The Round Two

The Round Two
When I was a kid, the leftover Thanksgiving turkey sandwich was something I anticipated almost as much as the dinner itself. We'd eat the traditional big meal in the afternoon, become superlazy, and then around 7 or 8 I'd creep into the kitchen and plaster two slices of Wonder Bread with white meat, mayo, salt and pepper. That's it. I was a minimalist turkey sandwich builder. Others would go hot with gravy, crafting open-faced masterpieces that sound real delicious right about now. But I don't have that in front of me. I have this. It was an attempt to replicate that minimalist childhood sandwich, but it turned out to be a lesson and that lesson is this: You can't make a great leftover sandwich if you don't have all the leftovers. I didn't have Thanksgiving at my house this year, but I did swipe some turkey, stuffing, and a mom-baked loaf of country white bread. That's not enough. I need all the proper tools at my disposable. I don't want that minimal sandwich anymore; I want the works. The best I could do was smear some tangy, fruity, cranberry-esque black currant mustard on this beautiful bread and stack turkey and mozzarella cheese inside, plus that nostalgic blast of salt and pepper. It tastes fine, but it's crying out for lettuce and tomato and bacon and yes, even mayo. I fantasized about toasting thicker slices of the mom bread and squashing dark meat, gravy and stuffing inside, melting it all together with some sharp cheddar cheese. But this is all there is. Next year, I'll do it right, or I won't do it at all.



Ill-A-Delph at Coast 2 Coast Deli
I've been wanting to sample the goods from this Las Vegas food truck for a long time, and when I finally got the chance, I'm sorry to say it was a bit of a disappointment. The menu supposes to specialize in sandwiches from across the country, or at least sandwiches inspired by different cities, and the description of this "Loaded Philly" sounded totally delish: a roll stuffed with shaved NY Strip and ribeye steak, beer-cheese sauce, caramelized onions, crumbled bacon, scallions and a ranch dressing drizzle. The meat was just sad, fatty and gristly stuff that was much closer to cheap ground beef than shaved steak. So it goes with cheesesteak meat; you never know what you're gonna get. The sauce, allegedly made with local brewer Tenaya Creek's Calico Brown Ale, was tangy and smooth and quite tasty, but there simply wasn't enough to go around. The onions were also barely present. The other ingredients were fine, though the roll was a bit dry and crumbly, and toasting it slightly seemed to be an attempt to cover for poor quality. It seemed like a great idea and it sure looks good, but the flavor just didn't follow through. If I find this truck again, I'll give it another chance, but I'll order something as far from a cheesesteak as is available.

Banh Mi Thit Nguoi

Banh Mi Thit Nguoi at Dakao Sandwiches
A return trip to this little spot yields a different sandwich, one with cured pork and pork roll, but similar results. This super salty banh mi is plenty pleasant, chewy slabs of piggy inside a crusty baguette with all the familiar friends. I guess it's just proof that the most basic, cheapest version of this French-Asian sandwich—in this case filled with two different meats that are tough to distinguish from one another—is pretty good. The worst possible scenario is fairly delicious.


Turkey Chili Cheese Dog

Turkey Chili Cheese Dog
There's no downside to making too much chili. If you're making chili, you should make damn sure that you're making too much. It will give you an excuse to buy some simple hot dogs and buns, grate some cheese, and fashion an entirely different feast. This chili is seriously spicy with loads of roasted Hatch green chilies speckled among tomatoes, onions, ground turkey and a host of spices. (No, not sharing my chili recipe with you.) If your chili is tasty enough, you can get away with buying cheap, totally mediocre franks and buns, like I did, but I don't encourage such behavior. Get the good stuff if you want to create a truly transcendent chili dog.

Boar's Head Italian Sub

Boar's Head Italian Sub at Smith's
It's a sad thing when all you have time for is the tearful grabbing of a pre-made grocery store sandwich, an unfortunate substitute that can never satiate the true craving within. And yet this Boar's Head prepared sub encased in plastic at our local Smith's market was surprisingly solid, a puffy multigrain bun stacked with provolone, salami, pepperoni, ham and lettuce leaves. It was badly in need of some oil and vinegar or maybe even a bit of mustard to moisten things up, but on a pre-made sandwich, there's a huge risk of sog. So dry will do, I suppose. But there was a nice portion of high quality meat stuffed inside, making for a pleasant if unspectacular workday lunch experience.

New Mexico Burger

New Mexico Burger at Bobby's Burger Palace
This tangy creation might be our fave burger so far at Bobby's, the celebrity chef burger joint that has yet to disappoint. Its juicy patty is generously topped with a smooth queso sauce, roasted green chilies and pickled red onions, a combination of creamy, fresh, spicy and sharp. It's an ideal flavor mix to match up with the simple, natural richness that exudes from a perfectly cooked burger. There are still other interesting options left to explore at BBP, but it will be hard not to order this again on our next visit.


