takes it to a whole new level with India’s version, stacked with freshly made paneer cheese, onions, and cilantro chutney. There’s a world of sandwiches that includes Danji’s bulgogi beef sliders. A staple of Korean barbecue, sweet, tender short ribs get a double kick from cucumber kimchi and scallion salsa. Or, for a taste of Vietnam and their signature medley of French and Asian flavors, the clear choice is a Bánh mi at Baoguette or Pho Sure. For a change of pace from a chicken hero or eggplant parmesan, sample the Japanese answer to the Italian breaded, fried cutlet called katsu. Instead of white bread, the Japanese coat their cutlets in panko before they deep fry them. One our favorite go-to’s for katsu is Tebaya . Though the most traditional katsu is made with pork, we prefer Tebaya’schicken katsu sandwich, topped with miso, coleslaw and wasabi dressing.
If you’re craving a little Americana, there’s a classic New Orleans’ Muffuletta at Fort Defiance in Brooklyn. Theirs is a real deal rendition as good as you’d find in the French Quarter. Fort Defianceserves their muffuletta on Sicilian-style bread, loaded with the mortadella, coppa, soppressata, emmenthaler and provolone cheese.
Really, the possibilities are endless. You can sample a sandwich from a different country every day of the week. Sicily anyone? Head to Pane Panelle, a take-out sandwich shop attached to Stuzzicheria in Tribeca. Panelle are Sicilian chickpea fritters, add that to pane (bread) and the result is a sandwich unlike any other we’ve tried before. A common street food in Palermo, these fritters are crispy, yet airy and their sandwiches have an unexpected creaminess not easily found in a sandwich. We suggest their signature Pane e Panelle, with ricotta and caciocavallo cheese, accompanied by caponata. If you want to stay awhile and linger over a sandwich and a beer, Monday is sandwich night at Stuzzicheria. For a taste of Spain, Despañais as close as you can get without hopping a flight. They’ve got plenty of bocadillos (Spanish-style sandwiches), stuffed with first-rate Spanish charcuterie, cheese and seasonings. Try any of their warm pressed bocadillos especially the Picante, made with Spanish chorizo, Mahon cheese, tomatoes and Basque guindilla peppers. The ciabatta bread is crunchy, the cheese is creamy and the chorizo feisty. And seeing as fall is all about Scandinavian food, we can’t neglect to mention Vandaag and its smørrebrød, Danish open-faced sandwiches. Their selection ranges from mushroom and hazelnut terrine to shrimp remoulade with kohlrabi, lemon and fine herbs. Our top pick is Vandaag’shen confit smørrebrød, rich and moist, piled with radish, string beans, preserved lemon and a touch of Espelette pepper, all on a thick slice of toasted rye bread.
No 7 Subs
Address: 1188 Broadway, btwn. 28th & 29th Sts.
Phone: (212) 532-1680
Address: 365 Van Brunt St., at Dikeman St. (Brooklyn)
Phone: (347) 453-6672
Address: 21 East 12th St., btwn 5th Ave. & University Place
Phone: (212) 255-3271
Address: 120 Christopher St., nr Bedford St.
Phone: (212) 929-0877
Address: 25605 Hillside Ave. (Queens)
Phone: (718) 470-0059
Address: 346 West 52nd St., btwn 8th & 9th Aves.
Phone: (212) 586-2880
Address: 144 W 19th St., btwn 6th & 7th Aves.
Phone: (212) 924-3335
Address: 305 ½ Church St., btwn Walker & Lispenard Sts.
Phone: (212) 219-2357
Address: 408 Broome St., btwn Lafayette & Cleveland Sts.
Phone: (212) 219-5050
Address: 103 2nd Ave., btwn 6th & 7th Sts.
Phone: (212) 253-0470