For something quick, easy and tasty, the sandwich is still America's most popular meal, but it doesn't have to be a hunk of processed meat between two slices of Wonder Bread. Across the country there are sandwich sanctuaries that create delectable French dips, remarkable Reubens and sensational subs. For a handheld meal that's more than just fast food, you have to pay a visit to Sandwich Paradise.
New York, New York
Established in 1888, Katz's Deli is New York's oldest, and it serves some of the best food in town. Its counter and booths are frequented by regulars who have been coming for decades, as well as tourists and the occasional celebrity. Katz's still makes about 5,000 pounds of corned beef, 2,000 pounds of salami and 12,000 hot dogs a week, right on the premises, and it shows in the massive portions the deli serves. The pastrami is served hot, and according to their menu, mayo is ordered at your own peril.
New York, New York
At New York's 70-year-old Stage Deli, the sandwiches are the stars -- and they often share their names with the biggest in the biz, many of whom frequent this famous sandwich haven. Maybe you're in the mood for the Marv Albert, or the Harvey Fierstein, or perhaps the Al Roker. Or maybe you'd like to try the James Gandolfini, stacked with roast beef, chopped liver and onions -- just make sure you've got the breath mints handy.
Jersey Mike's Subs
Point Pleasant, New Jersey
The Jersey Shore gets some things really right -- funnel cake, pizza by the slice and frozen custard to name a few. But the biggest culinary contribution comes from Jersey Mike's Subs. The original Jersey Mike's opened in 1956 in the beach town of Point Pleasant, NJ, offering their unique submarine sandwiches to locals and visitors who flocked there seeking a reprieve from city life. With specialty cold subs, hot subs and wraps (all with vegetarian options), there's something for everyone on this menu.
Nardelli's Grinder Shoppe
The submarine sandwich has many other nicknames -- the hero, the hoagie, the po'boy and the torpedo, to name a few. In Connecticut they call it the grinder. Known as "The Grinder Kings," Nardelli's began in 1920 as a grocery store opened by three Italian brothers. After a trip to New York City, where they saw the sandwich's popularity firsthand, the brothers were inspired to convert their grocery store into a grinder shop. Their gamble paid off for the brothers and their customers, who lined up on South Main Street on a daily basis. Today Nardelli's offers more than 35 different grinders featuring tasty combos like prosciutto and hot pepper, chicken and sausage, and peppers and grilled onions.
Phillipe The Original
Los Angeles, California
The East Coast claims most of the oldest and best delis in the country, but the West Coast boasts one of America's oldest sandwiches, the French dip. Established in 1908, Philippe The Original is one of the oldest and best-known restaurants in SoCal. What you may not know is that this delicious treat was a happy accident. One day, the restaurant's owner, Phillipe Mathieu was making a sandwich and inadvertently dropped the sliced French roll into a roasting pan filled with juice, still hot from the oven. The patron accepted the sandwich anyway, and a star was born!
At Primanti Bros. of Pittsburgh, if you want a side of fries, you're going to have to take them off your sandwich. The signature dishes at this P-burgh institution consist of grilled meat, a vinegar-based cole slaw, tomato slices and French fries between two pieces of Italian bread. The patrons of Primanti Bros. enjoy the perfect combination of two American favorites -- fried food and the sandwich.
Peanut Butter and Co. Sandwich Shop
New York, New York
This New York favorite takes PB&J out of your lunchbox and onto the restaurant table. Peanut Butter and Co. is a one-of-a-kind sandwich paradise, offering every peanut butter concoction under the sun. They have fluffernutters (peanut butter and marshmallow fluff), peanut butter and chocolate, peanut butter and bananas, peanut butter BLTs (PBBLTs), peanut butter clubs, Ants on a Log and peanut butter milkshakes, just to name a few. Never forgetting their lunchbox roots, they'll do something only your mom would do for you -- they'll cut off the crusts.
Tony's I-75 restaurant
Birch Run, Michigan
There are big sandwiches, there are huge sandwiches and then there are the sandwiches at Tony's I-75. Here's all you need to know: the BLT is made with a full pound of bacon.