Chicken Cheese Steak

Chicken Cheese Steak at Capriotti's
The Philly cheesesteak has been bastardized and has thus become boring. Making a cheesesteak with chicken is almost blasphemous, and yet it's still pretty tasty. Capriotti's version uses grilled chicken and melted provolone, and gives you the option to add peppers, onions and mushrooms. The super-soft sub roll Cap's uses—often a detriment—actually works well for cheesesteak purposes, with pliable chewiness that complements the melty meatfest within. So yeah, it's boring, but it'll do.


The Fugazi

The Fugazi at Lulu's Bread & Breakfast
Of course it's a delicious sandwich, it's from Lulu's. There's so much flavor on this thing, it doesn't even need that buttery ribbon of prosciutto. It coulda been a veggie sandwich with absolutely no drop off. But that slice of piggy is there, along with thick, juicy slices of ripe red tomatoes, a nice slathering of bright pesto, all topped with fried eggs. It's an exquisite combination, but the real winner is the roll, a soft, puffy brioche-kaiser hybrid decked out with everything bagel spices. Can you even believe that? It's outstanding. You could literally put anything on this roll and it'd be scrumptious. Of course, Lulu's, of course.


Double Char Dog

Double Char Dog at The Wiener's Circle
So Chicago's infamous Wiener's Circle has landed in Las Vegas. There are casino sports book-adjacent locations at both the Red Rock and Santa Fe Station resorts, which makes perfect sense. Of course, you won't be insulted and abused at these eateries the way you could be at the Windy City original, but just because the experience is "watered down" doesn't mean the food isn't delicious. The Char Dog is as good a traditional Chicago-style hot dog as we've tasted in Vegas, with lots of yellow mustard and all those vibrant, colorful veggie toppings you expect. What pushes these wieners over the top is the cooking method; they're split and grilled for caramelized, super-savory satisfaction. When something is this good, why not double up? It's difficult to eat two dogs in one bun, especially with all these deliciously slippery goodies slathered all over, but it's worth the mess.



Fourteener at Backcountry Delicatessen
Our final Colorado sandwich on this trip comes at a casual, comfortable deli that wasn't around the last time we hungrily swept through Old Town Fort Collins. Backcountry has four locations in Colorado and one in Jackson Hole, and for what appears to be a mini-franchise, this shop has an impressive array of sandwiches on its menu, all utilizing top-notch ingredients. The Fourteener is stacked with deliciously rare, thinly sliced roast beef, powerful blue cheese crumbles, sweet roasted peppers, crunch romaine leaves and a zingy horseradish mayo. The sauce is a little lighter than you would expect, which actually works out perfectly with the strong, creamy cheese, with neither element overpowering the beefiness. The sub roll is spongy and tasty in its own right. Backcountry will definitely be a must-bite on our next Colorado sandwich adventure.


Thunder Dog

Thunder Dog at Sports Authority Filed at Mile High Stadium
That's right: It's a Bronco dog. We were way too busy cheering Denver to a victory over San Diego and taking in the awe of the stadium to find out what kind of frank they use at concessions or even to squirt some yellow mustard on this monster. But here's what we do know: It's delicious. It's a foot-long. It's covered in sweet, smoky roasted peppers. And it's exactly what you want in a stadium hot dog since it avoided the typical concession follies of cold, dry buns and overcooked, over-salty meat tubes. Go Broncos!


Louie's Ride to Leadville

Louie's Ride to Leadville at B&B's Pickle Barrel
Fort Collins' Pickle Barrel is simply one of my favorite sandwich shops anywhere. Its super-laidback, college town atmosphere—complete with a sturdy bar—reminds me of my humble sandwich-heavy upbringing in another college town, and any time I'm in Colorado I'm tempted to spend an entire day at the Pickle Barrel munching through the menu and drinking plenty of beer. But on this visit, I contained my consumption to this creatively named Italian sub. It's served sans lid but it's not an openfacer, contrary to what this pic might imply. Decked out with layers of ham, capicola and havarti, plenty of crisp red onion, lettuce and tomato, and sprinkled generously with oregano, oil and vinegar, Louie's Ride is full of familiar flavors and hits the spot. The substitution of creamy, slightly salty havarti cheese (on a sandwich that would almost always be laced with milder provolone) makes a great impression and stands out against these super-savory meats. The only drawback is an extra-fluffy sub roll with a little too much heft. But that's no big deal. The Pickle Barrel never disappoints.


Buffalo Meatloaf Sandwich

Buffalo Meatloaf Sandwich at Henry's Pub
The annual Colorado sandwich trip has arrived! First up is a stop at Henry's Pub in beautiful downtown Loveland, a friendly little joint we always visit. This open-faced beauty drops a slab of surprisingly juicy, super tender and utterly delicious buffalo meatloaf on top of a toasted tile of multigrain bread, then covers the whole thing in a rich, garlicky tomato sauce and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. It's a knife and fork job, sure, but it's mighty tasty, simple and satisfying. And a great way to begin the annual Colorado sandwich trip.