Pulled Pork Sandwich

Pulled Pork Sandwich at Wendy's
No, Wendy's, no. No! Stay away from barbecue, you pigtailed fast food devil! Wendy's has had some sandwich success lately thanks to using these upgraded brioche buns, but this double-edged bread sword comes back around with this disaster, with far too much slightly sweet, pillowy bun and far too little (admittedly) tender, mostly flavorless meat. Pile on some mayo'd, crappy slaw and some "spicy" barbecue sauce, and congratulations, I'm angry.

Jinya Bun

Jinya Bun at Jinya
It's not all sandwiches, you know. We are also pretty obsessed with ramen, mostly because the ramen scene in Las Vegas has exploded in recent years. The latest addition is one of our best, LA's Jinya, but they're serving more than just amazing noodles in rich broth variations. This pork belly steamed bun is solid, a mighty slab of succulent chashu piggy with a little green stuff, some cucumber, hoisin and aioli folded into soft, almost creamy puff-bread. It's tempting to order a couple of these and skip the noodles altogether. 


Jerk Turkey Burger

Jerk Turkey Burger at Carson Kitchen
This is nothing short of the best turkey burger we've ever tasted. Rumor has it the kitchen mixes in a liberal dose of applesauce along with the spicy-sweet jerk seasonings, making for an unbelievably juicy burger patty with flavor for days. It's so good, it's tempting to accuse the kitchen of cheating. Is this really turkey? Somehow Carson Kitchen has made this usually pedestrian bite into something magically delightful. Also stacked on this soft, brioche-style bun is tangy, crispy coleslaw mixed with mango chutney, pushing the Caribbean flavors into overdrive. This is the only turkey burger you should be eating.


Pan Manchego

Pan Manchego at Julian Serrano
Okay, this traditional tapas dish is barely a sandwich, and a small snack of a sandwich at that. But it's so simple and delicious, it deserves all the love it can get. A sort of mini-baguette is toasted to crisp, savory perfection and filled with a sauce of fresh garlic and tomatoes plus year-old manchego cheese, that Spanish sheep's milk goodness with a nutty, caramelish flavor that blends so nicely with the acidic brightness in that tomato sauce. The simpler dishes at Julian Serrano are so brilliant, and this is one of our favorites. Think of it as a Spanish grilled cheese if you like, but just be sure to eat it.


Coney Loose Burger

Coney Loose Burger at American Coney Island
Yikes. There's a lot of drunkfood in Las Vegas, but this Detroit transplant—perhaps the dim cousin to American Coney's disappointing Coney Island chili dog—takes it to another level, and by that I mean you must be inebriated to even consider consuming this mess. Where's the dog? There isn't one. There is, however, a flavorless mush swipe of gray ground beef under a big ladle full of chili, or the unspicy, not-quite-savory brew that passes for chili at this 24-hour Fremont Street stop. Toss on some onions and a stripe of yellow mustard, and apparently, you've got a Detroit classic. This "burger" is in dire need of some cheese, or anything that could fill in the flavor missing from the disappeared dog. The only explanation is that someone thought this chili was so good, it could hold up a sandwich all by itself. They were wrong.


Steak Burger

Steak Burger at Dispensary Lounge
There's at least one Las Vegas food writer who believes the half-pound burger (for just $5.95) at the classically weird dive bar Dispensary is one of the best in town, and so we went there with this guy, we marveled at the wall-to-wall carpeting and the water wheel, and we ate this burger. And you know what? He's right. This thing is a masterpiece of simplicity, a thick, juicy patty of fresh beef ground just right and cooked by someone who knows what they're doing. Put whatever cheese you like—we did American—and enjoy the ideal toppings of lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle. Saturate your steak burger in one of the kitchen's house-made sauces or the chef's special spicy mystery mustard. Appreciate the ideal fries that come along with it. All those extras are just icing on the cake, though, as this thing is pure burger success.



Vampiro at Tacos El Gordo
There are people who try to tell me a burger isn't a sandwich, or a hot dog isn't a sandwich. That's just illogical bullshit. There will be someone telling me a Vampiro isn't a sandwich, either. But look at it. Furthermore, if those crispy corn tortillas were soft, would it be more of a sandwich? What if they weren't tortillas at all, but some other form of the same corn masa, perhaps griddled into a cake and used as bread like a Venezuelan arepa or a Mexican gordita or a Salvadoran pupusa? What then, hater? Would it be sandwich enough for you? That's what I thought. Instead of arguing with me, go to Tacos El Gordo and enjoy this crunchy creation, which I filled with caramelized carne asada to go along with toasted quesadilla cheese, guacamole, salsa, cilantro and onions. It's not as easy to handle as TEG's sublime tacos, but you're probably eating here because you're drunk/hungover, and a Vampiro is just as much fun. Maybe more.

Sloppy Joe

Sloppy Joe at Bunkhouse Saloon
We're not sure if Sloppy Joes are coming into fashion, becoming a trendy menu item a la pork belly or deviled eggs. But if that happens, this is more or less how it's done. No filler on this big beauty—no slaw or lettuce or veggie of any kind. Just finely ground beef seasoned with tomatoes, onions and lots of other stuff, savory and slightly sweet, messy and delicious. The bun is brioche, puffy-soft and sweet on its own but toasted enough to hold up to the massive meat pile for at least your first four bites. After that, you're on your own, and that's how it should be.