Number 40

Number 40 at Mr. Sandwich
It's the bread. It's warm. And crackly.

Is banh mi my favorite type of sandwich? Some days, yes. I am currently infatuated with Asian food, almost as much as I am obsessed with sandwiches. But there is something about banh mi that is bigger than just a temporary craving. It goes deep, straight to the heart of what makes a sandwich great.

If we are to believe the origins of the sandwich -- that some rich dude playing cards demanded that his meat supper be served between two slabs of bread, so he could eat without using both hands or a knife -- then I put forth the theory that banh mi, among other types of sandwiches, is something of an evolution of the species. Sure, there is meat tucked inside bread, but that is not what makes it great. Yes, there is a balance of taste (salty, sweet, spicy, sour) and texture (crisp veggies, mushy cold cuts). But what separates a terrific banh mi sandwich, the kind found at Mr. Sandwich, from a mediocre-to-worse one, like Lee's and most other places in Las Vegas, is the bread. It's warm. And crackly. It's an exceptional French baguette, and it'd be fine to sit and munch with a few pats of butter; no need to transform it into this culture-spanning masterpiece of a sandwich. But that's what they do here, and behold, they are good. It's sandwich evolution because it's all about the bread, as the fillings serve a complementary role. And I love this backwards sandwich world, because a beautiful, delicious baguette is as close to art as food can get, while meat ... is just meat. Anybody can make a decent hunk of meat.

There are many different decent hunks of meat available at Mr. Sandwich, but the best comes inside the Number 40. These are salty, smashed up sardines, doused in a slightly spicy, rich sauce, and slathered in a creamy mayo-type concoction. There's just the right portion of fishy goodness inside our beloved baguette, augmented by -- of course -- do chua, that snappy combination of fresh pickled carrot and daikon, plus raw cilantro, jalapeno and cucumber. Super clean tastes across the board, decadence with the sardines, garden goodness holding it down. Mr. Sandwich, you should be annointed to Sir Sandwich status.


S'mores Ice Cream Sandwich

S’mores Ice Cream Sandwich at Trader Joe's
We at allsandwich have learned through experience you can’t always trust foods that are clearly one thing, but claim to taste like a different thing. And so we treated the box of S’mores Ice Cream Sandwiches that somehow found its way into our Trader Joe’s cart a couple of weeks ago with some skepticism. As it turned out, we had no need to.

This is not a completely perfect ice cream sandwich. The cookie “bread,” made of graham cracker in this case (naturally), is just the tiniest bit too soft, leaving the sandwich without much textural variety. But for a store bought treat, the ice cream is divine. Fluffy and indeed somewhat marshmallowy in texture and flavor, it also has a nice light swirl of chocolate to complete the classic s’mores trifecta of delicious.

By the way: we don’t usually review ice cream sandwiches here. But since allsandwich is located in Las Vegas, and it’s currently 147 degrees here (with the comfort index figured in) we’re going to go ahead and say, “Oh hell YES” to ice cream sandwiches.


Traditional Gyro

Traditional Gyro at Market Grille Cafe
Is a gyro a sandwich? Yes, dummy, it is. Pita bread is one of the world's great breads, and the warm, soft pita served at Market Grille Cafe is decent stuff. Even better is the flavorful blend of beef and lamb inside its traditional gyro, well spiced and ultimately savory. Anybody who says Mediterranean food can't be meaty-delicious needs to try one of these, especially because MGC serves a generous portion of meat in its gyros. Topping it off, you've got chopped lettuce, red onions, tomatoes and cucumbers, with a sprinkle of feta cheese and a slathering of creamy yogurt dill sauce. There are so many mingling flavors going on in this sandwich ... how could you have ever questioned it's validity in the first place? Shame on you!


The Cheffini

The Cheffini at Cheffinis Hot Dogs
It's late Saturday night, and you're drinking. You're on East Fremont Street in Downtown Vegas. You stumble out of your favorite bar looking for something to munch (knowing there are few restaurants in the area) and then you catch sight of this little hot dog cart. So of course, gimme one with everything.

The guy serving it up called it a Columbian Dog, but it turns out it's the specialty of the house. Er, cart. Let me try real hard to remember everything on this dog, besides the always tasty Hebrew National weiner and the soft sesame seed bun: There were jalapenos, onions and tomatoes. Definitely mustard and relish. Was there lettuce? Bacon? Not sure. Crushed up tortilla chips, yes, and also pineapple sauce. Wait, what? Yes, pineapple sauce. And shit, I think there was mayo and avocado, too.

Look, sometimes you just gotta go with it. Was it crazy? Yes. But it was delicious, a textural delight, sweet and spicy and soft and crunchy. Kinda makes you wanna find any old hot dog stand and just tell 'em you want everything they got, huh? It won't be the same, though. Not everybody has pineapple sauce.



Mastodon at Kuma's Corner
We close our Chicago sandwich escapades with a return to Kuma's Corner, perhaps the greatest burger bar on the planet. Vegas is burger city, yes, but we don't have anything like Kuma's. It's the metal, baby.

There are so many interesting options to beef up your burger here, and we must admit, the Mastodon is not the most exciting. It's basically the best version of a Western Bacon Cheeseburger you could possibly imagine, with its fried onions, bacon, barbecue sauce and cheddar cheese. So if this burger must receive an A-, we'll take credit for the minus because we should have ordered something more exotic. But that's not to say the Mastodon isn't satisfying; in fact, it's the most satisfying BBQ burger we've ever munched. The meat patty is huge and perfectly cooked, and the sauce is not too sweet. Like it's namesake, this sandwich is pure awesome.



Cheezborger at Billy Goat Tavern
The Billy Goat Tavern is famous for several reasons, but the food at this cool, old school bar is famous for inspiring the classic "cheezborger, cheezborger" Saturday Night Live sketch. There is much more on the menu than just the cheezborger, good looking stuff like a ribeye steak, corned beef or salami sandwiches, and hearty breakfast options. But, cheezborger it is, at least on this visit.

This is a totally respectable diner burger. Take the staff's advice and order at least a double, even better a triple, because the beef patties are very thin, if still flavorful. This cheezborger is just a single but augmented by a nice big fried egg and some crispy bacon strips. You'll wanna add this stuff, too, or at least hit the do-it-yourself condiment bar from some dill pickle chips, fresh white onions, mustard and ketchup. The cheezborger needs a lot of toppings, because not only is the meat thin, but the bread is big and puffy, a nice soft kaiser roll. So order big, get it how you want it, and enjoy. And get some beer, too. This bar is pretty awesome.


Green Goddess

Green Goddess at Goose Island Clybourn
I like when I go to a bar for a sandwich and there's a section of the menu called "Beer Food." Makes sense.

Goose Island appears to be one of Chicago's favorite craft breweries, and there are tasty suds galore up in here. There's some pretty good food to go with 'em, too. The green goddess sandwich is a crusty, warm baguette with a decent-sized pile of rotisserie chicken (mostly dark meat -- yum), artichokes, frisee, ramps and a light, creamy, seemingly whipped spread probably based on green goddess dressing. The dressing is mayo, sour cream and a bunch fresh herbs; this sandwich spread might be the same but it wasn't mayonnaisy at all. It was closer to cream cheese without the overpowering cheese taste, flavored instead with lemon juice and maybe basil or tarragon. Not sure. But it was unique and delicious, and added a nice subtle touch to this sandwich.